Sydney artist Sarah Belkner goes it alone with debut album
After supporting and working with acts such as Olympia, Elk Road and Chet Faker – Sydney singer-songwriter Sarah Belkner is going it alone as she sets out on tour in support of her debut album But You Are, But It Has.
Asked why so many well-known Aussies have wanted her on board, Belkner put it down to “word of mouth”.
“I love playing and making music – I really enjoy being around people that write good songs,” she said.
“In a couple of cases, I have opened for someone and they’ve gone on the next tour and asked me to come and play in the band.”
Belkner said there has been a shift in the way she works as a musician, saying “a lot has changed in the last few months”.
“Moving from being a musician who is asked to play in bands for work on other people’s music to people realising what I’m doing in my own project – it’s really nice.”
Following on from her last EP Humans, Belkner said her latest release was “more confident” and “a bit more daring” than the former EP.
“It’s got more layers to it, more education and another round of learning,” she said.
Belkner said inspiration for the latest record came from a phase when Belkner was “really stuck” in her life.
“This was pre-playing with all these kinds of people and doing these things – I wasn’t quite sure where I was at in my life and these songs I really used to get myself unstuck. A lot of the material is internal – like brain processing and human condition. I was really trying to get my head around where I was at and what I wanted to do to get myself moving again.”
Belkner wanted to keep a “universal thread” running throughout the record, hoping listeners will notice a “universal, empathetic voice”.
When asked whether the record was made with a specific listener in mind, Belkner said she was trying to find a connection with other people through what she was doing – citing a love for Neil Finn.
“I’m a big fan of Neil Finn and he talks about finding the empathetic thread in songwriting. I find that really fascinating,” Belkner said.
“You can be inspired by a personal event that can then be universalised.”
The record was co-produced by Belkner’s husband Richard Belkner who records all of her music.
“I had a previous project called Miss Little and he did the recording as well,” said Belkner.
“He is an amazing engineer, so we have complimentary skill sets – I come from a more old school producer arranging point of view. I know how the studio works but I’m not an engineer. He’s the one who does the technical end.”
Belkner said individual differences were helpful, not harmful, when collaborating on music. She could have easily been giving sage relationship advice.
“If you have got the same person that likes the same things and has the same personality, you can get really frustrated because you’re both trying to fight for the same space.”
“If you have more separate identities or different skills, then you work together.”
Looking beyond 2017, Belkner said there will be a greater focus on producing and touring.
“I’m doing a show in New Zealand and then Sydney and Melbourne – then I am heading over to the UK where I’m going to do some shows,” she said.
“Hopefully towards the end of the year I’ll maybe hit Brisbane and Perth. It would be amazing to go a bit further afield and come and say hi to people.”
Belkner is quick to credit others, taking the opportunity to heap praise on her band before wrapping up the interview.
“They are amazing musicians and I want to show them off. Even when I’m standing in front of them I like turning around and checking them out. I’m sure people off stage will enjoy watching them too.”
But You Are, But It Has is out now.
28 February – The Wine Cellar, AUCKLAND
3 March – Oxford Arts Factory Gallery, SYDNEY
6 April – The Wesley Anne, MELBOURNE