In 2011, I saw Seeker Lover Keeper five times. I also met all three of them and welled up like an infant. It was three of my heroes from the class of 2004 (go check out all of their releases from that year and thank me later) making remarkably beautiful music together. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I get really happy when I think about that time in my life – I was super-close to finishing uni, I felt like I was getting somewhere with my writing and I had this goddamn album! So yeah, I spoke to Sarah Blasko and despite seeing all three of these women in public several times since I have never had the guts to go speak to any of them again. I’d probably bore them to death, anyway.
– DJY, October 2014
Anyone can dream up a supergroup, but it’s very rare that these fantasies actually come to fruition. It’s also very rare to see it happen of late outside the field of big, burly rock – anyone for Chickenfoot or Hellyeah? It’s interesting that it’s taken something as left-field and unexpected as Seeker Lover Keeper to break this mould. The collaboration between Sarah Blasko, Holly Throsby and Sally Seltmann was first brought to wider attention upon their announcement as a part of the 2011 Splendour in the Grass festival, but the idea of uniting three of Australia’s finest voices has been in the works for quite some time.
“I think I saw Holly play live first – we had a common manager at the time,” says Blasko when asked to recall the origins of her friendship between her counterparts. “Sally, I remember hearing on the radio for the first time and really loving her music – that would have been around the time of her first album. After seeing each other around all the time, I guess it was natural that our friendship developed. We’ve all got a lot in common, and have the same kind of sense of humour. I guess it was only a matter of time.”
It was after a show that Seltmann showed the other two a song she had been working on entitled Rest Your Head On My Shoulder, which would go on to become the final track on the SLK album. “That was really the turning point,” recalls Blasko, “where we all genuinely wanted it to happen. Sally came up with the name, and we scheduled to record not long after all of that.” Considering that Blasko’s last album, As Day Follows Night, was recorded across a month in Stockholm, it certainly came as a notable change to record Seeker Lover Keeper in New York across a fortnight.
“We all wanted to have a really different experience from the last time we all recorded albums,” says Blasko. “We kind of set ourselves a few parameters for this record. We wanted it to be recorded in a really large way. The harmonies, the base of the sound, we just wanted it all to be really natural, really organic. We decided very early on that we wanted it all to be very simple. Kind of like a folk album – I mean, it’s obviously got other elements in there as well, but our sole intention was just to create a simple, beautiful album.”
Mission accomplished. Seeker Lover Keeper is an album of cohesive musicianship, strikingly honest lyrics and kind of freeze-in-tracks, jaw-on-floor close harmony that would normally only come through shared bloodlines. Blasko is particularly enthusiastic about just how liberating it felt to be singing alongside these women, describing it as a “really wonderful” experience. “I think probably the last time I ever really sang like this, in this way, is with my sister when I was really young,” she adds. “In a way, all three of us kind of become children again when we start singing together. It’s a really special, pure thing to do. All of us have had harmonies on our records before – Sally, especially – but I guess we’ve never really had the means to properly replicate our harmonies live. It’s been so fun rehearsing these songs, and finally being able to do it like this.”
Another interesting aspect of Seeker Lover Keeper was its songwriting process. Rather than simply penning songs for themselves to sing, each of the three women wrote songs for the others to sing. Blasko, who sings the most lead vocals out of the three, says that although it was certainly a challenge, the end result was more than rewarding. “I’ve often enjoyed doing covers and things like that,” she comments. “When you sing someone else’s words, you have to put yourself into their mind a bit. You have to draw on your own experience, but you’re struck by these words that you wouldn’t say yourself. It really makes you pay attention to the way it’s been constructed. To me, it was a real pleasure to sing those songs.”
With the role reversed, Blasko emphasises just how amazed she was with what Throsby and Seltmann did with her songs. “It’s really quite amazing to see your songs take on a different meaning when they’re in someone else’s hands,” Sarah notes. “People just have different inflections, different ways of saying the one thing. Hearing Sally do On My Own, I thought she just sounded so sweet and so pure. It was really lovely to hear it done so differently.”
The songs will be brought to life on the band’s first ever tour, extensively taking in most of the east coast of Australia. With Dirty Three drummer Jim White at the helm, Blasko is really excited to be performing songs from the album, as well as each other’s songs. “We’ll definitely throw in a few of our own,” she promises. “It’s going to be really special.”