Perth’s very own talented singer songwriter Bernardine has just dropped her stunning new self-titled LP following on from the release of her latest single ‘I Don’t Mind’.
Gifted with an earthy and evocative vocals, and a unique style that combines minimalist indie flavours with acoustic folk and classical guitar influences, Bernardine’s talent has seen her be handpicked to perform at the Perth focussed State of the Art Festival alongside heavyweights Eskimo Joe and San Cisco.
Having also wowed audiences at Beaufort Street Festival and Angove Street Festival, whilst supporting the likes of Josh Pyke, The Audreys, British India and Rodriguez throughout 2014 in duo outfit Fox Cat Rabbit, she shows no sign of slowing down now releasing this impressive debut solo effort. To celebrate the release of her new LP, Bernardine has given us a track by track run down of the album check it out below, and for more info visit Bernardine’s Facebook page.
Day By Day
As the release of this album coincides with coming to a positive place in my ongoing mental health journey, I thought Day by Day would be the perfect track to start the album. In this song I am confronting someone about how insecure they are, but I can see the person this was directed at was actually myself. It was written before I began to address my issues. At this time I was uncomfortable with whom I was, I felt that everyday was hard and I wanted to be someone else. I see this song as a time capsule to my negative feelings of the past and I am glad I can look at this and say that I don’t feel this way anymore.
It is my goal to play at music festivals far and wide and its important to me to know how I can pull of the live element of my original music making so I was very strategic in the production of this album. I decided to keep the instrumentation of the entire album the same throughout (cello, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, single vocal line, snare and kick drum) so that the album can be performed live in a four piece band and sound exactly like the record. I made a call not to use any loops, layers or certain effects so that the sound of the record reflects who I am as an artist at the most exposed level.
Hide And Seek
The way this song fits in to the album is that it describes a game of hide and seek, and again it is directed at myself as it refers to playing hide and seek with my negative feelings. I have learnt that healthy people address things rather than suppress them. This song was written very recently and I was stretched musically when producing this rhythm as I’d not done so before with a full band in mind. The hard part for me was learning which drum beat and bass lines would work. In the end I decided that the KISS rule always wins – keep it simple stupid – and it worked well!
I like many things about this song but my favourite musical idea is the harmonic shift that occurs after the introduction from using blues chord progressions and scales to more diatonic progressions, then in the chorus I’ve kept the moody blues melody over the diatonic chords creating an original sound that I had not experimented with before. Throughout the record, my cellist (Kiersten Fage) plays specific lines that I have notated for her as well as adding in her own creative techniques and lines. A lot of the cello lines are recycled melody lines which give the listener’s ears something familiar to pin on to, a recycling technique I learned when studying classical composers.
Hole In My Heart
Hole in My Heart is the most melancholic song on the album. The song starts with an acoustic guitar intro and introduces a beautiful haunting cello line soon after (which I was going to sing but decided cello sounded more spooky). There’s a beautiful chord change (Em – G#m7 – Bm) which creates a really uncomfortable but delicious moment in the intro. Hole in My Heart is an open letter written to people in the world that disgust me, mostly people who make a living from being corrupt and hurting the lives of others. As a depressed person I would become weighed down with the problems of the world, I felt too consumed by the devastation of the world and decided it was in my best interest to take a break from all forms of news media until I needed to.
I’m delighted to include this song on the album as the lyrics are an adaptation of local author Sally Newman’s poem Heaven’s Hands. After writing this song I decided I wanted it on the album. I felt like there were elements in the musicality that reflected me at this point in time, particularly the woody, organic colour created by the instrumental in the introduction of the song. It feels very folk-roots and I discovered this style is something that I resonate with personally through listening to artists such as Bernard Fanning (Tea and Sympathy album), Pete Murray (especially his single Opportunity) and Missy Higgins (especially her single Peachy) a few years back.
Every album needs a love song and despite the name this song is really sweet in its own way. Since I can remember I’ve been a really vivid dreamer and often have lucid dreams. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and think my bad dreams are real and panic, but having my partner by my side I’m reminded that all is well. I think it’s also just about having that loving support from someone that makes life so much more manageable.
How do you speak to yourself? Are you nice or mean? When going through depression I made it worse by being mean to myself constantly, nothing was ever good enough. I was always putting myself down and calling myself names. I have made a conscious effort in my journey to be better to myself and talk to myself how I would talk to one of my friends. I started treatment in September of 2014 which includes regular time with a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy specialist. He’s taught me to think more rationally, not to be so hard on myself and that we’re all human and we all make mistakes. These days I’m starting to see myself as my own best friend and I am looking after myself. I am a bit of a perfectionist which does not help but I’m learning to appreciate that part of myself too. This song is written to myself and is almost apologizing for being so cruel. The words in the chorus are a metaphor for the uneasiness I felt as a person, for if it was daytime I felt like I was still stuck in the darkness.
I refer to this song as my ‘Nirvana song’ as it has a slow, steady, grungy beat and some attitude and nonsense in the lyrics. I have been heavily influenced by Nirvana’s MTV unplugged album as I think it was the first time I heard acoustic instruments sound that rock ‘n’ roll. Their songs are so simple but capture so much in them. In regards to the message of the song I like to think I can easily find the good in everyone but there is the odd occasion when I meet people so boring and shallow that I want to fall asleep and that is what this song is about. Life is more than just keeping up appearances.
Using the same beat as in ‘Hide and Seek’ I wrote ‘Surrender’. I was devastated writing this song, my depression was really getting the better of me and my next step was going on medication. I really didn’t want to as I wanted to fix it myself. I felt like such a failure. I think sometimes we all have to surrender and accept there are some things we just can’t do. I was so lost when this happened but I have never made a better choice.
The course of medication has helped me immensely but in doing so I had to quit alcohol and recreational drugs and replace them with healthy outlets such as regular exercise and a good nights sleep every night. I can truly say I’m a new person since I wrote this song because of the positive choices I’ve made and I couldn’t do it without the amazing medical support I’ve received. The lyrics and melody I wrote eight years ago for a jazz song that I never finished, I decided to use them for this song and I was so surprised that it worked and that my old song didn’t go to waste.
Let Me Go
Some people in life will just use you and hold you back and I’ve learned that we all need clear boundaries to protect ourselves from being subject to this. I think direct communication is the key when it comes to standing up for yourself and this is a skill I’m learning. I wrote this song for an EP that I recorded and wanted to release in 2013 but I didn’t have the courage to. I think at that time I was not able to show people who I was because I wasn’t happy with who I was. It’s been a long journey to getting to a place where I can finally share my music and be proud of it and who I am as I feel like I am connected to my music and that it is me. My favourite part of this song is the chord progression in the chorus (E-Dm-E-Dm), which creates a really bittersweet emotion in the listener and also the cello lines alternating with the vocal in the chorus creating almost a double melody.
I Don’t Mind
This is the last song I wrote for the album only a few weeks ago. I was feeling so much better when I wrote this song, I had been living healthy for a few months and had noticed changed in myself. This song is about not being scared of death and I wasn’t for two reasons. On one hand I already knew what it felt like to be completely dead inside from dealing with depression and anxiety for a decade, and on the other I had accepted that death is a part of life and that it is to be embraced when it comes because it will happen to all of us whether we want it to or not. Writing this song was the closing point for my worst times and I feel that if I stay on track life will become more beautiful with each day.Write a Letter to the Editor