In conversation with Melbourne Indie Voices

December 11, 2017
Melbourne Indie Voices is a new contemporary choir performing innovative vocal arrangements of independent and emerging artists from Melbourne and abroad. We chat with Sophia Exiner, who co-runs the choir and is a performer and songwriter, and will be leading a big group sing-along at the Museum in celebration of Amy Winehouse!

Can you tell us a bit about Melbourne Indie Voices, who you are and what you’re about?

We are a new contemporary choir performing vocal arrangements of independent and emerging artists from Melbourne and abroad. My name is Sophia Exiner and I’m a performer and songwriter (under the name Phia), and I run the choir along with producer/songwriter Josh Teicher (Josh The Cat) who accompanies us on electric guitar. I started the choir in order to highlight the work of contemporary songwriters in a community singing environment, and since then we’ve performed live on ABC 774, showcased at Melbourne Music Week 2016, and been featured on ABC News Online. In 2017 we performed at the Melbourne Town Hall collaborating with iconic Australian voices Paul Kelly, Paul Dempsey (Something For Kate) and Vika and Linda Bull.


For Thursday nights at the Museum you’ll be teaching Back to Black. What can people expect from this session? 

I’ll be teaching a simple choir arrangement of the song. You can choose to be on the melody (Amy’s part) or a harmony and at the end of the hour we’ll have learned the whole song to perform! Josh will be accompanying us on guitar and we’ll have choir members there to help on each of the parts.


Do people need to have singing experience?

No, just a love of music! If you’ve never sung before this is a perfect opportunity to try out singing in a friendly environment. If you have had experience singing before then there’ll be lots of harmonies for you to sing.


What do you love about singing in a choir, and how well do you think choir singing lends itself to Amy Winehouse’s music?

I love the uplifting feeling of singing in harmony with other people. Each Monday night when we rehearse I get chills! It’s also the sense of community that comes from being in a choir. Amy Winehouse drew upon such classic genres where harmonies were so important, gospel, blues and jazz. Stripping her music back to just voice (and guitar) connects it so well with its origins. She also writes a great melody! It’s fun to sing.


What is your favourite Amy Winehouse song, or favourite thing you have discovered about Amy Winehouse from being involved in our exhibition program?

Listening through her music when I was choosing the song to teach in the workshop reminded me what a great songwriter she is. That has got lost a bit in the past I think, when the media has focused on her private life. The exhibition program focusing each month on a different genre of music which influenced her is drawing us back to what made her famous in the first place – her prodigal talent.


Thanks Sophia! Thursday nights – Gospel with Phia and Melbourne Indie Voices is on 11 January 2018. Click here to book your tickets.