There is something powerfully alluring about Juno and Gemini nominated singer-songwriter Sarah Slean. Perhaps it’s in the way she opens her heart and lets it bleed out to whoever will listen. Maybe it is how she paints portraits of her spirit so effortlessly through her art. But as much as the accomplished artist will pull you in, the depths of her soul are never truly exposed – it’s just too deep.
Satisfying her core fans’ curiosity, Slean talks about some of the mystery and characters starring in her music.
“I Know” is an emotional song from your beginnings that you seldom perform. Can you tell us about its delicate reputation?
“I Know” is about coming to terms with the reality of sexual violence in our society. Realizing when I was around 17 that my “kind” are prey for some very specific and deadly predators. I lost a great deal of wonder and innocence when that hit me. I became afraid in a new and paralyzing way. It hurt something fundamental.
Your website is a realm dedicated to the Baroness. Who is the Baroness?
My guide, my muse, my broken and triumphant self. She is what I can be when fear and courage mix perfectly; a wild woman in a red dress.
“Eliot” as in T.S. Eliot might be a given. Can reveal who “Madeleine” is?
See the film Tous les matins du monde (sighs).
What about the intriguing “Duncan”?
He’s a dream I had. A romantic soldier. A soft heart poet rebel.
Who is “Jerome”, the leading man in a song dedicated to him and you?
Jerome, as in Jerome David Salinger.
Who is “the pilgrim” that has an eye on you in the dark, shadowy “Pilgrim”?
The Pilgrim is a seeker, the struggler. I wrote this at one of my darkest hours. I am talking to the pilgrim in myself saying, “You knew this had to happen. You have to go down into the darkness to learn. You have to be scared. You have to feel the pain. You have to take risks.” “Are you paying the birds to sing?” is a similar self-comment, “Hey, you’re not fooling me Slean, you know when it’s time to walk back into the fire, no playing safe, no hiding out, no writing safe. Blah! Unbloody songs! Show me the guts!” That’s why the response is: “It won’t work on the true path.” Where of course all the “wretched” who were brave enough to be ugly and fail will be growing wings and truly learning. Then when I start to unravel, I sort of crack and strike back at the listener, becoming horrified that some look to me for guidance when I am still “left by the roadside” confused, broken, struggling, never certain, frequently afraid and sometimes shamefully weak. It’s like a defensive retort because she’s clearly on the edge of sanity there!
Can you unravel your cult classic “Sweet Ones” that Carly Rae Jepsen performed on Canadian Idol this season?
Oy! That one I’ll have to keep to myself!
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