Bec Sandridge has just released her debut album Try + Save Me after two years of nose-to-the-grindstone work in the studio with Gab Strum (Japanese Wallpaper) and Holy Holy’s Oscar Dawson. She answered our questions about how this exquisitely fierce record came together. Also, keep scrolling for Bec’s upcoming tour details.
You’ve said of the album: “I wanted everything to feel it had place and purpose with no apology.” In the past, have you dodged bold instrument choices because they seemed too revealing or abrasive? (In the way we might normally think of bold lyrics as particularly revealing/abrasive?)
Good question! I think I just never really saw boldness or abrasiveness as an option. I feel as a woman, I’m told everything is too loud or taking up too much space, so I just assumed I wasn’t allowed to step outside of that compressed environment. This time, I took a lot of time to create playlists of tones that I loved and hated: gross snare sounds, vacuum cleaner-esque club synths, and dirty, gritted, or jutting-out-type guitars…
The chief chorus lyric for I‘LL NEVER WANT A BOYFRIEND is actually “I’ll never have a boyfriend” – what are your thoughts on the differences between the two words?
For me, ‘want’ and ‘have’ are definitely polar ends of the spectrum. I think the song explores other peoples’ imposing thoughts on what they think your needs are – or rather, should be. It’s me trying to put my foot down, at first softly but then a little more firmly. It looks at how I initially came out to my mum in stating “I’ll never have a boyfriend”, which for me, was a bit more of a passive coming out. But then later on I was like… “Actually… I’ll never want a boyfriend, Mum.” The outro further explains: “I’ll never want a boyfriend just because you think I should, just because you think I could, just because you think I will/do, etc”, then goes on to repeat: “I will never” in the [backing vocals].
STRANGER contains the lyric “I’ve had so much to choose.” How did you navigate your choices while writing this album, when really you could go on forever making choices and never be satisfied with a finished product?
Hilariously (and conveniently), the initial the lyric was “I have too much too chew on” – I had this image of when you think you’re so hungry that you pull off more than you can actually chew or fit in your mouth. Which is maybe not that dissimilar to having too much to choose from when making an album. Things like decisions need to be made bite-size and digestible in order to be ‘smart’ decisions, or something more manageable, I think… The same approach for making an album applied. A smorgasbord of food is on offer, but you can only realistically fit so much on your plate and also you don’t want to walk out of that joint feeling too sick. Luckily, I’m a fussy eater. And probably the same in the studio. I picked my favourite things (musicians, synth sounds and guitar pedals, at the time), and stuck to what I know to be true things like I like. And kept it simple. I wanted the record to reflect my taste and didn’t need too many sprinkles. And so, putting down the plate was easy, when I was full.
There are some incredible layers of vocals in W MY EX – aerial dashes and “wah-ahs” and “oohs.” How did you go about creating this spanakopita of sound?
Thank you! We used a couple of things including a megaphone, and tried out some yelling and operatic vocal things. And kind of just combined the two. At the time I was listening to a lot of Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Kate Bush, so I wanted to somehow combine punk with theatre. Most of those ideas came out of ad-libs.
What kinds of percussion are we hearing in the bridge break-down in this track – I’m sure there’s a cowbell and a woodblock! Did you get to slam these in-studio?
I am proud to say it is a COWBELL AND WOODBLOCK! I kept asking Oscar to turn it up in the mix. Love it!! Sadly they’re computerised but pretty bang-on and hilarious.
The album opens with a sample of a snooty lady saying “I think it’s quite unnecessary.” Where does it come from, and why did you choose it (chopped and glitched as it is) for the opening track of the album, which then opens out into this brilliant, bright cacophony of sound?
That’s my Grandma! Her name is Grace, though she’s quite ungraceful. She’s one of the most facetious women I know! It’s a sample from a video of her speaking about my previous release You’re A Fucking Joke (she hated it), but I thought it was fitting with the themes of the album: disapproval, and other people asserting their expectations onto you, etc. I haven’t showed her the record yet…
For more info on Bec’s debut album Try + Save Me, head to her website.
Bec Sandridge is touring right now! Dates below, and ticketing details here.
BEC SANDRIDGE ‘TRY + SAVE ME’ TOUR
With special guest EAGLEMONT
Friday 4th October – The Foundry, Brisbane
Saturday 5th October – The Northern, Byron Bay (FREE ENTRY)
Saturday 12th October – Hobart Brewing Company, Hobart *
Friday 18th October – Cats @ Rocket Bar, Adelaide
Saturday 19th October – Howler, Melbourne
Friday 25th October – Lansdowne, Sydney
Saturday 26th October – UC Hub, Canberra
Friday 8th November – UniBar, Wollongong
* Eaglemont not appearing