Returning To Seeker Lover Keeper Felt Just The Same As Before For Sally Seltmann

8 August 2019 | 9:00 am | Anthony Carew

Sally Seltmann, one-third of Sydney supergroup Seeker Lover Keeper, speaks to Anthony Carew about slipping easily back into the rhythm of the band eight years on from their first record.

After Seeker Lover Keeper – the trio of Sydney songwriters Sarah Blasko, Sally Seltmann, and Holly Throsby – made their self-titled 2011 debut, they weren’t sure if they’d ever make another record. “We all half thought we’d do another album, half didn’t know,” Seltmann offers. The trio remained busy with all manner of their own projects: albums, scores, novels, children. “That’s the thing with three of us: we all really need to do our own things,” Seltmann says.

For the 43-year-old, that meant her latest solo album, 2013’s Hey Daydreamer, and then Lovesome, her first ever novel, which was published in 2018. The inspiration for writing a novel came, initially, to Seltmann in song. “All the bad venues I played in [inspired] me to write a song called Book Song. That’s where I talk about where I want to write a book, rather than going and playing stinky rock’n’roll venues,” Seltmann offers. “So, I wrote a book.”

While the solitary, lonely pursuit of writing a novel may seem distinctly different to music-making, Seltmann compares the experience with how she made her first two albums, under the name New Buffalo (2004’s The Last Beautiful Day, 2007’s Somewhere, Anywhere). “I like being alone. I like working on a creative project by myself. That’s how I made my first two New Buffalo albums: I was in the studio by myself the whole entire time. That’s what writing a novel felt like: that exact same feeling,” Seltmann offers.

The most liberating thing, she continues, was “just be able to write, and not care if it rhymes, or if it’s five pages instead of two lines”.

In contrast to enjoying the solitude of an individual creative project, Seltmann admits that she also loves being on stage – especially in Seeker Lover Keeper, where she gets to share the spotlight with two other people. “You can get up on stage without any of the fears or anxiety that comes with doing it by yourself,” Seltmann says.

She’s just been treading the boards with Seeker Lover Keeper, playing a series of ‘comeback’ shows in advance of their second album, Wild Seeds. The return of the trio initially came up as a purely logistical concern —they realised that their schedules had aligned to the point where they could make another record— before quickly blossoming in a flurry of brainstorming, initially playing out in an unending email thread. Where, on their first album, they’d brought finished songs to the group that they’d written by themselves, the goal this time was to collaborate on and co-write every song. This made sense given the trio no longer had to tackle the more elemental and existential questions they did the first time around.

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“When we did the first Seeker Lover Keeper album, I was a bit: ‘Who are we? What are we doing?’ When we first got up on stage, I remember us feeling like we didn’t know how to talk, or what to say, on stage, because we didn’t really know who we were, as a band,” Seltmann says.

This time around, they knew their identity and what people liked about them. And, even though eight years is a long time between drinks, they knew each other. “It felt different in that we were all, like, eight years older. And we all looked different,” Seltmann laughs. “But, ultimately, it felt the same. I don’t know if you believe this, but I feel like we’re all, as humans, just bigger versions of who you were when you were a child. You can go and do lots of different things, but the core of you [remains] who you are.”

The resulting record is “quite uplifting”, Seltmann thinks, the band addressing “friendship, supporting each other, being yourself, not hiding from who you really are” over bigger, brassier, more boisterous arrangements, influenced by ’60s girl groups. Wild Seeds takes its title, and its title track, from an exploration of the wildness of youth.

“It’s [a song] where you’re looking back on your youth, when you were growing up, and how it was wild, but that that was not a bad thing,” Seltmann says. “[But, it’s] not nostalgia from whinging people who are getting older. We’re all people who are doing what we want, embracing life, still really going for it.”