Date: January 5, 2010
Each successive CD release from Sacha Sacket has marked a dramatic chapter in his artistry. From his debut, Alabaster Flesh, through Shadowed, Lovers and Leaders and Live at the Zone - which involved getting down and dirty in a sex club - what remains constant is his ability to move beyond his comfort zone and surpass creative expectations.
His latest release, Hermitage, is a vital link in this narrative. We spoke to Sacha about the recording process, being an out artist in the music industry and his thoughts on the gay scene.
GaydarNation: So tell us about the new album Hermitage – what can listeners expect?
Hermitage was recorded in a little cabin in the woods and I think that goes a long way in describing the recording itself. There is an isolation to the record. It's strongly introspective and reflective. I had to get away from the world to see it more clearly. The album is very much about a world I left behind.
GN: What are you most proud of about the album?
SS: One thing that I loved was that a lot of the vocals on the record were done very quickly and immediately. One take sort of stuff. Also, I love the melding of instruments on Hermitage. Cello, lap steel, piano, electronics, guitar. There was a real effort into making them work together seamlessly and, in some cases, meld various instruments into one whole other instrument.
GN: What was it like to record?
SS: Well, we went back to the cabin where I wrote most of the songs and recorded there. It was a really wonderful experience. The birds in the morning, the coyotes at night. Very rustic and isolated. It really helped capture the mood in the actual performances.
I also got to work with some amazing musicians which is pretty much like chocolate for me. Aaron Sterling on drums is like crack. He can pretty much play on anything I do and I am a happy man.
GN: Music is a tough industry – what do you think you need to be successful in it?
SS: You have to pretty much know that this is all you can do with your life to get through it. If you don't really love it, you'll never keep going. It has to be all heart. Ego and the drive for fame get in the way of the process for me.
It's important to make your statement, find your voice, as an artist - but if you aren't doing it from an expressive and honest place, you lose yourself. It's sort of the opposite of the reality TV/'15 minutes of fame' thing. If I was on one of those shows or even American Idol, I think I'd be one hot mess psychologically. I much prefer the emphasis to be placed on the art, rather than what disgusting thing I am willing to eat, leaked sex tape, etc.
GN: Is it difficult for an out artist to break into the mainstream?
SS: It still seems to be somewhat. But I think the music industry is struggling from outdated attitudes in so many ways. The old rules are gone. People want diversity, they are looking for a challenge. I believe we are growing tired of the perfect cookie cutter approach to music. People need some truth, especially now that we are post Bush.
And honestly, a gay artist is really not all that crazy if you ask me. I don't know why the industry treads so carefully around that. It makes no sense to me. Gay people make music, too. It's not mind blowing.
GN: What would you say is the worst cliché about the gay scene?
SS: The frivolity gets to me at times. Lack of depth, the need for things to be perfect on the surface. The need to avoid the serious, to push it away. I feel that is where the cattiness comes from. People posturing, etc. Sometimes I am at a gay club and I feel like it's a high school homecoming queen contest all over again. And I hated that whole time period to begin with.
GN: And it’s best quality?
SS: I love the irreverence. I think that is really important in life - to be true to yourself, regardless of societal pressures. I think that is something that gay people get quite well. We learn to celebrate who we are over time and make up our own rules, find our own value set.
You have to do that to survive, really - because we all grew up knowing we were going to be the running joke within our communities. I love when I meet a gay person who has gone through hell and made it back around with a sense of humour, with their humanity intact.
GN: Finish the sentence: A good night out starts with ...
SS: An awesome restaurant and meal.
GN: It ends with…
SS: I think you can fill in the blank. [Smiles].
GN: What comes first for you – sex or love?
SS: Sex is awesome but only lasts an evening at a time, love is forever.
GN: What’s one of the most outrageous things you’ve ever done?
SS: That's funny. Most outrageous thing? The first thing that comes to mind is that I stripped down to my underwear at a gay club on a dare and I was the only one doing it. The place was packed and gritty too, so it was a bit of a challenge.
GN: So, when did you first realise you had musical talent?
SS: I was around four or five. It was joining choir in first grade, I believe. I auditioned by singing 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' - irony much? - and got picked to play Mickey Mouse for my school concert. That was where the bug started.
GN: What can the audience expect from a Sacha Sacket gig?
SS: Catharsis. Heart-on-sleeve.
GN: What are your plans for the album and beyond?
SS: I have a full length record I am finishing up as we speak and will be released in 2010. I am super proud and excited. Will start touring again, too. Really miss that part. I've been off the stage for over a year now and it's definitely making me itch. Need to get out there and mingle with the world again.
Hermitage was a great experience. It helped me get solid again. I really needed to push the world away for a bit. But I am definitely getting ready to embrace people again. [Smiles].
GN: Anything to add?
GN: Check out www.sachasacket.com. And thanks so much for the interview!