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Interview with Sainthill (Q & A)

Drawing you into a world of dreamy shoegaze and pulsating charm, the new single The Black Bull out today from Melbourne-based artist Sainthill is a lush and evocative journey taken from the talented artist’s impending new album Dream Animal, set for release on Friday March 1. A track many years in the making, The Black Bull also arrives today accompanied by an aptly whimsical music video.

(STM) Tell us about your new single The Black Bull?

All the songs on my upcoming album originated from dreams, and for this song it was (unsurprisingly) one about a black bull. I took that for its obvious metaphor (a black animal as depression) and told the story of someone taking matters into their own hands – in this case to train as a matador and overcome it (as grotesque as bullfighting is). Production-wise, I was inspired by the textures and sounds of bands like Slowdive and The Cure who often weave pulsing bass with shoegaze elements along with a bittersweet, melancholic atmosphere.

Dream Animal is your new album out on March 1, tell us about your creative process of putting an album together?  Has it been different to the way you’ve approached your other three albums?

I dream a lot and have hundreds of dream journal entries. I noticed an exceptional (or perhaps disturbing?) amount of animal appearances, and these encounters became the basis for the album’s lyrics – moralistic tales and reflections on the subconscious involving lost cats, vulnerable horses, and sinister bulls. I intentionally made sure each song had a chorus – my previous work was often meandering – this time there are hooks in every track! Production-wise, I leant into dreampop, shoegaze and indie folk sounds, with lots of guitar, synth and vocal layers.

If you could change something about the music industry what would change?

Some of my friends are my favourite musicians, and I think they make some of the best music around. It’s a real shame there isn’t more exposure for indie and underground Australian music I guess, and I don’t know many folks who are able to support themselves financially on music alone. So, if I could wave my magic wand and fix that, I would! It also upsets me when venues end up having to close and/or get turned into a gastropub, however the way the Melbourne music scene rallies around and supports when venues are in strife is really inspiring.

What do you think life would be like for you if you didn’t have music/visual art as an outlet?

I’d probably spend more time outdoors – I love camping and hiking but don’t get out there often enough. I’d get into a sport of some kind, maybe an amateur basketball team or pick up fencing again (I used to fence as a teen). In general, I’d have much, much more spare time!

Is there anyone you would like to collaborate with?

I’d love to write a suite of songs (with heaps of strings and synths) and have someone with an ethereal voice do all the vocals. So, with that in mind, my dream (but highly unlikely) collaboration would be with the great Elizabeth Fraser from Cocteau Twins.

What’s your advice to young people who want to make a career for themselves in the industry?

It’s fairly common advice, but always, always just be yourself. Musicians chasing fame and writing music that attempts to be popular or adhere to trends/algorithms will always come across as fairly soulless. If it’s in your heart to make weird music, do that. At the end of the day it’s the creativity and authenticity that draws people in.

What’s your favourite song to perform?

There’s a song off an older album of mine called ‘The Skelton Castle (1806)’ – it’s a loop of three chords with multiple lead guitar lines layered over, so it’s fun to play. The lyrics are based off letters an ancestor of mine wrote to his mother while on board the Skelton Castle ship in 1806. Sadly, the ship sunk and my ancestor drowned, though the meaningful exchanges between this son and mother live on through the song.

Got any secret hobbies that we might be surprised by?

I love to draw. For a while in my 20s I was actually a freelance illustrator, but that life wasn’t for me. When I’m not recording or releasing music, I do more of it, generally my pictures are surreal cartoon landscapes with an array of fantastical creatures (think 80s dark puppet movies!)

You’re set to perform at The Gaso next month, what can fans expect from your show?

I don’t play live all that much, so when I do I like it to be really special. I like to play as much as the new album as possible and throw in a sprinkling of older songs (for my long term fans haha). I get some musical mates to fill out the sound – drums, bass, keys etc. I also like arvo gigs so my friends with kids can come and I can get to bed on time.  

 New single ‘The Black Bull’ from forthcoming album ‘Dream Animal’ out March 1

Album launch at The Gaso Upstairs on Sunday April 14.





SAINTHILL – THE BLACK BULL – Official single artwork

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