Sarah Blasko’s “Soloist” Tour starts this week and goes around the country right through to July. This tour is promises something quite unique and a different take on the Sarah Blasko back catalogue. Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles spoke to Sarah ahead of the tour about going solo, new albums and whether the concept of an album is still a valid one.
2017 sounds like another big year for Sarah Blasko, how is it going so far?
It has been good, really busy, the last few months I have been starting work on a new album and a web series that is coming out soon. It has been fun!
New album? What are you able to tell us about that?
The album has come out of artist in residence thing I did last year at Campbelltown Arts Centre so I wrote a whole heap of music in a two week period. So I’m making an album out of that, it is not going to be a live album as I started writing there and it came out of that process. I’m hoping to have most of it finished before I go on this solo tour and then I’ll mix the record after the tour. This tour is just going to be me on my own on stage.
I have done shows like that before in Europe but I have never done it in Australia. I don’t really know why but I guess I enjoy playing with the people I play with so much that I hadn’t really thought about it. I’m looking for something new that I haven’t done before and this is one of those things I have been wanting to do for a while. It is a nice time to be able to do it.
Is it a bit daunting going out there on your own without a band or is refreshing as you said to do something different?
I think it is going to be a bit of everything, it will be really challenging, I think it will be really liberating and exciting and scary. It is perfectly what I need right now and the thing that is going to push me a little bit making me do something I have never done before. I think it is really important to do things like that as much as you can.
Does it take a bit of getting used particularly when you have had a band behind you?
Yeah, definitely! It definitely takes a bit to get used to but it is very freeing at the same time because you can make on the spot decisions of where you want a song to go and no one else has to. Also I don’t need to second guess where I want to go and I can get lost in what I’m doing and not have to think about anyone else or what anyone else is doing. It is a very different thing playing on your own.
Do some of the Sarah Blasko classics take a bit of reworking to fit the solo show?
Definitely! Too make it interesting for myself and to have a bit of a point of difference is something you have to do when you strip it right back. If it was me and one other person I would have to rethink it the way I perform as well as you can only do so much with two people. I enjoy hearing people play in the rawest form and the people that are going to come along to these shows is who it would appeal to.
In rehearsals have you forgotten how certain songs go?
There are lots of songs that I have forgotten how to play for sure but that’s what usually happens with every tour because you might bring out something that you haven’t played in a while. It is a nice chance to do a different version of it and I think you’re hearing the songs with fresh ears. Each time you come to a song you have to try and relate to where you are and maybe the instruments you’re interested in playing at the moment or the sounds you are interested in as well. I’ll definitely be trying to adapt the songs to what I’m enjoying doing at the moment. That stuff always shows!
Have you thought about the set list and what songs you are going to do? It must be tough?
Yeah, I think things quickly become clear which ones work well in this setting and which ones don’t. Like I said it is a fun challenge to completely rework something in a way people wouldn’t expect. I think there is something wonderful about it and the song sounding completely different. Not melodically, I don’t enjoy that as a listener going to see someone play all my favourite songs that they have done and changing all the melodies, I can’t stand that! I won’t be doing that but I love it when they change the arrangement around the melody. It seems to always bring out new meanings in the song and the lyrics. It might make the song sound sad or happier, it might draw your attention to different lyrics that you didn’t pay attention to in the past. I’m in to that kind of stuff.
Not having a band does that mean you can bring in other elements to the live production?
My natural reflex is to then try and think of doing all of these things to try and detract from the fact that it is just me but I think it is really important for me to feel confident with the fact it is just me and that is enough, not having to have pyrotechnics or something to make it feel like I’m making it more interesting. I’m interested to see what just me can do!
Is it hard juggling touring with home life and everything else?
I think that is the same for everybody. Everybody juggles that, I don’t think I’m any different. Anyone who has had a kid knows that’s what everybody does.
Do you still believe in the concept of an album?
I think every person needs to do what they believe in. If you one hundred percent believe in what you’re doing or something is important to you then that’s what you should do. For me I’ve grown up loving albums, I love releasing my music as a collection of songs in that way. I’m not against people putting out a song every two months and releasing things that way.
I think it is important for music to be shaken up and change because I think things keep going the way they have always gone. Then I do find and the problems I have with digital and the way people listen to music these days is a reflection of the way people do a lot of other things in life not just the way they consume music. It is difficult to deal with because it is a broader issue and I think music is just one aspect of that.
For me personally I enjoy releasing songs as a collection but then I don’t know if I’ll always enjoy releasing music like that. Like I said I think it is cool when people release a song out of the blue and it doesn’t have to be attached to an album. A good song is a good song, if it is done with integrity and with heart that’s what matters. It’s just if people are trying to do it for gimmicky reasons then I’m not really in to that. I think it is the way that you do and the thought behind it.
It is easy to think doom and gloom about these sorts of things but the reality is that the music industry has been ripping off artists for ages. It is an industry full of charlatans and gimmicks, it has been that way in many guises throughout decades. I really like to keep the faith and I’m a believer in things come back around and things keep changing. It is like that when you look at art and fashion, things come back around. Who would have ever thought that people would like fashion from the eighties again but anyone who lived through the eighties.
Interview by Rob Lyon
Catch Sarah Blasko on “The Soloist Tour” starting this week…