INTERVIEW: SAGE

Hi Sage, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Thanks for the warm welcome! I’ve been really great, thanks! I just got back from a 5 week trip to Canada and the US so I’m a little jetlagged today as well. It’s been a whirlwind couple of months.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “From Dust”?

‘From Dust’ is about reminiscing on the treasured memories you’ve shared with someone who’s no longer around. As they say, “It is better to have loved and lost than to not have loved at alI.” I don’t know if I truly believe that, but it was a great inspiration for a song. I feel like I really managed to capture the best parts of that complicated emotion; it hurts like hell, but at the same time brings up those beautiful butterflies and sparks you first felt when you were together. When I wrote it I had no idea that people would welcome it with such open arms and ears. I keep getting messages like: “I’ve been singing this all day!” “I’m obsessed! “It’s so beautiful!”. It just puts the biggest smile on my face.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

When I was finishing up my last year at uni, a fellow muso texted me to say that she’d caught wind of a folk band looking for a singing cellist and she thought I’d be perfect! How often does that job opening come up?! I was super keen and wanted to write an original song that really showed off my strengths, but also allowed them to imagine me fitting into the group. I listened to their most recent album and then came up with this strummed groove on the cello. The song flowed pretty easily from there. That opportunity never amounted to anything, but I wrote a really nice song and decided I loved it enough not to want to give it to anyone else. I remember taking a selfie at the time holding my lyrics sheet because I was so proud of what I’d created.

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

Super chill! Honestly, one of the best days at “work” I’ve ever had. The concept came together really quickly in my mind; I had a dream location, the wardrobe added to my ASOS cart, access to makeup tutorials on YouTube, and a great referral for a videographer. I’m very much a DIY kind of girl. We shot the 8mm video across two locations on the Mornington Peninsula around the grounds of Beleura House & Gardens and Mills Beach. It was a lot of fun trying to get the footage because we had to wait for sun brackets in between the clouds that were looming all day. A lot of time was spent staring at the sky waiting for “ACTION!”

The single comes off your new album Tethered – what’s the story behind the title?

Tethered is a word taken from the second track on the album ‘Fault Lines’, which is a song about blame. Loss, blame, love, heartbreak, fear, insecurity, and hope are some of the themes that make an appearance on this EP. This word in particular really resonated with me because I realised I was writing music about things that were keeping me tethered to my place in life. I’m always trying to be a better version of myself by dealing with the hurdles in my mind. It’s a subtle nod to the New Years resolution.

How was the recording and writing process?

I started writing and recording this project in 2018 in Richard Vaudrey’s gorgeous hand-built studio on the Mornington Peninsula. We would record at night when all was quiet, and then call it when we’d tracked everything we needed or couldn’t stay awake any longer. The cello tracking sessions were always hard work, the vocal tracking sessions were always nerve wracking, and then the session with my guest muso Navin Gulavita (violin) was super chill! I just got to sit on the couch, lie back and enjoy the music. I’d never done this before, so I wanted to give it the best chance of success by being prepared and working with people I admire.

How has Laura Marling and Julia Stone influenced your writing?

I was honestly so surprised and flattered when people started putting our names in the same sentence – it’s a serious compliment! They both inherently know how to write simple, write beautiful, perform with humility, and keep your attention. When all I had was a cello and my voice, I didn’t mourn the lack of tech I owned to make music, but just did the best with what I had. The mark of a good song is whether it can stand on it’s own two feet without all the bells and whistles of production. That’s something I like to keep in mind whenever I begin writing.

How much deep into the world of fantasy did you get to go on this record?

You won’t find any dragons or fairies in here, but there’s definitely an element of magic to the story. I’ve always loved the movie ‘Stardust’ which was a clear inspiration for the song. In the final scene of the movie the two lovers’ souls shoot up into the sky and become stars. It’s a beautifully vivid image about endless love that has stuck in my mind for a long time. In my version of the tale, one of the sweethearts has moved on before the other, and I tried to imagine what the person left behind would be feeling. What I felt was hope.

What aspect of innocence and memories did you get to explore on this record?

The memories I chose to focus on were just simple moments I’m sure everyone can recall in their own lives; looking up at the stars, reuniting with someone, and being at home with the person you love. When you look back on your life, there’s a thick tapestry of events that follow you to the end, but I only wanted the fond ones to shine through in this song. It is a love song after all.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

The original lyrics were about nature and conceptual things that didn’t really mean anything in a storytelling sense – they were just pleasant to sing about. I wanted the song to have more of a purpose so once I sang the line “Oh darling, where’ve you been?” I had the first piece of the lyrical puzzle locked in place. In any case, it started out as one thing but turned into another. I’m glad I wrote the song that it was destined to be instead of forcing my original idea onto it. Moving on when something isn’t working is an important songwriting lesson I taught myself early on.

Any plans to hit the road?

Not at the moment, but that would be awesome! I played one of my favourite shows in Brisbane a couple of months ago and am keen to get back. I can tell you though, travelling with a cello is not the easiest thing in the world! I’m looking forward to playing a home show or two in the next couple of months.

What else is happening next in SAGE’s world?

I just got back from a songwriting residency in Canada, which was absolutely amazing. When the dust settles and the workload starts to balance out, I’ll get deep into the recording process for another album or maybe a series of singles. Hopefully what I wrote while I was away will be released later in the year, but no dates to lock in yet. Now that I’ve tested the waters with ‘Tethered’ there’s a lot I want to do to expand my sound and I’m really excited to see what comes next. Oh, and I’m getting married! I couldn’t be more excited about that right now.

Listen: FROM DUST

Watch: FROM DUST

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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