Photo Credit: Sian Stacey
Something felt – free to me as I listened to what Sarah Mary Chadwick had done in the past and placed it side-by-side with the latest offerings from ‘Messages To God,’ her new album that drops on September 15th. This is where the back-and-forth between a girl constantly behind a laptop and the Melbourne-based singer-songwriter began, but as we dug in deeper, we discussed the beauty that surrounds us, the constant state of fear, and more like whether or not there was any punk in her past.
Kendra: When listening to ‘Eating for Two’ and then hearing what you’ve got in store on ‘Messages to God,’ it feels as though over the past decade you’ve become more raw in your delivery and overall sound; freer if you will. Would you say that’s just something that comes with evolving as an artist and growing more comfortable with each new release?
Sarah Mary Chadwick: That’s really good to hear, I’m glad it hasn’t gotten more pedestrian with time. I guess the way in which someone’s creativity responds to time is as unique as each person…for myself I wouldn’t say that growing more comfortable has ever been an issue or a desire.
As a person, I am someone who puts a lot of energy into working on my mental health and trying to attain a greater understanding of myself and the people around me. I think this has helped me keep my work from being stagnant or stuck emotionally. I think that I have always trusted my motivations and creative concerns since I was really young and that with time I have been able to utilise that fluency, in regard to artistic choices and productivity. I still feel like the same person I was when I wrote Eating For Two. Those feelings feel only a beat away. But I’m not so overwhelmed anymore, I don’t feel quite so much like I’m drowning all the time.
Kendra: Sticking with ‘Messages to God,’ you noted that this record is about finding the beauty in everyday occurrences. I love that because, over the past few years, the world has felt overtly negative. Again, the past few years were rough, so how did you manage to land in this positive headspace?
Sarah Mary Chadwick: Hmmmm, I think I’ve always been like that really. If we’re talking about ‘Eating For Two’ – what are the lyrics to that “Knots Unwind” song? “I am a holiday to take/ I am that sparkle on that lake”… “Walk on water in my dream / a heart that’s bursting at the seams.” Haha, quoting your own lyrics alert!
Those seem like very positive lyrics to me. I think with me the thing is that I have a lot of childhood trauma and sadness that clouded everything. Then people started dying and the wheels really fell off. BUT even though my parents ostensibly did a terrible job, from somewhere I got this weird tenacity about figuring all my shit out. I’ve nearly failed and died more than once. This isn’t possible for some people, and for them, I’m really really sad – but for me, I’ve been able to keep going. And for that I’m really, really grateful. I think this might be common for a few people too, but realising that I was the biggest threat to myself was very confronting and at the same time made me kind of fearless of Real things. So in answer to your question, it’s not so much that it’s a more positive headspace, but that it’s different. And that’s more important, I think.
Kendra: I also love that “Shitty Town,” lyrically, could’ve been on a pop-punk record from my youth. I adore it so. Did you grow up with any punk influences, because this record does feel like it has a sort of punk foundation?
Sarah Mary Chadwick: Hahah that’s so nice, thank you. I think I’ve always admired straightforward, clear, potent vivid, and distilled things, things that focus on emotion and communication, things that are tender and move you, things that work in opposition, and things that are DIFFERENT, which I guess are a lot of ‘punk’ adjectives. I love songwriting so much, when it’s done well it’s so satisfying.
Kendra: As relatable as “Shitty Town” was to me, I felt as though “Looked Just Like Jesus” was sincerely universal while also being so personal to you due to the haunting line, “I’m always scared.” Other than pouring your emotions into music, is there anything else you do that helps you when you start to feel fearful of this and that?
Sarah Mary Chadwick: This is a hard one just because it’s very personal. I am working my way (albeit very slowly, and with varied results) through a myriad of unhealthy things I do to cope with fear and anxiety, I guess most notably being alcohol. I think I will probably always have that side to myself, I don’t expect it ever to go away.
I’m always, always trying to figure everything out – so I guess right now, I’m trying to not do that – Some days will not be the day I crack the code, make good decisions, or even feel good. But some days will. I’m trying to let myself have both. I try to quiet my mother’s voice in my head. I try to talk to people who I love and who love me. I try to listen to people. I try to base my feelings on facts, and not my facts on feelings.
And I listen to ‘Bring A Plate’ and ‘My Dad Wrote A Porno’ on repeat and watch reruns of shows that I like and remember to enjoy being in love and loved and I walk my dog Sylvia for two hours a day. Oh, and I love cooking. And spending all the time I can with my husband Simon.
Kendra: Now it’s time for a side note – with it being September AKA Self Improvement Month, I’m asking everyone to give us a song they like to put on when they are in self-care mode…
Sarah Mary Chadwick: Ooooh, um…Kesha and Pitbull’s “Timber,” Tove Lo’s “Talking Body,” OR Britney Spears’ “Toy Soldier.”
Kendra: And lastly, with ‘Messaged to God’ out on September 15th, what else do y’all have planned as we head into fall?
Sarah Mary Chadwick: Exciting! Uhh, well, we are headed into summer here soooo….hopefully some cigarettes outside on late nights with friends….taking my dog swimming…I have an art exhibition in November so I’m doing lots of painting for that. I just recorded a brand new record last week so putting that together. And I want to tour in early 2024, it’s been so long since I have played shows outside of Australia. I am really looking forward to that.