q & a: bertie blackman
Bertie Blackman is a Sydney-based singer/songwriter who is known for her uncanny ability to transform music to an artistic plateau where the imagination runs wild. She recently toured with rising rockers The Rubens and will be supporting international Australian star Gotye later this year. Headway, her debut, garnered Blackman Australia’s attention, while her third album, Secrets and Lies, gained her international fame winning the Byrds of Prey Star Breakthrough Independent Artist of the Year in at the 2009 AIR Awards.
The singing enigma followed up this success with Pope Innocent X, a tantalising collision of creativity, vivid worlds and unique paradigms; Lip was fortunate enough to catch up with the artist following the release of Pope Innocent X.
Tell us a bit about your songwriting process!
For me every moment in songwriting is unpredictable, which is why it’s so fascinating; it’s why I love it so much. The sonics and imagery [of songs] usually just appear in my head and that’s where my songs start. Often I’m writing a number of songs in my head at once before I even sing it or write anything down. [After that] it’s the process of sculpting those ideas to fruition.
When forming your song ideas, how do you choose the ones that will work, and those that won’t?
I’ve usually had a pretty good barometer on good songs and bad songs – if I like them, it’s a good thing! Before I show those songs to anyone I usually let them sit for a few days, just in case they turn sour.
Is there any concept/theme behind the Pope Innocent X?
There is! Pope Innocent X is a collection of stories based around three years of my childhood where I have blank memory. Pope Innocent X is children’s stories for adults; adult stories for children. It’s about traveling through lost worlds and the tremor between imagination and reality. It’s playful and violent, curious and introspective.
Were there any songs in particular on Pope Innocent X that were more difficult to express than others?
There is a story and layered emotional motivations behind every song on Pope Innocent X. The crafting of each track was treated with endless care and hours and hours of lyric work, to [ensure] each story was strong [within] its own world. They are, each song, like little islands, though some are larger and more treacherous than others.
How do you think your new album compares to your previous album? Are there any tracks that you’re particularly looking forward to play?
It’s pretty hard to compare these two albums. They’re completely different I think, but I feel that Pope Innocent X is more refined sonically and lyrically and that has only come through experiencing life and work, being more confident in expressing gut feelings and ideas, and not being as shy as I used to be.
What do you hope listeners will gain from the album? What did you gain from making the album?
I hope that they can have an adventure in their own imaginary worlds and use this record as the soundtrack. I hope they can cast adulthood aside and just be curious, naughty and an innocent kid again, but for a moment.
What did I gain from making the album? That’s a huge question! I learnt I will be learning the answers from my whole life, I have learnt an incredible amount about myself this time round. It was an extremely challenging piece of work to make and I’m proud to have put myself through the challenge.
You recently toured with The Rubens and are supporting Goyte in December; how did you get chosen as the support artist?
I hunt down the bands and write my name in chalk on the pavement outside their houses; they can’t say no then. [It’s] subliminal advertising and I have a great booking agent, Brett, at Artist Voice.
What’s your off-tour relaxation activity of choice?
I take interpretative canoe movement classes and continue writing and drawing of course.
Bertie Blackman will be supporting Gotye on his national tour in December this year. Pope Innocent X is out now through Mercury Records.
GOTYE AUSTRALIAN TOUR
Wednesday December 5 – Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Hindmarsh, tickets via ticketek
Friday December 7 – Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne, tickets via ticketmaster
Tuesday December 11 – Brisbane Riverstage, Brisbane, tickets via ticketmaster
Thursday December 13 – Sydney Entertainment Centre, Sydney, tickets via ticketmaster
By Avrille Bylok-Collard
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