Musical Discoveries: Can you tell us more about your musical background?
Sandrine: I was born into a family that was very music focused. My father loved to play guitar and sing, and my mother sang. From the age of five or so, my two sisters and I had classical piano lessons. As my father was a minister, we always went to church on Sunday, and there was always a lot of singing. The whole family was involved in providing the back up. One sister played bass, the other piano, and I played a funny little instrument called the omnichord, which is kind of like an electronic autoharp. My brother played drums.
When I was six my father decided to turn the family into a band, record an album, and take us on the road. We lived in a converted bus, and traveled about New Zealand--which is where we lived at the time, after moving there from Australia--doing shows for the faithful. It's funny to look back on. I think I really enjoyed the performing. I remember incidences such as getting chewing gum stuck in my hair before a show, and getting in big trouble.
How did things progress from there?
At around fifteen, I got into a sort of advanced music class in my school in New Zealand. All we really had to do was write a song each week and perform it. I think I found this easier than most people, and my passion for it started there. I picked up guitar from the boys in the class, because all we really did was sit around and jam.
I caught the notice of some guys from another college who had formed a band and wanted a singer to go on tour with them. I got off school for a couple of months, and traveled around the country singing covers like I see Red by the Split Ends, and Get Back by the Beatles, etc.
We moved back to Australia when I was sixteen, and I found myself briefly singing in a Lyrnrd Skynrd covers band! Didn't last too long, but it was fun while it lasted.
I left home at seventeen to pursue life as a songwriter, but had absolutely no clue as to how to make this happen. I travelled, saw the world, and wrote songs. I moved to Sydney in my early twenties, and this is where I started to record them, and start to get things happening.
What about your earlier recordings?
Before I put out my first album in Australia, I spent about a year demoing songs, and finding a sound. I experimented for a split second with electronica, before coming back around to real instruments.
My first album Trigger was more produced sounding than Dark Fades Into the Light, as playing live, and rediscovering piano--I bought a vintage wurlitzer which caused me to switch back from guitar--gave me a lot more confidence to just record everything live for the second album.
I wanted a more natural and real sounding album this time around.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up and how did that evolve?
As a child, my exposure to music was almost purely gospel songs and hymns, with a bit of Sesame Street thrown in the mix. We were discouraged from listening to the radio, or watching video hits, as our parents thought they held too much negative influence. I think it really influenced my songwriting, inasmuch that I really learned from the strong structures, and simple melodic content in gospel and hymns. It also allowed me to develop my own style without being too heavily influenced by the popular music of the day.
When I left home, I started listening to music with earnest, and found a particular love for the music from the late sixties and early seventies. I just loved the songwriting from that period.
In addition to the recording of the new album and gigs supporting it, what else have you been doing?
I've started getting into podcasting a little. Just recording songs accoustically at home and posting them onto my myspace and youtube account. People that are never able to make shows seem to appreciate that.
I also write whenever the mood takes me. That's one of my favourite things to do. Besides cooking. I love to cook, and do this a lot.
Shopping local farm outlets for the freshest fruit and veg in season is something I love, and then coming home and getting creative with them. Every night is an excuse for a delicious healthy feast.
I'm also really into thrift store shopping. I'm often scouring the local Salvation Army for great furniture finds, and every thrift store in the area for bizarre and interesting clothing from bygone eras.
How did you work with the other musicians to bring the project to its final stage?
I came over to work with Malcolm Burn on a fairly loose arrangement. We didn't really know if it was going to work out well or not. It did, and we decided to make a whole album. We just pulled in a few people from around where he lives, a couple of people from a band called Mercury Rev who have a studio up here in upstate NY, and some musicians from New York he liked to work with.
How has it been working with the people at Nettwerk?
Nettwerk have a completely different approach to Sony, whom I put my first album out with. Sony have decent budgets, but are not particularly creative with their spending of them. They've been doing things the same way for a long time, and change is slow.
Nettwerk on the other hand, being a newer company are a lot more modern in their approach, and a lot more keyed in to youth culture.
They don't have the enormous budgets to play with, so they've found creative ways to get artists out there, with the internet being one of their prime resources, as well as supporting a healthy live presence in regards to getting artists out playing as much as possible and getting exposure that way.
Tell us all about your live performances.
Every time I play, it's a completely different experience. So much relies on your connection and interaction with the audience. Sometimes I find myself playing to people that would not normally get into my genre of music, such as playing for a crowd that have come specifically to see the next act, which is pure country or heavy rock, and it takes a bit of work to earn their acceptance.
It's very rewarding when the claps start getting louder and more frequent, and you know that the audience too is stepping out of their comfort zone to appreciate it. Of course, it's so great when you've got an easy show, because the crowd is there to see you, and encourage you along the whole way.
I'm up there to give, so it's always best when it's received well. Kinda like when you're giving someone a present and they really seem to like it.
Small, medium and large venues all have a different energy, but it all comes down to the reception. Playing to a small receptive crowd is obviously more fun than being a support act for a big band who's crowd are clearly just there for them.
How important is image in today’s music scene?
Well, I think that people might first see your image on the internet, magazine or paper, before actually having the opportunity to hear your music, so it's important that you present yourself in a way that makes sense for your music.
If people like your style of presentation, it might tempt them to press play and listen to a song, which of course is what I want.
And being a pretty young woman doing music?
As far as being pretty goes, I really think that anyone can look pretty with photoshop technology, which can make you skinnier and prettier than you are in the flesh.
I'm much more interested in the presentation of a mood or look that complements the style of music I do. I think everyone can look pretty. I prefer to look interesting.
Are there plans to tour outside your country?
Well, I'm off to France in a bit over a week, as one of my songs has taken off on radio, and I'm going to do their big tv show, make some music videos, epks and do shows there. I'm very excited about having found an audience there, because it's a nice place to go! Aside from that I'm planning tours in the US, Canada, and the UK.
What are your hopes and dreams musically and for your life?
I just hope to be able to maintain a career so I can continue to make albums, which is my favourite part of being an artist. This means I need to be able to sell a certain amount of albums for it to be financially viable. Touring and promoting is a big part of it. Hopefully I can sell enough of Dark Fades Into the Light to allow me to make another one with the support it requires and so on and so forth, for as long as I still love it.