Interview by Natalie
August 20 2010
Estrella: Your 2010 album Suburban Nature has songs on it that you wrote and created at a younger age, why did you decide to include them on the album?
Sarah: I think it was mostly an injustice to myself and to the songs by not putting them out. For me I felt like if I didn’t it would be wrong. It allowed me to clean my plate in some ways, allowed me to move on and write new songs. For the most part they are all over the place, some are six years old, some are three but they work together to create a story overall.
Estrella: How many songs did you have going into the studio that you cut to not make the album?
Sarah: I originally had 16 tracks, and I had it in my head that I was going to release all of them. Then I thought, maybe that would be over doing it so we did 13 and an exclusive track for iTunes only, so it was down to 14.
Estrella: Why did you decide to name the album Suburban Nature?
Sarah: It’s a lyric from the song “Watch Me Fall Apart” and it is kind of the ironic city I grew up in, a suburban neighborhood that is all over Texas. Kind of like you want to separated from what you actually want and I just put the two together.
Estrella: When during the recording process did you chose the album name?
Sarah: Mid-way through the first week of recording that record I thought it was an all encompassing title for the record, so it kind of came in between recording the songs.
Estrella: You worked with John Congleton for recording and producing this album and your EP, what is it about John that you decided to work with him again?
Sarah: I think personally I just adore him, he is a good friend, and someone that I fully and completely trust. When it came down to recording the EP, the ideas that I had, he was the solid vessel for getting a solid translation of what I had in my head onto a record. He did just that, and he is a pleasure to work with, we understand each other really well, and he is really sweet. He is so much fun to work with which is really important because when recording sometimes I can’t hear anything anymore and he just is a helpful guy and a down to earth friend.
Estrella: What is usually your song writing process like?
Sarah: Writing for me is pretty sporadic. I’ll go many months sometimes without writing and then I’ll have a two week period where it comes on all of a sudden. I am non-stop writing and have melodies, ideas and things I want to say and songs just come really fast. It balances those times I am not writing out, but it is pretty sporadic for the most part.
Estrella: Are there any of your songs that stand out or hit you harder emotionally than other ones?
Sarah: For the most part the newest one’s are maybe a bit more personal. It is as easy to get attached to a song, as it is to relive a song. Depending on, maybe even my mood for that day determines what song is more personal to me at the time. Each song on the record has it’s moments for me, so I try to deliver each of them live like it means something more to me than when I wrote it. They are a rotating of emotions for each song.
Estrella: You have toured with Midlake, Norah Jones, and Lou Barlow, what are some things you have learned from them on the road?
Sarah: They are all vastly different musicians and people, and they bring in vastly different crowds. That alone was amazing experiences to have, and each one of them I got along with so well. I think with a band like Midlake, they are really good friends of mine and you learn to operate in a larger group. Watching them perform each night, they are unbelievable musicians so there is a lot to learn watching them. With Norah it is pretty much made her own empire and she has a demographic that ranges from twelve year old’s to sixty year old’s. It is unreal to watch her perform each night, and she has this balanced personality that blows your mind. If she took in how well she is doing I think it would kind of ruin things, she is such a down to earth person. Lou Barlow is kind of the opposite, he is such an easy guy to get along with. He is a normal dude that writes unbelievable songs, and he is hysterical. A few nights before I play I kind of freaked out or got nervous but watching him, he has been going this for as a long as I have been alive. There is a part of him that is, ‘You know what, I don’t give a shit, I am going to do my own thing.’ There is so much to be respected about someone that loves what do because they love what they do, so there is a lot going from that. I think all of those tours combining there were a lot of lessons learned like, confidence, writing from musicianship, it was really good, all three of those tours were amazing.
Estrella: During your headlining tour how are deciding what songs you are going to play live?
Sarah: I try to take out different people with me each time, and depending on who I take out, I go off of that. I do a lot of versions of songs, and I try to take out a minimal amount of people, so two to three. That allows for a lot of experimentation and breaks in instruments.
Estrella: So you change up your show each night?
Sarah: For the most part yeah, I think it is cool too. I play the same set for the majority of the tour but I like to do different versions of songs. Like make a softer song picked up a bit, but it is nice to do that for the crowd so they hear something different.
Estrella: You will be playing Chicago on the 31st, is there anything you are looking forward too in this city? Have you played here before?
Sarah: No, I have never been to Chicago so I am so excited about this show. All of my friends basically go on and on about Schubas, so I am really looking forward to being in Chicago, playing in the city, and walking around exploring before the show.
Estrella: Once this tour ends in September, what are your plans for after?
Sarah: I think we are still trying to get me on some support tours for the east coast, or headlining small clubs. The plan is for me and my management is to get me on as many tours as possible, and support this record to the fullest and if all goes well be touring well through the winter.
Estrella: Anything else you want to add?
Sarah: No that is it, just looking forward to the Chicago show.