If you haven’t already listened to Higher Harm, the debut album from Old Sault, stop what you’re doing and go listen to it now. The 11-track album holds up as one of our favourite releases of the year so far, and is brimming with real sonic catharsis.
So fresh off the album’s release, we caught up with Angie Farr (the person behind the music) for a complete run-down of each of the album’s tracks.
Hot off the release of her incredible debut album Higher Harm, we caught up with Old Sault for a complete track-by-track run-down.
This song started as a one-minute voice memo on my phone that I tried to finish for six months. The song has no real structure and I was really confused with where I wanted to go with it. I had an epiphany in the studio that the song was already finished and the one-minute voice memo wasn’t waiting for another verse or a chorus or a hook, but rather just sitting there in its final state. The instrumental at the end was improvised and recorded in one take. I wanted to open the album with something raw. “I was holding you down, my love” felt like a fitting first line to the record given the lyrical theme of the tracks to follow.
Basically, I didn’t sleep for three days straight and started hallucinating these horseflies who I thought were spying on me. I thought I could hear them whispering through the walls in my apartment and convinced myself I could see sounds. During this 3-day insomniac bender, I also cut my hair. Echoes was born.
It’s a really simple song. When you build someone up to be the best person in the entire world, and they’re such a giant, magnificent thing to you – but then you remember that there are millions of these people for millions of people, and the truth is that we are all just really small.
The time in Melbourne that I sing about in this song was such a happy time in my life that it was sort of defining reflecting back on it and realising that I don’t feel that happy anymore, or I hadn’t felt that happy in a long time. I was missing the person I wrote this song about so much when I wrote it, we had many good memories together, but this particular memory wouldn’t leave my mind for ages — The song was basically slow cooking in my brain for a solid month. It’s my favourite on the record.
Ten ties into my song Echoes and was the first thing I wrote when I had calmed down from a period of pretty severe sleep deprivation. I was finally able to sleep but I kept waking up at exactly 2am every morning. There is a council truck that cleans the street adjacent to my bedroom window every morning at 3am, so I always knew I’d been awake for an hour when it went past and lit up my bedroom with a big yellow light. I wrote a poem about it in my notepad and came across it while I was recording the tenth song on my album. I ended up ditching the lyrics I was working on and sang the poem instead. The recording program we used named the song “10” and after a while, it just felt weird calling it anything else.
Sail Pt. II (Where the Pain Grows)
This is a re-work of my song Sail Home which I released on my first EP Mostly Worried. I’ve always had a bit of gripe about this song. I don’t like it (if I’m being really honest). My producer, Govinda, asked me what I’d change about it if I could go back and record it again. I said I would have added some vocal harmonies, taken out a layer of guitars, and simplified the drums a little. It wasn’t planned, but we went ahead and did that. And I still don’t like it.
I wanted to put this song on my first EP, I have honestly been holding onto it for ages. I wrote the song when I was in my late teens and carrying a lot of angst about my first break-up and my parents divorcing among other late-teen-angsty problems. There is a level of immaturity in the songwriting that I really didn’t want to take away from or change now that I’m an adult that finds these issues trivial and stupid. I feel like there’s a deliberate delicate nature to the rest of the album and this song sticks out like a sore thumb instrumentally. I was torn for a while about whether it’d even belong on the record but I played it to my friend and she said it was her favourite so I guess I’m easily influenced.
There was this period when I went through my last break-up where my ex-partner wasn’t ready to tell our friends and family that we’d broken up yet, I guess because we were together for our whole adult life, so we’d still go to all of these dinners and birthdays and family events together, but we were living in separate houses and barely talking. I had a moment when she dropped me home one night where I was like, “woah, this is actually so fucked up,” mostly because we were lying to everyone but also because the whole arrangement ruined any chance I had at healing from the break-up. The song is pretty sad, but writing it released a lot of anger I was feeling at the time.
I wrote this song while I was recording the album and it was super unplanned. It was the quickest song to record, we got it done in a couple of hours. I think most people can relate to the feeling of something ending before you’re over it. This thing was particularly weird for me because I never realised that I had any emotional attachment to the situation I wrote it about until it was over. I was very nonchalant about the whole thing on the exterior but internally I was feeling some really strange and unfamiliar feelings.
I Didn’t Really Mean It
I’m gonna go on record here and say that I’m never talking about this song.
I wrote this song in the spare room of my apartment. It’s unfurnished so there’s this natural reverb in there and it’s a nice place to write songs. The original version had this folk element to it so when I took it into the studio, I told Govinda that I wanted to re-work it into something that kind of explodes but also keeps the folk-sounding vocal. Listening to it now, it’s exactly how I wanted it to sound when I said that. The song is a reflection of an angry phase of my life that consumed the good parts of me for a while.
Higher Harm is available now. Listen above.