Gone is the softly-softly folkstress who first released Headway in 2004. BERTIE BLACKMAN stepped away from folk to rock in 2006, and this time has gone dark with her latest heavily electronic album, Secrets and Lies.
“I wrote a lot about dreams and nightmares I’ve been having,” Bertie reveals. “There are bits in the record about family and friendships I’ve had. It’s really personal. Not directly about certain people but about these things that have impacted on my life. I didn’t want to hold back in any way and I like the challenge of being really honest about myself.”
It may be that Bertie, now emersed in confidently rich instrumental play and brazen electro pop, is exploring a side of herself she’s been meaning to for some time. While her influences stem far and wide, from the many live shows she’s attended Bertie recalls “one of the best moments was when I went to see Bob Dylan when I was 14 and Patti Smith was supporting. I was really taken by her because she’s so wild. She’s quite political and there’s heavy weight and emotion… she was just so amazing on stage!”
The darkness of Secrets and Lies is delivered perfectly by producers Lee Groves and Francois Tetaz, who have produced for Goldfrapp and Gwen Stefani, and Architecture in Helsinki and Gotye respectively. “They’re quite opposite producers,” Bertie muses. “Franc will sit down with me and say ‘okay, let’s make this one sound…’ and spend about five hours with me using instruments like old synthesizers. With Lee we’d put lots and lots of different stuff in and then take it back out; more harder edge electronic production.”
Given the pop-driven sound of Secrets and Lies and due to the fact that single Thump is set for release in the UK, it is expected Bertie will gain a little international recognition. That said Bertie isn’t likely to lose sight of her hometown any time soon. “There’s been a part of me that’s wanted to relocate. But at the same time I’ve been spending such a long time working at building my career here that I’ve felt that would be a bit of a cop out. You can’t get caught up in ‘oh, I need to be overseas.’ A city is a city.” You hear that, Sia?
Bertie’s Sydney-based career certainly looks set to peak. And yet she still casts her eye on the future of her songwriting, explaining, “I’ve been writing a track with a horn orchestra. I kind of want to get towards more of a dramatic sound. Exploring more of what I touched on with Secrets and Lies.”
In developing her sound though, the folky side of Bertie may not be gone for good after all. “I would like to make a really folky folky record at some point. But I’m not quite ready to do that yet. But folk like Nick Drake and Tom Waits: layered and intricate and beautiful.”
Bertie is heading to the capital not once but TWICE in the next few months! Excitement. Catch her for free at an 18+ gig at Transit Bar on Thursday June 25 and then again at the ANU Bar for a paid gig on Saturday August 8. Tickets for the latter through Ticketek.