I had the amazing opportunity to chat with artist Max Jackson about her debut album, Life of the Party. Instead of the regular written blog I decided to record it as an audio blog – we all need to hear each others’ voices right now!! Enjoy x
**advice from a musician and mum (not a scientist haha)
- Play music at home.
Plain and simple, but often forgotten. I’ve met heaps of kids who don’t have music playing at home, and those that do, gel with and understand music so much more. Instead of turning on the TV in the morning, pop on a playlist or a CD (if you still listen to CD’s…I do). Sing while you eat breakfast. Surround them with music and it will soak into their brains as they grow.
- Play a broad variety of music.
Yep, even “freaky deaky” jazz. Whatever you play to them as they grow becomes the musical norm for them. They’ll have a greater understanding of different musical ideas, structures and sounds if you mix it up. Play lullabies, blues, pop, rock, gypsy jazz, French folk tunes, New Zealand funk – whatever you can find. Make it a challenge to find something completely different each day to play in the background.
- Encourage your kids to use their body while listening to music.
Encourage them to clap their hands, bop in time, dance around, sing to it – absorb the music right into their tiny little bodies. It’s amazing to me how many people cannot FEEL the music they listen to, and it’s a really easy thing to counter. Help your kids find the beat – stamp their feet in time and count loudly as you do it.
- Let them be loud.
Especially if you or they want to be a singer. Loudness is a parents worst nightmare – you’ve had a long day at work and the last thing you want is to come home and listen to your kids’ loudness. One of the best things I learnt during a vocal course was that in our culture of ‘shhhhh be quiet and listen’, we’ve cut off the opportunity to use parts of our voice that are loud. If you want to belt a huge note when you become a professional singer, you need practice in being loud. Obviously not in peoples faces and in the middle of the night – go outside and encourage them to yell and scream one afternoon. Go to a park or a paddock or a big backyard and belt it out!! Use the muscles that create loudness in their voice. They will learn not to be afraid of loud noises, and it gives them a better chance later down the track to learn how to control those muscles. Then maybe have the chat about when it’s appropriate to be loud…
- Encourage them to experience music in analog form as much as digital.
A lot of music is consumed and created in digital form now (streaming, online music apps, iPad music games etc) but it’s important to make music REAL. Create a musical box full of instruments (doesn’t have to be top quality), or let them strum a ukulele, or play an old piano, or sing – they need to hear sound waves coming from non-digital music items to help their learning. Take them to see a violinist, go to the markets to see a local musician play, or hang out with a friend who has a harp (someone might!). Without getting too technical the sound waves from an analog instrument are different to digital sound waves, and it has a different effect on the brain. You don’t need the best quality instruments when they’re young – cheap and cheerful is the way to go.
If you’re reading this you’re most likely engaged and in the middle of planning what feels like a mountain of things for your big day! As a musician and singer I perform at weddings across Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Hunter Valley and Sydney, so let me offer some help when it comes to all things music related for your wedding day. I offer a number of different packages for live music for ceremonies and receptions – here’s some more details about the packages I offer ; )
Choosing Your Special Songs
It can feel a bit daunting choosing the key songs for your wedding day. My advice is to choose something that speaks to you as a couple – listen to the songs, read the lyrics – does it say what you want to say? With all of the suggestions I offer in this post have a listen, read the words and choose the songs that ring true for you.
Walking Down The Aisle & First Dance
Something a little epic and romantic
A Thousand Years – Christina Perri
All of Me – John Legend
All My Life – K-Ci & JoJo
From This Moment On – Shania Twain
You and Me – Lifehouse
Marry Me – Train
Perfect – Ed Sheeran
In Case You Didn’t Know – Brett Young
Can’t Help Falling In Love With You – Elvis
Beautiful in White – Westlife
Say You Won’t Let Go – James Arthur
Runaway – The Corrs
Heaven – Bryan Adams
Signing The Register
Something sweet and easy-listening
I’m Yours – Jason Mraz
At Last – Etta James
Unchained Melody – The Righteous Brothers
Lucky – Jason Mraz w Colbie Callait
XO – Beyonce
I Choose You – Sara Bareilles
God Only Knows – The Beach Boys
I Do – Colbie Callait
Making Memories of Us – Keith Urban
Better Together – Jack Johnson
You Are The Reason – Calum Scott
More Than Words – Extreme
Just The Way You Are – Bruno Mars
It’s Your Love – Tim McGraw
Love Me Like You Do – Ellie Goulding
Like I’m Gonna Lose You – Meghan Trainor feat. John Legend
I Won’t Give Up – Jason Mraz
Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran
The Rest of Our Life – Faith Hill & Tim McGraw
You & Me – Dave Matthews Band
The Only Exception – Paramore
Baby I Love Your Way – Big Mountain
Crazy For You – Madonna
My Girl – The Temptations
Stay With Me – Jarle Bernhoft
Your Love Is King – Sade
Leaving the Ceremony + Entering Your Reception
Something a little more upbeat to celebrate!
Signed Sealed Delivered – Stevie Wonder
How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) – Marvin Gaye (James Taylor’s version is great too)
What I Like About You – The Romantics
You Make My Dreams – Hall & Oates
Love On Top – Beyonce
A Sky Full of Stars – Coldplay
I Wanna Hold Your Hand – The Beatles
Marry You – Bruno Mars
It Takes Two – Marvin Gaye & Kim Weston
Sugar Pie Honey Bunch – The Four Tops
Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
I Feel Good – James Brown
Classic – MKTO
Sugar – Maroon 5
Everything – Michael Buble
I Will Wait – Mumford & Sons
Marry Me – Jason Darulo
All You Need Is Love – The Beatles
Are You Gonna Be My Girl – Jet
Believer – Smash Mouth / Neil Diamond
Best of My Love – Emotions
Happy – Pharrell Williams
Something in the Water – Brooke Fraser
Walking on Sunshine – Katrina & The Waves
Something to focus on you two
The Way You Look Tonight – Frank Sinatra
Amazed – Lonestar
Come Away With Me – Norah Jones
Can You Feel The Love Tonight – Elton John
When A Man Loves A Woman – Percy Sledge
Can’t Take My Eyes Off You – Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons
If I Ain’t Got You – Alicia Keys
I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston
Love Me Tender – Elvis
Save The Last Dance For Me – Michael Buble
Stay With You – John Legend
Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper
You Are The Sunshine of My Life – Stevie Wonder
Celebrate the dad and daughter relationship
Isn’t She Lovely – Stevie Wonder
My Little Girl – Tim McGraw
Daddy’s Little Girl – Michael Buble
Butterfly Kisses – Bob Carlisle
Always Be Your Baby – Natalie Grant
Daughters – John Mayer
Here’s my full songlist and a sample wedding songlist so you can see the kinds of songs I can play across your day!
I had the pleasure of interviewing guitarist and all-round musician Kate Plummer (AUS), who alongside cellist Maren Haynes Marchesini (US) forms the duo, Hemispheres. This cross-continent duo are releasing their debut album The Corners of Mountains this Friday 16th November and believe me – It. Is. Stunning (I was lucky enough to enjoy a sneak peak listen). Do yourself a favour this week – get a copy of this album and soak in the sounds of the Montana wilderness.
Yes, we’re excited for the release! I’m originally from Sydney, Australia, but moved to Helena, Montana, 5 years ago. Hopefully, my writing on this album shows the way the sparsely populated, mountainous Montana landscape has slowly become a part of my story, seeping into my bones and reshaping the rhythms of my life.
I invited Maren to play on the song Mountains Over Flathead and in the first few seconds realised there was a special connection worth exploring past only one song. Maren bought a gorgeous, rich sound and thoughtful ear for melody that complimented the guitar’s artistic textures. Thus Hemispheres was born.
The songs themselves are summed up in the album title, The Corners of Mountains, which captures the emotion of places we never saw coming. The music communicates a rarified reference for life, illuminating into our souls.
As a duo you bring different musical backgrounds to the project that also span great distances around the world – how did you collaborate and work together as a team to create it?
We met 18 months ago after Maren moved to Helena. Maren grew up in Bozeman, Montana, but went to music school in Spokane and Seattle before moving to Berkeley, California. Along the way, she played in various indie rock projects, and studied with musicians from all over the world.
My experiences draw from my musical life in Sydney where I played in a number of projects as a guitarist and singer, as well as recording 3 albums of my own where I had the superb fortune to work with esteemed producer, Jim Moginie (Midnight Oil), all of which was influenced by a good deal of travel and cultural encounters around the world. We both enjoy working in eclectic circles and a variety of styles, so as we work together we don’t draw inspiration from any single influence, but rather bring our whole lives and histories to the collaboration.
What’s the sound landscape of this work and were there specific roles for each instrument that you planned or discovered along the way?
From the moment we started playing, we found space for each instrument whereby neither one was dominating the other. While we never intentionally drew out a plan for the way we played, I believe we shared unspoken understanding to contribute to each song what it needed, or we felt was melodically or texturally supportive. We gave each other open license to chase creative ideas as far as they would take us. The songs always emanated a “Big Sky” sound, much like the spacious vastness of Montana geography. This topographical reference point inspired our sound.
We recorded with Chris Cunningham (Storyhill) at Basecamp studios in Bozeman. I first met Chris playing guitar with him across a lakeside campfire in Northern Minnesota at music festival called Storyhill Fest. That was well over a decade ago. We’ve musically crossed paths a few times since, so it was great to reconnect and work on this project.
Tomorrow will be the debut performance of the tracks from this album and it’s looking like a really special event (including an online live stream!) – what can you tell us about it?
We’re delighted to be performing in a unique artspace and studio, Free Ceramics, owned by local potter Emily Free Wilson. Interestingly, ceramics are the most celebrated artform here in mountain town of Helena. We are an intriguing community that way. Often, an artist will work while an event is going on which makes it a rich connection of artistic expression.
We were blessed to have both David Casey (bouzouki) and Josh Loveland (percussion) join us while recording the album and they will be joining us live to create the live experience. We also invited sisters Annie Tommerup and Erin Wolfe to open the night with their gorgeous folk harmonies.
For those who live in Helena, Montana, grab your tickets for their album release HERE.
We’re looking forward to playing and sharing these tunes in the midst of this expressive and generative landscape. I think we’re both excited to find out where this collaboration next leads us.
Photography – Jason O’Neil
For those who live in Helena, Montana, grab your tickets for their album release HERE.
The Corners of Mountains will be available online – head to the Hemispheres website for more details.
You’ve just released a new single, Waiting, which is setting the scene for your new EP coming soon. What is Waiting about and how did this track come together?
Waiting is about Love and what I imagined God might sing to us if God could write us a love song. I’m not a religious person myself anymore but recently I have been exploring a personal relationship with God again, just me and God this time and I guess what I have learned is that everything that I had ever been taught about who God was through religion was wrong. God is much more beautiful, loving and accepting of all races, colours, genders and sexuality than what is taught and I am enjoying getting to know and trust God all over again. I wrote Waiting because I wanted to share that God is offering her Gift of Love to those who desire it and is always waiting patiently to be loved in return without demand or expectation.
You have an incredible life story – how has music been a part of your journey and how do you engage with your art?
Music has been a massive part of bringing me a lot of joy growing up. I spent a lot of time alone in my room throughout my high school years and music kept me company. I loved to learn all the words to the latest music and sing along over and over until I learned the whole song. Later on in life music inspired me to make better choices for my life, music inspired me to stop being destructive to myself and get sober. Music is what brought me over to Sydney and provided me with many opportunities and adventures. I recently graduated with a Bachelor of Music (Composition and Music Production) and now teach music to children. I also have a small home studio which I love to practice my live performance and hope to find some students to mentor in music production.
What are important influences on your life experience and music?
I never thought I would say this but getting to know God again has had a massive impact on my life in such a short space of time. This has also trickled over and had such a positive effect on my music and I find I am writing much more honestly now. My intention has also changed, in the past I used music as a way to get attention, approval and glory, I used music to cover over a lot of hurt and pain that I was carrying and to make myself feel better. I have had to work hard over the last few years on purifying my desire with music and these days I have a very different set of reasons why I engage my passion of music. My creative drive today is fuelled by my desire to live a life that is 100% truthful and loving to who I am, to live a life that honours my personality and nature that will allow me to continuously learn and develop not just as a musician but as a person. Don’t get me wrong I still have some purifying to do with my passion and I still have things that I need to work on.
You do some amazing work with your music, some of which includes running workshops in schools sharing your own story and music. What has it been like sharing your journey with others and what message do you want students (or any listeners) to walk away with?
It has been quite a terrifying experience going to schools and sometimes presenting in front of up to 400-600 students at a time. It definitely has helped me to face some of my fears and has always been a rewarding experience in the end. The main message I always like to leave anyone is the importance of discovering your life purpose and to find something they can do where they can have fun everyday! We all have a unique calling and as Oprah says our real job is to find out what that is and go and do that as quickly as possible. Go Oprah!!!
How did your soon-to-be-released EP come together and what can you tell us about it?
The EP is called Into My Soul and is about my journey over the past few years ‘into my soul’. When I moved to Sydney I went through some big life changes, I guess you could say my life went through a big upheaval, basically it was like my life got wiped clean, everything fell away from friends, family, and it was just me. I’ve struggled with addictions all my life and used substances as a way to numb out and avoid, I realised that what I was avoiding was a lot of hurt and pain from my childhood as I was sexually abused as a child. As I got sober, there was a layer of numbness that was taken away and for the first time I had to come face to face with what was underneath the numbness, a lot of emotional pain. I was living in boarding houses in just a small room while I studied and I spent a good three years just crying almost everyday releasing and connecting to a lot of pain inside of me for the first time.
So the songs on this EP capture what I learned about myself and my soul during those times, what I discovered about Love and God, what I discovered was in my soul, all of the things that I had tried to bury but obviously never went away. I wanted to share these songs to demonstrate that getting out of denial about things that have happened in our lives and becoming more honest and truthful with ourselves about how we feel inside rather than trying to suppress our emotions is the first step to healing and I feel that this level of honesty may benefit others who have had similar struggles.
What’s on the horizon for you?
EP release, music videos and a new film and music production business to work on!
LISTEN TO WAITING HERE.
Follow Thaylia online:
Listen to Waiting here: Click here
Spotify: Click here
Youtube: Click here
You’ve just released your EP Demons – what inspired this EP and how did it come together?
The concept of this EP was sparked with a song I wrote with an Australian artist, Jess Harlen – the track is called Dangerous Mind. Funnily enough when we started writing it, we thought it was a great fit for the story of the character Daenerys Targaryen from HBO’s Game of Thrones series. So that was very unexpected haha. But we ended up drawing inspiration from the show for another two songs on the EP also – Demons and Queen. The show has such beautiful visuals and is so visceral and dramatic it actually ended up shaping a lot of the soundscape.
You’ve also recently released a video clip for the title track, Demons. What’s the story behind this song and the visuals you’ve crafted in this clip?
For me the song itself is about walking away from trauma. In the video, the dancers, or demons, represent temptation… something beautiful which is also incredibly dangerous and destructive. It could be interpreted in many different ways – to me it’s symbolic of addiction. So all throughout the video I’m fighting them (the demons), I don’t want to give in, but the more paint they rub on my skin, the harder it is to resist them, and then eventually I give in to them and accept my fate. Filming the video was such a memorable experience. The crew and dancers were amazing and helped to create a space where I could connect directly to the song and the performance – we did just the one take with paint which we ended up using. The video was directed and produced by Jess Harlen, who also did all of the photography for the Demons EP.
Watch the Demons videoclip here.
What artists inspired you growing up and why?
In my teenage years, I was listening to Kate Bush, Tori Amos, Stevie Nicks, Florence + the Machine… all of the power babes haha. There was just an authenticity and boldness about their writing that I still think is pretty badass. I grew up on a hearty diet of rock n’ roll and folk music, spoon-fed by my folks – The Doors, The Rolling Stones, Gillian Welch, and Eva Cassidy to name a few.
As a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, how do you usually build your ideas for writing?
Usually when I’m writing I just like to use an acoustic guitar and my notes folder on my iPhone. Being at the computer it’s too tempting to put on my producers hat and be distracted by the thousands of sounds that are available these days. So I mostly just need some chords to work with, especially at the moment I’m trying to remember that less is more. Almost always the lyrics will come first and if it’s meant to be, the music will just fall into place. I like to go walking by the (urban) river by my house, for some reason that stimulates my mind and draws some lyrics my way. I try to do that every morning so that the creative muscle is always exercised. Not every song will be a keeper but it makes it a lot easier to know what to do when inspiration strikes.
You’re from New Zealand originally, now based in LA. Why did you make the move and how has it influenced your music?
I came to LA on a whim at the end of a visit to Austin TX a few years ago where I played some shows and couch surfed. Los Angeles seemed like such a vibrant and inspiring city so I kept coming back! It’s definitely a challenging place to be as an artist because there are so many of us, and I think that’s a good thing. If anything, living here has pushed me to be more authentic and bold as an artist, and as a person.
What’s on the horizon for you?
I’ve been performing a lot lately to promote the EP which has been cool because I’ve had a chance to try out some new material for my next record. I’m looking forward to shooting a video for the next song off the Demons EP, and finding new audiences to connect with.
ORDER YOUR COPY DEMONS HERE.
Follow Eden Iris online:
Watch the Demons videoclip: Click here
Spotify: Click here
Stream: Click here
Youtube: Click here
- You’re about 70% confident in your performance, and 30% absolutely, completely, never-endingly, totally FREAKED about your performance.
- Your best performances are when you stop thinking and just SING.
- There is always some kind of divide between you and instrumentalists – it genuinely feels like you speak different languages.
- You know all the words to the following songs: “Horses” (Australian-specific), “Walking On Sunshine”, “Brown Eyed Girl”, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “Billie Jean”.
- FEMALE SINGERS: A microphone may be your only piece of gear but my word, you will bling that baby in colour/diamantes/gold. Yeah gurl.
- You are always asked to sing at family gatherings, especially Christmas.
- You have absolutely HONED your crowd banter chit chat skills – some key phrases include:
– “I wanna see ya’ll get dowwwwn!”
– “We have a very special guest performer about to join us – Barry! The bride’s uncle!”
– “Hey guys remember to be safe! Standing on tables can be a little risky…” [security moves through the crowd]
- You do not know how to roll leads.
- You know you shouldn’t, but you could avoid setup time, you know, if you wanted to. NB: this may contribute to the issue outlined in #3.
- You know the minimum amount of dressing up/make up you need to do in order to be passable as a lead singer of a band, without tooooo much effort involved.
- Getting sick is truthfully the WORST thing that could happen – a genuine nightmare. If someone you know is sick you will avoid them at all costs, and if they come near you, you will spray them with antibacterial spray.
- When asked to sing that song just a semitone higher, your first response is: “Um, EXCUSE ME?”
- Listening to a recording of yourself leads to real and actual life meltdowns.
- There’s a part of you that cares what people think of your voice, then there’s an even louder and more stubborn part of you that couldn’t care less. Get stuffed critics.
- You break into harmonies when you hear a song you love. This commonly turns into multiple harmonies when surrounded by other singers.
WARNING: marketing lingo is distributed quite evenly throughout this post. Sorry not sorry.
I had the privilege to study a marketing postgraduate. I call it a privilege because it completely changed the way I think about how we choose to work – whether it’s a 9-5 job, or a hobby or interest we are pursuing. The lecturers and tutors I was able to learn from taught me some incredible business principles that continue to shape how I frame my own service provision. Marketing is not just advertising– marketing considers literally every angle of the service you provide. Do you answer your phone, texts or email enquiries promptly? Do you start working each day at a suitable time to complete your tasks? Do you deliver on what you say you will provide? Do you over charge or under charge? Is your website completely frustrating to navigate? Do you have a suitable portfolio available to potential clients? Does your personal social media activity colour how people perceive your business?
These following 5 mistakes (there are more, I may write more on this later) apply to anyone that runs a business (sole trader or otherwise). Musicians and creatives (myself included) have so much to gain from thinking more strategically about how we run our music (and other creative) businesses. I don’t profess to be a genius at these myself but I want to share them because they are just GOLDEN and help create really strategic and efficient business. Believe me when I say they have helped me and I really hope they assist you as well.
- Business Mistake #1: Whingeing
Instead: make changes
This applies to people in all industries and from all business sizes – you CANNOT complain about something you CHOOSE to do. If you’re whingeing about something within your business it’s a sign something needs to change in the way you manage your business, or maybe you’re better off doing something else.
LISTEN TO YOURSELF. Whatever you’re talking about with others/thinking about consistently is what you need to change.
- Is money as issue? Look at your budget.
- Are you complaining about a colleague or business partner? Re-assess the relationship and make changes to it as needed.
- Do you always say you don’t have enough time? Look at how many projects you are trying to be involved in and/or manage your time better.
- Want to be opening a new arm to your business/services but “don’t have the skills”? Get some training and get the skills/hire the people who do.
- Do you simply hate this career path? Stop doing it.
- Business Mistake #2: Overselling
Instead: be realistic with what you can offer to clients
Be careful with what you promise – DO NOT over-promise on something you cannot actually deliver. Write down what your killer strengths are within your business and pitch those to your clients. These might be services you already have a track record of providing, or something you’ve been working on in the background that has shown actual and real potential as a service option. Be good at these things – VERY good. Do not offer a service you have not nailed yet.
Another great thing to do here is take a look at others within that service area – what is their level of skill and performance, and how do you compare? Don’t just write it off as impossible, or something you are the BEST at – really assess it. Are you halfway to having the skillset you need? Or further away? How does your final result stand up against others in that area? If you don’t have the skills yet, get some training. Practice. Gain some experience. Ask someone in the industry to take a look at what you’ve done and take in their feedback. Then offer it.
- Business Mistake #3: Underselling
Instead: value the quality and results of your services for what it’s worth
Do not sell yourself short (financially or in the quality of services you provide) – this does not make you appear humble – it makes you and your service appear cheap and lacking in quality as a service provider. Please please please please do not offer anything for free. EVER. Again this makes your product seem cheap. You might think it’s a great “marketing tool” (*shudder*) – NO! It just attracts the wrong kind of client – the client who wants everything at top quality for NO PRICE. That is not a good client to attract – your business will never benefit from them.
Again, know what you do really well and be confident in telling clients about it. If you haven’t mastered it yet, don’t pitch it.
- Business Mistake #4: Expecting to become a millionaire
Instead: do a solid and real assessment of what your expected income and expenses will be and have a strong financial plan to meet it
So many people start working for themselves because they think it means they’ll be rolling in cash as a result. WRONG WRONG WRONG. Some people are lucky and they do have some decent cash as a result of a business, but as income increases, so do expenses. You’ll often find that these rich kings are also completely savvy at investing, much better than the average business owner. Alternatively these guys may also be dodging financial corners that get them busted with the tax office later down the line.
Some of the common pitfalls are:
- not having any kind of financial plan or budget– you’ll spend money you don’t have, you’ll forget you have financial obligations and before you know it you won’t have a fund to support new business ventures.
- not be prepared for expenses– ensure you consider travel expenses (and include these in invoices where possible), superannuation (of you and staff), tax, insurances, gear repair, necessary bills, an emergency fund, advisors (tax agents, lawyers).
- making unwise business decisions with big financial implications– the best business owners (and beneficiaries) are those who invest wisely. Don’t rush to spend money thinking money will come back in instantly as a result.
- spending money you don’t have– if you don’t have the cash for that item sitting in an account right now, perhaps you can’t afford it just yet. Running a line of credit, using credit cards or applying for a loan work well for the diligent amongst us, but there’s a large percentage who cannot manage these well.
- not listening to financial advice– financial advisors have some incredible advice to hand out. Listen to them and actually try some of their suggestions. If it doesn’t bring about the result you are after then sure, stop doing it. But don’t be so arrogant as to think you know everything about finance.
- Business Mistake #5: Jumping In Too Quick
Instead: let yourself feel excited – but step back after that and think rationally
Never let your emotions lead a business decision – ever. It’s completely fine to be excited or scared about something – let yourself feel those emotions. But the idea must be tested rationally. Can you actually DO this? Do you have the skills? How will it impact your business financially? Do you have available time?
If you are generally a more emotional person, perhaps you need a business partner or advisor who can be a rational ear for you. Bounce the idea off someone else (even a professional business advisor) and really listen to their opinion. Consider it – don’t just write it off. Others can often have insights you don’t have. They might assist you avoid a massive financial pothole, or help you set up something incredible.
Sarah is a truly immersive artist to experience. I’ve had her latest EP, ‘Window’, on repeat for days in preparation for this writing this post and I feel like I’ve dropped into a sonic ocean. Or into gravity-less open space. I’m still trying to decipher where I am. It’s completely refreshing to hear this kind of work come from an Australian artist. The more I listen the deeper I dive, it’s a gloriously unique experience.
I had the pleasure of hearing this EP before I met Sarah – she is such a beautiful and warm person, I couldn’t wait to meet her. It’s quite a challenge to explain the effect her work has on you as a listener because for lack of descriptive tools, you’re stunningly paralysed by it. I haven’t heard anything like it. I’m going to do my best track-by-track to explain what lures you in – once I’ve managed to overcome it’s beautiful hangover.
Overall this EP embodies a feeling of weightlessness. It’s deep yet soaring, broad and resonant. Simply put, it’s magnificent.
From the moment this track starts, you’ve dropped into the abyss. Glassy synth overlays bright and guiding piano. You feel like you’re underwater holding on to an anchor chain – and this piano is that chain. Sarah’s vocal appears as if out of thin air and suddenly it’s everywhere, all around you. There’s a distant guitar adding percussive momentum – particularly in the beginning before the pulsing drum work begins and takes over. This guitar returns as the track develops – more burly than before – right before the track lifts into a storm. From here you’re getting tossed around – every element of the track swirls. After this turbulence it’s as if each instrument (including Sarah’s vocal) has transformed. Their functions and behaviour have changed and before the track ends you’re aware that this piece is now something different – as a listener you are not where you started. Glorious.
This track carries a natural daylight that is brilliant and auroral. The piano takes more of a supportive backseat as Sarah’s soft and velvety vocal, met by the brightness of a plucky and percussive harp, carries the track. These vocals trigger a growing soundscape that flares in multiple colours and takes many shapes all at once. The drum and bass work acts as the foundational layer for these shifts. Sarah’s vocal acts like a conductor – at times levitating every element in midair until the time is right to move on. It’s at this point the synth strings breathe oxygen back into the tracks’ limbs. In its finality you experience a stunning partnership between multi-layered piano and Sarah’s voice – it’s a uniquely ethereal conclusion.
To me this track acts like a deep breath in amidst the surrounding tracks. I believe the key aspect is that of time – it’s suspension and movement. At key points throughout this track, including the very beginning, time is held – almost as if frozen. When time is ready to move the shuffling snare steps in and carries it forward. This interplay between the two happens on and off and it’s gentle hand stops and starts you when ready. Likewise all instruments work by this command – the pulsating bass, warm reverbed piano, silvery synth, snuffled ride and underwater guitar. As a finish layer the track is sprinkled with gliding synth off in the distance. As it draws to a close the deeper everything dives – vocals take a haunting direction with escalated backing vocals above Sarah’s main vocal melody. There’s more to come and this track is preparing you for what’s next.
This track is the shining conclusion of the EP’s odyssey – bold, final, resolute and heady. Every aspect advances to its peak – Sarah’s main vocal, surrounding backing vocals, driving and soaring guitar, cinematic synth, energetic drum work and rolling bass. When these instruments are warmed up and ready Sarah’s vocal climbs to it’s highest elevation and you know THIS was where this EP has been heading throughout its journey. This is the final destination and it’s exhilarating.
Please, please, please listen to this EP – ensure you have good headphones or speakers to hear every frequency of it’s glory.
You can find all links to Sarah’s EP here.
Sarah is performing in September in Sydney – all details for her upcoming shows are available on her Instagram profile – head over to follow her and grab all the details.
- Your choice of ringtone matters – a lot. This choice has the power to ruin a song, forever.
- You tune out of conversations when you hear a song you love playing not far away.
- You are personally offended and jump to defend when someone says they hate one of your favourite artists, albums, genres or instruments.
- You are “broke”, but have 7 keyboards/guitars/basses/amps/drum kits/[insert your musical item of choice].
- Cons (Converse) are your go-to shoe.
- Your “weekend” never consists of Saturday or Sunday. PS, what’s a weekend?
- You challenge yourself to see how many gigs you can fit into one day.
- You challenge yourself to see how many rehearsals you can fit into one day.
- You are very good at Tetris-ing gear into your car.
- You don’t decorate your house, you decorate your studio – with gear and band merchandise.
- You are always working on a single/EP/album/videoclip.
- You are consistently asked when you will “get a real job”.
- You are consistently asked when you will “make it”.
- You are consistently asked when you will audition for The Voice.
- You love and want more Persians rugs.
- You have incredible core fitness from lifting PA’s and music gear to gigs. What weights?
- When you tell people what you do they respond with “Wow! That’s amazing! I’m getting married in October and need a musician…”
- You are one of the few people in a venue that ask the bar staff how their night’s going.
- You have a mental list of your favourite solos.
- Your “assets” include: CD’s, music DVD’s, sheet music, guitars, keyboards/pianos, drum kits/percussion, pre-amps, interfaces, monitors, MIDI keyboards, plenty of cables, plenty of stands, headphones, mixers, microphones, a PA, flat bed/fold up trolley, pedals, lights, gig stool and a whole lot of old gear you swear you’ll one day repair.
- You consistently try to see how casually you can dress for gigs without actually having to dress up properly.