Image: Married Man by Spike Vincent.
Author: Melody Menu
Welcome to the Killer Female Talent spotlight: a monthly column dedicated to shining a greater light on female and gender non-conforming artists in the music industry.
The intoxicating urgency of Sydney band Married Man’s new single demands your attention. With its ferocious lo fi guitars and spat-out chorus line, the lead single from the album of the same name, ‘Hard Bargain’, is almost able to mark the song’s tender heart; anger and reiterant drumbeats belying understated pain and suffering: ‘you can’t listen / to the heart with which you’ve been messin’’. The album in question is the first for the Sydney three-piece, an incredibly strong and pervasive listen for a debut release, the product of a solo project grounded by good friends, along with a songwriting stint in New York City. Singer-songwriter and guitarist Sarafina Pea elaborates.
Melody Menu: How did Married Man take shape?
Sarafina Pea: I started playing solo shows to build up sound and a bit of chaos. Kim (bass) started campaigning for me to start a band and said she would learn ANY instrument to play in it! It took me a year of convincing and I’m so glad now! When it came to finding a drummer, Marnie had been on my mind for quite a while, and once she came on board, everything we imagined the band would sound like, sounded better!
Married Man started out as a solo project, how has it felt to re-imagine these songs as a three-piece band?
It’s liberating to share the responsibility for your sound. Playing and recording solo can become insular and neurotic, which are totally valid modes for creating, but by involving others, you can relinquish control and allow for interpretation, collaboration and of course making more noise! Kim and Marnie are magnificent at combining my ideas with their individual talents. We also have so much fun chatting our heads off during rehearsal. It can take us three hours to practice a set of songs because we get so distracted, giggling, joking and riling each other up just for fun.
Tell us a little about the track ‘Hard Bargain’.
Our record Hard Bargain encompasses a spectrum of experiences, both mine and those of people I know. It’s the title track, but was the last song to be included. I’d only written it two weeks before recording. The girls weren’t certain we’d pull it off, it being so new, but I think the rawness of my anger and the immediacy of the performance is what makes it killer. While laying down the harmonies, I left the door of the vocal booth open and had a bit of a sob, then realised afterward the sounds were picked up by the mic and could be heard by everyone in the control room! Could not hide the feels! We all cried at some stage during the recording.
You split your time between Sydney and New York while writing the album, how have these two cities influenced your music?
Despite the upheaval of travel and change, I was intent on continuing to be open to the songs that were coming out so fast. I set up a studio in my friend’s apartment in the East Village, and spent most of my downtime writing and recording. Once I returned to Sydney, the process continued, with a lot of the ideas and experiences from that time continuing to inform my writing. The song by Sydney musician Phanosland, ‘From a Different City, on a Lonely Bus’ was inspiration for combining my experiences from the two locations. And for accepting that friendship and love can continue to exist even when contained within a certain time or in another place.
In light of the ‘Don’t Kill Live Music’ rally taking place this week, what are your thoughts on how people can support Sydney’s live music scene?
Don’t believe the hype that Sydney is completely dead! Culture finds a way, and yes it’s difficult and constrained, but artists don’t stop creating, sharing and performing. There is always so much to see and hear, you just gotta keep your ear to the ground!
Hypothetical – you’re putting on a music festival celebrating some of your favourite local artists – who would be on your dream line-up?
Sydney Bands: Spike Vincent, Negative Gears, Den, Tocsin, Ben Wettin’ Bad Boys, Straight Arrows, Yes I’m Leaving, Basic Human, Julia Why, Le Pie, No Doz, Busy Tones.
Married Man and Brisbane band Soot will play the Union Hotel on Saturday February 23 as a co-album launch, with support from Place Holder. More info here.
Don’t Kill Live Music Rally – Sydney, Thursday February 21.