Photo Credit: Simon Karis
Early last month Sarah Mary Chadwick dropped her seventh album, ‘Me And Ennui Are Friends, Baby.’ A cathartic listening experience, that she finds ironic because – well, you’ll have to continue reading for that, as well as how she got her hands dirty to create unique covers for this record, living as far away from the chaos of America as possible in Australia, and more in this back and forth exchange.
Kendra: When you were done recording ‘Me And Ennui Are Friends, Baby,’ did you notice any significant change in how you approached the creative process with this album – your seventh – compared to previous records?
Sarah Mary Chadwick: My creative process was essentially the same in that I wrote a large number of songs over a period of a few months, then I picked the ones I thought were the strongest or spoke to me best to record with my friend Geoff O’Connor. Geoff and I have worked together on almost all my records so we have a pretty streamlined way of recording and completing projects.
More specifically than that, when I am writing for a record I usually just sit down a couple of times a week and think and as unconsciously as possible, write songs. In regards to the style of the record, I deliberately did that quite differently from the previous record (‘Please Daddy’) for a number of reasons but most notably because I wanted to avoid the temptation to keep going bigger with instrumentation and arrangements. I also was not compelled to work with any other musicians for it, I wanted it to be immediate and visceral- rehearsing or collaborating with anyone else would’ve drained some of that away.
Kendra: Some fans are going to be able to get a hand-painted vinyl cover you did for this record. How many of those are you offering up, and do you feel a painting allows you to express a different set of emotions that music does not?
Sarah Mary Chadwick: Yes, I did 100 covers! It was my idea and to be honest it was slightly more work than i thought it would be! The problem was after every ten I did I would actually improve as a painter (I don’t usually paint that much in such a concentrated amount of time) and so it took longer and longer to do each one as i went on! Uh, I don’t really paint emotionally, I just try and zone out and look properly at what it is that I’m painting. Which having said that, is I guess the same way that I songwriter.
Kendra: When I hit play on “Every Loser Needs a Mother,” I got this natural yet cinematic vibe. Like it was the scene in the movie where the main character finally has that grand realization and the words just lyrics just start to pour. Was that the case for you and this track? Did the lyrics and arrangement come fast and furious for you?
Sarah Mary Chadwick: Yeah, I mean, that’s kinda how I always work really in that I don’t labour too hard over songs. I just try and think clearly about what words best illustrate what I’m trying to say, and try to avoid works that are hackneyed or feel bad in my mouth.
Kendra: It’s been noted that this song, and record, shine a light on your dark sense of humor. As someone who grew up in a home that lived to laugh at the hard times – I get it. Do you feel it’s more cathartic to bring a level of humor to dismal situations?
Sarah Mary Chadwick: I don’t believe in the notion of “catharsis,” which is interesting to me as it’s a word that people use when people describe my music. I view things as being part of a long arduous process of slowly getting some cloudy sense of understanding of a feeling or occurrence, as opposed to an explosive kind of expulsion from which you emerge unencumbered or purged. So no, I don’t think humour brings catharsis to dismal situations. But it sure makes them funnier!
Kendra: What I’ve appreciated about what I’ve heard so far from ‘Me And Ennui Are Friends, Baby’ is how straightforward the lyrics are. Especially “At Your Leisure.” Are you as blunt in real life as you are musically?
Sarah Mary Chadwick: Ha maybe. I think I’m quite tactful as I’m quite aware socially and would never accidentally insult someone. I think it depends on who I’m around and what we are talking about. When required I can be blunt.
Kendra: Being from New Zealand and living in Australia – you’re kind of the envy of people like me in America looking at y’all getting back to a semi-normal world after 2020. Have you been able to play live in recent months, or do you have more definite plans to tour soon around Australia?
Sarah Mary Chadwick: Aw yes America looks fucking terrifying, I can’t even imagine what it’s like. We just started having shows again in Melbourne a month or so ago, and though I didn’t consciously miss it last year, it was extremely good to play again.