The Glamma Rays

Interview by Mary van Reyk, photos by Chris Frape

Mary van Reyk: The Glamma Rays sing beautiful four-part harmonies, were you interested in creating music with these women before thinking of the style, or did the desire to experiment with vocal arrangements come first?

Jodi Phillis: Actually yes, I did want to put a vocal group together and the idea of doing old style jazz came after. These were my friends who I knew were all musical and creative and kind of kooky so I thought it might work. I could also hear from their voices that we covered the classic bass, (Malika) alto, (Gen) soprano, (Tiff) and alto/soprano, (me) quartet range.

Who would you reference as influences on the band's sound?

The Chordettes, The Beach Boys, The Four Freshmen, The Mills Brothers, Andrew Sisters, Les Paul and Mary Ford, The Mamas & the Papas, etc., basically all the great harmony groups with awesome, melodic songs as their base.

You grew up in California, Tiffany lived in Budapest, and there is a global history behind The Glamma Rays women. Tell us about the song Austinmer and how you came to write a love song to one town?

Yes we certainly have a global heritage. I am half Australian, half American - born in Melbourne and then moved to L.A. when I was a baby as my Dad was a cameraman at CBS in Hollywood - Malika was born in L.A. and moved to Oz when she was 7 I think. We both share a Los Angeles/Sydney childhood. Tiffany has travelled a lot and done many groovy things. She fronted a band in Budapest and taught African drumming over there, Genevieve has South African heritage and she lived in L.A. for a while as well. We all have very mixed blood which we find interesting. I could go on and on... 

My family lived in Austinmer for 5 years in an old house by the beach and really loved our time there. I have good friends in Austinmer and just love the vibe. It’s special. So that song is like our 'Girl From Ipanema,' if I may be so bold!

Your new album Listen To The Birds launches at Anita’s Theatre at the end of April, what are four words you hope audience members will use when describing the gig to their friends the next day?

Fun, Magical, Uplifting, Awesome!!!!!!!!!

Your immediate surrounds are often referenced in your lyrics, how important is your environment in the song writing process?

I suppose a few songs reference that but mostly we are a group of hippy-hearted creative women who love our planet, love our families and friends and wish to spread joy all over the world. It is important to love your community and cherish it but we really could come from anywhere…hahaha and we do!

Scenario time - it's the karaoke world championships and The Glamma Rays are in the finals, which song do you choose, and which musician (living or dead) jumps up on stage to join you?

Oh man that’s a hard one...I think personally I would choose 'Let the Sun Shine' from the musical Hair and without a doubt I would choose Stevie Wonder to join us on stage. I think the other girls would agree on Stevie too. (Jodi's website)