Seeker Lover Keeper originated, as many things do, from a conversation at a pub. In 2007, Sarah and Holly went to see Sally play a show in Sydney, and the three ended up at the Townie in Newtown after, drinking and talking well into the night. They were such big fans of each other’s music and, as they quickly discovered, they enjoyed each other’s company too. At some point during the night a plan arose: wouldn’t it be fun to tour together sometime? They all agreed that it would. And, in the coming months, over emails, the notion of a joint-tour evolved into something different. Sally suggested they should start a band. She even had a name in mind: Seeker Lover Keeper. Without hesitation, Sarah and Holly said yes.
In those early days, the three would get together and discuss songs and ideas for a sound, finding particular inspiration in an old YouTube video of Stevie Nicks singing Wild Heart, backstage in her make-up chair. They decided to write four songs each and bring them together to make an album. Arrangements were worked out together and, in many cases, they ended up singing each other’s songs. They recorded their self-titled debut in New York, with Jim White (Dirty Three) on drums and Victor Van Vugt (PJ Harvey, Nick Cave) engineering. The record came out in 2011: it debuted at #3 on the ARIA chart and achieved gold accreditation.
Seeker Lover Keeper did two national tours after the album came out, often in fits of hilarity and neuroticism – the three share an affinity for nervous energy, emotional honesty and good humour. Their song, ‘Even Though I’m A Woman’, became somewhat emblematic of the album and would enliven audiences into unprompted sing-a-longs. Their live shows concluded with a set at Homebake at the end of 2011 and they returned, for several years, to their solo careers and lives: Sarah released three records, composed for film, television, and Sydney Dance Company, and had a son; Holly wrote two novels, released an album, and had a daughter; and Sally relocated with her family to LA for a time, co-wrote songs with several artists, released an album, wrote a novel, and composed for television.
A second Seeker Lover Keeper album was sometimes discussed, but for a long time it was an idea floating in the background of three busy lives. It wasn’t until 2016 that they decided to come together again. But this time they decided to do things differently: they would write songs together. They met one evening a week during winter, at a studio Holly was renting in Sydenham, right under the flight path. It was there that the first song for their new record, ‘Superstar’, was written; and that the first half of the album began to take shape.
“‘Superstar’ was the first song we wrote for the album. Sally brought in the piano part, and a rough song structure and together we worked on melodies and lyrics. We had never written songs together before, so I think we all felt a little nervous. However, this song came together really quickly and organically. We wrote it in Holly’s writing room in Sydney, and it’s a song about friendship, and encouraging someone close to you to stop doubting themselves and realise how great they are.”
From there, the album shifts into the title track ‘Wild Seeds’, a beautiful anthem about the wildness of youth, about the heady days of doing silly things and getting into sticky situations.
“‘Wild Seeds’ looks back with fondness, but there is definitely a sense of relief at being able to do that with the distance of time. Ah, the nostalgia! The keyboard saxophone part, a drum machine and mumbled melody were on a demo that Sarah had been sitting on for years and it finally found its home when she played it to Holly and Sally. We worked on the melody and lyrics together and it became ‘Wild Seeds’. We loved the title so much that we decided to call the album that.”
The harmonious ‘One Way Or Another’ delves into the strength that comes from having someone alongside you that knows you so well you don’t have to explain yourself.
“Sarah took the chords, a rough melody and the words “one way or another” on her night to contribute something in Holly’s little writing shed in Sydenham during their weekly sessions. We all laboured over the lyrics together, wrote a bridge & Holly & Sally quite naturally came up with the response “either one way or another” part in the choruses.”
And the album’s lead single ‘Let It Out’, is a reminder that it’s okay to be who you are and accepting where you've come from as a part of that.
“The song became about the fact that, while it might feel scary, there are safe spaces in this world in which a person can express their true self and feelings. It was initially written from quite a personal perspective, but the theme became much more universal as the song reached completion.”
The rest of the album was completed in a more concentrated period during 2018, this time in Sarah’s living room, with a piano and a guitar. The three met with renewed enthusiasm, finishing the first batch of songs and quickly starting more. Mornings were often spent on melodies, structure and themes, with some lyrics finished at the café near Sarah’s house over lunch. Energised and focused, within two weeks they had twelve completed songs.
Sarah had an old-fashioned vision for how the album would be recorded: simply and quickly, to retain freshness, and arranged in a way so that everything could be replicated live. After one day of rehearsal, they tracked at Jim Moginie’s Oceanic Studio on the northern beaches of Sydney. Sarah and Sally played piano and keyboards, and Holly played guitars. They enlisted Dave Symes on bass, Laurence Pike on drums, and David Trumpmanis as engineer. It was done in 11 days, with only minimal overdubs, all played on an old Mellotron.
Thematically the songs sit together effortlessly, reflecting a shared outlook and lived experience: the nostalgia of youth, the gravity of growing up, the endurance of friendship, and the ever-evolving process of self-realisation. These are both personal narratives and universal stories. There are yearnings for connection and celebrations of solitude; a vivid sense of past and present. A song called ‘Wild Seeds’ seemed to capture the essence of it all – a woman, once wild, reflecting on her former tumults with a sense of grace and solace. It seemed a fitting title for such an assured record, an album that emboldens Seeker Lover Keeper’s sound with lucidity and strength.
In the studio, some sonic references came to mind. There is a nod to girl groups of the 60s, particularly the Ronettes, and to Motown, film noir soundtracks, and the classic songs of Fleetwood Mac, Bruce Springsteen, and the Bee Gees. But as an album, Wild Seeds is timeless. It is a selection of songs that seamlessly blend the styles and concerns of Seeker Lover Keeper’s individual members, and transcends them into a sound of its own.