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SEEKER LOVER KEEPER The X-Press Interview


Seeker Lover Keeper are referred to as an Australian folk supergroup, but for the three members Sarah Blasko, Sally Seltmann and Holly Throsby, they are just a trio of friends hanging out, laughing and making some tunes along the way. Their debut album of 2011 saw them sell out shows across the nation and sell a swag of records. Since that time, Blasko, Throsby and Seltmann have either written novels, made solo records and television scores, had children, or relocated overseas, yet Seeker Lover Keeper was always somewhere simmering in the background. Their second album Wild Seeds was made simply and quickly with the trio writing the songs together for the first time. It has led to an album that is both timeless and timely. CHRIS HAVERCROFT speaks to Holly Throsby as she prepares to leave the southern beaches of New South Wales, putting her amateur bird watching skills aside as she travels around the country to promote Wild Seeds. Seeker Lover Keeper play Freo.Social this Sunday, September 29. 

It’s been a while since we’ve seen you in Perth… 

Well, they didn’t invite me back to the Perth Writers Festival this year. I was devastated. I think Sally (Seltmann) got to go though, so at least there was one Seeker Lover Keeper represented. I’m fine. As long as one of us is there, I feel I’ve got it covered. 

What made you get Seeker Lover Keeper back together?

Well, it had been something that we always thought that we would do. That was the loose plan in the back of our minds. It kind of came to a head when Sarah (Blasko) was hosting a show on Double J and she had me and Sally come in for an interview. We went in there and on live radio she said, ”I think we should get the band back together”. We must have spoken about it in the previous year, because she wouldn’t have just put it out there like that. 

It really was about finding time, because all three of us have so many projects that we have been working on in those eight years. Finding a free space where all three of us were ready to take on Seeker Lover Keeper, which can be logistically difficult. When we made the decision to really do it, we forced our schedules to become linked. 

The first record was so popular, wasn’t there the temptation to jump back in and fill your purses?

I don’t think we have those types of brains. I think Seeker Lover Keeper has always been about being a project that is enjoyable and fun and no pressure. It was a relaxed way for the 3 of us to spend time together and make music together. It just had to be the right time. When we decided to get back to Seeker Lover Keeper it was really exciting, particularly because we made the decision to write all the songs together. It made the whole process more all-in creatively from the outset, which is what we really wanted. It was such a band this time. 

Was it different in that Seeker Lover Keeper is now an established name, whereas the first one was more of an unknown?

A lot of time had passed. Through the power of neuroplasticity, the mind just moves on. You just accumulate different types of knowledge, that all falls out. The fact that we had all been so busy since the last record, it became a new thing. This time with Seeker Lover Keeper, we did it the way that we had always wanted to do it. We wrote 12 songs and they became the record. We wanted to do it pretty live, so we only had one day of rehearsal with the band and then we recorded it really fast. We did the whole record in 10 days. We wanted to be sure that we could replicate it faithfully live, so that influenced the choices that we made. We started working with a mellotron sound during the writing, and we really loved it. It had a classic sound to it, so we used mainly mellotron for the overdubs. It kept the whole thing really simple, which was really enjoyable. 

It sounds timeless (which is such a naff word)…

It is and it isn’t. There is something about making a new record that sounds decidedly vintage or ‘deliberately retro’ and we didn’t want to do that. We wanted to make it sound like it could have been made today or that it could have been made at a different time. In terms of production there are some sounds that really date records, but with this one because our influences were quote broad in terms of musical history, it felt right that the record couldn’t be pinpointed so easily. 

There was obviously some time between the records, so were there different things that you brought to the equation this time around?

Yeah, I think we were all just a little more relaxed really. I’m not saying it is like that all the time when we play live, because there is a shared neuroticism within the band as well. When the three of us get together we have a great deal of fun, and we laugh a lot so that always brings a good energy to the room. 

We are all big fans of the trio of Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. I love those records. We were all inspired by them as three women coming together and doing that, and not necessarily the country music. But for me personally out of the three of us, I am by far the biggest country music fan. Country music has always made a lot of sense to me. In terms of modern country music, that isn’t my bag though. 

What do you each bring to Seeker Lover Keeper that is unique?

I think we all bring a lot of similar things. In terms of what is distinctive, Sally certainly understands the architecture of music in a way that I don’t think that I ever will. She is really a much more trained musician and songwriter. The way that she writes songs is incredible. She is always able to look ahead in a song. She can be in the chorus and already knows what the bridge is going to be. She understands the tricks of the trade that I never even knew existed. I marvel at the way that she is able to know when an extra chord is needed or not. She writes music in a way that is different to the way in which my brain works, which I found really fascinating. 

Sarah thinks really big picture creatively, which I really appreciate. She is really ideas based and  she has a lot of really great ideas. It was her idea to think about how we would play it live, and what that would mean for the making of the record, whereas I would get to the performance and think “shit, how are we going to do this”. She is also very conceptual, so the videos were really generated by Sarah. Before I had worked with her, I didn’t know that. She has got her eye on the whole project in a really holistic way. 

I don’t know what I bring, because I would feel weird talking about it. I bring my charming sense of humour and keep everybody entertained. I like to copy edit the vinyl artwork and make sure no-one has misused a semicolon. 

Is it hard to shift between the world of music and the world of writing novels for you?

It is. When I am in rehearsal for Seeker Lover Keeper, that is what I am doing. I need to give full focus to what I am doing, so I don’t straddle both worlds at the same time. I am a big fan of the mono task. It is a different part of your brain and a different sensibility, but at the same time I do allow some time to think about the next project in the downtime. If I am just playing shows, and I know my parts and what I need to do, then I can start to look towards the next project. 

Jim White played drums on the first album. Did you try and get him involved this time?

No, and I guess that was a logistical choice. Jim lives in the States and is touring so much with Xylouris White. I guess the whole thing about making this record was that we made a whole lot of really practical choices. It was quite a permaculture approach that if it is there, you use it. 

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