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Sarah Blasko On Stepping Back, Going Forwards And Playing Her First Solo Tour

Column: Features   |   Date Published: Sunday, 14 May 17   |   Author: Hayden Fritzlaff   |   2 weeks, 2 days ago

     "Meditation sounds a bit wanky, but I just mean in the sense of going into your own little space and not having to think about the other people on stage."

It’s easy to forget – or maybe I don’t think about it enough – that our artists are real, often caffeine-dependent mortals like ourselves.

“I’ve had two coffees,” says SARAH BLASKO across a delayed phone connection. “So I’m just warning you. I don’t think it’s helping, but I could suddenly burst into non-stop chatter during this.”

She’s about to set out completely on her own for THE SOLOIST tour. The past year has seen her wrapping up promo for her album Eternal Return, begin writing the follow-up and having her first child. Today she’s sitting eight interviews back-to-back. Now more than ever seems like the perfect time to step back and regain some sense of clarity.

“I think it’s always good,” says Blasko. “As important as it is to go forward I think it’s really important to go backwards sometimes, you know. Just to kind of reconnect with yourself and what you do, with your audience as well I guess. So I think it’ll be kind of liberating and fun and sort of terrifying. This is something that I’ve been daring myself to do for a while. You sort of get used to making things bigger rather than making things smaller.”

Playing entirely solo is new but not unheard of for Blasko. “I was sort of travelling with the band I was supporting though,” she says of her last solo shows. “I did find it really fun and liberating to just kind of be me, me and my instrument. I feel like it’s the kind of thing that I need right now and I’ll really enjoy.

“It’s just more of a meditation when you’re by yourself. I mean, meditation sounds a bit wanky, but I just mean in the sense of going into your own little space and not having to think about the other people on stage. You’re completely guiding it. You’re doing that to an extent when it’s your music and other people are playing it with you but I think when you’re holding the instrument you can just be completely free to take anything wherever you want it to go.”

It looks as though something of that philosophy is carrying over into writing sessions for Blasko’s next album. Voice and guitar, voice and piano – they’re the default states for a singer-songwriter. I ask her about the writing process this time around, and whether her next release might be a live album.

“Well I’m sort of thinking that I might record these shows,” she says. “Maybe some of them or all of them and see where that leads. I have thought that one day I would like to do a really stripped back record. But it’s not going to be this one because I’ve started recording a new album and it’s not stripped back. The new one is just a weird mix of soul music and folk and blues. I think that’s why I’m finding it hard to explain it. I don’t know what it is. I’m just kind of doing it and enjoying doing it. But I think it’s got more space, a lot more space than the last record. It’s not lots of layers. It’s pretty rhythm and voice based. That’s about all I can articulate at this point.

“I’ve been listening to a lot of Bob Marley recently which I’ve never done before in my life. I think I just love the simplicity and the honesty. I’ve also really enjoyed this newest Solange record. Or Salonge? Is that how you pronounce it? I feel like I want to say it in a French accent for some reason. That’s probably my favourite record of the past six months or so. Again I think it’s the simplicity. It’s a record that really gets under your skin, it doesn’t hit you in the face. I really love the people that do that. It just really seeps into your bones. It’s a really emotional record I think, but it’s delivered in a very sort of self-conscious, pure manner.”

For someone with two ARIA Awards, a J-Award-winning album and a host of successful side-projects to her name, Blasko has a surprising lack of faith in her own musical abilities. She’s quick to attribute her success to instinct and belief rather than virtuosity. “I don’t even really know what I’m doing,” she says, laughing. “I kind of just um, yeah, I’m just kind of doing it. That’s a pretty pathetic answer but that’s kind of how it is.

“I think more than anything I’m just a believer in that if you put enough heart into something and you really believe what you’re doing then that’s sort of all you can do really. You do it in the hope that other people will feel that and it’ll connect with them or resonate with them because of something that really resonated with you. But you can never tell what anyone’s going to take away from what you’re doing. So you’re sort of partly selfish in a way. It has to start with you.”

Indeed, it’s that so-called selfishness that makes Blasko the artist she is. The opening tracks from her most recent albums, ‘I Awake’ and ‘I Am Ready’, demonstrate that understanding; personal experience and intimacy are the surest way to your listener’s heart.

I’m tossing up whether to press that point more with her or continue down the alt-RnB rabbit hole we started on with Solange. The delay on the phone line gets the better of us though. “No you go,” she says. “I’m just raving on ‘cos I’m burning coffee.”

Sarah Blasko brings The Soloist to The Playhouse on Thursday June 8. Tickets $56.50 + bf through canberratheatrecentre.com.

 

 





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