RTRFM DISTANT MURMURS Mei, The Thoughts Be With You

Mei Sarawati Pic: Rachael Barrett
Mei Saraswati Pic: Rachael Barrett

“I like to close my eyes when performing because a) it gets embarrassing and b) you get a better sense of the sounds and where they are in the air.”

Distant Murmurs is a great new RTRFM event celebrating local music across three stages at the Rosemount Hotel this Saturday, January 17,from 2pm until late. BOB GORDON checks in with Mei Saraswati to ask about her life in music.

Mei Saraswati has been making evocative music in a number of realms for a couple years now in Perth, but it seems that the year that was 2014 brought with it some new experiences inside her music.

“I started being a lot more influenced by the natural environment,” she tells X-Press. “Living in Wanneroo, close to Lake Joondalup, I went for a lot of walks, took photos and recorded melodies on my phone while walking.

“So 2014 was about being more aware of the whole process of making, including things you do outside of the studio that in turn influence the music you make.”

Experience breeds knowledge when it comes to making music, but knowledge can inform an artist that there’s even more to learn. Mei seems somewhere in the midst of this scenario.

“I can be more deliberate as I have more skill than when I started,” she notes, “but then again, naivety, careless youthful abandon, and being unsure of yourself are beautiful musical tools. So yes. I know more, but know less (laughs).”

Do you tend to have a process in which you write/compose, or do you prefer to alter the ways in which you create music?

“Sometimes songs start from a vocal melody,” Mei states, “sometimes a sample, sometimes a drum beat, sometimes a synth line… whatever!”

Mei’s shows often feature video projections very much at one with her music. It’s not surprising to learn that she experiences music in a visual sense…

“Yeah, melodies and things have textures, colours and shapes, and scenes like from a film,” Mei says. “I like to close my eyes when performing because a) it gets embarrassing and b) you get a better sense of the sounds and where they are in the air.”

The Mei Saraswati Band will feature John Brown, Tessa Darcey, Jack Doepel, Natalie Mae, Bryn Stanford, Phil Stroud, Andy Williams and Ben Witt, many of whom have collaborated with Mei in a variety of past projects. While the perception may be that she is eminently a solo artist, she highly values the art of collaboration.

“It’s learning how to be tactful, honest, diplomatic and fair,” Mei notes. “It helps you not be too precious about things.”

Who are the artists you are most keen to see at Distant Murmurs?

“Leaving (Rupert Thomas) ’cause he makes music to live by. Eleventeen Eston’s band (The Conversation) too!”

We began with last year, but we look forward. Mei’s 2015 plans are appropriately all about the art.

“To weave a hell of a lot,” she ponders. “Work in theatre. Figure out what my career craft is. Jam with people more.”

Check out the Mei Sarawati Band captured by RTRFM for their The View From Here series –



Beer Garden (2pm – 1am)
2.00pm – 3.00pm – 420 Crew
3.00pm – 4.00pm – Aslan & Sleepyhead
4.00pm – 6.00pm – Jamie Mac & Eddie Electric
6.00pm – 6.30pm – The Whipcracker
6.30pm – 7.10pm – Tobacco Rat
7.30pm – 8.10pm – Leaving
8.30pm – 9.10pm – Eleventeen Eston & The Conversation
9.30pm – 10.10pm – Mei Saraswati Band
10.10pm – 1.00am – Disco Science DJs

Main Stage (4pm – 1am)

4.00pm – 4.40pm – Simone & Girlfunkle
5.00pm – 5.40pm – The Long Lost Brothers
6.00pm – 6.40pm – The Painkillers
7.00pm – 7.40pm – Ghetto Crystals
8.00pm – 8.40pm – Odette Mercy & Her Soul Atomics
9.00pm  – 9.40pm – Gunns
10.00pm – 10.40pm – Split Seconds
11.00pm – 11.40pm – Mathas
12.00am – 12.40am – Naik

459 Bar (7pm-12am)

7.00pm – 7.30pm – Adem K (solo)
7.50pm – 8.20pm – Custom Royal
8.40pm – 9.10pm – The Pissedcolas
9.30pm – 10.00pm – Mayor Dadi
10.20pm – 10.50pm –  Silver Hills
11.10pm – 11.40pm – Doctopus


Presale tickets for Distant Murmurs are $20 (general) and $15 (subscribers) via and Oztix.