17 years after “Sleeping Satellite,” Tasmin is working at her own pace,
and writing some of the best material of her career
Not everyone can say they had a major record deal – and even fewer walk away from an offer to renew it. But that’s just what singer-songwriter Tasmin Archerdid, years before options like iTunes and Soundclick and MP3.com emerged to help artists promote their work. It was a gutsy move, but her bet seems to have paid off.
Seventeen years ago, Archer burst onto the charts (#1 UK, #32 US) with Sleeping Satellite, a haunting, thoughtful piece mourning the premature end of the space age. which became a staple on my local alternarock radio station for a least a year. (Perhaps you remember the chorus: “I blame you for the moonlit sky/ And the dream that died/ with the eagle’s flight…”)
Then, just as quickly, she disappeared from the U.S. charts and airwaves. Several more tracks from her debut album “Great Expectations” charted in her native UK, but with diminishing returns. Her 1996 follow-up, “Bloom,” despite some extraordinary material, and exquisite production by Mitchell Froom, garnered very little attention, and Archer, whose relations with EMI had grown acrimonious, chose to take a break from the industry.
A bout of writers block delayed her return to the music business, but, still driven to be creative, she took up painting and sculpture, as well as nurturing an intense interest in the Sunderland AFC football (or soccer, if you speak American) team.
“[Being independent] is very hard work…there’s no getting away from that. But it’s also enjoyable, because you get to connect with your fans”
Eventually, in 2002, Archer began writing again. She released “ON” in 2006, on her own label. (You can hear ON and comment on tracks via a social media service named SoundCloud – see her site for more info.) Working with longtime partner John Hughes, Archer produced the album with her own equipment. It was a welcome change from the frantic pace of life in the big-label machine. “When they want a record, they want it now. Not eventually, not tomorrow, but now,” Archer reflects. “But when I have work to do, it takes as long as it takes.”
While some wilt under the relentless pressure of managing their own career, Archer seems to have flourished as an independent artist.She shows impressive growth in ON, a striking and unique collection of songs, filled with emotional color, which riveted me from first listen. The four years she spent crafting her material clearly weren’t wasted.
So, has she ever looked back and wished she’d stayed with EMI? Not often, she says…although she admits that she does miss having someone else do the gruntwork. “It’s a whole new world to be independent. You have to network, while before I was very cushioned by being able to just write the songs,” says Archer, who spoke to us from her home in the U.K. “It’s very hard work…there’s no getting away from that. But it’s also enjoyable, because you get to connect with your fans”
Not only is Archer more fulfilled these days, she still seems to enjoy something of cult following: after all, a “Sleeping Satellite” EP was selling for $77 on Amazon. Somehow, we’re not surprised.
FROM THE REMIXED ARCHIVES – 2009