In a fast-moving digital age, it’s becoming rare to find a musician that relies more on the old school techniques and less on the new. Sydney musician Frank Sultana is one of those rarities. Drawing from a blues era well before his time, the local singer/songwriter has found his spiritual home recreating a time when the Devil was feared, love was deep and music came from the deepest recesses of the heart.
By Meghan Player
“It’s a lot of fun putting those themes and ideas into a modern context,” begins musician Frank Sultana, “Skip James, Son House, Blind Willie Johnson, Robert Johnson – these men each had a unique take on blues. They laid the foundation for all the popular music that was to come.”
Chatting on a warm spring evening, the local singer/songwriter is understandably passionate about the blues legends that inspired him to pick up a guitar and pour out his soul – drawing on that passion to create his own stories and tales.
“It’s an interesting era of music to try to replicate,” he begins, “Though I don’t really see any difficulty in replicating it. I love that era so genuinely that I feel obliged to honour it with what I create. It feels quite natural.”
For an era that was well before Frank’s time, the essential core ‘subjects’ of early blues songs are still just as relevant in a modern context – and a constant source of inspiration for Sultana and his music.
“People have an interesting love for those dark themes. Whether it’s in music or film, they’re popular with people,” he explains. “We all have emotional and psychological layers that make us complex creatures, especially in our interactions with each other. Love, lust, betrayal, revenge, murder – I love using these kinds of stories and themes as metaphors for life, and how we exist with each other.”
While Frank is compelled to draw from the themes that dominated the early blues style, he understandably feels an inherent need to distance himself from the music that he creates.
“I’m not one of those ‘something happens to me so I write a song about it’ kinds of writers. I prefer to see my process as more akin to that of a fictional novel writer,” he tells. “I certainly draw from personal experiences, but essentially, the stories are not real events that have happened to me.”
These “stories” have seen Frank through two stellar albums – Blues From The Lost Motel and most recently, Devilstown. While the musician was in a different headspace for each album, the conscious decision to marry the two recordings has boded well with the singer.
“It was definitely deliberate to marry the two albums,” he explains. “The ‘world’ that the albums dwell in are just where my creative head is at right now. If I’m still feeling that way when it comes to writing and recording the next album, then it’s possible the theme could continue.”
While only time will tell how the next album progresses, the most important thing for Frank and his band, the Sinister Kids right now is hitting the road to showcase their wares – something they seem to be doing plenty of for the remainder of the year.”We just got back from playing two shows in Melbourne which were both great. One was at Drunken Moon Festival, which has been organised by Brothers Grim main man, James Grim. The tour goes along the east coast over the coming months, and we’re fortunate enough to play on it again in Wollongong in October,” he explains. “We’re also looking forward to performing at the Sydney Blues and Roots Festival in Windsor in late October. All the shows will be great I’m sure, but we are particularly stoked about these ones.”
You can catch Frank Sultana and the Sinister Kids at the following gigs:
Fri 14th September- solo show at the Elephant & Castle Hotel in Bathurst with Lyall MoloneyWed 26th-Sun 30th September- full band shows at the Australian Burning Man Festival, Matong State Forest, NSW.Fri 5th October- full band show at the Sandringham Hotel with Billy Goat and the Mongrels, Roland K Smith and the Sinners and Andy
GolledgeSun 7th October- solo show at the Robertson Inn, Robertson with Jasmine BethWed 10th October- solo show at the Rose Hotel, ChippendaleFri 12th October- full band show at the Drunken Moon Festival Wollongong leg with Brothers Grim and many more
Sat 13th October- full band show at the Moonshine Bar, the Manly Steyne ( afternoon show 4pm )
Fri 19th October- full band show at the Gladstone Hotel, Chippendale with Guthrie
Sat 27th October- 2x full band shows at the Sydney Blues and Roots Festival in Windsor ( midday and 7pm ) with the Angels, Ian Moss,
Charlie Musslewhite and many more…