There should be a saying that goes: when you can rock a mohawk, then you can talk.
Australian singer/songwriter/guitarist Mia Dyson has surely earned the right, and not just because of her curly, center-stripe haircut. This accomplished musician will appear for the first time ever in Bend at the Volcanic Theatre Pub on May 4, following the expected stop in Portland and an unexpected stop in Kimberly, Oregon, along the way.
Dyson's second album Parking Lots put her on the map, winning "Best Blues & Roots Album" at the 2005 Australian Recording Industry Association Music Awards (ARIA). Her fourth album The Moment, released in 2012, was also nominated for that honor, and her fifth album Idyllwild, which came out last year as a CMJ Top 100, continues to get four-star ratings, though it has a slightly different sound than Dyson's earlier work. (True to its name, Idyllwild brings a bit more wild into Dyson's typical idyll blues.) But even as the recognition of her talent grows, she still stays true to the music.
"Just continuing to make music seems to be the greatest accomplishment," Dyson says. "Those milestones go by and then they are gone and you need to keep moving. The music industry keeps moving; it is precarious. Making a creative life is more challenging—to still love it and be able to enjoy it. I enjoy it a lot more than I used to. When you start out, you have false assumptions about how everything works, now it is just about making the music, and the illusions have mostly been swept away."
Earlier this year, Dyson received a $15,000 recording grant from the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia and the Australia Council. She plans to use these funds to record three EPs in three different cities with three different producers. Her latest style in diversifying her work is recording less at one time, and spending time in the studio more often.
"It is hard to develop the skill of recording when those events are so far apart," she says. "Now that I have recorded five albums, I know that style—now I want to try another way."
Dyson is always looking to push the limits of her music, which prompted her move to Los Angeles from Australia in 2009.
"Los Angeles is a really inspiring place to be," she says. "I've dug in a little more and made the U.S. more home in the last few years. It has a reputation in the world as a big, dirty city, but it is a great, inspiring city."
And, she has taken that inspiration on the road.
"I love the different parts of the country; there are more extremes here in the States," she says. "Audiences are pretty similar [in Australia and the United States], though America has a deeper history in music. I feel like audiences here are more steeped in the history, and we are like the little brother who is trying to catch up. I enjoy touring Australia because it is familiar and it is home, but the States is new territory."
Dyson says that the "scale" is the biggest difference between playing in the United States and Australia. "You run out of places to play in Australia," she says. "There are really only eight major cities there, and 100 or more major cities in the U.S. You could tour here for two years."
8 pm, Monday, May 4
Volcanic Theatre Pub, 70 SW Century Dr.