B&L: What animal do you associate yourself with (given our ties to oxen)?
Robt Sarazin Blake: It’s a toss up between ‘You gotta get behind the mule,’ and ‘froggy went a courtin’.’
B&L: Why music? Why do you seek it? Why do you create it? How’d it come calling to you?
Blake: When I was a kid my family had lots of parties. At some point during the party everyone would fall into the living room and my father would get out his D-28 and take requests. My aunt Rodi (really!) always requested Kevin Barry, and my Grandmother Maxine would request ‘something peppy.’
B&L: What’s the making of a great show?
Blake: I don’t mind a battle if I can win it. I’ve lost enough times to learn a variety of strategies for enjoying a concert. The first time someone yells, ‘you talk too much,’ or ‘did you kill your wife?,’ or ‘play something we know,’ it can be distracting and confusing, but after a few years it blends into to an opportunity for a great night. People are hungry for connection and entertainment, but often they are most entertained by their own self and more recently, attached to their phones as if they are a colostomy bag. To follow the metaphor, at a great show audience and performer disconnect from our physical and spiritual colostomy bags.
B&L: Let’s talk about your latest record, “Recitative.” What sort of goals did you have for yourself when you set out to make this record?
Blake: Between the songs in an opera, the actors sing without melody to carry the narrative. This is called recitative. I made my first record (a cassette… way before they were hip!) in 1997. I’m not ashamed anymore. I can admit it. I don’t write songs, I write recitative.
B&L: Is songwriting an easy or arduous process for you? Are you a fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants kind of writer, or do you schedule “office hours”?
Blake: I make dinner, I make coffee, and then I go into a room where no one can hear me. Sometimes something happens, sometimes very little happens. Sometimes something happens but I don’t think anything happened. It’s worse when I think something happened, but indeed nothing did.
B&L: Do you still record your records “in the same room”? That was your thing for a little while… To have everyone literally in the same room ready to record.
Blake: I made 10 records with everyone in the same room at the same time. I didn’t do it to prove a point, I did it because I thought it would get the best result. Restrictions and restraint curate creativity. In my second decade of recording I’ve loosened up a bit and have indulged in some overdubs. The songs demanded it. A lot of the vocals are off the floor and all the rhythm section is off the floor. The horns are a combination, and the backing vocals were recorded in a variety of rooms on both the east and west coast. The record took 2-1/2 years to make. Working slowly gave us a chance to rework arrangements. If we’d gotten it right the first time, it would have been single album. I gathered the crew again, six months after the first session, to cut ‘just one more’ song. But by the time the studio dates came, I’d written six more.
B&L: What are you looking for folks to take away from the music of Robt Sarazin Blake when they place themselves in a position to experience it.
Blake: I’d like each and every member of the audience to take away a double vinyl, a t-shirt, a bandana, and a few of my new personalized ‘Robt Sarazin Blake-Recitative’ corkscrews.
B&L: When (and why) did you change your name to Robt Sarazin?
Blake: Robert Blake is an actor. It took me five albums to accept that fact and even when I did it took me a while to revise my handle. Robert Blake, Robert Sarazin Blake, Sarazin Blake, Robert Sarazin Blake(again), and now Robt Sarazin Blake. I think I’m done… but I’ve thought that before.
B&L: What’s one tune (or, heck, a couple) that exists out there in the ether that blows you away that you kind of wish you had written yourself?
Blake: My favorite albums are Van Morrison “Astral Weeks”, and Bob Dylan “Blonde on Blonde”.
The best songwriter I’ve met recently is Tony Reidy of Westport, Ireland.
B&L: What can folks expect when they come out to see you perform at the Stone Church on April 29th?
Blake: My new backing band is a Ferrari on idle.
B&L: You’re no stranger to the Granite State. What keeps you coming back around?
Blake: I had dream recently where Richard Thompson and I were chatting backstage. He told me ‘you’ve got to play the new versions of the ballads!’ He also said, ‘I’ll go anywhere for 3000 cash…’
B&L: Question number 12. If you could have a dozen of anything, what would that dozen of something be?
Blake: A dozen gigs in the same venue in the same town, then… I would take a train the to the next town. I would like to do this a dozen times in a year for about 3-dozen more years.
Robt Sarazin Blake will share the stage with Lula Wiles when they both parade into Newmarket on Saturday, April 29th and convene at the Stone Church high stop Zion Hill. Tickets and more information can be found here.