Sarah Mary Chadwick | Premiering New Album, "Messages to God"

The musician and artist sits down to talk about her eighth studio album

Written by

Maria Kyriakos

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Photographed by Sian Stacey

The pain endured during heartbreak as well as the hauntingly beautiful nostalgia it often accompanies, is a deep rooted reason why we find so much comfort in music. Growth and change, however, can serve as the eye-opening renaissance and refreshing follow-up to a broken heart. Melbourne-based, ​​multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Sarah Mary Chadwick is the ultimate storyteller, and serves as a riveting example of this. Her forthcoming album, Messages to God debuted today, and is perhaps her most colorful and fascinating work yet. Chadwick is no rookie, with eight studio albums she has gifted to the world; this is her first album working alongside award winning Executive Producer Tony Espie, known for his contribution with The Avalanches.

Originally recording the demos on a file-share sent to Espie and longtime collaborator Hank Clifton-Williamson, Messages to God leads with a longing for growth and personal reflection that makes us realize not only are we human, but we are sponges that absorb many different emotions, many different experiences, that can lead us to what the artist is so deeply expressing: too not be too hard on ourselves. Her extensive catalog of music can often be seen as raw and maintains a similar approach throughout. Chadwick’s recent album, however, challenges what listeners may be used to. With her single, “Shitty Town”, this change is felt immensely. The single feels like a departure, reminiscent of a deep ending, simultaneously hinting at a new beginning; relevant to the direct nature of this record. Her ability to captivate listeners through her songwriting feels poetic, where emotion can be erupted through her words and also in her visual art.

Alongside her music, Chadwick is a visual artist, creating the cover art for Messages to God, where the art completely reflects the intimacy of her words. As Chadwick sings about bouncing back and gaining more perspective on her life, “Drinkin’ on a Tuesday” follows these themes of not caring, not looking back, and perhaps leading with a little more humor than anything else. FLAUNT converses with Chadwick to discuss the new record, her artwork, and what she wants listeners to take away from it all. 

Messages to God

“Drinkin’ on a Tuesday” follows a unique storyline of ebb and flows, how did you pull from your real life experiences to create this song? I think that's kinda the importance of the storyline in the song –those experiences listed are things that happen to everyone at some point in their lives, the question mark is around what each person DOES with them- how they affect you, and how, if at all, you bounce back. I’ve been through all of the things in the song, and even though sometimes I almost didn’t, I managed to bounce so far. I wanted to write a song that is like...sometimes even just a joke is enough to get you through. Sometimes that's more than enough work for one day.

What was a time when you felt the “Inevitable failure” that you speak of? What does the concept of failure mean to you? I think I maybe would choose my words around that differently now, and say that..... difficult things will happen, but if you are able,  you can learn from them. I think for me those difficult things were my father dying, a couple of close friends dying, always struggling with drinking and alcohol, breakdown of familial and romantic relationships,  and always trying to win against my anxiety and depression.  I think failure to me right now means being dishonest with myself about my behaviour, and being consciously in denial. And maybe failure to me right now means letting myself point fingers at other people when I could be looking at myself. But that's all the song too, right? Like don't beat yourself up too hard if these things do happen! There’s always tomorrow if you don’t be too reckless!

What takeaways do you hope a listener going through a similar experience may take away from this song? Haha I think I’ve probably already captured this but yeah – hey person! Things happen, and I know it's painful beyond belief. If you can, take tiny steps to be nice to yourself, try not to be too reckless and make sure you have someone around you can tell a joke to, even if it's a stranger, on a Tuesday night at some bar.

What is it like to create art for your own music? Do you use it to further express your message? Or do you find yourself associating new meanings in the process?Doing my own art is something that I began doing a very long time ago, and gradually has become more and more important to me. It's another way that I can colour the world I guess I’m trying to create for myself. I like things that seem like they exist in their own universe, and with music and the visual art I feel like I’m making a more three dimensional place people(and I) can inhabit.

How does your self-made cover art encompass the overall essence of this song? I would love to know about the figures depicted and what meanings may lie within the small details.

The painting for “Drinkin' on a Tuesday” is a still from Cassavettes ‘Husbands’ – the famous scene where they are sitting around a table drinking and they make the woman sing.  I love Cassavettes (although my favourite is ‘Opening Night’) and to me this scene has pieces of a tone I’m always trying to capture with my music and both hands- a desperate hilarious profound stunning escapade that can be as brutish or as lovely as you want at any given moment, underpinned by an indescribable joy and horror of being alive, no matter what.  Or, at least until you’ve had enough.

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Maria Kyriakos, Sarah Mary Chadwick, Messages to God, Music, Kill Rock Stars