"Even though things had been really difficult, all of that difficulty and life shift is inevitably what made this album so satisfying."
"It's always hard to know whether to be the first person to say 'hello' once the introduction is done," starts Sarah Blasko. Our awkward verbal dance into the interview is the perfect icebreaker for the Sydney chanteuse, who admits to being a shy person by nature. But, she's also evidently happy to engage in discussion about her work, bouncing from one thought to another, and is generous in sharing honest and funny insights into her process.
The shy part seems to be a commonality in artists who are more than comfortable delving into subject matter that is honest, dark and anything but reserved. For Blasko's latest album Depth Of Field, the sixth in her nearly-two-decade-long career, it's monogamous relationships that are under the microscope, although not necessarily her own.
"I think with a lot of writers, there's an element of themselves in their characters and I think that to play another part or put yourself in another perspective there has to be an element of you within that," she reasons. "They're not autobiographical songs, but I think that there's an element of that on the record. Music is like a dramatisation of everyday life; it's a heightening of everyday feelings. Things can feel way more dramatic in a moment and then by the next day you've moved on.
"There's one song called Savour It, which is about somebody who's trying to see from someone else's perspective, but I was trying to write from the perspective of someone who's been left behind by somebody else and asking the 'if only' questions; if they could have done more in their relationships and their life."
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The big questions that Depth Of Field delved into were asked during Blasko's two-week residency at Campbelltown Arts Centre, which was booked a year in advance, just before the birth of her first child. A parting of ways with people she'd worked closely with for more than a decade prompted a period of doubt for the proclaimed "pioneer of indie music". But Blasko was determined to see the residency through, the inevitable moments where she and her long-time band hit the wall all captured in last year's ABC doco Blasko. Despite its slightly bumpy road, surely the fact that an album was released at all given these circumstances is something to be proud of?
"Yeah, I do feel really proud," Blasko admits. "We all did it together, but I guess I feel proud that we kind of pushed forward. And it was the most satisfying album to make, partly because of my shift in perspective and life. Even though things had been really difficult, all of that difficulty and life shift is inevitably what made this album so satisfying and pleasurable to make. I loved every day that we were recording it and we were making it so much more because of that. And I guess coming out of a difficult period, it's even more satisfying to finally be back where you want to be.
"I feel like this album was the most enjoyable to me. There was something magical about doing As Day Follows Night , because I was in Stockholm and it was quite quick, but I also found that quite a stressful record to make because I have this love-hate relationship with working with a producer. But [for] this one we took a lot of elements from the demos through to the end - I was really interested in keeping things that were off the cuff, and with a few mistakes and things. It was a really pleasurable album to make. Working with the same people from the start of writing it to recording it, that's quite a special feeling."
Blasko is gearing up to take Depth Of Field across the country through May and while she's just like every other mum juggling a new life of family and work, some things, like touring, never change. "I don't take the family, I delve back into solo me," she laughs. "But sleep becomes more part of the touring lifestyle than it used to be."