Lara Malin, musician and coordinator of Pregnancy Assistance, gets personal with The Record. She opens up about helping women facing crisis pregnancies and the special connection between music and faith. She also tells us what an old worn-out Beatles book means to her and which singer she thinks is attractive.
What does music mean to you?
A beautiful way for people to express themselves creatively. Something with the hidden power to touch hearts and bring people together. A gift.
In your opinion, what is the relationship between faith and music?
When I write a song, it reflects where I am in my faith journey. Am I writing songs to God or is my songwriting becoming an escape and reflecting more of my imagination, desires and feelings? Am I close to God or far from him? Regardless, God works through all things for good so I’m always encouraged to share my personal expression through song and see what he does with it. Listening to music and singing psalms within the Church helps to strengthen my faith and bring me into a space for prayer.
Who are your musical influences?
The first music I loved was my Dad’s Beatles record collection. In Year 10, a poetry teacher introduced me to the Cocteau Twins – I loved harmonies! I liked Enya’s Sail away, sail away, sail away and enjoyed playing sonata form on the piano. Most of my teens and early 20s were spent in the 90s so I grew up with the Pixies, The Smiths, REM, Nirvana, Beck, Sebadoh, Sonic Youth, PJ Harvey, Tom Waits and Pavement. Aussie faves were Nick Cave, Paul Kelly, The Clouds, Midnight Oil and Crowded House. I loved female artists Suzanne Vega (she would probably be my biggest influence) and Billie Holiday. I loved the Jazz greats eg Dave Brubeck, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and Roland Kirk. Influences keep growing with time. I like story in song.
What is your favourite hymn and why?
Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I relate to it.
What is your fondest memory regarding music? (ie playing with your family etc …)
Being 10 or so, I would play the piano and sing along with my Dad using the well-worn Beatles book.
Tell us about your work at Pregnancy Assistance?
I’m really blessed to be coordinating Pregnancy Assistance. It is such a beautiful, peaceful place to be. The on-site chapel is a gift and small miracles occur at the House of Elizabeth most every day. Along with coordinating the volunteers and keeping the house operating smoothly, my main work is to be part of the crisis support team, welcoming all who visit with the love of God and bringing hope to those who are pregnant and feeling afraid or facing loneliness and despair. We offer free and confidential support and services in the following areas: practical (baby clothes/ furniture and maternity clothes), emotional, accommodation, financial, fertility education, pregnancy testing, perinatal/postnatal resources, study pathways and abortion grief counselling.
What are some of the obstacles you have faced?
The main obstacle is my own Faith. Trusting that God will have all the solutions and meet every need as it arises. Sometimes women or couples will come in with impossible situations – the pressure to abort their baby is huge.
Those without permanent residency face an increased financial pressure; without medicare they must pay the full cost of delivery. How will they continue to meet their study visa requirements? How will they survive once baby is here without receiving government support? Will they have to return home if they have their baby? In many situations, the mother would face further pressure to abort if she returned home.
With God’s help we listen to her worries and then we offer a new vision of hope for the life of this mother and child. We believe that what seems impossible now is really possible with God, that instead of choosing abortion to fit in with their current situation, they can choose to have their baby and still succeed. With our help they can meet their visa requirements. We can support them financially, practically and emotionally when necessary. This new vision of hope requires trusting in the Lord. Trusting that God will provide the resources and the way.
What is the best thing about your job?
The best thing about my job is the JOY that comes with it.
What does faith mean to you?
Faith means trusting that God goes before me and has been with me throughout all of my history. Faith is something I need to embrace every day.
If you could do a duet with anyone famous, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Sufjan Stevens. When I heard his song To be alone with you on the radio I was really encouraged to share my music. I knew he was singing about his relationship with Jesus and he did it in such an honest and indi kind of way that I could relate to. In many ways it’s because of his album Seven Swans that I got the courage to get out there amongst the local music scene and share my work. He’s got a beautiful voice and I admit he’s attractive too!
Who is your patron saint and why did you pick him or her?
I chose St Elizabeth of Hungary as my confirmation saint. When searching for a saint I fell in love with a story where she had snuck out to bring food to the poor. She had hidden some bread in the mantle of her apron and was on her way to make the delivery when someone stopped her and asked her to show them what she was carrying. The person who stopped her was very much against someone of her nobility serving the poor like this. Miraculously, when Elizabeth opened her apron, the bread had changed into roses.
If you were stuck on a deserted island, what three things would you have with you?
My bible, my guitar and dark chocolate.
Can you tell us about the horrors of abortion?
I believe the whole act of abortion is so sad, damaging and deceptive. Physically, it is invasive and attacks a woman at her most precious maternal and creative level. Emotionally, the horror of abortion is made manifest in the suffering which follows. Current statistics state one in three women have had an abortion and we are seeing many women and men presenting with abortion grief symptoms. The abortion/s continues to impact on their life, family and future and many seek healing through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and continued abortion grief counselling. So many men and women are hurt from abortion, their vocation to be a mother or father is affected and often the horror of one abortion leads to a cycle of further abortions. The loss of the children is so sad but we take comfort in the fact that they are in heaven and we honour their lives through important memorial events like the coming Day of the Unborn on March 23, 2013.
What is your favourite colour?
Pink (light pink, like Everlastings!)
What is your favourite CD?
It’s hard to have just one! Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours
What do you listen to in your car?
If I’m alone, I’ll listen to the voice recordings on my phone of songs I’m currently crafting. If I’ve got company, usually the radio or whatever my son wants to listen to.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in music?
Practise, network, be authentic, share, gig lots, get your name out there, utilise the local community radio station and online social media. Perth has a great local music scene who are very supportive of each other.
What sort of artist would you describe yourself as?
An independent artist. I like the freedom to create art and share it at my leisure without concern for gaining profit or popularity.
Have you ever been in a church choir? If so, can you tell us about it?
When I was a teenager I played the saxophone at the Youth Mass at Our Lady of The Blessed Sacrament in Gosnells. It was so long ago now but I really enjoyed the weekly practice. Thank you, Mrs Evans! I currently cantor with the Neocatechumenal Way and it’s a treasure for my life to sing the Psalms.
Can you tell us about your first CD?
My debut CD is a pretty personal one. Much of it reflects my dialogue with the Lord or reactions to important events in my life put down in song. Dedicating the album to my son’s late father was very important to me.
What was involved in launching the album?
An interdenominational Christian women’s group, AGLOW, asked me to play at their Sydney conference in 2010. This invitation coincided with the recording of my album and naturally acted as a launch where I played to a crowd of 700 and sold 500 albums. I don’t think I could have organised a better launch if I had tried.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
To walk humbly with God. To give his love to others. To be a good mum to my awesome son, Finn. To collaborate musically and put a show together that incorporates large screen visual imagery alongside live music performance. I’m looking for a violinist if anyone is out there.