Words by Lauren Abineri
Bec Sandridge is boogie-ing all over the country. Sharp licks, disco beats and Bec's seriously soul-stirring warble have captured her audiences over a particularly exciting year for her and her band. A distinct swagger pervades the story-telling, with also some tender pop moments. From her folk roots to her self-branded disco-spaghetti-pop (delish) we covered a bit of ground together on the phone ahead of her performance at Rocket Bar.
Y: Hello, Lauren speaking.
BS: Hey Lauren, it’s Bec Sandridge, sorry I missed your call.
That’s ok Bec! Hello, what are you up to today?
The band and I just flew into Sydney and we were doing some last minute shopping
Fashions shopping? Or food shopping?
We’re doing a Like A Version on Friday so we need to look schmick!
Yep. Get some schmicko threads.
The guys bought some trousers and yeah I’m torn so I’m trying to be sensible.
Yep okay gotcha. Do you normally bring a hoard of bits and pieces to mix and match from?
Well, the last couple of shows I haven't been very weather-appropriate I’ve been wearing these velvet suits which resulted in a near-death experience by heatwave so I thought this time I would bring maybe three outfits just in case. But just depends how organised I’m feeling.
Fantastic! That sounds really good. I think actually, only from a distance, you and I have corresponded once before.
Yeah you had posted on Facebook a quote like "love is like stepping on a beercap" and I wrote"I read it as beecrap" because I had an image of someone stepping on a tiny bee poo.
That’s awesome. Well it’s nice to phone-meet you!
Yes nice to meet you in the phone. Cool. I haven't actually heard that quote before can you tell me a little bit about it?
I’m trying to remember when I posted it. I think it was Leonard Cohen. I was reading one of his books called Love is a Hungry Dog from Hell, which is quite a vicious title. I think that’s why I picked it up off the bookstore shelf. I just thought it was really interesting, the idea of being in love is kind of like - people might feel like - they are a bit drunk or something and then tread on something that’s really painful just like “Ah! You have the ability to really hurt me.’’
Yeah, it’s quite a vulnerable thing, isn't it.
Yeah - so that’s kind of what I got out of it but I’m also just this huge word nerd and I love Leonard Cohen.
Me too. Omg I burst into tears when I found out. I was sitting at the computer at work and I just started saying "No, no, no" over and over again. That was a pretty painful shock for everyone. I suppose there would be a few people that we lost last year that I can see might inform a little bit of your style?
Yeah - I’m definitely influenced by people like David Bowie, I've had a couple of weird comparisons with Bowie recently, for me musically I don't really see it, but I think aesthetically he’s a wizard. He had some really cool ideas and was a really smart dude especially when it relates to things like gender and he's a very androgynous kind of person, making interesting comments with his aesthetic and he also just wrote some really cool wacky pop songs. So I definitely respected him a lot. And people influenced him, like Iggy Pop - it kind of goes layer by layer of who influenced who, which I like. People like Leonard, I think it's just his words and his ability to take a very boring situation and chat about it.
Totally - it’s kind of like those moments in between that are almost difficult to pin down with words. I feel like listening to your stuff, I can see that. I remember when 'You’re A Fucking Joke' came out there was just this clip like BOOM pure articulation, but at the same time there's heaps of room inside of it to assign your own meanings. But there’s this explicitness that we’re looking at. I was very struck by this image and the images in the clip and I would listen to it everyday and I thought I would see what else Bec has been up to, so I followed this journey of -
The rabbit hole!
Yeah! Absolutely - I thought OMG I feel like a stalker having a little YouTube trawl. There’s kind of like this journey from guitar-driven almost freak-folk, story-telling - it feels so natural watching this journey to where you are now. Genres and styles are hard to pin down anyway. Can you tell me a bit about this? From the outside it looks super natural and authentic progression into incorporating different elements to your sound.
It’s been really interesting, the response because a lot of press have been like ‘’it’s so dramatically different’’ and for me I’m still writing the songs on a guitar in my bedroom so it’s been an interesting thing to watch. For me it seems like a really natural, slow change. I started out as just someone who knew how to play guitar and tried to teach myself how to sing and so naturally I only knew how to write songs on a guitar but then I’ve kind of - the more nerdier I got with music, the more I was like it's a really cool thing to marry emotionality with a good boogie, for me that was really important.
It was kind of an awareness thing, me seeing a bunch of bands and going I could actually put drums in my songs or put synth in my songs, whereas before that I was like I can only play guitar, or write on guitar. It was definitely a slow natural progression, I think it’s obvious with this release of the EP that I haven't been in a rush to release everything. It's been a cycle of EPs because i released 'In The Fog, In The Flame' in November 2015 so I've just been taking my time and making sure of things being intentional and thought-out and true to me.
Yeah and sometimes it's sorta nice to take one's time and hold onto things for that little bit longer and see how they manifest in, say, a live performance context. I think that also reinforces this really natural vibe that I think the sound and the journey has. You’ve been playing so much! At places like BIGSOUND - how does it feel some of the places that you’ve been playing at, in this sharing process?
It's been really fun! For me it's been really important to get gigs, like the only way to step up in live performances it just to play gigs. You can rehearse as much as you want in your bedroom or in a rehearsal space but there’s nothing like playing in front of a crowd and seeing if people like it, or seeing if you like it through a set of speakers. It’s been really fun and kind of a bit of trial and error, so I’m really thankful for people coming to my shows and seeing me stuff up a couple times.
Oh yeah, all part of it!
I feel really thankful to play shows like BIGSOUND and Fairground and festivals and playing alongside some of my favourite artists. It was a really fun year last year.
Yeah - that’s so exciting! Who are some of your favourite artists at the moment?
At the moment… I think one of my staple pieces is Arcade Fire. I went through this weird phase maybe when I was 23 when I listened to Bombay Bicycle Club a lot, so I'm getting back into that. I think when the Springsteen tour hit Australia I kind of dug back into him. And a bit of some more singer-songwriter sort of stuff. A bit of everything. Even my housemate in Melbourne, she’s really into punk stuff, she’s been giving me a whole bunch of really weird, wacky bands - one of them is called Goat Girl, I think they’re awesome.
Sick. That’s so good. So last time you were in Adelaide, I feel terrible because I couldn’t make it.
You should feel awwwwwful! Just kidding.
Haha! You were supporting Montaigne, tell us about that!
Yeah it was really cool. I’ve only been to Adelaide I think twice and that was the biggest show I had played in Adelaide I think there was a good couple hundred people. And (Montaigne) is an awesome performer, she is a world class performer and she’s only 21 and she just smashes it. She knows how to command an audience and she’s really confident. She’s probably the most disciplined person I know, she is an artist in every right so I have a lot of respect for her.
Ah, that is so cool.
Plus I love going to Adelaide because some of my closest friends are in Adelaide and we always go to (Cafe) Troppo.
Beautiful. Are you looking forward to the show coming up?
Nah, I’m dreading it... of course I’m looking forward to it! My band are with me now, we’re all looking forward to it. They’re doing quiet 'woos' in the background. We’ve got my manager’s colleague driving us around like true divas, it’s awesome
What a legend. Have you been to Rocket before?
No I haven't but I've heard it’s a bit trendy.
Yep it’s a bit trendy I haven't been there in aaaages but I’ll have to make the trek to come and watch.
Yeah for sure definitely come along it should be good fun! And say hello!
Definitely! So you’re playing with Bec Stevens, that’ll be lovely.
I think she’s awesome. I was really lucky to hand pick all the supports for this tour so I have been deep on the internet listening to a bunch of bands and I think Bec is awesome.
Fantastic. Did you happen to get your haircut last time in Adelaide ? I think Fat Controller has a hairdresser back there.
Yes I did! I was horrified - I think I was about three beers in and I was like "Yes! I can get a haircut" and then the moment he started cutting my hair I was like "Oh no, I’m at a gig this could end up hideously wrong before my set, but it was okay. The hairdresser was excellent - very talented.
Well that’s good. Gee I don’t know what to say now because I called you on the fly a little bit!
Thanks so much for the chat.
No, thank you! Thanks for taking the time.
Catch Bec Sandridge at Rocket Bar, March 17th for some sad boogies and a double-Bec-bill. Zen Panda will be there too!