It’s not hard to fall in love with the charm of Sarah Blasko. Over eight years since her debut, The Overture And The Underscore, helped bring credibility to the Australian female singer/songwriter genre, she remains incredibly humble and thankful for her success.
With each of her three albums to date, Blasko has always enjoyed attempting something new with her songwriting. On 2010’s As Day Follows Night, she decided to remove electronic instruments, and now with her new album I Awake, set for release on Friday 26th October, Blasko has pushed her boundaries even further by inviting the entire Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra into the recording process.
“Singing with an orchestra is like performing with a giant whale” she explains with a laugh. “It moves slow and has this gentleness to it, but then there’s this force of sound that’s really hard to get your head around.”
Fans who have grown to love Blasko’s previous work will be intrigued by tracks like ‘Here’, which she admits to be one of her clear favourites on the new album. “I think because that song is only orchestra and voice, to me it felt like an achievement. I’ve never really done anything like that before.”
An added feature to the release of I Awake is the album installation, which is currently taking place throughout the week in Oxford St, Sydney. Guests have the opportunity to listen to the album, view framed shots of its cover art, as well as see Blasko perform the tracks intimately on certain nights. As she herself admits, “It’s essentially like walking into the album. I’m just a bit disappointed and sorry I haven’t been able to do it anywhere else but Sydney.”
Not only this, she has even hired director Mike Daly to produce a short film, which although is mostly a clip for the song ‘I Awake’, also incorporates elements from other songs off the new record including ‘An Oyster, A Pearl’ and ‘Fool’.
“Visually it’s stunning,” she explains, “but it’s more like an art film than a video clip. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.”
With plans to take her I Awake national tour on the road in February 2013, Sarah will be teaming with a reputable orchestra from every state she performs in, delivering what is sure to be an unmissable concert experience. “Nothing can prepare you for how it sounds in reality” she says, assuring that despite the album being released several months before the tour commences, there truly is no comparison to hearing it performed live.
Included on the tour is a gig in Melbourne on Valentine’s Day, a holiday in which Blasko admittedly hasn’t put too much emphasis on in the past. “I’ve gone out with a lot of people who, like myself, probably don’t put enough value into Valentine’s Day” she jokes, “however one time this stranger walked up to me on the street and handed me a flower, which was really nice… except the flower was wilted.”
Over her career, Blasko has won over our hearts with not only her original music, but also her ability to cover an established song and make it her own. “On one hand it’s great if people like your version of a song. On the other hand it’s a little strange when they want to hear it more than one you wrote yourself.” A perfect example of this was when she performed in Paris for the first time.
“It was funny because I had all of these romantic notions of that moment and where I was. Then suddenly somebody with an Aussie accent yells out ‘play Flame Trees!’, and the moment of romance was completely destroyed.”
Only recently moving back to Australia after recording I Awake in Stockholm and Bulgaria, one thing Blasko made sure to do was reclaim her beloved record player and unique collection of vinyl from her father. “I own three Muppets records, but the funny thing is that I purchased them in the past ten years which is a little embarrassing” she says, ”I’m a big fan of the classic Muppets movies, especially the costumes.”
Whilst on the topic of clothing, Sarah mentions shopping in St Vinnies stores for clothes with her family as a child, and how proud she is with some of her discoveries over the years. “I still have this leather jacket that I bought for a dollar, and I once found a pair of red velvet pants for fifty cents. I’ve had some serious highlights with my op shopping!”
With ARIA wins for Best Female Artist and Best Pop Release, along with numerous platinum selling records, it’s very hard to fault Ms. Blasko.
However, eyebrows were raised when it was speculated that she’d turned down Gotye’s proposal to appear in his global hit ‘Somebody That You Used To Know’, which, as we all know, Kimbra eventually seized the opportunity and the rest is history. Ms. Blasko’s thoughts on it? “No-one’s ever asked me about it…”
When asked whether she would perhaps take the piss and cover ‘that Gotye song’ for her next Triple J Like A Version appearance, Blasko couldn’t help but chuckle, “I don’t think so…”
2013 will certainly be a busy, yet important year for Sarah Blasko, but luckily she already seems to have everything all planned out. “My next project will likely be a collaboration that I’m currently working on, plus once my orchestra tour is finished here I’ll be heading back to Europe to promote the new album” she reveals.
“It can sometimes take a while for people to catch onto a new record, so if people are still discovering I Awake in a year’s time, that’s perfectly fine with me.”
I Awake is available from Friday 26th October through Dew Process. Sarah Blasko performs with a 40-piece orchestra for her 2013 national headline tour. Full dates and details here.