Rebecca Jade O'Brien, turned darby in 2011 asking her Grandmother Jeanette's permission for use of her maiden name after noticing it printed on an old suitcase whilst sifting through vintage polaroids in the cupboard.
darby’s first day of school was in Palmerston North, New Zealand at St James. The family of 5 moved to the North island when her father got a job at the university. Lorrae, darby’s mother, gifted painter and graphic designer would often walk the kids to school in howling winds, freezing temperatures and a blown umbrella. darby first remembers how the power of melody hit her at the school assemblies where she learnt the Maori national anthem. Sung every morning before class, the language was beautiful and pure.
darby and her siblings went to 6 different schools and lived in rotating rentals almost every year of their adolescence until settling for high school in the Mid North Coast of Port Macquarie. At around 8 years old the family moved in briefly with their parents' close friend, songwriter, wedding singer, and maths teacher Mr Love. Mr love lived in a tree house he built with the help of friends in Old Bar in the middle of a forrest- it was here that 6 months of her life would have the greatest impact. Whilst her father, a rebel turned professor completed a PHD in a small shack off the property, darby would form an avid interest for Mr Love’s original song recordings on tape, hanging out in his studio, hypnotising chickens, diving through dress up boxes, exploring the forrest with the neighbours dog ‘Jack’, re runs of Ren and Stimpy but most importantly, Mr love’s late night artist parties where she would dance to Shania Twain until passing out to the sounds of her parents and their friends reminiscing to 60s and 70s hits.
darby became hyper aware at a young age- taking in details of places, looks on faces, the beauty or boredom of buildings and so on. Adopting to new environments and personalities on a semi-regular basis formed the foundations for an ability to draw from her experiences and use songwriting as a tool for dealing with regular change and with what was probably quite a stressful childhood for a shy and introverted kid.
At the age of 12 darby wrote her first song ‘Plane’ which she remembers singing vulnerably to her girlfriends in a circle on the football field in year 7. After her father moved to Singapore for a job that would help pay the family’s mortgage, songwriting became a regular activity and a means of comfort. The simple song consisted of two chords she taught herself from hearing Avril Lavigne on repeat and a lot of budding pre-teen emotion.
Discovered at the age of 17 in a restaurant Bar named ‘Blue Water’ (Port Macquarie) by a local touring musician Chris Tejcek, darby’s professional career began , she joined the folk trio aptly named ‘The Giving Tree’ for a couple of years where the three would rehearse and perform their original songs amidst covers of Neil Young, Johnny Cash and the like, before leaving the town at 18 and beginning a convoluted journey to Sydney’s inner west at age 26 where she was accepted into Alpha Artist’s Co-operative- this period of 3 year residence would see her through 9 albums, countless collaborations, her own painting studio and the most tumultuous albiet incredible years of her life.