Sarah McQuaid’s new album brings exciting times and also nerve-racking times.
“I am really happy with the album (If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous, released Friday, February 2), but the launch tour is terrifying because I have got three instruments to play on stage that I have never played on stage before. I am actually playing the electric guitar. I had never played one before this album. I am also playing a lovely stage piano and I will also be playing the drums. I have never played them before in a concert.
“But really it is just a question of trying to get my stage show as close to my album, and an electric guitar gives me so many different new sounds. It is a lovely instrument that it would never have occurred to me to play before Michael Chapman offered to produce the album. I was with him and he offered me this guitar and said ‘I would like to hear you play this’, and when Michael Chapman says something like that, you just do it! And I loved all those new sounds and possibilities.
"I think the timing was just right. I don’t have any real regrets about anything, wishing that I had discovered it before, because everything I have done has brought me to this point which is a good point. Maybe sometimes you wish you had taken a certain leap years ago, but who knows maybe things just wouldn’t have worked out back then. But I do feel that I have now matured as a songwriter and as a musician. The album really started developing as soon as I did the last one. From the moment I recorded the last one, I was thinking ‘This is 2015… I should be thinking about the next one for 2018.’
"It was as practical as that. Every time I got a song idea or a bit of an idea, I jotted it down and quite deliberately left the songs unfinished. I loved the way I did the last album when I wrote all the songs in one burst, and I wanted to do that again. So I just collected all these ideas for songs, thinking they were all possible candidates for the new album, and then last January, after we agreed that Michael Chapman was going to produce it and I knew we would be recording it in May and I would be seeing Michael in February, I sat down and got writing. I wanted to have the songs ready for February.
"I think I used probably about five per cent of the ideas. The notes are still there for the others if I ever want them, but I really do feel that I have made an album that hangs together very well, that it is very varied in terms of the songs and the rhythms, but it is also belongs together very nicely.” Among the themes, death and the apocalypse loom large: “Part of it I suppose is about getting to the age that I have reached, a point in my life where I am perhaps in the middle years of my adult life, that I have got perhaps less ahead than I have got behind me...”
Sarah plays The Greys, Brighton on February 5.