Bertie Blackman
Bertie Blackman Contributed

Coveted ARIA award bent just like talented Bertie Blackman

SCRATCHED, bent and surrounded by books - Bertie Blackman's ARIA is just the way she likes it.

"They're heavy and dangerous," she said as she chatted with the Guide in her pyjamas.

"I keep it on my desk, but I have books around it, I'm really paranoid. I have a cat who likes to scratch his cheek with the tip and he's knocked it off a few times so the tip's actually bent.

"It's pretty funny and it's very me, that ARIA."

Bertie, who won the coveted ARIA for Best Independent Release for Secrets and Lies in 2009, has spent the past four years recording her fourth album, Pope Innocent X.

"I've been so internal with the whole thing for the last few years it's nice to not have to think about it and do it," she said.

The title, Pope Innocent X, is a nod to Francis Bacon's 1953 work Study After Velázquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X.

"I'm a big fan of Francis Bacon, plus my father (painter Charles Blackman) lived in the same building as Bacon in the '50s in London," Bertie said.

"For me, the character seems like a superhero of the imagination: the frightening vortex of being sucked into another world. But Bacon is someone I really respect, and he's part of my family history, so it seemed liked a fitting title."

Looking for artistic influence for her latest record, Bertie packed her belongings and headed for Chicago in 2010.

She spent six months writing in an apartment in Logan Square, banging on desks for rhythms, toying on a Roland Space Echo tape machine and filling her room with "tons of books".

"I like to surround myself with it because it inspires you to navigate songwriting differently every time," she said.

"I guess that's why every record of mine is really quite different because I get excited by different things all the time. I don't like repeating myself and I like to challenge myself.

"Artistically the record is a few years of my childhood where I don't really have a memory of, it's that musical, fantastical filling in of space from the point of view from a child, but with the imagination of an adult."

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