Today is the day that Sarah Blasko’s new album Depth of Field hits the shelves/streams/world/whatever we call it when a record drops.
To celebrate its release, Sarah is heading to Adelaide to play at Grounded festival in Tarntanyangga/Victoria Square.
Depth of Field is as moving as it is contagious and features those signature Blasko haunting melodies and affecting vocals.
Sarah says the album was inspired by a recent residency in Campbelltown, NSW.
“This record kind of came out of a residency I did at Campbelltown Arts Centre. I like working within limitations because I think it’s often a nice way to start; kind of just focus on the important aspects. If you start with too many sounds sometimes you get a bit lost so when we went out to Campbelltown Arts Centre, I decided to write with a couple of friends that I’d written Eternal Return with. And in this space, we just kept things very minimal,” she says.
“So everything was generated from this old 1970’s drum machine. It’s a real classic drum machine called the Rhythm Ace. I guess a lot of the record and the sound of the record came out of three things: the piano, the drum machine and the guitar. Mostly he was playing on like a baritone guitar. And we tried not to … Kenny the producer wanted to get lots of ideas down.
“Often you make demos and then you scrap them and then you start for real. That’s how I’ve worked because I am old. I think people make music in their bedrooms now so they won’t relate to this. I offered to scrap the demo and start again with the producer, but this time I was really keen to just use every thing we recorded as a springboard, and just keep on working on what I already had as the basis of the record. So that’s it. That’s a long-winded way of explaining the basis of the album,” Sarah laughs.
The second single on the album, ‘Shot’ is emotionally charged and Sarah tells me it’s written about an experience of feeling let down and betrayed by people she loved.
“I think when you feel let down in that way by a friend, it really does something to your confidence because you felt that they would always be there and you really trusted them. I didn’t really see it coming at all and it kind of knocked me over. The feeling is very physical and that’s what that song is about,” she says.
The video for ‘Shot’ has recently been released and features an underwater Sarah, which she says was a little bit fraught with danger, but really captured the essence of a song.
“It was pretty difficult. On the one hand I thought I was going to get electrocuted because someone realised that they were running a cable where there was a pool of water,” he laughs.
“Apart from fearing for my life, working with Luke – because he’s a photographer and he’s only just started doing clips – he works in a very different way to any director that I’ve worked with. It’s relatively quick and he deals with it in the same way, he captures aesthetics, but on film. So in one sense he’s very quick because he likes working like a photographer. Then on the other hand, it was sort of like we were feeling our way and we weren’t 100 per cent sure what we were going to come out with, particularly when we were shooting underwater.”
When Luke was planning the clip for ‘Shot’, he had pictured a moonless sea, and with other songs on Depth of Field like, ‘Savour It’ flooding the melody with imagery, I asked Sarah what she was picturing when she wrote it.
“When we were at Campbelltown Arts Centre, I brought along all these experimental films on an anthology of American experimental films from the 1940s to the 1970s or something like that. So there was whole bunch of random films coming on all the time, so that song was really tied into the visuals that I was looking at, because there was one that really stuck in my mind. I can’t remember which film that was because there was so many films in this DVD pack of old American films,” she says.
“There was this one of a man walking, struggling up this snowy peak and he was really struggling. And it was just sort of going on and on and on. So that was what I was looking at when I was writing the song. But all the stuff I was watching was very nostalgic. Everything was shot on film and because it was older, there was this real nostalgia in the room and a real atmosphere. And the main keyboard in that film is a Mellotron which is a really old keyboard that does samples of strings on to tape, so it has a this really wobbly, nostalgic sound. So I think all of that was kind of influencing me in that moment.”
Coming to Adelaide this weekend for the brand new Grounded event as part of Adelaide Fringe, Sarah shares with me some fond memories of Adelaide.
“There’s a good gin bar there in Adelaide. I’m partial to gin. There’s good food and wine in Adelaide, I like food and I like wine,” she says. “I got a really good haircut once in Adelaide which actually was a really dangerous move because I decided to just suddenly go to a random hairdresser on the first day of my tour. But it worked out totally for the best because it was one the best haircuts I’ve had. But it was a risky move, it could really have affected the tour.”
By Libby Parker