Thelma Plum Better In Blak album coverIncisive, candid and glowing with passion, Better In Blak is a debut coup for Gamilaraay woman and esteemed songwriting talent Thelma Plum. Nicholas Kennedy put some questions to the artist.

Since 2012 you’ve released singles, EPs, and collaborations. Now it’s 2019, and we have an album! When was the moment that you decided the next release would be your debut LP?

I’ve always wanted to have my own album – it’s been a dream – but I didn’t want to release anything until I knew I was completely ready, when it was completely ready, which it is now.

The style of your recent clip Better In Blak is simple, but extremely striking. What was your involvement in developing the ‘look’ of the clip with your (long-time collaborator) Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore?

I love working with Claudia! This is the third clip I have worked on together with her and, with Sarah from my label, we sat together and worked out the whole concept right down to the colour scheme. The video actually includes two of my sisters, which is amazing for me because it is the first time the three of us have actually been in a room together, as my elder sister was adopted when she was a baby. It was a magical and personal moment for us, and to have it captured in the video that will last forever is so perfect.

The premiere of the video arrived alongside the insane little detail that music icon Paul McCartney wrote a guitar line for the album. How did that come about?

Well, I was in New York City recording a song called Made for You which I wrote with Paul Kelly, which is already just incredible, he’s an idol to me. So anyway, I am in the studio with David [Kahne, producer of the song] who also works with Paul McCartney – they are close, [and] work together quite often. We had finished up for the day and I just got a text message from David saying, “You’ll never guess who played on the album?!” Paul had come in, heard the song and asked who it was, then asked if he could lay something down, and just wrote a guitar part – which is a really beautiful part, and made the song come together so well, and I am just so grateful for that. He invited me to come to the show when he came to Australia and I got to thank him in person for being a part of that. It’s pretty unbelievable to me even now.

You’ve said the new album goes to some pretty dark places. Spending time writing about traumas and personal experiences can be both cathartic and exhausting; did you ever feel like you were walking a line between speaking your truth and draining yourself completely?

Absolutely. There’s something therapeutic about being able to write down and articulate what you are feeling in a song; it can be very healing but I also feel very vulnerable when I do, because it is sharing a part of me which I have not necessarily shared with that many people before. So it can be equally very emotionally draining but I think, for me, ultimately healing.

Tell us a little about that alpaca on the cover of the album: I love them!

Oh my god, he’s so cute! His name is Lenny. He’s so cute and so well behaved. I loved him!

Better In Blak by Thelma Plum is out July 12 via Warner.

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