On her debut album Try + Save Me pop chameleon Bec Sandridge documents some of her darkest moments and fears and the mental health journey that comes with it. She presents it in a way that shows us that no one is beyond ruin, but where everyone can still find hope in despair. Importantly, we also glimpse the workings of a musician who takes her rebellious musical spirit and turns it into art. That said, I recently presented Bec with some of the burning questions on my mind about her debut album. Here is some of what we talked about.
I read that your new record was influenced by a lot of things going on in your life. Can you elaborate on what played the biggest influence and why?
I started writing the record about 2 years ago and chipped away that entire time at each song. At the time, I’d had a “pretty bad breakup” (I, myself am cringing at the cliche) which kick started me into swimming laps daily, then eventually I started seeing a therapist. I wanted to work on generalised social anxiety and also how I saw myself. So the record somewhat revolves around that time in my life.
It goes without saying your songs are deeply personal. Which one was the most difficult to write? How do you feel about it now that you have shared it with the world?
STRANGER was the hardest song to finish. Musically, I co-wrote the song with Oscar Dawson (from Holy Holy). And the verses came really easily… But I didn’t quite know what the song was about at the time. It started being about not wanting to leave my house and being socially a bit awkward. It felt really generalised. I felt a bit creatively stuck. I kept picking the song up and putting it down, but nothing really resonated with me and it felt a bit like a collage. But in one of the last sessions, I kind of just spat out the word “stranger” and everything kind of clicked into place after that. I kind of see the verses as “child Sandridge” aka me seeing/observing my own anxiety at surface level. But then I feel like in the pre-chorus/chorus kind of shift into a more empowered, optimistic “adult Sandridge.” I feel like I finally started seeing the beneficial side of seeing myself as a stranger. To me, it brings self-compassion or empathy and also a patient understanding of yourself and others. So, now that it’s out, I’m giving myself permission to be honest and vulnerable with myself and others. So I feel good.
When people listen to Try + Save Me what do you want them to take away from it?
Whatever they want to take away from it. Maybe a slither of my inner world. I’m not sure…
There’s a real electronic backbone to your album, but it’s also intertwined with other great element of pop and indie rock. Was it difficult striking a balance or compromise with how you wanted the album to sound?
I feel like I picked the best people/producers possible for this balance (Gab Strum + Oscar Dawson). So it felt pretty impulsive and not forced. As a team, we kind of all have really similar tastes but such different backgrounds in music. I grew up with disco + singer-songwriters and I really wanted this record to somewhat reflect that but go harder/grosser, as always.
I think I’m most impressed by how your guitar work on the album exercises such wonderful control. At times it is subtle and aggressive the next. Tell me why you decided to use your guitar chops in this manner?
I’m not a “trained” guitarist and much more of a “feels player”, so the non-compressed or untamed guitar is somewhat unintentional in some ways, but I definitely wanted the songs to have considered sections. Also, it is both Oscar and I playing on the record, so having two players might reinforce that “pendulum effect” snapping from a very tight/controlled guitar (which is probably Oscar) to more jutting/random stuff (which is probably me). I think for this record, it was really important for the parts to pendulum manically between calm and stressed. I wanted people to feel what it was like to sit inside my head when I experience intrusive thoughts or a panic attack.
Creatively, when you are playing guitar, do you have a different mindset as opposed to when you are writing songs?
If I were to play guitar by itself, I’d be a lot more self conscious, or aware of my playing style. But when I’m writing, it’s purely feels/what fits best w the other elements of the song.
I understand you surrounded yourself with an amazing team to make your debut. Can you tell me something surprising about your working relationship with Gab Strum and Oscar Dawson?
Nothing too surprising about the trio. Gab is a synth Lord. Oz is a guitar Lord. We’re all big anxious weirdos. I also wrote a lot with my best friend Rin on this record, which probably surprised me the most as I’m definitely a card’s close to the chest kind of person when it comes to writing… Rin is somewhat a Missy Higgins style feels piano player. She helped co-write Animal + Even Love and I think that helped inform a lot of the record.
What does music mean to you? Or more to the point how has it shaped who you are as a person and a musician?
It means I’m able to attempt to let people in to my head in a weird and wonderful way… It means I’m able to make a living off something I love (and something I sometimes hate)… It’s a part of me. But not who I am.
What is the best piece of advise you have ever received?
Say no to things.
To celebrate the release of your debut album, you are hitting the road in October. Is a Bec Sandridge show theatrical or is it strictly rock n roll?
It’s column A + column B.
Bec Sandrige’s debut album Try + Save Me is available in all good record stores and digitally on October 4. For more information on Bec Sandrdge including tour updates check out her website. Follow Bec on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | You Tube.
For tickets to Bec Sandridge’s TRY + SAVE ME tour Click HERE.
Friday 4th October – The Foundry, Brisbane
Saturday 5th October – The Northern, Byron Bay (FREE ENTRY)
Saturday 12th October – Hobart Brewing Company, Hobart
Friday 18th October – Cats @ Rocket Bar, Adelaide
Saturday 19th October – Howler, Melbourne
Friday 25th October – Lansdowne, Sydney
Saturday 26th October – UC Hub, Canberra
Friday 8th November – UniBar, Wollongong