Over the summer, one of the best-selling titles that went through PolyGram’s independent distribution arm, iD, was In My Kitchen, the debut six-track CDEP by the Tiddas, an all-girl trio from Melbourne. But it barely dented the indy charts because it was selling all over the place, at gigs and truckstops as much as city record stores, independent, mainstream or otherwise.
This, however, was not a situation that Lou Bennett, Sally Dastey and Amy Saunders were complaining about: the success of In My Kitchen surprised no-one so much as themselves. And if that success has been spread somewhat thin, it’s only symptomatic of a broad appeal which is certainly something the girls wouldn’t want to change.
“There’s a message behind the music, but we don’t like it to be put into little boxes, like political, feminist, Koori or whatever,” says Sally Dastey. “To us, it’s just what we talk about, and see around us, everyday life, issues that are important to everyone.”
The Tiddas’ prowess as a vocal harmony group is breathtaking. Formed to sing backing vocals for Amy’s brother Richard Frankland’s band Djaambi, they have subsequently sung with Kev Carmody, Paul Kelly, Mark Seymour and Archie Roach. “The first time we sang together we just looked at each other,” recalls Dastey. “We knew we had something special.”
Striking out on their own, the Tiddas – whose name, given to them by Ruby Hunter, means ‘sisters’ – built a sizeable following gigging at pubs, festivals and benefits all over the eastern seaboard, including supports with Sweet Honey in the Rock and Midnight Oil. A second EP, on the newly-formed Blackheart Records, will be released shortly.
“One thing is how accidental it’s all been,” Dasey muses. “It’s like fate, because we come from three totally different parts of the country and have such different backgrounds. But I always wanted to sing harmony with other women, and sooner or later you’ve just got to bang your own drum.”