Dan Sul­tan

Sul­tan spills on the odyssey of mak­ing his killer new al­bum

Time Out (Melbourne) - - INSIDE -

“When I’ve de­cided on some­thing, I’ve de­cided”

THIS MONTH, DAN Sul­tan will re­lease his fourth al­bum Killer, pro­duced by long-time col­lab­o­ra­tor and friend Jan Sku­biszewski. “I’ve changed things up stylis­ti­cally and in­stru­men­tally,” says Sul­tan, who is a head­line act at Splen­dour in the Grass in July. “I like to keep my­self in­ter­ested and on my toes.”

In Killer, Sul­tan plays with new sounds, in­tro­duc­ing syn­the­sis­ers, drum ma­chines and gospel vo­cals to un­der­score his own pow­er­ful, raw sing­ing. Thump­ing open­ing track ‘Drover’ has been de­scribed as a pre­quel to Paul Kelly’s ‘From Lit­tle Things Big Things Grow’. In ‘Hold It To­gether’ there’s a boom­ing gospel cho­rus, and ‘Fire Un­der Foot’ is emo­tion­ally charged and vul­ner­a­ble. It’s clear we’re be­ing taken on a dif­fer­ent jour­ney, though not too far away from Sul­tan’s per­sonal and re­flec­tive lyri­cism.

“Jan has done a lot of stuff with that kind of sound and that sort of in­stru­men­ta­tion, so he could ar­tic­u­late what I was try­ing to hear – he could get that out. I’ll de­scribe some­thing as ‘fluffy’ and then he’ll go ‘Oh, a sound like this…?’

“We are very close. There’s a brother­hood there. We read each other’s minds in the stu­dio. There are times when I tested his pa­tience, ab­so­lutely, which we won’t go into,” he adds, laugh­ing.

Sul­tan spent most of 2016 writ­ing more than 50 fin­ished songs. He wrote many by him­self and also teamed up with reg­u­lar writ­ing part­ners in­clud­ing Alex Bur­nett (of pop-rock group Sparka­dia) and Pip Nor­man. As with the Aria-win­ning Black­bird, where he had writ­ten over 40 songs in the lead up, the process of shap­ing an al­bum was one of both highs and lows.

“When you are writ­ing a song, the song is the boss. [Then] the al­bum is the boss. You can spend a re­ally long time on a par­tic­u­lar song and feel re­ally good about it, in­vest so much into it, but if it’s not fit­ting, that’s it. You’ve gotta be a bit harsh with it.”

At one point in the record­ing process Sul­tan says there were per­haps too many dif­fer­ent voices and cre­ative minds try­ing to shape the sound. Tak­ing a stand for the di­rec­tion he de­sired was key for him, and the al­bum, which he says has been quite a jour­ney. “There were times where I had to go, ‘This is what I’m do­ing.’ I don’t mind lis­ten­ing to peo­ple and tak­ing peo­ple’s ad­vice – I will do that – but when I’ve de­cided on some­thing, I’ve de­cided on it. I’m happy with it and I hope peo­ple get a chance to hear it. I know that I’ve done some­thing as an artist, first and fore­most, that I’m re­ally proud of.”

àkiller is now avail­able via Lib­er­a­tion Mu­sic. Tick­ets are on sale now for his Killer tour: Fo­rum Theatre, Flin­ders & Rus­sell Sts, Mel­bourne 3000. 03 9299 9860. www.fo­rum­mel­bourne.com.au. 8pm. $59.38. Sat Sep 2.

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