Your new album I Awake was recorded with the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra – what inspired that decision?
I have Bulgarian heritage on my dad’s side of my family, and when I read about the orchestra a few years ago, it struck a chord with me.
Do people have preconceived notions about what an orchestra-backed album might be?
Yes, people might think of something that is a little tame or quite placid. But I wanted to create a sound that was full of life and drama that would tumble people about.
What influenced the decision to record the album in Stockholm?
I wanted to go back and build on what I’d done with the last record [2010’s indie rock supergroup LP Seeker Lover Keeper which Blasko formed with Holly Throsby and Sally Seltmann]. To follow on from it and to solidify the relationship I had with drummer Fredrik Rundqvist and engineer Lasse Marten, primarily.
What is it about the city that appeals and inspires you so much?
When I’m in Stockholm, it always makes me want to do bold things and to be genuine in what I do. That’s what I hear in the pop music I respect that’s around me when I’m there.
How would you describe the new album in comparison with your previous work?
It’s more confident, richer and fuller in sound quality. And it’s probably more honest and unapologetic, too.
You’ve performed with different orchestras in key cities in Australia – how did this different collection of musicians affect the performances?
It kept us all on our toes as a band – and it did mean that there was always a slightly different take on the songs each night.
The album was performed at Sydney Opera House and streamed live online – what about social media appeals to you as a way to reach your fans?
I love the immediacy of it in the same way that I enjoy playing for people in a live setting. This was just an extension of that, really. The immediate contact is nice. It’s very exciting and it increases the feeling of anticipation in the performance.
You created the music for Sydney Dance Company’s Emergence earlier this year. What was most challenging about this quite unique collaboration?
I found looking outside of the song structure was tough for me. And it was a challenge to try and say something with just a few words.
There were few lyrics involved – how did that way of working affect you as a singer?
It meant using my voice as textures and characters to create a feeling and mood rather than saying something in the traditional sense.
You also provided the soundtrack for a stage production of Hamlet in 2008 – do you have any desires to take to the stage yourself?
I actually think I would love the challenge. Who knows? I do love the power of the stage.
Would you ever consider scoring a film?
I would love to. It would be a huge challenge, but it’s something I’d like to do at least once.
All your albums are unmistakably ‘Blasko’ yet remarkably different from each other – do you purposefully seek out new sounds and approaches or do new influences find you?
You’ve got to make it interesting for yourself, so, yes, you seek that out. You’ve got to do some searching. But there are some things that track you down as well. It can be like fate sometimes, like magic. It’s wonderful to be both the detective and the innocent bystander.
What do you look forward to most about performing in the UK?
The Barbican’s somewhere I’ve wanted to play for some time, so I feel lucky to be there now.
What is your best memory about playing in London?
Probably the chaos of my first time at The Water Rats in King’s Cross. It just felt so new and exciting to be playing over here.
Sarah Blasko plays The Barbican,
Apr 11. £12.50 EC2Y 8DS
Tube | Barbican
I Awake is out Apr 8 through Dramatico Entertainment
Photos: Blue Murder Studios