“Making an album is like having a baby, you go through the pain, you swear never again, but then you forget…” – hmv.com talks to Rumer
Rumer, or Sarah Joyce as she’s formally known, returns on Monday (November 10th) with her third album Into Colour. After bursting into public consciousness with her hugely successful debut album Seasons Of My Soul, Rumer has withdrawn slightly from the limelight. She put out a covers album Boys Don’t Cry back in 2012, but didn’t do much touring, disappearing quietly into the American wilderness, where she now lives with partner Rob Shirakbari, Burt Bacharach’s one-time musical director.
Now back, revitalised and with a new album produced by Shirakbari, we chatted to Rumer about the making of the new album, the strong soul influence and what it’s like having your fiancé act as your producer…
Your new record Into Colour comes out on Monday, how are you feeling ahead of release?
“I’m really excited at this point, like anyone who’s ever made a body of work, there’s a real landscape and I’m desperate for people to hear the whole thing. The heart of the album isn’t fully realised until you hear the finished thing.”
When did you begin work on this? Was it after the release of Boys Don’t Cry?
“Boys Don’t Cry kind of felt like a prequel to Seasons Of My Soul, it was my project and I worked on it alongside everything. But after I finished with that, I was so burned out. You know how Glastonbury needs that year off for the land to recover? I was like that, I needed time away and I felt like I didn’t have anything to say, at all.”
How did you get your mojo back?
“I waited to see if anything came up that I wanted to explore and to wait to feel like I need to pick up the guitar. I wanted to see old friends and work my way back. I wanted to start from scratch.”
How was working with Rob as producer?
“It’s amazing living with someone who’s also an extraordinary string arranger, orchestrator, musician and songwriter. He comes from the Bacharachs, this incredibly important lineage, he’s got so much professionalism and a brilliant ability to organise. He’s also very old school in how he sorts everything out, he’s amazing to have around.”
“Now if I want to try something, I just have to ask him, I don’t need to book a studio and musicians and an engineer, he’s right there, with all this talent. He’s been an amazing gift for me, in every way.”
Does that mean it’s hard for him to bring discipline when you need it in the studio?
“He’s quite bossy, he can be stern and he really doesn’t take any shit. All songwriters need strong studio partners, he does crack the whip when it needs cracking.”
So where did you record the album?
“I wrote a lot of the album in California, did pre-production in Arkansas, then we decided to go to New Jersey to record with these New York musicians, who are all the guys from Live From Daryl’s House. Then we went to London to record strings and brass and then we went back to Arkansas to straighten it all out, then we mixed it in New York.”
It’s a well travelled album..
“Yeah, it certainly is.”
Did you ever long for the experience of just staying in one place to record?
“Anyone who’s made an album will tell you that it’s blood, sweat and tears. Making an album is like having a baby, you go through the pain, you swear never again, but then you forget and do it again. Every decision is by committee and it takes so long to decide anything. But, it’s extremely rewarding, I listen to the album now and I think it’s really good. I don’t normally have that relationship with my own material, so it’s very rewarding from that standpoint.”
Are you known for taking your time in the studio, or do you like to get things done quickly?
“For me, it’s all about trying to catch emotional moments, moments of real feeling and intensity. It’s not something you can plan, it’s ethereal, you have to wait for inspiration and for the spirit to move.”
What kind of album is this lyrically?
“It’s less introspective and more outward looking. Seasons was written in my 20s, it was about that time. This is more about the world and our place in it. ‘Better Place’ is literally about making the world a better place and the people who do that, all the wonderful hard-working people who aren’t Kardashians. ‘Play Your Guitar’ is trying to encourage musicians to keep going and keep creating.”
It sounds like a much happier record…
“It’s definitely more upbeat, but it’s still bittersweet. Every song has a silver lining, but they’re dark songs. There’s hope in there, but it’s still exploring the darkness.”
It’s a soulful record, was that what you were listening to during the making of the album?
“I never listen while I record, I can’t. But I love Philly soul, I adore Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, I wanted to make a soul record. This whole album feels more like ‘Aretha’, the track from Seasons, that’s what I wanted more of.”
Finally, what are your plans to take it out live?
“We’ve got two shows soon, London and Salford. Then we’ve got a tour cooking for next year, lots of European dates, America and hopefully more, we’ll see what people, if people like it, we’ll take it to them.”
Rumer’s new album Into Colour is released on Monday (November 10th). It can be pre-ordered in hmv stores now.