Sarah McLachlan and Camille Henderson discuss working on the Delerium album “Karma”
By Bob Gourley | Originally published in 1997
With the addition of vocals and an increased emphasis on dance beats, Delerium’s 1994 “Semantic Spaces” lp represented quite a change for the band. On their next release, “Karma,” the duo moved even further in this direction.
Delerium is comprised of Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber, who have also worked together on Front Line Assembly and many other projects. Before “Semantic Spaces,” the bulk of Delerium’s music came out on Germany’s Dossier Records (Cleopatra has recently re-issued many of the CD’s in America). The first few Delerium releases sounded like a continuation of Front Line Assembly’s “State Of Mind” album; bizarre, mostly instrumental electronic soundscapes that walk the line between ambient and industrial music. With their Nettwerk releases, Delerium have taken their sound manipulation skills and applied them to a more structured song format.
Former Rose Chronicles vocalist Kristy Thirsk, who appeared on three “Semantic Spaces,” tracks returned for Karma. She was joined by Sarah McLachlan, Camille Henderson (the backup singer from Sarah’s live band) and Single Gun Theory’s Jacqui Hunt.
During the 1998 Lilith Fair tour, we were able to ask Sarah and Camille a few questions about their work on the disc. Following these Q+A’s, you’ll also find a 1994 interview we did with Fulber.
What was the process like working with Delerium?
Sarah:“It was a completed track, I was merely to sing over it. It was a bit of a challenge, because it’s very, very different from the type of music that I normally do. Because I write solely for my own stuff usually, I start with chords and melody. So this is very much going from the opposite direction. But I listened to it a lot, and tried to come up with a bunch of different melodies. I went into the studio and sang a bunch of stuff for Bill and he sort of went ‘oh yeah, that sounds great.’ After three or four hours in the studio, it came together. Actually, I think I wrote most of the lyrics in the studio, come to think about it now. I sort of got there and wasn’t prepared.”
Were you just given a track to do, or did you have a choice?
Sarah: “I was given a choice of tracks, months and months before, and I was like I can’t do it, I have no time. And then they came back to me months and months later and I actually had time to sit down and listen to one and I quite liked it. Actually, I liked a lot of them but the ones they were going to have vocals on had already been chosen. So they gave me ‘Silence’ and I really like some of the melodies and the choral stuff.”
Were you a fan of Delerium?
Sarah: “I am attracted to that style of music. It’s very trance-like, and it certainly evokes certain moods for me.”
How did you get involved with Delerium?
Camille: Basically, Mark Jowett from Nettwerk approached me and asked me if I’d be interested. He told me that there were a whole bunch of artists attempting to write for the record and I jumped at the opportunity. I thought it would be great.
What was the process like? Were you given a finished track to add vocals to?
Camille: Actually, the tracks that they gave me were really close to finished. At the time, I didn’t realize how close they were to being finished. When I heard the record, I realized that almost nothing was different. I knew it was a demo, but it was very similar to the finished product. So it was a really interesting process, working from that angle of taking pretty much a finished track and somehow making it my own.
Were you able to choose which track to sing on?
Camille: “They gave a lot of tracks to a lot of different singers and just chose favorites from what was submitted. So I wrote for three songs, and they chose that one.”
Since the music of Delerium is quite a bit different than Sarah’s and your solo material, was it difficult at all coming up with the vocal parts?
Camille: “I actually wrote them on the beach. It was during the summer and I went down to the beach every day with my Walkman and these tracks and basically did stream of consciousness until something was forming, until it was obvious that my impression of the song was a certain kind of flavor, a certain kind of emotion that kept coming out of all kinds of adjectives. That kind of thing. And then I formed a concept for it. So, it wasn’t difficult. In some ways, the genre that they work in was a bit more liberating than a lot of this stuff that I do on my own. I tend to be a little more concise, my style is a little bit more like the 3 1/2 minute song with a clear verse/chorus and a flow of lyrics that makes a story for people. Whereas the Delerium genre seems to, in the past at least, have been more of a creative abstraction. It was really great for me to work that lyrically.”
Do you generally like electronic music?
Camille: “Yeah, I really enjoy it. I would really love to do more of that kind of thing. I’d love to work with programmers and set down tracks. I really enjoyed.”
If Delerium were to play live and you could fit it into your schedule, would you be interested in taking part?
Camille: “Of course, it would be really interesting to see how we’d pull that off.”More interviews with this artist → See all interviews →