Helen Croome began her university career studying psychology, after deciding that it was time to put music aside after high school in favour of something more serious. A few months into the course, though, she realised she may have made a mistake. “I thought psychology seemed really cool at first, but part way through my first year I realised it was all statistics, and I hated it!” Croome let her impulses guide her back to her first love – she dropped psychology and switched to a Bachelor of Music, with a major in composition. While studying in this area, she developed an immediate affinity for arrangements and instrumentation, and hasn’t looked back since.
You probably know Helen Croome a lot better as Gossling, the maker of sweet, melodic indie pop tracks like ‘Heart Killer’. The past few years have been busy for her, with three Gossling EPs, a good deal of national touring, a collaboration with 360 that sent her to the upper reaches of the ARIA charts, and another with Oh Mercy’s Alexander Gow that saw the two fly to Paris to shoot a music video. This month, things got bigger still, with the release of Gossling’s long-awaited debut album, Harvest Of Gold. The record represents the culmination of a lot of time and hard work. “I can’t believe it’s finally coming out after all this time,” she laughs. “I just [couldn’t] wait for people to hear it.”
Harvest Of Gold went through something of a difficult gestation period. Croome initially went to Tasmania with the aim of getting lonely and depressed and writing a lot of songs, but in the end only two of those things happened. “My family have a place in a little beach town called Bicheno on the north-east coast. I went there because I thought it would be good to get isolated, but I wasn’t very productive. I got just as lonely and depressed as I’d hoped, but the songs didn’t come. It wasn’t until I got back to Melbourne and was surrounded by friends and had the internet again that I started to get actual writing done.”
If Croome was initially aiming for ‘lonely and depressed’ on this album, I ask where she actually ended up. “It’s a real mix,” she says. “There are a few tracks that are very obviously a continuation of my past EPs, but on the whole, Harvest Of Gold is a lot more pop than what I’ve done before.” Indeed, the album features more synths and electronic sounds than Gossling’s previous, more folky recordings. “I’ve always wanted to do something like that, and I was lucky in that the material I was writing lent itself to that. I wouldn’t have gone down that road if the songs I’d been writing didn’t want to go in that way.”
Harvest Of Gold sees Croome hooking up with an array of collaborators, not least the aforementioned Gow of rakish Melbourne rockers Oh Mercy. “Alex and I met a couple of years ago on tour,” Croome says. “I was doing a solo support with him, and after that we stayed mates, and eventually did a song together for Mélodie Française, a compilation of Australian artists doing French songs. We got to go to Paris for four days to make a video clip, which was pretty incredible. A while later, we got together again for a really long writing session – one song from which, ‘Accolade’, made it onto the album. That’s definitely one of my favourites.”
BY ALASDAIR DUNCAN