EQ: Hey Bertie – how are you? Don't mind me, I'm just setting up the recording here…
Bertie Blackman:Are you recording with your iPhone? See – everyone should record interviews with their iPhone now. I can't believe people are still using little Dictaphones these days…
It's so so easy! So tell me, you've been doing promo in the UK for a couple weeks now – how's it been going?
I've actually been here since January. I've been writing a lot and starting stuff for a brand new record I'm working on. We're releasing the current record though here in the UK in June.
How's the promotion been coming along for that one?
Good! These are the first shows I'm playing in London…
Are London crowds different to Australian crowds or is it all the same?
Umm, everyone is here to have a good time. It's more cold crowds over here though because they haven't heard the music as much. It's difficult in some ways, but surprising for me though because people have really been getting into it!
Cool – I'm a big fan of your record "Secrets & Lies" - what has been the most standout moment for you in it's creation?
I have quite the vivid imagination. I guess the most important thing for me with this record was being able to actualize those parts of my imagination in confidence and being able to create a palette and build a story from within all these mad images that come into my head. Whenever I describe what's in my head in context to the songs, I don't think people quite envisioned it the same way when they listen to it. The experience though has been really good and I look forward to releasing the album over here as I haven't done anything here before and I'll be back here again in May to do some more promotion. We're doing The Great Escape and doing some festivals and touring through Europe in the summer as well.
You start an Australian tour with La Roux pretty soon – are you excited about that?
Yeah! I did a festival with La Roux in Australia last year called Parklife and it was a national tour so we know each other a little bit. They sought me out specifically for the the La Roux tour as I guess they thought I was pretty good [laughs]. I'm really looking forward to it though, one of the venues is Festival Hall where like The Beatles played in the 60s. It's iconic and has ground relevance to Australian live music. Flying around a lot! I'm hoping to get a free trip back with all these frequent flyer miles.
I am kinda curious about this and I always ask Aussie musicians about this, but here in the UK when you're a new artist, you sometimes have to do a lot of free gigs to get yourself out there and noticed, but in Australia they still very much have a culture of paying musicians for every gig they do – is there any truth to that?
Yeah totally. That's one good thing about the Australian music industry. For the UK though, it's worth it to do free gigs sometimes because you can get in front of the right people you are trying to reach. We got a really good team here in the UK and we got a strong crew and I'm pretty confident that we have an interesting and provocative act that english people will want to pay for!
What is your take on the whole digital piracy thing these days. Do you get annoyed when people download your record for free?
They have! There's always piracy and quite a bit of it right now, I guess it's pretty extreme now, but in turn it's bringing more people down to gigs, so I think what's happening in the music industry is sad, but the revenue will start to transfer into other channels because there is more awareness about artists. Some day I think the conglomerate suits will figure out a smart way to rein it all back in.
Are you fan of social networking?
Yeah! I think I've gotten better at doing that recently. I don't like sharing things if they mean something to me and when I write, the last thing I want to do is "Today, I went and did this…" But I've been getting more into taking photographs and making video diaries for the people who are interested…
I've noticed quite a bit of Australian fans downstairs for you…Have they been following you around?
They have been following me around – it's hilarious! I keep getting off stage and Australians have been talking to me and I keep thinking "No – I am in London!" [laughs] It's good though, it's nice to know that there are some Australian fans here in London.
I love your video to "Birds of Prey" – tell me a little bit about that video…
It was a day shoot – we shot at the Northern Beaches in Sydney. We had some amazing dancers that came in. It was a really fun shoot to do, I quite enjoyed wearing the mask and having other counterparts to the song, apart from me just performing to camera. I guess that I find that I'm doing that all the time because my songs are all about imaginary worlds and it's nice to be able to take people into that scene. But the shoot was very dark and there were like ticks in the reeds and we were like "grrrr" [laughs]
How is the US attack coming along? Do you think Americans are going to get you and what you're all about?
I don't know – I hope so! But I think if you go in just knowing what you do is true to who you are then that's fine! There are lots of places in the world and the US is a really tough market to break, but once people start coming to you, which they are starting to do now, then that's a good sign. I'd rather have it that way then just starting fresh over there.
I definitely think there is quite a big buzz around you at the moment – it's good you are going to give it a try…what does it feel like to have a buzz around you.
Yeah! It's kinda weird! It's great. I guess it's how I feel when I write songs, so I appreciate people getting excited about the music. The songs are born out of that curiosity and that excitement so it's an honor to have a buzz about me. It's been a lot of hard work as well.
A lot of people have been saying you're "the Aussie Florence" – how do you feel about that?
I think she's a raw and gutsy singer and she writes as an individual and has an individual sound so I guess being compared to someone like that who is strong in their style and who has some grit and substance from their heart can only be a good thing – I quite like being compared to someone like that…
Any advice for our EQ readers…
Ahh! One day of the week, I recommend you turn on "Silent Shout" by The Knife and paint cat whiskers on and go out for the day or go to work.
Something to do before you die?
Yup! I've done that quite a lot I have! Seriously – you should try it.
Bertie Blackman on MySpace