Phill McKenna & The Water Signs
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Phill McKenna & The Water Signs

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia | SELF

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia | SELF
Band Folk Acoustic

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That’s the sound of a Brisbane train rolling past at the beginning of You Know
After taking to the stage all over the place since the late ‘90s, the Brisbane/Melbourne outfit Those Bloody McKennas called time-out a couple of years ago. So Phill McKenna took the opportunity to get a new project, The Water Signs, off the ground. With the flute-player from Those Bloody McKennas Clare Kildea as a big contributor, he’s come up with this album. Mixed by Machine Translations’ J. Walker and involving lots of roots and indie notables like Fi Claus, The Audreys’ Grant Cummerford, The Boat People’s James O’Brien, John Bedggood of The Wilson Pickers, and Danny McKenna (now with The Verses), it’s a confident step forward. It took two years to make in several locations, and though the mood swings from the ringing electric guitars of Once Twice and the uptempo alt-rock of Wattlebird, spiced with whistling, to the downbeat tone of Don’t Give It Up, complete with tearjerker strings, and the more introspective feel of You Know (which for some reason reminds me of The Triffids), there’s a satisfying cohesiveness that’s born of real experiences here. McKenna and everyone involved should feel bloody proud of it.
BILL HOLDSWORTH
- Rave Magazine


Six Degrees From A Monkey is an endearing showcase of true Australian folk music, from Phill McKenna And The Water Signs who were spawned from the break-up of iconic Australian band, Those Bloody McKennas. This album is full of intriguing melodies, haunting strings and gorgeous harmonies, strung together with quirky lyrics to make a charming and unique sound.
The album opens with first single ‘Once Twice’, a catchy pop track that combines deep emotion with humorous comments on life; “I’m in love with emotion, some might call me a junky/I’m in perpetual motion, I’m six degrees from a monkey”. The song begins with a funky electric guitar hook that carries McKenna’s vocals nicely throughout the track. ‘You Know’ is a heavier song with a much slower tempo – it begins with the familiar rattle of a train running through city suburbs and a poignant string solo making this track both real and touching. ‘Wattlebird’ brightens up the mood with its happy and light melody and fast paced beat. Beautiful and soft strings complement a simple finger-picking riff and lovely vocal harmonies to make ‘Floating Girl’ a highlight. The album closes with ‘Nowhere’, a track that demonstrates the endowed musicianship of Phill Mckenna and Clare Kildea, the main creative masterminds behind Six Degrees From A Monkey. Exquisite vocal harmonies from both McKenna and Kildea are backed by peaceful violin to create a truly up lifting and unforgettable track.
Phill McKenna And The Water Signs have captured that familiar folk sound that is uniquely Australia. Having been recorded in various home-built studios, renovated warehouses, lounge rooms and verandas across Brisbane and Melbourne Six Degrees From A Monkey feels somehow welcoming and homely. The catchy melodies and peaceful instrumentation are truly addictive and it is hard not to put this album on repeat.
HHHH Emma Heard
- Time Off


Discography

Debut Album 'Six Degrees from a Monkey' Released may 2009. Tracks have received airplay on TripleJ, ABC and community radio across Australia

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Bio

Phill McKenna’s approach to his creativity goes to the very heart of song writing. In his unassuming way, his songs are able to touch parts of the human experience that anyone less humble would not have the insight or gentleness to go. When you hear Phill's songs you hear Australia, not only in the distinct sound of his voice and accent but in the openness of his arrangements and honesty of his writing. His intellect burns brightly through the lyrical and melodic arrangements and it is often said that even though they hold a musical and emotional complexity the songs maintain a strong identity as accessible pop music.

“An endearing showcase of true Australian folk music... This album is full of intriguing melodies, haunting strings
and gorgeous harmonies, strung together with quirky lyrics to make a charming and unique sound”
Emma Heard, Time Off Magazine Sept 2009 (on ‘Six Degrees from a Monkey’).

Phill’s songs are full of Australian imagery and stories; from the urban window sill, to the stormy oceans that surround our island, to the wide open road that he has spent many years touring with the band he co-founded with 3 of his brothers Those Bloody McKennas.

During the 10 years of performing and touring with Those Bloody McKennas, Phill McKenna’s song writing was regarded widely with esteem. His song ‘Time & Tide’ the namesake of the 2004 release, won him acclaim with widespread play on radio across the country on Triple J, ABC Local and community radio. This song also found him on stage with then Senator Andrew Bartlett, ex-Go Betweens drummer, Lindy Morrison, plus another ex-Go Between Amanda Brown and former Hoodoo Gurus bass player, Clyde Bramley when he was invited to play ‘Time & Tide’ in Sydney at the ‘Rock Against Howard’ gigs of Oct 2004.

In 2005 Phill was awarded the National Siev X Award for his song ‘Time & Tide’ and was invited to Canberra to perform for the opening of the Siev X Memorial. Time & Tide was recognised for its significant contribution of keeping this important political issue alive.

“‘Time & Tide’ an award winning political song, provided a strong and enduring message about the SIEV X, and the
tragic loss of 353 asylum seekers… I believe that Phill has much to offer the community of Brisbane and the
wider community with his songwriting and producing.”
Andrew Bartlett Former Democrats Senator and 4ZZZ broadcaster.

Phill released ‘Six Degrees from a Monkey’ his first solo recording in May 2009 and in the process has demonstrated that he is one of the country’s finest up and coming songwriters and producers. His distinctive sound offers an original freshness to the folk pop market, and songs from the album have been receiving rewgular airplay on Triple J, Local ABC and community radio across the country.
There’s a satisfying cohesiveness that’s born of real experiences here.
McKenna and everyone involved should feel bloody proud of it.”
Bill Holdsworth Rave magazine May 2009
The song ‘All Over Now’ was nominated for a Q Song award in the folk ballad category and the track ‘Floating Girl’ has recently been added to a soundtrack for the full length feature Australian film ‘Centre Place’ due for national release in December 2009.
‘Six Degrees from a Monkey’ was recorded in various home-built studios and lounge rooms in Melbourne and Brisbane. Produced and performed by Phill McKenna & Clare Kildea and mixed by Machine Translations’ J. Walker, the album features musical contributions from an impressive selection of Australia’s finest musicians including Danny McKenna (Jeff Lang, The Verses), Grant Cummerford (Jeff Lang, The Audreys), Garrett Costigan (Mia Dyson, Tex Don & Charlie), James O’Brien (The Boat People), John Bedggood (Bernard Fanning, The Wilson Pickers), Chris Pickering, Fi Claus and many more. The album also showcases the burgeoning production talents of Phill McKenna and Clare Kildea as exciting and innovative new producers of work.

Phill McKenna: Independent composer/songwriter, producer & studio engineer

Highlights of Career
• Brisbane launch of Six Degrees from a Monkey at the Troubadour, Fortitude Valley in June 2009
• Nominated finalist for the 2009 Q Song awards for the track ‘All Over Now’ from debut solo release
• Creating filmclip for ‘You Know’ utilising local Brisbane scenery and images. Shot by Morph TV July 2009
• ‘Floating Girl’ (debut solo release) added to Cinema release ‘Centre Place’ due in Australian cinemas Dec 2009
• Extensive radio play on Triple J , National ABC and community stations such as 4ZZZ, RRR, 2SER
• Headlined the Brisbane Southbank New Years Celebrations 2006 with Those Bloody McKennas
• Received National SIEV X Award (2005) for the song ‘Time & Tide’ www.sievx.com
• Performed ‘Time & Tide’ with Andrew Bartlett, Amanda Brown & Lindy Morrison (ex Go Betweens) and former Hoodoo Gurus bass player, Clyde Bramley at ‘Rock against Howard’, Sydney Metro October 2004
• Invited to perform Time &