Photography by Kharen Hill
Sarah McLachlan riffs on love, Lilith and fashion. Karen Gordon tunes in
Her music may be haunting and melancholy, but this divine Miss M is in the bliss zone. Over the past decade, the 31-year-old Halifax native, despite the title of one of her platinum-selling CDs, hasn't fumbled once. Her "simple" idea to take a few of her favourite female artists on tour evolved into Lilith Fair and has proven that women have big box-office clout. Then, two years ago, she married drummer Ashwin Sood, who she says is responsible for much of her current state of bliss. Coming up: more summer fun. Record number 7, Mirrorball, a live recording of last year's Surfacing tour, comes out this month. And, there's (possibly) the last Lilith Fair tour.
Time off to chill and the prospect of motherhood.
"I was 17 and they [Nettwerk Productions, McLachlan's record label] offered to have me work with another band. I was mad at the time that my parents wouldn't consent. But, in retrospect, it was a good thing, as I didn't really care for the music the band made and I got a contract of my own. I was very, very lucky."
Still ethereal after all these years?
"[The media] have been saying that, like, I appeared in some vapour in the clouds one morning and have been writing songs ever since. There's this whole very soft and fragile image, and people meet me and say, 'Well, you're not at all the way I thought you would be from your clippings.' I thought that the people I'd meet in the media [would] figure out to write something different."
"My mother's a very realistic person and I think she instilled that in me. I never planned to be as successful with this as I am now, or as famous. So if I quit now, it's OK because I've been able to achieve so much. I'm so happy with my life. If I put out another record, I bet you anything it won't sell as many ever again. But that's OK."
How Lilith fared
"I wanted to create a sense of community in the industry for women and to meet some of these people [Fiona Apple, Tracy Chapman, Holly Cole, Jewel, Sheryl Crow, Lisa Loeb] whom I have such admiration and respect for. [When] we started Lilith, it was just a little idea and, all of a sudden, I was getting people saying, 'Why do you hate men?' Just because we want to raise women up, what does that have to do with putting men down? And a lot of less established [artists] come to me and thank me and say, 'Largely due to you or Lilith Fair, I now get played on radio stations that I never got played [on] before.' It's an amazing feeling to be part of something like that."
The feminine musique
"I love guys. I love their energy. But women have a different kind of energy. [As women,] we face obstacles that are unique to our gender. And you rarely get the opportunity to speak to anybody else in a similar position about how they've dealt with certain things or just their lives. Sometimes, you just need a girlie fix. You know it's, like, 'Wow! That's a great dress! Where'd you get that!' It made me realize there's still a lot of fear out there. Men fear women gaining power."
What the world needs now
"My husband is the most wonderful man in the world. He's incredibly supportive. Egoless. It's often hard for a man to be in a position where the woman is making more money and stuff like that. He understands what I do and what I have to do and the things that I go through. I love him. I can't say enough good about him."
"I have a really great band and I wanted to immortalize that [with this live album-her second, but this band's first]. And I plan to take time [off] in the next couple of years. I thought this would be a good opportunity-the band is really smoking to put out a record." Baby talk "I can see how quickly the past 10 years have just disappeared behind me and I could see that that could happen very easily again. I have just had this huge nesting instinct lately. I'm not going to stop making music by any respect. But, you know, I'm in a luxurious position where I can say I'd like to take a year off and just be a mom."
"I guess I would consider myself a spiritual person. We're all part of the same energy, the trees and us and the earth and the air. And we all bear a responsibility to it. I like that idea and I feel that's the truth. I sort of wish more people had that attitude, especially big businesses. Because the way corporations are gaining power over government, all the environmental and social lobbyists are going to have no power whatsoever and everything is going to be really bad, really soon." She's every woman "I feel very creative and lucky that I have all these outlets. When I was in art college, I designed jewelry-and I draw all the time, so I design the [Lilith Fair] T-shirts. It's just nice to have my fingers in all the pies. I'm a control freak, basically [laughs]-it's not true. Well, sort of it's true."
"I had to come up with a piece for Lilith and I wanted it to embody the symbolism of both male and female and it had to be simple to make, so the sperm and egg was the inspiration. We sell them at Lilith Fair and through mail order."
She's got the music in her
"I find my music incredibly comforting. That's probably why I need to do it. It's been my dearest friend all of my life, whether I've been playing other people's music or, especially, my own. It's helped me to come into myself and to get to know myself."
"I was always in costume as a child. My mother thought I was going to be an actor 'cuz I was always dressing up like Puss in Boots or something. I would prance around the neighbourhood in my leotards and my dad's boots and a fake sword. I'm a pack rat as far as clothes. I save them because my kids are going to love me for it. I'll probably have kids who want to be accountants or something or are really not into that. But it's there if they are."
"I've learned to be a bit of a power shopper as I usually only have 10 minutes to go and get something. I go for colours and I touch everything. Sometimes, I'm impulsive, but I'm getting better at that. But I'm lucky I have a husband who loves to shop for clothes-he lasts as long as I do. It's great."
Money can buy it
It's cool to feel you can actually make a difference. [Although it's a team effort], I'm the lucky person who gets to give $25,000 [from the proceeds of Lilith Fair] to a local shelter. I got plenty. I have simple tastes. I don't need a whole lot of money.
Acetate/nylon-blend shrug, $190, DKNY, Eaton's. Shoes, Dolce & Gabbana, Leone. Tank dress, pant, hairband and ring, Sarah's own. Hair, Johnny Bellas; makeup, Tracey Pincott; both Vancouver. For more on Sarah, check out www.sarahmclachlan.com. Or, for a preview of songs from Mirrorball, go to amazon.com, where the CD is already No. 1.