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 atHomebake at the end of 2011 and they then 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 Sallyrelocated 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. It wasn’t until mid-2018, when they came together in Sarah’s living room after an extended break that the album was finished. Mornings were often spent on melodies, structure and themes, with 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. The 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.