Recently Sarah Belkner released her currently most recent album, THE APPLE, which, as of this writing, is currently her most current album due to its being most recently released as of the time of this writing.
Absolute brilliance, that introductory line.
I was afforded the opportunity to ask Sarah and so I did, as evidenced by the Q&A below.
Ez: The press release for The Apple describes it as a time capsule of life’s complexity and hopefulness. Considering the experiences the album came from, what do you feel your relationship to the album is at this point?
Sarah: It feels very positive. It was made actually before a lot of huge life things and the pandemic happened so I guess that’s where the hopefulness got kind of trapped in it. The process of putting this album out has brought me back to myself more than I ever could have imagined. It represents a huge amount of perseverance through a very difficult time. There were 3 years there where I didn’t even entertain trying to put it out as there was just too much going on to do so, so the fact we are here and it is out now immediately represents to me that our lives are in an easier place and there is space coming back which is really special. The themes on the album seem to ring even more true than before too.
Ez: Did you have any concern about being able to justify expressing what you’d experienced in a musical form? If so, how did you get past that?
Sarah: No, even though the majority of the lyrics were written first all the songs that are finished here naturally lent themselves to be set to music. It was so nice being on tour and figuring out I could chip away at words and ideas and then when I was back home I’d be sitting at an instrument and musical ideas would come and then I’d be prompted to match chords back to certain lyrics. It was a really nice and achievable writing process with everything else I was doing but I was also very inspired by all the music I was making with other artists too.
Ez: What is it about the instrumentation used that best supports what you’re expressing in the songs?
Sarah: I went for very minimal focused instrumentation this time around and not so much variation across the album sonically. I wanted it to feel like you enter a room, stay and hang out with us there for the duration of the album and then leave again. I wanted the main focus this time to be on the lyrics so everything else was built to support that. I also wanted to show how my band and I sound live, it’s quite a unique and special thing to me so really avoided layering sounds up which is common in the style of music I make. It’s very raw in a way we are not super used to hearing at the moment. Not raw as in visceral and someone being aggressive but just in it’s minimalism.
Ez: And in what way does The Apple best as an album rather than something shorter?
Sarah: I still love albums. I think as a maker of albums it gives me a chance to really delve completely into the feeling I’m going for once I’ve stumbled across what I want it to feel like. It’s just a longer conversation and I felt there were enough songs and concepts to go together to make a little world to step into. These songs were taken from a larger bunch too. I always seem to work that way, have a big bunch and cull it down. These were the 10 that made it the whole way through.
Ez: Lastly, do you feel that The Apple further locks what it covers to specific points in time, or do you feel it keeps those experiences moving through time whilst possibly reshaping them to some extent?
Sarah: I think it keeps moving. At first I thought it was just a time capsule but it also feels to me like it was just made this week. What it says seems to evolve and mean even more to me the more time I spend with it. And when we filmed the live versions at the start of this year and now getting ready to play them at shows I just love the feeling of being with the songs. It was such a crazy experience to literally not listen to it for a good length of time and then get to know it again and realise I still loved it and wanted to put it out.