The Cabin Of Solitude

The following transcript is from the Rich Allinson Show on BBC Radio 2, and was broadcast at 11pm on September 14th, 1998. Sarah had popped over to the UK to perform at 'An Evening With Lilith', a one-off show of Lilith Fair held in the Royal Albert Hall, London, nine days later.



[Adia]

Rich:

And you think she's gonna start again and she doesn't...leaves you hanging on in there. Adia, the new single which is out on Monday from Sarah McLachlan, to coincide with the release of...well, the British release of the album Surfacing as well, which has been out in America for absolutely yonks. Listeners to the Bob Harris Show on a Saturday night on Radio 2 will know he's been playing it like crazy. Adia is a Top 5 hit in America, and I bet it's gonna go Top 5 over here - and I'm not just saying that 'cause Sarah McLachlan's sitting opposite me tonight - [Sarah laughs] - Welcome along!

Sarah:

Thank you.

Rich:

Where have you been, what took you so long?

Sarah:

I've been on tour in North America for the past year, since last June with Lilith Fair, we started there and have just been touring ever since. That's what happens unfortunately - I always end up spending all my time there. I should spend the time coming over to Europe and to the UK and do some work over here - I'm absolutely exhausted, and everybody's screaming for a new record. But I've finally gotten over here...

Rich:

What a life...

Sarah:

Yeah...

Rich:

We'll talk about Lilith Fair in a minute, 'cause that's a big thing, that is surfacing - no pun intended - over here - [Sarah laughs] - but this new album has been out for about...eight months in the States now and in America I think, isn't it?

Sarah:

Uh...Ju...July 15th of last year it came out...

Rich:

Oh blimey.

Sarah:

...so more like 12, 13 months...

Rich:

Over a year.

Sarah:

Yeah.

Rich:

And it's gone Triple Platinum...so why's it taken so long to come out over here?

Sarah:

Well, I think it has a lot to do with touring. You know, that's one of the main reasons I've had success in the States and in Canada - not so much because of radio play. Up until the last year or so I really haven't had much, it's been touring all the time, over and over and over again. And like I said earlier, I haven't spent the time over here doing that - 'cause I've never really given radio-friendly songs in the past, so it's always been...you know...fallen through the cracks and that way - the way I've gotten my success is through touring.

Rich:

So that single, Adia, it's being played like mad on Radio 2 and it's the third single from the album - is it a special one for you? It sounds it.

Sarah:

It's definitely one of my favourite songs, yeah - it's one of the ones that are...is closest to my heart, certainly.

Rich:

And it is 'Adia' and not 'Addia'?

Sarah:

Adia.

Rich:

All you have to do is listen to the first two seconds and Sarah sings Adia, 'cause I've heard some people elsewhere say, "Ooh, that's 'Addia'"

Sarah:

Well actually it is written as 'Addia' - I didn't really realize, I didn't really take that into consideration - I just saw it once and thought, "Oh, that's 'Adia'" - but that would be A-I-D-I-A...'AI' as in 'aid'...

Rich:

You're getting technical now.

Sarah:

Yeah, I am getting technical - [both laugh]

Rich:

Surfacing. From what, and into where?

Sarah:

Oh, that's up to the listener - [Sarah laughs] - It's just it's a really juicy title, you know? It conjures up a lot of images for me...it has a lot to do with the whole process of going into yourself and digging around, and sort of...sorting through a lot of stuff that is really deeply buried, and bringing it to the surface and dealing with it, and moving forward.

Rich:

'Cause I read somewhere that you don't actually analyze your stuff - you leave that up to somebody else.

Sarah:

Well I analyze it terribly while I'm doing it, but when I'm finished - it's very instinctive - when I'm finished and it feels right and it sounds good to me I leave it, and that statement probably comes from when someone will ask me "What does that song mean?", and for me it's completely up to interpretation - and I will always ask "What does it mean to you?". You know, I can give you a pat answer but the bottom line is it's going to mean something different to me than it does to you. And it often upsets people when it doesn't fit with their story. But that's what's so nice about a song - is you take it into your own life and it means something so personal because you relate it to something in your own life.

Rich:

'Cause relationships are personal a recurring theme - [Sarah agrees] - and if it's working for you then it's obviously going to work for somebody else on a different level I suppose.

Sarah:

Yeah...ultimately they're pretty basic things I talk about - it has a lot to do with relationships, with self-growth, with questioning things and trying to find solutions and trying to find meaning and things and...the stuff we all go through.

Rich:

Do you read your critics, and do you take on board what they say?

Sarah:

Um...yeah...I've been really really lucky that I haven't had that much criticism...I've had great press in that sense. I can't really think of any...- [Sarah laughs] -...I don't mean to sound...um...

Rich:

We've gone...we've trawled it and no-one's slagged you off

Sarah:

No!

Rich:

So keep...keep doing it.

Sarah:

No, I've been really lucky that way. I certainly got lots of slagging on Lilith Fair, but not on my own stuff, which has been really, really nice.

Rich:

Alright, we'll do that, but what are you gonna do for us - you're gonna do a song from the album, this is called Angel.

Sarah:

Yes.

Rich:

And I'm not gonna say it...it's such a cheesy thing to say but...not "Tell us about it", but...where should we be when we hear it?

Sarah:

Um...well, for me it has a lot to do with...exceeding your limits...being out on a limb in a place where you're not comfortable with yourself anymore and you need anything to...to dull that feeling of emptiness.

Rich:

Okay.

Sarah:

It's a bit depressing actually - [both laugh]. But there is hope - there is hope.

Rich:

This is Sarah McLachlan, on Radio 2.


[Sarah plays Angel solo, live on piano]


Rich:

That was great. That was Sarah McLachlan...

Sarah:

Thank you.

Rich:

...and Angel, from the album Surfacing. You've got the e-mails alight tonight - [both laugh]. Andy Carter e-mailed us: "Thanks for the chance to hear Sarah live". He bought the Surfacing album from this place in America on the Internet, after hearing it on the web - thinks it's brilliant: "The more you listen to it the better it gets"...

Sarah:

Aw, thank you.

Rich:

...and...do you know him?

Sarah:

I don't.

Rich:

You do now - [Sarah laughs] - Neil Livingston from Scotland: "When are you gonna do..." - he saw you in Glasgow a few years back - he wants to know when you're gonna do anything around Edinburgh in Scotland?

Sarah:

Oh, boy, I'm not really sure - we don't have any plans at this point, but...hopefully someday soon - [Sarah laughs] - that's evasive enough, isn't it?

Rich:

That's a fob-off answer isn't it? - [both laugh] And when are you gonna bring the Lilith Fair...let's talk about the Lilith Fair, 'cause a lot of people have been...are waiting to see that, and there was a big article in one of the Sunday papers a few weeks ago about it, and it's a bit like...for listeners in Britain it's probably a bit like a touring Glastonbury, exclusively made up of female performers - is that right?

Sarah:

Well, yeah...essentially it's a moving festival that's basically made up all of women, women performers, and...you know, we wanted the opportunity to celebrate the fact that there are so many amazing women making great music, and we thought it'd be great fun really. And we'd love to take it all over Europe - we were talking earlier about how hard it is with summer festivals now; the weather's iffy and...you know, people are kind of 'festivaled out' but...and it is a challenge but it was really successful in America, and I think if you get a really good bill then that's sort of the bottom line.

Rich:

Who was on it this year? I mean, there were people like...was it Jewel, and Sheryl Crow, and the Cardigans, and Paula Cole, and...

Sarah:

Actually, that was the first year's line-up - [Sarah laughs]...

Rich:

...Lisa Loeb, and...

Sarah:

Lisa was on...

Rich:

That was a good one!

Sarah:

I mean...let's see...who was on? Jewel was making a record, so she wasn't doing it. Sheryl backed out because she was really tired - she toured for super long, and then she had to go right back into her record, so she needed a bit of a break - and I totally respected that. Um...but you know...well let's see...gosh, we had...Bonnie Raitt, Natalie Merchant, Sinnead O'Conner, Missy Elliot, Queen Latifah, Erykah Badu...um...

Rich:

You're name-dropping now, aren't you?

Sarah:

We had everybody - it was awesome.

Rich:

Are they just your mates? Do you just 'phone them up and say, "Look, what are you doing, do you wanna come out and sing?"

Sarah:

Well no, that's the thing - most of these women I had no previous contact with, and that was one of the frustrating things, that in the Industry everybody thinks we're all friends and yet we never get the chance to meet each other, to sit down and talk, share ideas and play music with each other - and this was the Anna to do that, and I've taken so many great friendships out of that. It's been amazing - that's one of the reasons Sinnead is playing next week with us. She came up for the first two weeks and she loved it, and we loved her, and you know we said, "Let's do something else over in England", and...

Rich:

So where can we see this?

Sarah:

It's at the Royal Albert Hall on the 23rd - it's myself, N'Dea Davenport, Lisa Loeb, Beth Orton, Alison Moyet, Sinnead O'Conner.

Rich:

All off the top of your head. I'm impressed - most people need a script to read that - [Sarah laughs] - And that's an indoor thing - 'cause over in the States it's normally an outdoor thing.

Sarah:

Yeah, this is "An Evening With Lilith". This is a...you know, in a theatre - obviously it's not gonna be the whole kit and kaboodle where you've got the big Village, with all the vendors and non-profits - that has to happen outside. And as well with Lilith we have three stages going, basically from 3pm to 11 everyday - never overlaps, but it kinda goes back and forth. And there's a Village stage, which is essentially acoustic. Actually I believe we're gonna try and have people out in the foyers doing an acoustic thing kind - so I don't know who those people are, it's gonna be local.

Rich:

'Cause the Albert Hall's cylindrical, well, circular, so you can just walk up and down...

Sarah:

Yeah.

Rich:

...all the way around.

Sarah:

Yep.

Rich:

They'll hear you coming...that'll be great. And that's on the 23rd, which is two days after the album's out - September 21st. You see it all dovetails neatly.

Sarah:

Exactly.

Rich:

Sarah McLachlan's with us tonight, and you're gonna do another song.

Sarah:

Yes, Building A Mystery.

Rich:

And this is from the album...this is the first track on the album.

Sarah:

It was actually the first single, in North America, as well.

Rich:

And it's not out here as a single either?

Sarah:

Not yet.

Rich:

So this is possibly - quite possibly - we're looking for that all important word 'exclusive' - [Sarah laughs] - to Radio 2. This is Sarah McLachlan on Radio 2.


[Sarah plays Building A Mystery solo, live on guitar]


Rich:

Another wow! factor there - [Sarah laughs] - Sarah McLachlan and Building A Mystery from...well, the girl who used to be in a gothic folk band that was heavily into Kate Bush and Erasure - [Sarah laughs] - that's what I read when you got out of High School.

Sarah:

Yep. Actually, that was still in High School. I was seventeen when we did our very first gig and that's the gig where I discovered my...true love....

Rich:

Which was...?

Sarah:

...of playing live.

Rich:

Oh, right, that one...

Sarah:

Yeah.

Rich:

The Power.

Sarah:

Oh yeah... - [Sarah laughs]

Rich:

Can we talk a bit about the awards? 'Cause you must have a huge old mantlepiece at home...couple of Grammy's...

Sarah:

Um...yeah, I got a whole bunch of stuff sitting in a fish tank, yeah...- [both laugh] -...doorstops...

Rich:

Some Juno's...you won't get any more now - [Sarah still laughing] - four Juno awards, which are like Canada's equivalent to the Grammy's...

Sarah:

Yeah.

Rich:

It must be a special moment when you get one? But when you've got a couple like that, isn't the pressure then on to sort of... become like a big star, rather than...

Sarah:

Not at all, I mean I've always sort of...I sort of feel...not like an underdog, but like a...I just...I've done my thing, my career quietly, and never really got very many awards at the beginning, it was...you know, or...actually, I think I did get a couple Juno's early on, but...- [Sarah laughs]

Rich:

Don't come the "I've got too many I forget them all"...

Sarah:

No no no no, don't! - [Rich laughs] It's only because...I don't really...pay much attention to it. I went to the Grammy's last year and I had no idea who was nominated for anything, you know and I walked down the red carpet and they all go "Who do you wanna win?" and I said "Well me of course", but... - [both laugh] - and I said "Well who else is nominated?". I had no idea. See, I'd been living up in the woods making a record, and you know in America it's the big pomp and circumstance - the Grammy's are so important and it's like...it's a popularity contest. And it's really...what I really enjoy is the Voter's Choice things...and that doesn't happen so much in America but MuchMusic, which is the Canadian equivalent to MTV, has an awards show, and a lot of their things are voter's choice - which I like 'cause then it's like the fans voting as opposed to how many points does your record company have? Like, Sony has all the votes because they're the biggest record company so they buy all the votes, and that's the way it works, you know...so...

Rich:

Ah, the politics of Rock'n'Roll...

Sarah:

I'm so jaded... - [Sarah laughs]

Rich:

You're going to get your...you can't be jaded yet...you're a recipient of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Visionary award...

Sarah:

Now that was brilliant. I was really really flabbergasted to get that.

Rich:

And the Governor of New York gave you that?

Sarah:

Yeah, Governor Pataki.

Rich:

Why?

Sarah:

Essentially...in their words 'for being a visionary', for putting together Lilith Fair, and having it be the amazing political and social movement that it's become. And, you know I had to say "I don't feel like a visionary" - I didn't set out with huge political or social motivation to do this, I simply thought it would be a nice idea to get a bunch of my peers together and make a music festival...and get to play together and sing together and get to know each other - and from that all these amazing repercussions happen, it's like you know when you drop a pebble into still water and it ripples out, and it's been absolutely wonderful, all the things that have come out of it - and the political aspects, or the social things of having to justify it everyday to the media was really the only reason I became politically motivated about it, like I felt like I had to make a stance, because everybody was sort of saying - or a lot of people in the media were saying, well - "What do you hate men?". You know? I felt like I had to...

Rich:

They gotta make a headline out of it somehow.

Sarah:

Well, exactly - but I did feel taking the task all the time, and having to justify it, and it really was...it was hard, 'cause I hadn't ever been put in that position before - of being a...you know, in charge of this movement - you know, when really I just...I'm just a musician, you know? - [Sarah laughs]

Rich:

"I only play songs!"

Sarah:

[Still laughing] - Yes!

Rich:

A week Wednesday, Lilith Fair at the Royal Albert hall; a week Monday it's Surfacing, the new album from Sarah McLachlan which is in our shops, and she's been with us on Radio 2 tonight - and it's been great, Sarah, thank you.

Sarah:

Aw, thank you.


The Cabin
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Richie, the keeper of the Cabin, may be contacted here:
sarah_fan@musicplace.screaming.net

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