Singer-Songwriter, Sarah Jaffe, Opens Up About Her Just Released Album and Why She Loves Nina Simone
Posted On 25 Aug 2014
Tag: Anita Baker, Bad Guy, Beck, Cat Stevens, Don't Disconnect, Eminem, Erykah Badu, Ever Born Again, Harry Nilsson, James Taylor, Little Dragon, Lou Barlow, Nina Simone, Norah Jones, Ride It Out, S1, Sarah Jaffe, The Cannabinoids, The Marshall Mathers LP 2, The Polyphonic Spree, Tim DeLaughter, Whataburger
Last week, the singer-songwriter, Sarah Jaffe, released her third full-length studio album, entitled Don’t Disconnect. She certainly has come a long way since her acoustic beginnings that marked her debut EP in 2008.
This probably has a lot to do with the fact that she’s been writing and performing with Erykah Badu’s band The Cannabinoids, as well as rapper/producer S1 (who’s worked with Beyoncé, Kanye West, Jay Z and Ghostface Killah). Or maybe it’s just that the draw toward electro-pop is simply more mainstream these days.
“…a ferociously intelligent artist who never stops inventing, re-inventing, exploring…”
Learn more about Sarah in the following interview with her!
What was touring with The Polyphonic Spree like in July? Their lead singer, Tim DeLaughter is a BIG fan of yours! He said so in my interview with him!
It was so much fun! Touring can be really exhausting. But every night they put out an infectious and uplifting energy on stage. They give all of what they’ve got. It’s so amazing to watch. Liking their music is one thing, but when I got to know Tim and the band and the crew, I became a fan.
I saw that in the past, you have toured with Lou Barlow, Norah Jones and more. What tour has left the biggest impact on you so far? Who have you learned the most from?
I have learned something significant from each of these artists. I think each time you go out to play a set of shows…you’re traveling, you’re away from home, out of your comfort zone…you grow stronger from this. Each one of these artists have taught me how to be better even when things are unstable. Although their music may be very different, their longevity in a rough business says it all.
Any favorite venues and/or crowds yet?
I love playing New York, Seattle, Chicago. Those are a few favorites. But no crowd can really compare to a hometown crowd.
What was the first moment that you realized you wanted to be a performer?
Well I knew from the moment I got my hands on my first guitar at 9 or 10 that I wanted to make music. I didn’t know if that meant performing or not. I just knew I wanted to write songs. But I think the first time I played to a small crowd at an open mic in Dallas with my own set of songs, no expectations, no ego…it was instant.
How did your upbringing in Texas influence you as a musician and your music in general? And if it didn’t at all, why is that?
I think it plays a huge part. I don’t know how conscious of that part I am. But I’m certain it’s there. I can’t imagine growing up anywhere else. I mean there’s a certain something about Texas. Southern Hospitality, of course. There’s a vastness to it that I remember feeling when I was little, like it just swallowed you up. The fields, the heat…but other things that you can’t necessarily directly point out. ..well, besides Whataburger Taquitos.
Your music style has certainly transformed since you first starting playing. What exactly made you move from acoustic folk to more of an indie-rock sound?
I think it was just more of a natural progression. A lot of the songs on my first record were written while I was still in High School. There are a number of reasons why my first record differs from this record. Regardless of their differences, I always want to keep growing as a musician and challenge myself.
What was it like working on Eminem’s song, “Bad Guy” off his album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2?
I didn’t directly work with Eminem. I wrote “Bad Guy” with a producer out of the Dallas area who goes by S1. The experience I have had working with S1 has been incredible. Collaborating with him has been pivotal. Mainly we just have fun working together. We both enjoy what we do. So it was a major bonus to land something on Eminem’s record.
You just released your latest album, Don’t Disconnect, on August 19th. What are some of the emotions you are feeling now about it? How different or similar is this collection to your previous albums?
All of the emotions I get before playing any show…just heightened. Anticipation, anxiety, excitement….mostly anticipation.
Can you tell me about the album opener, “Ride It Out”?
I think it’s me just being honest with myself. Just reality.
At the time I wrote the song, I was at a point where I was creatively numb because I was a little too comfortable. And there’s nothing wrong with being comfortable. But for me there’s a thin line between having that comfort, and losing creative ambition. I think I needed to remind myself of that and kind of wake myself up.
My parents raised us on James Taylor , Cat Stevens, and a little Anita Baker. Now, I can honestly say I pretty much listen to everything….Really loving Little Dragon’s new record. I love Beck’s newest and I will forever be a Harry Nilsson fanatic. But I also listen to a lot of top 40 radio. So everything.
If you had the opportunity to work with any artist/band living or dead, who would it be and why?
That’s a long list for me. But off the top of my head…Nina Simone.
Her voice just does it for me. Her intensity, and the way she spoke…she had this unapologetic and confident way about her. And listening to her songs, you could hear that this way about her came from a tough time. Her voice just tells stories. I would’ve loved to have seen her perform.
I spend a lot of time with my family. A lot of naps. A lot of movies. A lot of online shopping. The occasional road trip.
What do you hope people take away from listening to Don’t Disconnect?
The same thing that I hope for every record. Music is really powerful because it can make you think, it can make you happy, it can change your mood…all of my favorite records do that for me. That’s really all I could hope for any record.