This week's announcement of Sally Seltmann’s new single, Please Louise, is a precursor to her first album first since 2014 – yes, a long time but a rather busy period punctuated by the second of two albums as part of Seeker Lover Keeper, her first novel, Lovesome, lots of writing with former Bangle, Susanna Hoffs, and the small matter of a plague.
Marking this, Wind Back Wednesday returns to the beginning. Well, not strictly speaking the beginning of her career, which goes back to the early ‘90s and included Lustre 4, a brief spell in Spdfgh (which is pronounced just as it’s spelt, if you’re wondering) and, in the late 1990s, some vocals for an odd Melbourne trio called The Avalanches.
Oh, yes, and two albums as New Buffalo, her solo project by any other name.
But since this 2010 interview was conducted as she was releasing music under her own name for the first time, let’s call that a beginning ahead of this year's re-start with the new album, Early Moon.
MELBOURNE GIRL MOVES TO SYDNEY and makes a happier album. Well, naturally.
Ok, that's part of the story. How about: solo artist stops hiding behind a band name and finds being really solo isn't so scary after all. Cue the confidence kick.
Or if you prefer: watching one of her songs become a hit around the world (for someone else) convinces local songwriter that making pop music is no bad thing. Next thing you know, bright melodies arrive by the dozen.
All of the above refer to Sally Seltmann who has been making music for a decade but you’d hardly know it. Not unless you knew she was all the members of the group New Buffalo whose two albums have bubbled away in the kinda electro/kinda indie pop world and been on the fringes of the music awards. Or that the worldwide hit, and Apple ad favourite, for Canadian artist Feist, 1-2-3-4 (whose colourful filmclip showed a cast of happy types dancing delightfully in an empty warehouse) was written by the Australian.
Now though, having released her first "solo" album, the unashamedly pop song-driven Heart That's Pounding, Seltmann is breaking so many of her own rules, including moving back to her home town of Sydney after a decade in the southern capital, she’s almost giddy.
“I have moments where I definitely am very sad and lacking in confidence but I wanted make an album that was a celebration of the good things in life this time around,” says Seltmann. “My last album felt quite depressing to me and I found performing it emotionally demanding.”
That last album, Somewhere, Anywhere, wasn’t really depressing, at least not for listeners who enjoyed the often beautiful atmospheres and genteel drama. But – breaking another rule – Seltmann reveals that its creation had been heavily coloured by a number of health issues which culminated in the real fear that she might not be able to have children.
Those fears were laid to rest in late 2008 when Seltmann and her musician husband Darren had their first child. The relief and pleasure they felt permeates Heart That’s Pounding.
“For a woman who grows up knowing that they want to have children it’s a very difficult thing to come to terms with,” Seltmann explains. “That might help to explain why I’ve made the album I’ve made. I couldn’t believe it had happened to me.”
That happiness mixed with the confidence of being, for the first time, a hit songwriter as she watched Feist take her song everywhere.
“It made me not doubt myself as much. It made me confident writing a more upbeat style of song,” says Seltmann, who has said that she was listening to a lot of Bangles and Fleetwood Mac while writing the new material.
Now she’s even thinking about more writing for others. Maybe even a duet with, of all people, Nick Cave. She laughs at my surprise.
“I like people who’ve had a messy past. I’m always interested in people who’ve had problems in their life.”
Sally Seltmann's 2022 album, Early Moon, is released on August 2.