Sarah Blacker Interview
What inspires you to create music?
Typically it’s something beyond my control. I feel a pull, a tinge in the pit of my belly and a tug on my heartstrings. Something beyond me calls and says “go to the (guitar, ukulele, mandolin, piano) and create!” And so I do. The lyrics often come from my daily life experiences, fluctuating emotions and things that I don’t understand. Writing a song always helps to clarify those moments of confusion and also to make me feel whole.
What’s your process like when writing music?
Sometimes I’ll get home from an amazing concert – just last week I saw Regina Spektor at the Orpheum in Boston, and came home so inspired!
My process is first, to listen. An idea often comes to me in the form of a melody, a set of lyrics, or a rhythmic sort of chant. If I let it come, and don’t try to force it, that is how I listen. Then it’s my responsibility to capture it, and not let it get away. Once I get a chorus and two verses written, (lyrically) I’ll then sit down at an instrument and try to match the feeling created by the words. The structure takes place once the rest of the verses and the bridge (my favorite part) is written. I’ve also noticed that in my songs I typically compose some sort of instrumental hook too – so sometimes that happens as soon as I sit down, and other times once I’ve played the song through a few times over.
Who are your most important musical influences?
First, Joni Mitchell. She is my angel. “Most important.” I really like that. Joni inspires me vocally, lyrically and melodically, and I find myself feeling such a strong bond to her without even knowing her personally. Regina Spektor is also huge for me because her songs are so catchy. She is so creative in writing 5 or 6 hooks per song and she isn’t afraid to be original. I appreciate her paving way for artists like myself who want to be themselves all the time. I would also say that Paul Simon was my first important influence. His album, Graceland, turned me onto music on the soul-level as a little girl. Listening to his music on the beach in Northwood, NH will forever be my favorite childhood memory; it was impossible not to dance to and that level of happiness I found in the summer sun is something I always aspire to feel.
How old were you when you first started making music and how were you introduced to it?
I was introduced to music by both of my parents. My mother always sang nursery rhymes to me while putting me to bed, or doing other things mommies do for their babies. My father and I used to sit by the fire and listen to records and he always said, “these records are worth enough to send you to college.” Though we never sold them and lost some in a basement flood, the music he introduced me to paved the way for my dreams. My folks say that I was always singing on the top of my lungs around the house, and I remember performing some of my favorite musicals (and selling tickets to anyone around) from the basement. I would also sing to myself whenever I was upset about anything. I’d sit on the swings in my backyard and sing to myself. This always helped make everything ok.
Any musician you aspire to work with?
Ray LaMontagne – are you out there? I would do anything to sing with you. I know the lyrics, melodies and harmonies to all of your songs, and have even come up with harmonies that you’ve never heard. I know that someday I’ll meet you. I hope it’s before too long, but I will find a way.