If classical saxophonist Amy Dickson’s new album was a Hollywood movie it would be set in the 1960s on the Mediterranean and its leading lady would be lounging by the pool in a long gown with her hair done and a cocktail in hand.
This is the “unique sound world” that Dickson aspired for on her latest offering A Summer Place, a sumptuous collection of ’60s movie themes reimagined to showcase the classical sax.
Our interview is taking place at the slick Sony Music office downtown in Sydney’s Darlinghurst: a million miles away from the golden haze and shimmering rivieras of A Summer Place.
“Musically, it is a very beautiful place to come from,” Dickson tells me in soft tones. When asked to name her favourite movies she cites Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief, alongside The Yellow Rolls-Royce and The Thomas Crown Affair.
The album was recorded at Angel Studios in Islington on replica microphones from the ’60s flown in from Sweden and underscored with strings to create the particular sound Dickson so cherishes. The result is a cool, elegant take on classic movie themes such as “Moon River” and “What’s It All About, Alfie?” as well as beloved tunes “The Sound of Silence”, “Take Five” and “The Windmills of Your Mind”.
Dickson grew up on the northern beaches of Sydney but moved to London at the tender age of 18, a decision she reflects on as “a real struggle”.
“It was very tough for the first 10 years but I knew deep down that I had to do it. And I’m glad that I did.”
Her work ethic is resoundingly intact and she is a wholehearted believer that if you work hard enough, “anything is possible.”
When asked what she would be doing if she was not a musician she answers unfalteringly: “Nothing. That’s it. I wouldn’t be happy. I’d be doing something that I wasn’t meant to do. I feel very grateful to have found the thing that I was put here to do. I’m absolutely sure of that.”
These days Dickson is widely regarded as the world’s top classical saxophonist.
Last year she won a classic Brit and this year she was nominated for a Grammy yet she still considers her work to be less a career and more a labour of love. “It changes as my life changes,” she muses.
Dickson is in Sydney promoting A Summer Place before heading back to England to play in a recital for Adolphe Sax’s 200th birthday and then on to Europe to perform in festivals.
But before she does any of that, Dickson has one other very important engagement to attend. “It’s my Nana’s 90th birthday,” she tells me. “I had to be here for that,” she adds with a smile.
Amy Dickson’s latest album A Summer Place is out now under Sony Music.