It’s no surprise that the theme of water runs through singer-songwriter Rachel Sermanni’s latest EP.
She looks out to sea from her home at Portobello and is a self-confessed “river child” from days out swimming in the rivers near her native Carrbridge.
But Every Swimming Pool Runs to the Sea, released last week, is also a nod to the moment that helped re-spark the craft that had been largely put on hold by the birth of her daughter Rosa.
Plunging daily into the River Dart in Devon alongside producer Patrick J Pearson while on a studio retreat seemed to revitalise Sermanni after a creative lull and soon the songwriting nous that has been with her for over a decade began to flow again.
“The year before lockdown I had a child with a beautiful human being, and we were figuring out how to be together or not,” she recalled. “There was lots on my plate psychologically and then also trying to figure out where to live and settle down as a co-parent, single mother.
“All of that took its toll and there wasn’t much space to create, I didn’t feel very creative. I didn’t know who I was anymore in the initial period after giving birth, and didn’t have a wee moment to write a song.
“That time in the River Dart unstuck me and then for the next few months I had such a fun time writing songs. It felt finally like I had returned to a sense of that purpose.
“Everybody transforms through years of the privilege and suffering of living and all things in between. I guess this EP expresses the experience of returning to that lust for creative life.”
Having just played the Dandelion festival in Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Park, and with the EP release last week, Sermanni is looking forward to a chilled summer of gigging, spending time with her family and probably some more swimming.
She’s had a great response so far to the new music, which she describes as being “written from as a place of bliss and pleasure” and “filled with delight and deliciousness”.
So much so, the video for one of the songs, Aquarium Kisses, was filmed in Deep Sea World.
“There’s an element of silliness in the context of maybe the child, rather than the clown,” she explained. “The clown archetype feels more like there’s a joke in there somewhere, whereas I think the processes that those songs underwent were all quite light, childish experiences.
“I didn’t think too hard about the formation of the songs or the words that came, I just let them come. And it was a nice experience.
“It was quite easy, like a child drawing a picture. They don’t think about it too much. I’m looking at my daughter’s works of art that are covering the walls – I do like that sort of nature of art that can happen without there being too much intellectual stuff around it which I think I usually get bogged down in.”
The EP is in sharp contrast to her previous release, 2021’s Swallow Me, a collection of four songs written while she was pregnant.
A dark and brooding body of work, it reflected on her split with her unborn child’s father-to-be and her fears of balancing motherhood with her career as a musician.
“I guess [the EPs] might make two sides of a coin, they almost create something together,” Sermanni said.
“I was exploring the experience of the transition into motherhood, having a child and all that that entailed, which really was like an upending of my life.
“Up until that point, I was kind of like a troubadour. I didn’t have a home until maybe the year before Rosa was born, when I started renting out a room in a Buddhist Centre in Edinburgh.
“As a musician, it actually quite helped to not have a place, it certainly saved me money. But all of a sudden I had to rent somewhere and I asked myself, will I be able to afford that? And you’re connected so strongly with another human being, what will that entail?
“There’s so much to contend with and that sort of explored in a hypothetical sentence in the first EP. That was an intense time for me.
“So many aspects of you die, and that’s fine, I think it’s really important to acknowledge that it’s not a bad thing. But you do have to learn to let go of aspects of who you thought you were, or who you might have been. It took me a moment to just get through that.”
Rachel Sermanni – Every Swimming Pool Leads To The Sea is out now