I’m great, thanks! My new album came out a little over a week ago, and I’m still flying high from the launch!
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Fight Your Dark”?
Yeah! Fight Your Dark was one of my favourite songs to work on in the studio. It’s been a regular part of my live show for a while, so the core shape and dynamic of the song was already in place and came together pretty quickly. David Puzak, who played a lot of guitar and bass on the album, played the guitar solo, and it’s particularly special to me. Dave really caught the essence of what I was trying to convey with his part. I wanted a sense of support, of resolution, almost like an answer to a question that wasn’t even being asked. I think I said something like that to him, which is all so vague, but what he played is it, that thing I wanted to hear but can’t fully describe. And the vocals for this song, too, came from a really honest place. That was a hard day in the studio, just because of how the theme was hitting me at that particular point in my life, but I was glad to be able to capture that honesty in a take, even though it’s not a perfect vocal performance.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
Sort-of-yes, sort-of-no. Every once in a while, when I’m feeling like I’ve gone too long without writing something, I’ll sit myself down and try to write something, whether I’m in the mood to or not, even just for the exercise. When there’s nothing particularly burning inside me that I need to say, I have to look at my life and ask myself, “What’s happening in my world right now? What have I been thinking about?” and whatever that thing is, that’s what I try to write about, whether it seems significant or not. The week I wrote Fight Your Dark, I had been in a situation where I had to collaborate on a project with someone I hadn’t gotten along with in the past, someone I generally tried to avoid interacting with. Over the course of our time spent working together, I realized that we had more in common that I originally thought and I kind of had to let go of my misconceptions about them and start fresh. So that was the kind of catalyst for writing the song, but the over-arching theme of forgiveness is one that carries more significance for me, beyond that one interaction.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
I do have some video plans in the works, but not for Fight Your Dark, at least not at this point.
The single comes off your new album Beauty In The Blue – what’s the story behind the title?
Beauty In The Blue is the name of one of the songs on the album. It was written about an ice storm that happened here in Toronto a few years ago, and the gist of the song is that even though it was a difficult time for the city, there was still beauty to be found in the midst of it. And this whole album, really, is a collection of my responses to some difficulty or some pain in an attempt at making something beautiful out of it. That’s why I called it Beauty In The Blue.
How was the recording and writing process?
The writing happened pretty typically for me, I would say, with the exception of one or two of the songs. And by that I mean, whenever I spent a chunk of time alone in the last few years, both at home or while travelling on my own, that’s when I ended up doing the most writing.
The recording took place over the course of a full year whenever my engineer and I could overlap our schedules. Quite a few people played on the album, but it really felt like the majority of the time was just me and Kevin, heading to the studio after both working full days, grabbing coffee and smoothies and just gradually chipping away at the songs until we were too tired to keep working. It was slow, methodical work that often didn’t feel like progress until something was almost completely finished and we’d listen back and go, ‘I think maybe that one’s done.’
What role does Canada play in your writing?
I wouldn’t say I ever set out to write about Canada intentionally, but it’s hard to move around this country and not be inspired by the landscape you see. Every place has its own particular beauty, I think, and Canada is no different in that, except for that it’s my home so I’ve spent more time looking at it and thinking about it than I have other places. That definitely seeps into my writing now and then.
What personal stories did you dive into this record?
For this collection of songs, I’m writing from a first-person perspective, in my own voice, about my experiences. Some of the songs are talking about things that happened to other people, but even then I’m still writing about it from my point of view, so each song on the album is pretty personal to me.
Any plans to hit the road?
Yes! I’ll be touring in Canada in 2018, hopefully beyond that too, but it’s still up in the air right now.
What else is happening next in Sarah Hiltz’s world?
I’m going to keep working to get Beauty In The Blue out there, and at the same time I’m looking forward to writing some new things. I’ve been living inside the story of these songs for a good chunk of time now, and I’m ready to let my thoughts wander over new themes, and to find new ways of describing what I’m seeing/thinking/feeling.