Cash Savage Talks Good Citizens
Catch Cash Savage and The Last Drinks this November.
Kyneton Music Festival, 2017
Photo: Dina Dee
If you haven’t heard any of her music, you’ve probably heard her name. And what a name it is: Cash Savage. The Port Albert native is the eldest of five, and niece to Conway Savage (keyboardist for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds). Savage and her band have been releasing albums every other year or so since their formation ins 2009, and her gruff, incisive musical commentary has nestled its way into Australia’s heart.
You come from a musical family, was it always a direction you saw yourself going in?
Yeah. I don’t think I was ever really the type of person to think about direction, but the direction was always open for me because of my upbringing. I didn’t really think about it, but it was there.
You seem to tackle some gritty subjects in your music. Why is that?
It’s the only way I know how to write songs. I just write how I’m feeling. I find it easier to perform songs that mean something to me than not, so I guess that’s just what comes out.
So, I guess you see music as a platform for difficult subjects?
Yeah, I do. I don’t go about it with the intention of approaching this subject or that subject, it just kind of comes out like that. Music is a platform for any kind of communication, but it’s not a conscious decision for me.
Tell us about Good Citizens – it seems to cover very personal, raw topics.
Good Citizens came about because I don’t have an aerial in my house. We have a TV but we’re not connected to the world. I wanted to watch some footy so I streamed the channel. All of a sudden, I was exposed to commercials for the first time in a long time. They’re fucking weird. I’m becoming more and more aware of this media that shows us this fake real life. People don’t live the lives that are in commercials, that’s not real life. They’re weird. That song was the quickest of all the songs to write. I pretty much wrote the words in one go, with almost no edits and a couple of run throughs. It was easy, given that exposure.
That sort of fake presentation, not just on TV- all over social media. It’s pretty hard to escape.
Yeah, that might be true but I guess you’re in a bit more control than when you’re suddenly exposed to it in your house, blasting on the TV. It’s what someone else has decided you should be, and the news updates in between. It’s all very jarring, none of it is real. I turn ads off on my browser, there are ways to do that. I try to limit my exposure. I know people are marketing things at you everywhere you go, but it’s not the same as a commercial TV ad.
Do you think that the TV ads are more intrusive than the targeted ads we get online? Like when you look at something online, close it, and the next day an ad for that product pops up?
Yeah, I find that pretty intrusive. But at least when they’re targeting that at me, it’s things I’m interested in. IT all comes down to living in a bubble. I’m very aware that we live in bubbles, and I definitely put myself in one. It’s a safety and mental health thing for me, the real world can be quite horrible. So, I guess those ads are different because they’re based on something you’re interested in.
It is something that you’re interested in, but it’s creepier.
It is creepier, it is. All of a sudden, here’s what the rest of the world looks at frequently.
You said you wrote Good Citizens all in one go. Is that normally how your songs come out? What’s your process like?
I don’t’ have a process as such. Sometimes, is the only answer I can give you. Sometimes they come out like that, but not often. Maybe one or two each album. My only process is that I allow myself space to actually write music. I won’t write unless I have a guitar in my hand and I’m free from distractions. So, I usually lock myself in the studio for a few hours and see what happens, with no actual plan other than to be there. That’s how I write.
One of my high school English teachers once told me that the best way to write was to stare at a blank piece of paper. I understand what you mean about just being there and allowing it to happen,
I like to think that songs don’t write themselves. You have to allow the time. I know there are definitely people that work to write a particular song. Once the song’s there, I have to work on it. It’s work. But the actual coming up with songs, there’s no rhyme or reason. You can’t force inspiration.
Tour dates and info:
“As a band leader Cash Savage is unparalleled – when she bellows you stand to attention and listen.” Stack Magazine
“Her fourth album of fierce and fastidious mind‑melters, it’s as apparent as ever that Cash Savage can do no wrong.”Australian Guitar Magazine
“Good Citizens is more evenly measured, her band even tighter, and it’s her best set of songs to date. You won’t hear much that’s better than this in 2018.” The Guardian
“Theirs is a chemistry that is unbridled and, as further listens of Good Citizens set in, unrivalled.”
The Big Issue