‘Strange Days’ is a bright introduction to 2020 for Sattwa Arising, the moniker of Bendigo singer-songwriter David Turpie, and is a testament to his growth over the past 20 years.
Known for crafting music that stirs the melting pot of rock, blues and funk, Sattwa Arising captivates listeners with high-energy guitars, driving beats and passionate, gravelly vocals. Boasting beautifully mastered instrumentals and ruminative honest lyricism, ‘Strange Days’ explores the nature of modern society, and the breakdown of communication as a result of social media, pondering its effect on human connection.
We sit down with David to talk ‘Strange Days’, musical influences and details of an upcoming album.
First up, can you give our readers a little introduction to you and Sattwa Arising? Why did you decide to release music under this moniker?
Sattwa Arising was a musical creation that I started in 2012 because I wasn’t keen on using my real name. The name ‘Sattwa’ was chosen because of its meaning which is a calming force and I thought that the word ‘arising’ would be a nice one to add to it as it means a calming force arising. I first started off with ‘Sattwa’ and then the ‘arising’ came in a couple of years later. In short, I like the meaning of the name and I didn’t think my real name was very catchy.
Congrats on the release of ‘Strange Days’. Tell us about the creation process of that one?
Thanks for the congratulations. The song ‘Strange Days’ was written roughly a year ago when I was in a very strange place of high mental anxiety due to a trauma I experienced. Whenever therapy is needed to cope with an event, music is always a great escape for me as it keeps me grounded and focused so I started writing a lot of material. Musically the song came together very quickly as I had a lot of ideas flowing at that time and then the lyrics arrived shortly after. When I was in mental isolation, social media became part of my escape but it also became a dependency which wasn’t healthy because it confuses you on what is real news and what isn’t, who do I believe? Media dependency also occupied too much of my physical time that I could have been spending experiencing life and that’s when the idea for the topic came about. What helped me through my mental battle wasn’t social media but connecting with humans, physical relationships and love which is so valuable and overlooked by some. That’s the meaning behind the song, social media has its value and place, but the physical and emotional connection is what’s real (in my opinion) and can guide us through the darkness.
Do personal experiences drive most of the music you create?
Personal experiences do drive me when I write (roughly 99.99999%). I’ve tried to write about surrealism and to create other characters and scenarios that aren’t my own but I’ve found it difficult, mainly because I haven’t spent enough time trying to develop that way of writing songs but, who knows? Maybe later but right now I prefer writing about my own experiences.
You worked with Jarred Doueal of Fourt4ty Studios. What did he bring to your experience?
Jarred is a great musician and producer who has a very good ear and a lot of wonderful musical toys to play with at his studio. Jarred brings a calming influence to the studio and is happy to either sit back and listen or step forward to offer advice on any musical and technological level when a particular sound is needed or if a musical part isn’t working the way you hoped it to be. He’s also very good at expanding your ideas to different instruments to bring in which seem to hit the spot. I’ve worked with Jarred on several projects before because I enjoy the experience of recording with him and he’s a very encouraging human.
The accompanying video clip sees you and the band live on stage performing. Is this a pretty good representation of what to expect when you’re on stage in a touring setting?
I would love to get a band together when it comes time to doing supporting performances for this album (whenever that may be, hopefully, sooner than later). I’ve mainly worked as a solo performer when I’ve recorded the albums and supported them purely because you’re on your own schedule and I’m comfortable with it. It might also be because I have a particular way I’d like the drums to sound, the guitars to sound etc. But, after doing that for a number of years I’m craving that relationship between band members so I already have a few plans in place for when venues can start opening their doors again. I’m also thinking of a band scenario for the next album (more relaxing and it wouldn’t require as much coffee.
I believe you’re currently working on an album. Can you give us any hints about what to expect or when we might be getting to taste more of your music?
The up and coming album that the song is taken from will be called ‘Mind Theft’ which is about my mental anxiety experiences. The music covers a broad range of sounds and styles because of my state of mind at various stages of writing. One song ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ started off life as a jazz chord progression but then I added in a funk bridge section which takes it to a different place before returning to calm. There are some hard rock tracks due to my anger at my situation, a song to my wife for her support (which came out like a musical love child of Paul McCartney and Radiohead), don’t know how that happened but I’m very happy with it. We experimented with sounds a lot on this album so it’s very diverse with many influences that I’m glad I could cover.
Are you influenced by any artists in particular?
I’m influenced by my different tastes which include blues, rock, jazz and funk. The artists who I listen to in these various styles are what drive me to write the songs I write. I’m content to write in whatever style is getting me excited at that time
Your last release was Paradise County back in 2018. How do you feel you’ve grown as an artist since then?
Since my last release, I think then the main musical area I’ve grown in is how to write more interesting musical parts that create a greater depth of harmony and melody in the song. I’ve also grown confident in writing and performing more funk and jazz orientated songs on each instrument rather than staying in the blues, rock and contemporary area. Expanding the sound with chord extensions, melodic bass lines, moog synth, piano breaks and other theory has helped to make this album the most interesting and challenging I’ve performed. Listening to the rough tracks on the train ride home after each day in the studio gave me a sense of musical accomplishment. It’s a really nice feeling.
It’s an interesting time for everyone at the moment, particularly musicians and creatives. What have you been doing while in isolation? What’s the first thing you’ll be doing once restrictions lift?
I’ve been keeping busy in isolation by promoting the new music, editing music videos for songs and plus being a music teacher I’ve been getting very accustomed to Zoom meetings :) I’m grateful for the technology we have at this time as this would have been very different if it had happened 20 years ago. The first thing I’ll do after restrictions are eased is reconnect physically with family and friends and then get down to some serious loud jamming.