Friday Nights at NGV: Interview with Bertie Blackman

We interviewed Bertie Blackman, who will be headlining Friday Nights at NGV on 18 March 2016.

Describe your sound in 5 words or less?
Whimsical painterly pop.

If your music was an artwork what would it look like?
It would look like ‘Eye Balloon” by Odilon Redon.

Do you have a favourite artist/artwork?
That is impossible for me to answer! I love so many artists for different reasons. At the moment i’ve been loving David Hockney, Anthony Lister and also Greyson Perry. But i do also love Odilon Redon, Matisse, Charles Blackman, Joan Miro, Picasso, and many more! I cannot name a favourite artwork… but today i was looking at Picasso’s ‘The Actor’. What an incredible painting.

What’s your favourite gig you have played to date?
My favourite gig to date was singing with Danny Elfman at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre for his tour of “Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton’. Pretty hard to top that moment!

What inspires/influences your music the most?
Art, stories, imagination, film, curiosity, other wonderful music….and the little things in life that nobody else notices. Exploring the internal and external.

What song do you wish you wrote?
I wish that i wrote ‘Space Oddity’ by David Bowie.

What part of making music excites you the most?
Drawing from the ether to create something that never existed before… and to be able to share and inspire people. I love writing stories and i love exploring sound and how that can accompany and make something truly unique.

What can someone expect from your live show?
This live show is going to have some surprises! a new visual element, and also some new arrangements of songs. there will be plenty of percussion and noises i collected space dust.

Tell us about the last song or album you created?
The last album i created was called “The Dash”. It was a really interesting project for me in that the whole thing was written, recorded and finished in just 4 months. I worked with a large handful of amazing producers and did 24 hour sessions with them. In each session we had to finish a song and write and record it then and there. It was interesting because i didn’t have any time to second guess the music. It felt great to work like that! I really learnt to trust my first instinct.

What is your favourite part of being involved in Friday Nights at NGV?
I love the NGV. Its one of the most beautiful galleries in Australia. I love the mixing of art and music together…. its a world i feel very comfortable in. Fabulous to mix it all together!

Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei showcases over 300 artworks that explore the parallels and intersections between the practices of these two exemplary artists. Are you excited about the exhibition?
I’m extremely excited about this exhibition. i have not seen it yet… but I’m really looking forward to wandering through before the performance and really channeling their amazing energy into the show.

A large portion of the works included in the Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei exhibition include political or social commentary. Have you been inspired to do this through your music?
I’m less of a political or social commentator and more of a poet/storyteller. I feel like thatching the world with fantasy is a good contrast to the very real social and political issues at hand.

Andy Warhol famously said: ‘Art is what you can get away with.’ How would you respond?
Don’t think about it, just do it. Art is about risk, about being brave…. tredding where no one has tred before. Its like swimming out to sea as far as you can go.. and then looking back to shore and not knowing if you’ll make it back. take that feeling… and create something with it. you should feel scared. i often feel scared! Art is making the invisible within…visible.

Ai Weiwei once said: ‘A small act is worth a million thoughts.’ How would you respond?
I think about replacing my thoughts with sand… leaning over to the left.. and letting the sand thoughts pour out like an hour glass.

What else are you working on now? Or where are you next touring?
I’m currently working on a new project under a secret name…. and also! doing the score for my first short film. Otherwise I’ve been illustrating and writing my first book too. My room looks like a child’s creche. Fun!