[the sea of waking dreams]

Interview with Sarah McLachlan

Minx Magazine December 1998

Sarah McLachlan - She's got a stunning voice and her all-female Lilith Fair music festival brings real girl power to grown-ups. The word awesome springs to mind. "Never drink coffee, never smoke, never yell, never laugh loudly..." Sarah McLachlan's voice as she runs down the list of things her doctor told her not to do is ironic, a million miles from the Joni-Mitchellesque lilt on her new album Surfacing. We're downstairs in that posh London hotel, the Dorchester - in an area that looks like a cross between an opium den and a Bombay brothel - and Sarah keeps calling the album Solace, then correcting herself and apologising. At 30, the American (sic) singer has paid her dues - fought with record labels, had trouble getting her head round the work and retired to a remote cabin for six months and 10ft of snow. "The trick," she shrugs, "is not to give a shit".

She's also been involved with her producer, her keyboard player and her drummer... "Yeah, over 10 years," she says, then laughs. "Well, who else do you get to meet? It's like doctors and nurses. You get all mixed up in this petri dish - and germs flourish! It's bullshit", she adds, getting back to that list of don't dos... "You wouldn't be living if you lived by those rules. It's not like I'm an opera singer. I mean, my voice isn't insured..."

Given that her new album has sold 10 million copies so far and last year she headlined a 38-city tour that grossed $16 million, her record company probably ought to be thinking about it.

But she didn't just headline the Lilith Fair tour, she organised it as a rolling festival to feature women singers like Sinead O'Connor, Beth Orton, Natalie Merchant, Missy Elliot, Sheryl Crow. And she's doing it again next year, and the year after. But, er, why Lilith?

"Lilith was Adam's first wife. She was created from the same stuff he was but he refused to treat her as an equal, so she said 'Fine, screw you'. God sent three angels down to tell her to get her ass back to Adam if she knew what was good for her. She refused."

You get the feeling it's a position Sarah understands. Not that she's always been that independant, certainly not when she was a kid with frizzy hair and braces. "I tried so hard to be accepted. I didn't have my own identity. It was like 'If only I can just be like this person...' That failed miserably, I learned a lot from that. When I last went to Japan they had this whimsical image of me. I'd be looking at the camera and they'd be, 'Oh, no, look down, look shy.' And I'm like, I'm not that person.'"

She doesn't do all that confessional stuff either now. "I've been trying to move away from the, 'Oh poor me, this is my life and I'm feeling so sad.' I've been there and I've done that...It's so boring."

Credit to Gemma Price for typing this all in. Go UK Fumblers. :-)

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