Interview about new album
A recent interview about the new album (Part One) (and the album song 'August I Think Nothing Much at All' - full song on Apple music and Spotify).
First of all, I'd like to ask you about the hiatus after the release of your last album "The Plantation". Like most artists, I think COVID changed everything. And you've been focusing the painting more during the period. How do you think the COVID days affect this album (or not)?
On my computer there is a folder called '2020 album' but yes, as with everyone, COVID lockdowns slowed things down a lot. And Melbourne had some of the longest lockdowns in the world so it took out most of 2020 and 2021. This turned out to be great for throwing myself into portrait painting which I love. But it was challenging to get the album done. During that time I also lost my Dad, who had been unwell for quite a while. The song 'It's not the same' is in memory of him. So it was an unusual and sad period during 2020 and 2021 but also interspersed with some amazing times. Eventually the album got back on track in 2022, but it took around 12 months to record.
Please let me know why you decided to work with Greg J. Walker aka Machine Translations? How did you meet him?
I had known of Greg's work for a long time and was a huge fan of his Machine Translations project. I had seen him play a number of times in Melbourne over the years. As we were coming out of lockdown I was out walking one day and listening to music and the song 'You'll change' from his brilliant album Seven Seven came on the playlist. I immediately thought that I would love to have that production sound on the record. I felt very shy to try to contact him about it, as I had been a fan for a long time. The first day of the album project I met him and he wanted to hear me play through the songs. I have never been so nervous playing live, and it was just him listening. But thankfully he was happy to produce the record!
Tell me about the album title. Why the title "To Drink up the Sea"? Do you have any concept or theme of the album?
The album title came after I had finished most of the recording. I was reading some parts of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's work last year and I came across that line 'to drink up the sea'. I don't pretend to be an expert on German philosophy and many smarter people than me have tried to work out what Nietzsche is talking about. But for me it made me think about his idea of the 'death of God' and where that leaves humanity. If we 'drink up the sea' do we have anything to sail within? That sounds quite abstract but I realised a lot of the songs are asking that question in some way.
'August I Think Nothing Much at All' is one of my favorite songs from the album. Is this your response to Simon & Garfunkel's "April Come She Will"?
That song must be one of Simon and Garfunkel's best! The melody and production is very different in the song 'August', but in the chorus it draws on that same lyrical movement through the months from April to August. That seemed to come very naturally in writing that chorus, so I ran with it without thinking about the links to 'April she will come'. The song was actually two different songs that eventually fitted together into a verse-chorus structure. I love Janie Gordon's vocals in this sing and the way that Greg Walker mixed.
The cover art is very beautiful. Why did you use Agathe Bouton's "BURMESE DAYS". Is she your friend from your years in Myanmar?
I have known Agathe Bouton's work for a long time and knew her briefly in Myanmar when we first moved there. She now lives in the US, but we have a couple of her works in our house in Melbourne. The circular Burmese days series really appealed to me as a theme for the album art and the colouring felt like it connected well to the album title. So I was very excited that she was happy for us to feature her artwork!