THE Mushroom Group had no idea what they had in D'Arcy Spiller. For a year the Melbourne singer-songwriter had worked as an intern in the Australian music label's promotions department, all the time wondering if this was the closest she'd ever get to launching her own recording career.
Before the internship finished, Spiller boldly circulated some demos around the office. This led to an audition of sorts in front of Mushroom's various label bosses in the company board room.
"At one point I looked up and saw [late Mushroom founder] Michael Gudinski in the room," Spiller said. "I remember going up to his office and his son Matt said, 'if he didn't like you, he would have walked out', and he stayed the whole time."
It turned out Gudinski was captivated by Spiller's enchanting voice, which sits somewhere between the blues of Meg Mac and the alternative twang of Kasey Chambers. Four years later the indie-pop artist is preparing to release her second EP, Disarray, on Mushroom's boutique label 100s + 1000s.
Disarray marks a dramatic change from the blues-pop piano ballads of her 2020 debut EP Little Demons. Tracks like Cry All Night and What In Hell displayed Spiller's knack for melody, but Disarray's showcases a darker indie vibe.
The opener Wolf Blood - built around a brooding bass line and blues guitar loop - and K Karma, co-written with Ali Barter and Holy Holy's Oscar Dawson, are Spiller's most infectious songs.
Disarray was written in the midst of Melbourne's lengthy lockdown where Spiller spent the majority of the time alone in her apartment. The long periods of solitude led to Spiller delving into her "shadow self" or "sub conscious ego" - the part of one's personality we pretend doesn't exist.
"We live in such a fast-paced world that we don't have that moment to look within and understand ourselves completely," Spiller said. "It doesn't have to be on a spiritual level, per se, but knowing what really makes you inspired, what sends you over the edge and why you're really angry at a certain person."
It's been a long journey to find national recognition. Spiller's musical talent, especially her voice, was discovered at an early age. In her teens she spent five weeks at Boston's Berklee College of Music and attended an arts school while her family were based in Minneapolis. However, after returning home from the US at 18 she turned away from music.
Post-school Spiller worked in fashion styling in Sydney and her musical aspirations seemingly stalled.
"When I was living in Sydney there was this massive gap, this big hole. I missed doing music," she said.
This eventually led to Spiller pushing through the door at Mushroom as an intern.
D'Arcy Spiller's EP Disarray is released on Friday.