Honesty is Sarah Humphreys' hook and her multi-faceted voice can belt out or whisper the truth depending on what she wants to say. Either way, we'll keep on listening.
Sarah Humphreys is one of the most honest artists in Australia. Wearing her heart on her sleeve with every note she sings, and with a voice that carries conviction, her fans have watched her artistry unfold over the years. Coming onto the scene in 2006 with her debut EP Ghost On The Roof, Sarah's first single of the same name received radio play straight away. And, over the last decade, the songstress from NSW's Central Coast has continued to move forward as her musical projects and endeavours continue to reveal more and more of her beautiful, raw self. Her last solo album New Moon is stunning, featuring a song called Take Your Time. “I stand on stage that I covered in truth, and I travelled for hours for an audience for two... I play to a bunch of the back of your heads, And you carry on with your dinner. Take your time, I'll be taking mine.” The album was produced by friend and award-winning artist Kasey Chambers. And, three years ago, she teamed up with her partner Kris Morris to form a roots duo named The Eagle and The Wolf that has turned heads everywhere. Their debut album was released early last year and has received high praise and critical acclaim from the likes of Rolling Stone and The Sydney Morning Herald. And now, Sarah's latest project with friend Loren Kate is a gorgeous folk album called Little Wonders, written for children and families. Honesty remains Sarah Humphreys' hook and her multi-faceted voice can belt out or whisper the truth depending on what she wants to say. Either way, we keep on listening. Sarah took some time out of her life as an artist and mother to talk about art and motherhood, her latest album, and her favourite Australian women in music.
What does music mean to you?
Music is my way to connect with the deep, wise woman inside. A way to connect with my feelings, and a way to connect with other people. People who listen to my music feel like they know me, because I have showed them my heart before we've even met! So I really form close bonds with my listeners and unlock feelings for them which they may not have had words for, which is a huge honour.
Tell us about your musical pathway so far.
My musical pathway has always been there, I am always singing or humming or writing down an idea... And have been since I was a small child. It is my companion and my life, not just a part of my life. It's like, my nose or something. Just always there.
What is your wildest musical dream?
I don't have any big dreams! Maybe I should get some! Maybe to go to Nashville? I'd probably need someone to help me with my millions of children! Actually it's just three but it feels like millions. I just always want to be making music and growing as an artist and as a person.
Who are favourite Australian women in music?
So so many. My goodness. Kasey Chambers of course. She told me and showed me that it's possible to be a mother and a musician and do both well and to make you own rules; Sara Storer for her storytelling and good heart and grounded way of doing this whole thing; Loren Kate for her wild, beautiful, inspiring parenting and music; Liz Stringer for her guts & grunt & huge voice; Liz Frencham is mesmerising on stage, what a presence...
Tell us about your release with Loren Kate Little Wonders.
Loren Kate and I have been friends since we were teenagers. We've done so many shows together and then we both had children around the same time. We always dreamed of making this record, and we finally made it happen. Loren made it happen mostly because I was very very pregnant with Olive and all I could manage was to write some songs for my babies and roll myself into the studio and have a sing, have a little play of my ukulele, then a little rest and a little munch on some food then repeat until we were finished. It was so lovely to make something while I was growing a baby as well. I think my voice takes on a gentleness when I am in baby land. I'm so glad to have these songs recorded for me, for my children and I hope little ones and their families can feel all the love when they listen to these songs. I Chose You Mama is my favourite track that I wrote. It's about that feeling of not good enough-ness that we all have and telling that feeling, with tenderness, that your children chose you and they love you just as you are.
In the book The Divided Heart by Rachel Powers, Rachel writes about the "split self" when it comes to motherhood and art. What are your thoughts on this?
I have always wanted to read this book! But it's one of those ones I haven't gotten around to. I have a long list of things I haven't gotten around to! I have heard of it though and read a few excerpts online... It's so important to talk about these things! So we don't feel alone! I think as a mother you have limitations with your time, but when you do get that time you use it wisely. I can write a song in half an hour, sometimes less. And not a [crap] song! The words wait for their time and then they come pouring out, like THANK GOD WE'VE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU and then I say 'I know but Jude has a cold and Olive needed her milk and Ruby needed some love and then dinner and washing..." and so the list goes on. I do so much with the time I have now. I need to make sure I have time for my art, it doesn't need to be much. A lot of being an artist when I was younger was kind of just sitting around. I might have been writing more, but only one song in ten would be any good. Lots of sleeping in and wandering about, going to the pub and drinking coffee and working part time and worrying about things that I laugh about now. Now the strike rate is much better with songs. It's like the songs know they'd better be good or they won't get given the time of day. They flow out freely and quickly when I am still for awhile, or out walking, and sometimes I just have to try and write with kids around. I also need help with things and I'm able to delegate when I need to. I can't do it all! It's actually really fun to have kids along when we are touring if it's possible, they have a great time and learn that it's not all about them, it's about being a part of a team. And it's always funnier with kids around. And more chaotic! It keeps you humble and you can't get too into yourself even if you sell out of CDs and feel on top of the world after a show, there's still kids to feed and put to bed and you just get on with it. No time for partying or anything. Too tired anyway!
What is your favourite place in Australia?
So many! Home. Being on the road, anywhere with my man and talking and singing and laughing along the way. Although I was pretty sick of the road whilst pregnant and was getting very car sick! We had a few crazy moments trying to find spots to pull over! Bellingen at the Never Never creek, swimming in the cold water with my babies. Adelaide at the Grace Emily Hotel having a beer with someone funny. Wandering around Brunswick street. Anywhere with my family.
I have so many songs waiting for their time. Eagle & The Wolf will make a new record soon because we are just bursting with songs. I'm making a film clip in a couple of weeks for I Chose You Mama which I hope will help other mamas struggling with feelings of mother guilt, confusion and self doubt. I will go wherever the road leads me. There will always be songs to be sung! That's what I'm here for!
For all news and music, check out Sarah Humphreys website, and follow Sarah Humphreys on Facebook. Little Wonders by Sarah Humphreys and Loren Kate is out now. Find music by Eagle and The Wolf here, and Sarah Humphreys here.