Sally Seltmann: “I Have Always Been Interested In Light And Dark”
Written by Tom Williams on 2nd April, 2014
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Australian singer-songwriter Sally Seltmann (formerly New Buffalo) recently unveiled her second studio album under her own name, Hey Daydreamer, which our reviewer Sam Murphy described as “like creeping sunlight, masterfully created and delivered with heart on sleeve.”
Now residing in LA, Sally took some time out to discuss the new album with us, revealing her longstanding interest in contrasts and how it influenced recording, as well as discussing her time in the trio Seeker Lover Keeper with fellow singer-songwriters Sarah Blasko and Holly Throsby.
We also delved into how Sally went producing her album alongside her husband Darren Seltmann (formerly of The Avalanches), and hints at the exciting guests who you’ll see joining her on her forthcoming Australian tour, which kicks off in Kincumber this Thursday, 3rd April.
Your first two albums were released under the New Buffalo moniker. What was the motivation in going back to releasing under your full name?
Sally Seltmann: It was my label Arts & Crafts who suggested I go by Sally Seltmann instead of New Buffalo. I thought it seemed like an okay idea, so I checked in with my best friend, my manager, my husband, and Franc Tetaz (who I was working with at the time) and they all said ‘Do it!’
Does using your real name influence your creativity in different ways? Was it exciting or unnerving to be publishing something so personal as yourself and solely yourself?
SS: Using my real name does not influence my creativity at all. It felt strange at first, but now I don’t really think about it.
On Holly Drive you sing, “There’s a sunny disposition on the outside, but it’s a shady place I live in on the inside“. The entire album utilises rather serious lyrics wrapped in joyous music.
Is it easier to express that external/internal juxtaposition in your music? Does that conflict drive your art?
SS: I have always been interested in light and dark, masculine and feminine and yin and yang type differences. It’s something I’m drawn to. In Holly Drive I’m singing about a little man I’d seen walking along Holly Drive in Hollywood. He was adorable, and I wondered what his house would be like; dark and old with ‘cobwebs and holes in the carpet’.
It was an area close to where Marilyn Monroe had lived as a child, so I was also drawing on her sparkling exterior versus her troubled interior.
Watch: Sally Seltmann – Catch of the Day
How did writing in Los Angeles compare to Sydney or Melbourne? How do those differences translate in the songs?
SS: I wrote most of the songs for Hey Daydreamer in Sydney, but writing in LA feels GOOD! There’s a lot of creative energy in the air in that city, which is one of the reasons why I live there now! A lot of positive energy, and a lot of writers and interesting people with ideas and courage.
You said coming out of your comfort zone is important to artistic endeavours. Can you name a particular instance in the process of making Hey Daydreamer where you felt you’d left your comfort zone but the rewards were worth it?
SS: I played some drums on the album, and this felt new and a little uncomfortable, but really fun!
Your husband Darren helped produce some of Hey Daydreamer. How did it feel to be working with someone so close to you?
SS: Darren co-produced all of Hey Daydreamer with me, and I loved working with him. He has an amazing imagination in terms of instrumentation, and sounds and overall production. We connected really well when working together, and we didn’t really disagree much in the studio, although we could not stop talking about all our ideas for the songs when we were not working.
So the whole project took over our lives a bit!
You’ll have Bree van Reyk joining you on stage for the Hey Daydreamer tour, as well as some other “guest performers.” What can fans expect from the tour? Can you share any hints or clues as to who your other guest might be?
SS: The guests will be some amazing saxophone players. I’m a BIG fan of saxophone, and I wanted to have a more unique live set up, rather than drums, bass, guitar etc. I have an amazing new keyboard, and I’ll be standing upfront playing lots of the sounds that feature on the album. And Bree van Reyk is incredible!
What were the most useful things you learnt from Sarah Blasko and Holly Throsby when you worked with them in Seeker Lover Keeper? Do you think you influenced them in any way?
SS: I learnt lots of things from Holly and Sarah. They are both really good friends of mine and I respect them so much. I have no idea how I may have influenced them! Hopefully I was a good influence.
Do you think Seeker Lover Keeper will ever be revived?
SS: We have not really spoken about it. We’re enjoying doing our solo work for now.
Watch: Sally Seltmann – Billy
Sally Seltmann’s new album, ‘Hey Daydreamer’, is out now. Catch Sally on her ‘Hey Daydreamer Album Tour’ this April – details below.