Immaculate perfection

Earlier this year, Sally Dige’s debut single was presented on Small Doses’ Surplus pages, dubbed “precious little diamond”. Paying equal attention to video and music, her artistic persona comes to the fore – and telling from the sole 7” on Fabrika Records label released last year (the adorable “Immaculate Deception”, backed with the upbeat “Doppelgänger” on the flipside), it is a deserved success. Displaying both, the fragile and the tough herself, Sally is undoubtedly one of the ice queens of her generation – a new release has just seen the light of day via Night School label – the single “Forget Me”, which recently also won a “Track of the week” title in The Guardian. Once again, this is such an irresistible piece of obscure pop-candy, sweet but just as nutritive. Sally is just going through her new phase – relocating herself to Berlin, the ever-inspiring city that will undoubtedly embrace her muse.

How DIY are you and how much others are involved in your work (both, music and video)? I am almost 100 percent DIY, not so much because I prefer to be, but more so out of necessity. I really enjoy collaborating with other people and getting external help (if possible) but sometimes not all of these opportunities are present so I just have to make something out of what I have (which is pretty low-grade quality stuff – in terms of instruments and before, cameras)  and make something to the best of my knowledge and experience. However, with some of my tracks I have collaborated with some different musical artists, and for visuals, fashion designer Anna Artemova designed a dress that was used for my music video “Hard To Please” (the video isn’t released yet), as well as designed t-shirt prints for my merchandise and just recently I collaborated with the artist Laslo Antal, on the making of the music video “Hard to Please”.

Comparing it to the debut 7” release on Fabrika Records label last year, your new single “Forget Me”, seems to have expanded to a band sound, using more bass and drums. Is this approach also a test for your future studio and live set-up, adding more organic sound to your work? “Forget Me” was written and recorded with my ex-bandmate Robin Borawski some time ago. It has a more live sound because together that is how we always wrote, and Robin is a drummer so naturally we never used drum machines when writing together. For future sounds though, I do intend on incorporating more live elements into the songs.

How would you describe your own music – without using other popular terminology (New Wave, Goth, Synth-pop, Electro, etc.)? Pop.

What inspires you for the lyrics – are these addressing something that happened in real life, or are these mainly fiction? How personal do you get when writing a song and what is your favourite leitmotif to start writing a song? I write about real life events and feelings, as well as interpretations of an outsider’s point of view on how I think they feel towards me in a situation that I am connected in with them. Often though I will include different stories, events, feelings, people, phases and perspectives in one song, so to me it is quite a chaotic collage but to an outsider it usually looks quite linear and focused on telling a single story about one person or one situation.

Which one of the songs that you wrote so far is your favourite, that you’re most proud of – whether released or unreleased? I am still very proud of “Immaculate Deception” not so much because of the song, but because it was the time of really taking a departure from being in a band and doing a musical project completely independent. I didn’t have any knowledge about engineering as I had always recorded with people who took care of the engineering side, where I only had to worry about the songwriting part. At the time, I didn´t have a working synth so I had to borrow one on-and-off from a friend and record synth and vocal ideas on a cheap cassette player. I also had no place to record (or recording equipment, or even a computer) but another friend was kind enough to allow me to record in his studio basement space on days when no one was in there – so I would record at different erratic and irregular hours (usually in the night) during the week, and wait until the next time that he would let me into the space so that he could show me another tip on how to properly record and mix. So many more things are connected of course to making the song work, but why I am most proud of this song is because it is connected to making something work out of having no equipment, experience or facilities and seeing that it can be done if you have the determination, and passion for it.

What were your artistic beginnings? You belong to a younger generation of Vancouver’s underground music scene – what’s it like nowadays? Is there a scene and how is it between Vancouver and other cities? Do people connect between themselves or is it more about, say, competition? Which Canadian artists are your favourites, which influenced you the most, be it underground or mainstream/past or present? My artistic beginnings started at a very young age haha, but in the Vancouver music scene, or perhaps the most talked about “Emergency Room” days, I played in a band that was created while I was still in high school. During these “Emergency Room” days, Vancouver was quite a vibrant city in terms of music, art and underground culture. Although my band was a part of ‘the scene’, we were never really a part of it somehow. We were always kind of outsiders; just a part of it enough. It was like having our foot in the door – never quite “in” but never quite “out”. How it is nowadays, I have no idea. I disconnected myself from the scene, and really from just people (haha), years ago as I began to work heavily by myself, on all my free time. I just know that the synth, electronic and experimental scene in Vancouver is very small. Most of the people that were making this kind of music left Vancouver, including myself. Favourite Canadian artist? Probably I will regret not mentioning someone, or some band later, but at the top of my head, I really like Martha and the Muffins.

Can a song exist on its own terms, without necessary information about whom we are listening to, without the image presentation? Sure it can, in fact I think songs are more powerful this way as it allows the listener to connect their own experiences, meanings and interpretations to the song. Art shouldn`t always come with a manual on how it should be read and interpreted.

What were the main sources of inspiration regarding videos for “Immaculate Deception”, “Doppelgänger” and recently “Forget Me”? While reading the book “No Wave”, I came across a video still from the movie, “USA Underground” and it completely influenced me artistically; around the time of “Immaculate Deception”. The music video aesthetics for that video was definitely inspired from this one video still image I saw of “USA Underground”, and trails of “Doppelgänger” were still influenced from that one image. For “Forget Me” I was interested in doing something with my illustrations, but make them into life-size figures and connect a story around that.

How important is video to you (not just as a promotional tool)? Videos are really important to me, perhaps just because of my sheer love for making films.

… and was your artistic persona initially considered to be more video-only – rather than (also) being presented through a record release? I always wanted to release records, but sometimes I wish I could only be presented through video, so live shows would be presented like going to the cinema and watching some new part of an extended film.

Do you prefer working more in the analogue field, VHS and the like? I like both (analogue and digital). I don’t like to be limited or branded to any particular tool, instead able to explore in all mediums and aesthetics. I worked heavily in analogue in the beginning because of my lack of facilities. Analogue equipment was all that I had at the time, and I just had to make the most out of my situation (and I also enjoyed the process very much).

Your videos share a sensual side and also echo tiny traces of feminism. How close would be this observation? Close enough.

According to listeners’ fascination, your music echoes the 80s nostalgia – what is your true nostalgia? Memories of the old family farm in Denmark.

Can you see yourself in 20 years from now, and where would that be – how much do you expect your music and life in general might change? Continuing to be pursuing creative projects, and hopefully not working a regular day-job.

Further information:
Interview conducted: 0.5, Sally Dige photographed by Darryl Agawin
“Forget Me”  7” single recently released on Night School (LSSN019, 2013)


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