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May 7, 2020

Naomi Keyte and the power of staying put

Folk singer Naomi Keyte tells CityMag there's value to be found in what you’re doing, rather than where you’re going.

  • Words: Angela Skujins
  • Main Image: Naomi Keyte by Rosina Possingham

Naomi Keyte is a big believer in exploring the world through your mind.

“Now is such a beautiful time to be travelling in other ways, through reading, film, music – like travelling with our imaginations,” Naomi says.


Naomi Keyte will launch her single via Sunny Side Uploads on Sunday, 17 May.


“[And] songwriting is a means by which to pin down those elusive, easily forgotten moments that accumulatively shape our lives.”

CityMag chats with Naomi a couple of days after the release of ‘Travelling Woman,’ her first single release following her 2017 album, Melaleuca.

This new work is a four-and-a-half-minute push and pull between love and hurt.

Unlike her prior release, a 10-track homage to Adelaide’s natural landscape, Naomi’s new single isn’t moored to place. The harmonies and piano chords all revolve around musings centred on someone.

In one breath Naomi sounds tough and stoic: in the chorus she sighs, “maybe you will learn how to stay”); but then, with the crunch of a guitar, she’s wounded: “or I will learn how to follow”.

Naomi recorded ‘Travelling Woman’ in one take at Adam Page’s Wizard Tone Studios. She wrote the song after ending a particularly important relationship. “Probably the first love of my life,” she says.

“This person was a nomad,” Naomi continues.

“She’s lived overseas most of her adult life and kind of constantly [is] on the lookout for new adventures and new opportunities, which are often overseas or somewhere else.

“It was this feeling that I couldn’t quite catch up.”

Naomi wanted to stay put rather than leave Adelaide. Especially now, amongst the chaotic global scrambling of the COVID-19 crisis, she’s happy to be here.

Adelaide is where she makes music, and she hasn’t felt like she’s needed to escape, she says.

“I’ve been very lucky to have a creative project to focus on.”

This creative project isn’t limited to one song, however, as Naomi reveals it’s part of a 10-track record that will hopefully be released early next year.

Like ‘Travelling Woman,’ the rest of this new work will be a musical exploration of people.

Fans should also expect a departure from the Naomi Keyte canon of finger-picked folk and expect something more like restrained rock, in the vein of Aldous Harding and Faye Webster.

“And I guess the fun little element is that I’m going to be doing a virtual single launch via Sunny Side Uploads,” Naomi says.

Naomi admits she was originally apprehensive about celebrating a single launch via Instagram Livestream or Zoom instead of doing it in a pub or venue.

“I feel like there’s a lot of a lot of noise [online] but I’m excited,” she says.

“I want to celebrate. It’s been three years of hard work.

“I think in the arts… there’s always the focus on the next thing: what else are we doing? what’s coming next?

“And it’s like, Well, actually, let’s just pause. I’ve recorded the song twice. I took me a really long time to write. I’ve refined it, I’ve refined and refined it. I mixed it, I produced it. It’s a lot of work.

“We should pause and celebrate that.”

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