In the early months of 2012, Saritah packed her suitcase and acoustic guitar and flew across the globe from Melbourne to California, where she went into the studio and created a beautiful album of original songs. The result is Dig Deep, a vibrant, rich album that unites roots reggae, dancehall, pop and nu-soul flavours on a courageous journey through universal conditions of joy, loss, inspiration and faith. This Thursday she launches her new album at the Beach Hotel in Byron Bay.
Why did you choose to go to the US to record Dig Deep?
It was a combined vision that my manager and I made happen. He is based in Santa Cruz, California, so that’s a big part of the reason that it happened over there, through his connections. He hooked it all up so it was a big leap of faith for me! Luckily he’s a great manager who knows where I’m coming from and where I’m going so it all worked amazingly.
How did you end up making connection with Mario Caldato Jr? What has he bought to your music?
I had a list of producers that I was interested in working with and Mario was on it. We reached out to him, sent him links and demos and he replied and said he was keen. He was an absolute pleasure to work with, a true gentleman, very creative; and I felt that my ideas were totally respected. He definitely brought his magic touch, as many people have heard on the first single TEARS OF JOY.
What did you set out to achieve in recording your new album?
I wanted to make a beautiful, powerful, and inspiring album. A deep album! I wanted to do justice to the songs that are so individual and each needs to sound how it wants to sound. I spent a lot of time on preproduction for some of the songs and came up with some bass lines and other ideas, which was a really crucial part of the process.
How close do you feel you came?
I’m really happy with this album! I love it and am still enjoying listening to it, which is a great sign! I want the world to hear it. I feel represented by it. There is one song we recorded that I ended up leaving off the album because I just felt it wasn’t quite there, wasn’t quite how it wanted to sound. And that’s okay. We’ll still play that song live on the tour, and perhaps re-record and release it in the future.
What are the songs that you are proudest of?
Isn’t that kind of like asking which of your children you love the most?! Ha-ha… They are all so different and I love them all for different reasons. TEARS OF JOY I love because it just sounds so good and colourful and Mario really brought a great old-school Studio One-inspired sound to that one, especially with the skanking upright piano.
I love DIG DEEP because it’s so emotional, it’s such a journey, and the lush layers in the chorus make you feel like you’re floating on a cloud. That song needs to be on a film soundtrack!
THRU IT ALL is one of my favourites for sure – a dancehall riddim-inspired tune with soaring melodies. COMIN WITH THE LIGHT is close to my heart and I love that it came out sounding all St Croix roots style. The bass player on that tune has played on a lot of the Midnite and Dezarie recordings. It was my bassline though! He just laid it down.
HOLY WATERS is definitely one of my favourites too. I wrote it on the acoustic guitar but when we took it to the studio it took on a whole new feel, a soul vibe. I Love Gina René’s guest vocals on that tune and I love the background vocals that fade in at the end. Mmm.
What is the songwriting process for you – do you jam with other musicians and refine; do you like to craft a song alone?
Good question! It can differ very much from song to song. A lot of the time I’ll find a chord progression I love on the acoustic guitar and then words will flow, often with rhythm and melody at once. Sometimes I’ll have a melody in my head and I figure out what goes with that – whether it be a bass line, a beat or a keys progression. Sometimes when it’s really magical and I’ve been deeply moved then everything will just come together all at once. That’s such a rush when that happens! Occasionally something will come out of a spontaneous jam. And more recently I’ve been sent reggae and dancehall ‘riddims’ to write on for soundsystem nights; that’s been a really enjoyable and liberating way to write for me – just coming up with words and melody over an awesome track. Sometimes I’ll take what I’ve written on a riddim and put it to different chords, play around with it. I’m looking forward to getting fluent with drum programming for my next album!
What do you think helps you to connect so powerfully with your audience?
I totally love playing live and I think if you’re doing something you love then you are in a sublime state of happiness and the audience picks up on that. They receive that gift from you and they give you good vibes in return. I love that feeling of oneness, the journey that musicians and audience go on together during a live show. It’s what got me into music and performing in the first place – magical experiences I had as an audience member at live shows. I often get feedback that people are relating deeply to the lyrics, so that’s another direct way the songs connect.
What should we expect for your show at the Beach Hotel?
We’ll be playing all the songs off the new album, which I’m really excited about, plus some older favourites too. I’ve got a great band to bring the songs to life on this tour – Steve Allingham on drums, Linden Lester on bass, Zac Tombs on keys and Oakley Grenell on guitar. All the guys sing some backups too. It’s celebration time! Affirmation. Revelation.
Catch the beautiful Saritah on Thursday at the Beach Hotel with Blaze Fire Sound, free entry. 9pm.