If you conducted a survey to determine the most Australian song of all time, the chances are high that the winner would be “Great Southern Land”.
Beloved by radio listeners, used by the Australian cricket team, included in the Australian National Film & Sound Archive, ICEHOUSE’s anthem has stood the test of time.
“Great Southern Land”, to some, would seem untouchable. Surely only Iva Davies could do it true justice?
When Australian producer Cassian decided to cover the classic, however, even Davies gave his approval to the bold endeavour.
The Grammy-winning artist’s remake of “Great Southern Land” turned the song into an ecstatic electronic spectacle, massively increasing its danceability. It became icily euphoric, finely produced for dark nights spent bouncing around festival crowds.
For a producer that’s performed at Coachella, sold out shows in New York City, and garnered acclaim for releases on RÜFÜS DU SOL’s imprint Rose Avenue, it’s testament to the enduring power of ICEHOUSE’s song that Cassian insists that covering “Great Southern Land” is the greatest honour of his career to date.
If you want to see how much joy hearing a “Great Southern Land” remake brings a local crowd, the globetrotting producer is about to return home for three special shows in his home country. He’ll perform in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane across the final weekend of July (more information here).
Ahead of the mini tour, Rolling Stone AU/NZ caught up with Cassian to discuss the impact his remake of “Great Southern Land” has had on him since its release.
Cassian’s “Great Southern Land” (ICEHOUSE remake) is out now.
Rolling Stone AU/NZ: What makes “Great Southern Land” such an immense song?
Cassian: For a song to have the level of impact it has had over multiple generations, everything about it needs to be special. From the sound of the kick drum to the breaths of the singer. “Great Southern Land” exemplifies this – timeless unique production, incredible melody, harmony, arrangement and the lyrics.
Did you grow up listening to it on the radio?
Of course! My mum was even a fan of Icehouse and went to some of their shows in the early 80s.
Surely there’s a level of anxiety when it comes to reworking such an iconic song?
Absolutely. With how iconic the original already is, my version needed to be something I’d be proud of for the rest of my career.
How did it feel to get the approval of Iva Davies?
It felt great, of course. I had the idea for years before I reached out to ask permission so it was also vindicating that the idea was one he approved of. I really took my time creating the demo before sending it to him for approval.
You made over 100 versions of the song before reaching the final version, is that right?
At least. Not massive changes from version to version, but I really let myself go all the way down the rabbit hole and obsess over the details. There is even a foley recording from my parents farm in country Victoria tucked away in the track…
How have fans responded to the song?
It’s been the best and most personal reaction I’ve ever had from releasing a record. There’s been others with bigger numbers or whatever, but nothing with the amount of heartfelt messages and comments. It feels amazing to know it’s connecting.
Do you have a favourite cover of another iconic song?
I’m blanking on some amazing ones. I’m sure the first that comes to mind is Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah”.
It must feel like such a huge honour to have taken on this artistic endeavour. How do you ever top this in your career?!
I asked myself the same thing after the Grammy! For what it is, I’m not of the mindset that it’s something I want to try and “top”, but I’m absolutely excited to see what the future holds. I have some music coming out this year that I’m really proud of, as well as other projects I’ve been working on behind the scenes that I’m incredibly excited to see reach the light of day. One thing is for sure – I feel like I’m just getting started.