For a boy who grew up in the inner suburbs of Melbourne, Dan Sultan has a voice that is as wide and as vast as an endless horizon viewed from a country road.
With an ARIA for Best Male Artist, and Best Blues and Roots Album, he’s supported Bruce Springsteen and he’s making his mark in the US.
How has your time in the US changed your approach to making music?
At Blackbird we all found a whole new level of musicianship I guess. We all got better at our instruments, working with world-class producers in a world-class studio; we just had to, and it was a good feeling knowing that we were holding up our own. We just got a lot more professional and I became a much better guitar player and singer.
Can you tell me about any ‘aha’ moments, or ones where you turn around and pinch yourself when you sidle up to working with one of your heroes?
When Paul Kelly personally called me to work on the Kev Carmody tribute.
You have made some very clear choices with your music, especially in regard to management and your musical alliances. Have you always had a strong vision of how you wanted to make music and how you wanted it to sound?
Yes, I’ve always had a strong vision for my own music.
What are the major challenges that you have faced along the way?
Having to make those changes in management and people that I work with. I’m very loyal so that’s hard; it has been difficult at times but knowing I have to do it – I’ve always known it’s the right thing when I’ve done it.
Where did you draw your inspiration for the songs on Blackbird?
My surroundings. All of the things I’ve seen and known. Most things I’ve been through.
How was making this album different from the others?
I had a lot more freedom to do whatever I wanted to do. I was still working with my band but this time around I was able to make all of the decisions.
What was it that you set out to achieve in the recording and production process? Did you get the result you were after?
I just wanted to make the album that I’ve always wanted to make and, having that freedom, I was able to do that this time around.
What is the song that you struggled with most on the record?
I was finding it hard to get a good vocal down for Nobody Knows and I had to move on and do other songs before I could come back to it and get it right. But I did, and I’m happy with how it turned out.
Which song are you proudest of?
It’s all one album for me at the moment; I can’t separate it out. The songs are all of my favourites.
What should we expect for your live show?
Good fun! Lots and lots of fun. A new show, with my new band and songs from my new album.
Dan Sultan plays Currumbin SoundLounge on Friday and the Hotel Great Northern on Tuesday 8 July.