Peering Into The Influences Of Sad13
Where to begin with Sadie Dupuis?
The songwriter's songwriter, she spent the best part of a decade powering Speedy Ortiz, producing some literate, emphatically creative indie rock in the process.
Back in 2016 she dropped solo album 'Slugger' under the Sad13 name, a neat one off that became a cult object for fans.
Returning to this moniker in emphatic style, her new album 'Haunted Painting' is out now, and it's a work of real depth.
Self-produced, 'Haunted Painting' gives Sadie Dupuis the space to truly unpack her influences and desires, all while crafting some of the most potent and personal work of her career.
Clash caught up with the songwriter to discuss a few of the key inspirations behind her new album.
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Joan Armatrading - 'Me Myself I'
First of all, “I want to have a boyfriend and a girl for laughs, but only on Saturdays” is a perfect lyric, the bisexual loner energy we should all strive toward.
I went through a phase of seeking out music from women connected to new wave a few years ago, and was shocked I hadn’t heard Joan Armatrading before then. Now I love her, and I love this song. Fun chord substitutions, her amazing 12-string guitar, lots of headphones-happy panning, organ beds, herky-jerky syncopation...
The arrangement (and production, by Richard Gottehrer) really influenced the 'New Monkey' session on this album, where I did 'Oops…!' and 'Good Grief'.
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Caroline Polachek - 'New Normal'
I was wrapping up pre-production on some of the synth-ier Sad13 songs when Pang came out, and it inspired me to push those hyperpop-indebted moments further. 'New Normal' in particular is so great - this song’s schtick is endless modulation and so many mix changes, a groove that doesn’t let you relax into it.
Some of Danny L Harle’s earlier production work is a big influence on me and this project - Charli XCX’s 'ILY2' is one of my favorites of his, and of hers - and I’d be remiss if I didn’t also cite A.G. Cook’s work on both 'Pang' and Charli as inspiring.
Reading Caroline’s interviews about her work writing and co-producing her record--working at very weird hours when a melody came, moodboards she translated into mystical-sounding music - was helpful to me while sucked into my own weird hours producing and envisioning 'Haunted Painting'.
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Maren Morris - 'Rich'
Some proto version of 'Haunted Painting', when it was an amorphous concept without any songs attached, was going to be a pop-country collaboration between me and Greg Saunier from Deerhoof. Which I hope we still do.
While I wound up going a different path for this, the pop country influence looms (as does the Deerhoof influence, as it does on all of my albums). Listening to 'Hero' by Maren Morris kind of reminds me of Queens Of The Stone Age in an obtuse way. Like the sound Queens is famous for is riffy desert rock, very subby bass, cymbal overdubs, hi-fi albums that bring in the best production tricks from disparate genres.
'Rich', and this Maren Morris album in general, is like my most revered Nashville version of that. She can write hooks around all of us, and I love that she does it over music that’s so slick and full. Super filtered, gated drums, chunky Steve Miller chord progression, and all these really cute samples and vocal tics - the “cha-ching, cha-ching” is pure endorphins.
Honestly a Maren Morris Desert Sessions appearance sounds perfect now that I think about it.
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Scott Walker - 'Clara'
I have joked before that owning this album is not vegan, due to the “meat punches” that serve as percussion on this track. 'The Drift' was my first introduction to Scott Walker back in 2006, and this song in particular has a great balance of spaciousness and harshness, ornamental instrumentation, and all-consuming eeriness.
That creep factor heavily informed the opening track of 'Haunted Painting', 'Into The Catacombs' (as did the last clipping. album, for very similar reasons).
I didn’t put together until just now that both 'Clara' and 'Into The Catacombs' are written about the horrors of dictatorship - the death of Mussolini’s wife, in Scott Walker’s song, and the murder of dissidents under Argentina’s military junta in mine.
On a less dark note, Scott Walker's late ‘60s albums were an influence on my strings and woodwinds arrangements; those have a cinematic strangeness to them that’s less explicitly weird but still so engrossing.
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Super Furry Animals - 'Bass Tuned to D.E.A.D.'
When I wrote 'WTD?' I had the vague idea that it should sound like Super Furry Animals, but had no idea which song, or why, and I was going sort of purely from memory. Like the Dirty Projectors’ Black Flag interpretation.
I think their album 'Radiator' was off streaming services for a while, and my CD copy is scratched and unplayable. So I hadn’t actually been able to revisit this song for a long time until today, I just had the inkling that I ripped it off somehow.
The comparison was not totally off. I love really thinned out, sustained guitar leads like this one. I love modulation effects that put the keyboards out of tune and laser-sounding synths. Obvious edits. Reversed cymbals. Too many little melodies that never come back.
I tried to make the 'WTD?' bridge sound like 'Sunny Came Home', which is perfect for its own reasons although pretty different from the Super Furries.
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'Haunted Painting' is out now.
Photo Credit: Natalie Piserchio
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