Interview: Sarah Blasko

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Interview: Sarah Blasko

We are so excited and honoured to have Sarah Blasko performing at one of our Lunchtime Concerts at camp this year! We chatted to Sarah about her creative processes, what it's like to go on tour, and all the things she's proud of achieving over her incredible career so far.

How long have you been making music for and how did you start out?

I've been making music since I was about 17 or 18. That's when I started picking up the guitar and writing my own songs and singing in bands. I'm now 41, so that is longer than I care to mention! I have been doing it professionally (as in, surviving solely on income made from music) since I was about 27.

Tell us a bit about your creative process? 

It has an element of randomness to it. I'm not formally trained so I go by my ear and my gut! But the songs do normally begin by the traditional method of sitting at the piano or playing a few chords on the guitar and then seeing where it takes me. I also love to write with others - responding melodically to chords that I don't know or a way that I wouldn't normally play.

What kind of gear do you use? Do you have a favourite instrument to play?

Piano is definitely my favourite instrument. I find it really inspiring on a tonal level, that you can hit one note and the room comes alive. It's a very dynamic and versatile instrument in my opinion. It's been given a bad name by all the M.O.R balladeers but you just have to watch Aretha Franklin play it to see what an exciting beast it can be. I run pro tools on my computer to get my ideas down and to work on the film and TV stuff I've done. On my latest album I recorded lots of keyboard overdubs at home too. My favourite mic to use at home is a Shure SM-7. It's very versatile and easy to derive a good sound from. Otherwise I have a bunch of nice keyboards and an old Rhythm Ace drum machine that I like to use. 

How do you think you have changed as an artist over last few years?

I think I've gained more of an inner confidence and I usually know what I'm going for more clearly. It's always important to maintain a love for the unknown though, and to see things as though for the first time as much as you can or I believe you probably just go through the motions.

What’s it like to go on tour? What are the best and worst things about touring?

Touring is exhausting and fun all at once. I've had the good fortune to travel so much with music. The best part about it is feeling like you're on an amazing adventure with your friends, sharing memorable shows and in jokes with one another and being welcomed incredibly warmly in places you'd never been or would have thought to go. The worst is when you're sick and far from home and you don't get to see anything but an airport or a hotel or you travel far to play a show that hardly anyone turns up for!

Tell us about something you’re really proud of?

Making an album with an orchestra and doing a tour with a different orchestra in each city. It has been my personal highlight, having hoped I would one day have the opportunity when I was a child. 

Have you faced any challenges as a musician? If so, how did you overcome them?

I think being a woman has sometimes felt like the biggest challenge. I have often felt underestimated or belittled. The term "chick" music has come up from time to time and it really irks me. I have just tried to take things into my own hands as much as possible and to do things to turn expectations on their head. But, at the end of the day I'm just trying to keep going. That is the only way to overcome them. To persist. It's incredibly difficult sometimes though. Some days I still wonder if I should keep going. They are the times to remind yourself why you do it and why you love music and to try and forget about all the other stuff that is peripheral.

Which artists or people do you admire and why?

David Byrne, Bjork, PJ Harvey, David Bowie, Solange, The Beatles, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, etc etc. Integrity, humility, love the artistic pursuit of pop music, the drama & the wonder in it.

Thinking back on your career, is there a particular moment that stands out as a great memory?

Standing on stage playing my own show at the Sydney Opera House with a 40 piece orchestra and seeing all my friends in the crowd. It brought tears to my eyes.

If you could perform with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?

Oh to have been one of Prince's backing singers! To witness the weirdness and the awesomeness of what he did on that level would've been incredible.

What are three things you like about yourself?

I can't hide what I feel (though it sometimes feels like a curse), my eyes (I can see my childhood self through them), I'm learning to like my freckles. 

What advice would you give your 13 year old self?

Don't be afraid to make mistakes, it's ok. You're still just a little girl. 

 

Top image by Kylie Coutts

Interview by Madeleine Er

Girls Rock! Sydney