Australian grassroots singer-songwriter, Ziggy Alberts is solidifying the flurry of creative activity he produced last year with the release of newest studio album – ‘Searching For Freedom’.
After releasing the single ‘Together’ in January 2020, which he then donated 10 per cent of the streaming income to organisations involved with the bushfire relief efforts, Ziggy dropped a collaborative EP ‘I Won’t Give You Up’ with Horrorshow as well as his ‘Truly Acoustic’ album of reworked tracks from his back catalogue in the second half of the year.
Ziggy has pushed forward into 2021 with his creative, musical ideas the primary focus as he looks to gift his current fan base while gaining new followers via the release of ’Searching For Freedom’.
You've been working on a new studio album ‘Searching For Freedom' the past year or so; how has the project come together, did you collaborate with anyone and has the extra time you've had not touring contributed to the overall vibe of the release? ‘Searching For Freedom’ really started coming together over autumn, winter and spring 2020.
It all started with ‘Together’, which was recorded in January 2020 – it was a song I wrote, recorded and released in a matter of weeks. It also marked the first time in seven years working with producer Paulie Bromley, who recorded my first album ‘Made Of Water’ back in 2013.
The time away from touring, and the world events that caused it, really have shaped this record and we spent two to three days a week in the studio for most of the year. For me, this was a totally unique way to make an album and some of the songs simply wouldn't exist if I didn't have that extended period of time making this record.
The direction and general style of this collection of songs; did you have a concrete idea of what you wanted to create? If I had to narrow it down, I'd describe ‘Searching For Freedom’ as a folk/ roots album; compared to my last record, ‘Laps Around The Sun’, which I would describe as a folk/ pop album.
‘Together’, the first song we recorded, almost immediately had a roots element – I think that has been shaped by Paulie B, a big lover of reggae and roots, and an incredible bass player.
We didn't have a concrete idea, and it was in fact the final songs we recorded that ultimately showed us the complete sonic direction and heavily influenced the treatment of all the songs we recorded.
The lyrical content of these songs; again, did you want to focus on particular themes, issues, events of the day with the songwriting? As per most of my songwriting, it is a combination of my personal journey and the observations I make of living and society along the way. This album, as per the title, dives deep into the topic of freedom and our search for it both inwards and out.
Is there a specific meaning behind the album's title? The meaning of ‘Searching For Freedom’ is up to each individual.
'Together' placed #43 in the Hottest 100; what was your reaction to that result? We were all pleasantly surprised – that song has an important message, and it's awesome that it is resonating with the people.
It makes it three years in a row that my songs have made it into the Top 50 of the Hottest 100, and that makes me really happy that I've connected with people deeply across the last three years of releasing music.
Given the success of 'Laps Around The Sun', did that foster any extra pressure with this new album – whether that was internal or external? Not a lot to be honest. I'm not trying to compete with my last record; I want to create albums that don't replace the last one, but rather complement the back catalogue of my work.
I think this record is some of my best work to date, and I think it marks another big step forward in my growth as an artist. I'm just so pumped for ‘Searching For Freedom’ to be with the people where it belongs.
You've also got an independent label, Commonfolk Records, that's a grassroots effort; how important as an artist is it, having that independence? It is everything to me. Everything.
As someone who spent a large chunk of their life on the road, how have you adapted to the lack of touring? Conversely, was it a good reset to have, being forced to pause and having time to evaluate your life's journey? Good question. It has been one extreme to the next, so to be honest, as an extreme person it is totally ok (haha).
Music prepares you to deal with the unexpected, so I've been enjoying it for the most part. I don't think forced resets are good for anybody, and that has – like I'm sure for many people – made me dive deeper into my personal values and what I think is important moving forward in society.
Last year you released an album of acoustic interpretations featuring some of your most popular tracks; as a musician, what did it mean to strip each track back to its basics and re-present them to the listener? Any of those renditions likely to make it into your live set? It was really important to me, because if I didn't release ‘Truly Acoustic’, I didn't feel like I'd given those songs the time they deserved.
As for the stripped, acoustic representation, I'd love to definitely do a full set completely stripped back at some point for a live show. That'd be a lot of fun.
Speaking of live shows, you're playing Bluesfest in April; given the lack of touring and performing live are you approaching this show any differently than usual? Yep, I'm kinda freaking out at this point (haha). I'm just rehearsing a lot these coming months and doing sneaky pop-up shows to be back out with my fellow human beings.
You recently released a book of poetry; has poetry always been part of your creative make-up or has it been a recent addition? It is a recent edition; I only started writing poetry in the last couple of years. I think it will be an ongoing part of Commonfolk, and we actually formed an independent publishing house along with the release of ‘Brainwaves’.
You posted recently about ice baths and the associated health and well-being benefits they have... tell us more please? I've been practicing both the breathing and ice baths of ‘The Wim Hof Method’ for nearly a year now, and it has totally blown my mind. Wim Hof has achieved all sorts of incredible things.
For me personally, I'm feeling an increase in my ability to influence my autonomic nervous system, a decrease in inflammation through my body and find it an epic reset for my adrenal system.
Most importantly, I've experienced such incredible moments of joy and it continues to lead me deeper inward. Some days I cannot contain the laughter that bursts out of me after several minutes in the freezer and have had the same reaction from the breathing.
I've made it to 9 minutes, and my Mum and Dad have reached 13 and 11 minutes respectively! Dad has been practising almost every day since the start of the year, even more than me.
Surfing obviously plays a massive role in your life; did you ever contemplate pursuing that as a professional career? Absolutely. In some funny ways, it is a part of my career now: my music and the ocean are tied together. I am glad that I pursued music as my career though, as there is a lot more that goes on behind the scenes to having surfing as your career then the public sees.
'Searching For Freedom' is released 19 March. Pre-order it. Ziggy Alberts plays Bluesfest (Byron Bay) 3 April.