Down Bertie's Memory Lane

After her acclaimed 2009 release Secrets and Lies, Bertie Blackman has walked down memory lane for her stunning follow up album, Pope Innocent X.

A collection of tales spawned from her childhood – from both real and imagined worlds - the record is every bit as intriguing as Bertie Blackman herself. Chatting with the singer/songwriter, one encounters an artist whose not only discovered her true sound, but has bared all for her work.

The Dwarf: The album’s being touted as “long-awaited”. Is three years really too long to craft an entire record?

Bertie Blackman: It took ‘too long’ for everyone else, but it was long enough for me. I put everything of myself in what I do, and it’s a part of me. You release [an album] and hope that people - in a kind of human way - accept you and enjoy the work that you make. You want it to go to good places, and to inspire people.

You’ve said it’s taken your whole career to get to a point to make something like this - that you wanted to make your mark. What does Pope Innocent X say about Bertie Blackman?

That I’ve found myself. When I listen to the record, it sounds like Bertie. Which is also why the record took a little bit longer. I was defining myself as an artist, because I’ve been trying to find that for the last decade. Discovering different types of music, and exploring different genres on different records. This record - it’s all about the stories. The music that accompanies the stories, I can’t really describe it as a specific style. I can describe flavours and textures that go with it, but I didn’t really have a genre in mind.

Pope Innocent X draws heavily from your childhood. What was the process of revisiting your past like?

I make up stories to fill in gaps for things I can’t remember as a child. As a result of doing that, my entire life has been masking what my childhood was really like. I had a very different and amazing childhood. Colourful and all of that. I’m writing [on the album] between the ages of 9 and 12. I was reminded, when I asked my Mum, my Dad was in and out of rehab at the time. There was a lot happening at that time. It’s a part of me. I would never change anything.

You don’t appear in the videos for the singles 'Boy' and 'Mercy Killer'. Will we see you in clips for further releases?

I’m making a video clip for a song called 'Stella'. It’s a story of a friend of the family. They had a little girl called Stella. When she was born she had a heart defect and they said she wasn’t going to survive. They took her home from the hospital. For every day that she lived, they took her on a different adventure that she would’ve done in her life. They took her to the beach, they took her to the circus, they took her for a ride in a convertible; she was blessed by a monk. She died when she was ten days old, camping with her Dad in the garden. Every time I tell it to anyone, I well up. That’s the moment where I’d like to be there - in front of the camera to tell that story.

Pope Innocent X is released on October 12, through Universal Music.
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