Haunted Painting, Sad13’s sophomore album brought a darker introspective Sadie Dupuis forth. Today she releases the animated video for “The Crow.”
“The Crow” wound up the heaviest song on Haunted Painting, although the demo was originally inspired by Clairo and solo Rob Crow. I started the lyrics on a 22-hour layover in L.A. after hearing of David Berman’s death, trying to process the loss of an artist whose keen writing helped make sense of a convoluted world. Waiting to fly home, I posted up at Taix, a favored haunt of another favorite writer, Eve Babitz. Her work couldn’t be more different from Berman; in Black Swans, she writes about weekending at the Chateau Marmont during the L.A. riots, oblivious (“faint-hearted bottle blonde hiding out until the smoke just passes,” I wrote in the lyrics.) It can be tempting to embrace frivolous luxury when horrific shit happens nearly every day and your brain’s had enough.
Jono Ganz is a great illustrator who has done music videos for friends’ bands like Supermilk and Cheerbleederz. On this one, he drew inspiration from mid-20th century film title cards, horror and otherwise. I spotted Spider Baby, The Dunwich Horror, and Halloween among his references, but also Bond movies and Bonjour Tristesse (surely also a favorite of Babitz.) I love typography and text art so it was a treat for me to have Jono bring this song and its words alive alongside some very cute movie monsters.”
Sadie Dupuis is a magician of creativity. She fronts two bands, runs her own record label, released a book of poetry, and has established a poetry journal. She is known as much for her poetry and her music. On Friday September 25 she is releasing Sad13’s sophomore album Haunted Painting. The album includes guests Roberto Lange, Satomi Matsuzaki, Merrill Garbus and Rick Maguire. It was recorded and mixed in 6 studios with a host of women engineers. You’ve already seen the singles including “Hysterical”, “Oops…!”, “Ruby Wand” and “Ghost (of a Good Time)”,
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Haunted Painting?
SD: Not getting to play it live for the indefinite future, probably. A lot of pent up energy in making these complicated arrangements and not getting to show them off IRL!
FEMMUSIC: Haunted Painting is your first record with Wax Nine. What made you decide to work with them? How was the experience?
SD: Wax Nine is my own record label, an imprint with Carpark. I’ve been lucky to release albums by two of my favorites artists–Johanna Warren and Melkbelly–on the label, as well as co-release a compilation tribute to Adam Schlesinger with Father/Daughter Records earlier this year. We also launched a literary journal earlier this year which runs bi-weekly and features new poems and illustrations every issue.
FEMMUSIC: I was intrigued your choice to use women engineers on the album. Can you tell me what you were looking for in engineers? What made these 6 (Sarah Tudzin, Erin Tonkon, Maryam Qudus, Lily Wen, Anne Gauthier & Emily Lazar) stand out?
SD: Emily Lazar is a long-term collaborator for me; she’s mastered most of my records as well as some of my favorite artists, everyone from Beck to Dolly Parton. I hosted a panel for Sonos and She Shreds in 2018 on audio engineering, featuring Emily and three other amazing women in different corners of production. We are drastically underrepresented in music technology, comprising about 2% of engineers, and as a producer myself, it felt strange and hypocritical that I’d only hired men as tracking and mix engineers in the past.
Most of the engineers I hired on this record were friends, or friends of friends–I was a big admirer of Illuminati Hotties, Sarah Tudzin’s band, and Lily Wen I have known for 15 years. Erin Tonkon has produced heavy hitters like David Bowie, but also more contemporary bands I love, like Pixx and Lady Lamb. Maryam Qudus worked with several friends–Allison Crutchfield, Madeleine Kenney–and also fronts her own amazing project called Spacemoth. And I met Anne Gauthier on tour in Louisville, when Speedy got to check out her amazing studio La La Land. All are brilliant producers and people who I’d recommend to anyone and hope I’ll work with again once it’s safe.
FEMMUSIC: You recorded the album in-between touring with Speedy Ortiz and the Mouthguard book tour. After that constant frenzy how has not touring during COVID affected you? What do you miss? What has changed for you during it, both positive and negative?
SD: It’s strange adjusting to so many nights in a row at home! One of the best parts of tour is having a chance to see or play with faraway friends a couple times a year, and I really miss that. But one positive is that I have a lot more time to dedicate to projects that aren’t strictly my own, like the Adam Schlesinger compilation, the poetry journal, recording on some friends’ projects, as well as the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers, which began work a few months ago.
FEMMUSIC: What was your vision with Haunted Painting? What was your favorite part of the arrangements?
SD: Since I recorded in five different studios and mixed in a sixth, I wanted to make good use of each place’s unique gear lists. Each song was arranged to include all the most interesting equipment at each studio. Trying to write specifically to a location (and to instruments I’m less familiar with writing for, like strings, woodwinds, lap steel, theremin) was a fun challenge.
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? Is it different from your poetry writing technique? Where do the 2 merge or separate?
SD: In composing music, I usually have a chord progression in mind. I demo drums and bass before anything else, then add synth parts, finally guitars, vocals last. So I’m trying to write the lyrics to fit on top of a mostly arranged song. Poetry I’m generally starting from scratch without any guidelines, especially not the built in constraints of trying to fit syllables to music.
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?
SD: I have thought about ‘The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh’ theme song almost every morning upon waking for like a decade, so unfortunately, I have to answer with that. I can’t wake up and not think of it. I hope to be free some day.
FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?
SD: I don’t think misogyny is a challenge for any one person to “overcome” individually, especially if you are on the receiving end of it, but making sure to use whatever hiring power I have–crew on tour, opening bands–to make my corner of the industry more inclusive and representative of diverse music workers has been a priority for me, and makes touring a lot easier and happier.
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?
SD: There are a couple 2020 records I’m obsessed with – Ganser, Kitty, Yaeji, Backxwash, Yves Tumor, No Joy, Katie Dey, Allie X, Caroline Rose. I’d be over the moon to play or tour with any of those projects.
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
SD: Be cool for artists to actually make money off the streaming services that earn billions thanks to our work!
Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz and Sad13 releases “Ruby Wand” today. It is the latest single from her new album, as Sad13, called Haunted Painting coming out on Friday September 25. This is the first release on her label Wax Nine. The video was directed by Benjamin Stillerman.
Sadie says, “Ruby’s my birthstone, thought to alleviate negative emotional energy and benefit self-awareness. So a ‘Ruby Wand’ would be an instrument to conjure those changes. The song is about working through an OCD flare up in the wake of complicated grief—seeking control through small rituals, good and bad. Lyrically, it’s more literal than most of my songs, and the music mirrors that narrative. The synths are calculating but also fantastical, while the guitars and drums push against that clock in heavy chaos. Might as well also admit that ‘Ruby Wand’ is a weapon from Star Ocean, one of my very favorite RPGs.”