Singer-Songwriter SARAH SOLOVAY Opens Up About Her Past, Present and Future Which Includes New Music!
Posted On 21 Feb 2017
Sarah Solovay shoulders a story about a girl who refused to accept less than she deserved. From age 14 was creating albums. By her 18th birthday, she has been featured in New York Times, been placed on the 90210 soundtrack, had opened for Train and John Mayer and was in the running to be a 2011 Grammy Nominated artist. Bravely, she paused her career to allow herself to maximize her time at Yale University. Four years later, Sarah, now 22, is back and ready to release her first music in years.
She recently played some new material at her first appearance in four years at SoFar Sounds and sold out her first public performance in 4 years at Rockwood Music Hall.
Learn more about Sarah in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! So, now that 2016 is over, what are some words you would use to describe the year for you? What have been some of the highlights for you and your music? What are you most excited about for 2017? Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions?
Thanks for having me! Hmm, words to describe 2016… “overwhelming” and “whirlwind” come to mind, because I graduated from college and moved back to New York, and it took me a while to settle in and find my footing. “Patience” also comes to mind, because once I got back I started recording my third EP, which I’m releasing this summer, and rehearsing a band for shows we’re playing this year, so a lot of the year felt like waiting and preparing for 2017. I can’t say I’m heartbroken to see 2016 go, mostly because I’m so excited about everything that this year has in store. I’m so stoked to start releasing new music after a hiatus, and to get back into the swing of playing lots of shows. Those are more or less my resolutions, I guess—but I stopped making official New Year’s resolutions a few years ago because they’re kind of jinxed for me, since I never stick to them.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory? Could you see yourself doing anything else?
Actually, before I wanted to be a musician, I really wanted to be a Supreme Court Justice. I remember reading a bunch of books (simple kid-friendly versions) about the Supreme Court and certain landmark cases, and at age eight or so I was like “I could totally do this and it would be very fun!” But once I started writing songs, I let go of that dream and grabbed this new one.
I have a lot of early musical memories… The one that comes to mind quickest is writing my first song. It was called “Better Than Ever,” and I wrote it about an imaginary date to the movies with a family friend while our parents were chaperoning. I also have a memory of getting obsessed with “Hotel California” by the Eagles and getting my guitar teacher to teach me the guitar solo from it, even though I’d never played an electric guitar solo before. It took me four months of practicing for hours every night but I did it! I can still play most of that solo, and still can’t play any other solo on electric guitar.
I am a HUGE fan of the 90210 series so I must ask you about being on the soundtrack for it?!
I’m a huge fan too! And I was already a huge fan when they heard my songs and wanted to use “Hearts Collide” for the soundtrack, so it was pretty incredible. They even flew me out to LA and showed me around the set, and I got to meet a few of the actors and watch some unreleased episodes to see where my music was going to fit in. I was still pretty young and new to the industry side of things, so the whole experience felt like such a cool insider moment. And then when the soundtrack came out, and I got to see my name in the same lineup as Adele and Santigold and N*E*R*D and other acts I really looked up to—very surreal.
I’m curious to know what got you back in the studio four years after you stopped making music to attend Yale University? After you finished college, did you still have that urge to make more music?
A lot of things got me back into the studio after college… I’d done a lot of songwriting throughout college, especially the summer after my junior year, and every once in a while I’d write a song that just felt like I had to put it out, like I had no other choice. And while a lot of the songwriting I did in high school was me imagining being in love, having my heart broken, etc., all my new songs are about very real experiences I’ve had these last five years, so they feel more personal to me than anything I’d written before. So when I graduated, I just kind of knew that I had to put out a new EP—it wasn’t really a decision, so much as something that just gradually became the obvious next step for me in my life..
“Rough Draft” is your brand new single. What was the inspiration for this song? How is it different or similar to anything you’ve released in the past?
I wrote “Rough Draft” about a lot of different things… On the most basic level, it’s about knowing that you’re imperfect and you’re still working on yourself, but daring someone to accept you as you are anyway. I think about that theme a lot, because I’m kind of a mess in my personal life sometimes, so anyone who I end up in a relationship with needs to accept me as the rough draft/imperfect but well-meaning person I am. “Rough Draft” also resonates with me in terms of where I am with music right now, because I just took a few years of a hiatus from putting music out to live life and work on my craft. As I get back into it, I think a lot about how I’ll probably always still be learning and evolving as a songwriter and a performer, and honestly will probably never feel like I’m fully baked, but it’s still important for me to start putting my work out and letting it speak for itself, rather than being a perfectionist and tweaking it forever and not letting anybody hear it.
How do you think you have grown as a musician during college? Did you write songs while you were at Yale?
I honestly feel like I grew into a completely different person during the four years I spent in college. Like I was saying, a lot of the songs I wrote in high school were me imagining what certain adult experiences would be like—falling in love, getting my heart broken, all the things that the songwriters I looked up to wrote about. Throughout college, I lived all that and more, and I also got to study so much great art and music and literature, so I really had tons and tons of new inspiration. A lot of the time I wrote songs the same way I always had—alone, sitting on my bed with my guitar—but instead of writing about things I imagined, I started writing about my real experiences. I think you can hear the difference in the lyrics—there are more personal details thrown in there and less clichés or sweeping statements. Re: songwriting, I also started collaborating while I was in college—I hadn’t ever really written songs with other people when I was younger, but when I got to college I started writing with my friends and realized how fun that is. Co-writing can also help you learn techniques or approaches that you wouldn’t have come up with on your own. Some of my favorite songs that I’m about to release are collaborations with other songwriters, or at least inspired by people who helped me think about my writing in more creative ways.
What was it like selling out your first public performance in 4 years at Rockwood Music Hall? What did it feel like to be performing again? Were you nervous or more excited about it? How did it go?
It was amazing! Everything about that night was so wonderful. I felt really lucky that so many people showed up to see me—I’d played at Rockwood before in high school, but the room was never even close to that packed. I got nervous in the days leading up to the show, but the day of I was pretty weirdly calm—just really excited. Like I said, I’ve been sitting on these songs for so long, and so that show felt like such an important moment, when I finally got to share my new music with a room full of people who came to support my reentry into the music scene. I’m a lucky lady, and can’t wait to play Rockwood again on February 18th (everyone should get tickets!).
I saw on your Facebook page that you recently were working with Michael Blume who I got to see live last year! What was that like? How did you get to work with him?
Yes! Michael is actually a really good friend of mine—we took a songwriting class in college together when he was a senior and I was a freshman, and he took me under his wing a little bit. Since I’ve graduated, he’s been helping me navigate the NYC music world, and even introduced me to my managers. The two of us had been talking about writing together for a while, and one day our schedules lined up. We ended up writing a song that we’re both excited about, so stay tuned!
Who are some of your favorite musicians? What musicians would you love to work with in the future?
Well, I grew up loving the music my parents listened to, so amazing acts like Tom Petty, The Eagles, The Beatles, The Stones. But I also grew up listening to the radio, so I will always have a place in my heart for Top 40—Britney, NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, etc. Right now, I’m loving a lot of the artists who are in pop music but still very much the creative masterminds behind their own music, so people like Ed Sheeran, Adele, Lorde, Halsey, etc. I’d love to work with any of those artists. I also keep tabs on a lot of the big songwriters who my favorite artists collaborate with—I’d kill to write with people like Max Martin or Jack Antonoff. Like I said, I really love collaborations with other songwriters, so I’ve got my eye on lots of people I’d like to set up sessions with later on in my career.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people take away from your songs?
When I sit down to write my songs, I think less about sending a specific message—to me, songs are more like opportunities to reflect on what makes people tick, and the experiences and relationships that have made me who I am. I hope when people listen to my songs, they can identify with some of the things I’ve gone through or am going through, and feel validated or at least comforted by the fact that they’re not alone in the kind of love and loss and happiness and heartbreak that make us human. But to be honest, I try not to overthink or strategize when I’m making my music—I just want the songs to bring my listeners some of the joy and satisfaction that I get from writing them!
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
Hmm… I’ve already said this, but I’ll say it again—I really have put my heart and soul and the most formative years of my life so far into this music, so I’d appreciate it if you’d take a listen! New song February 17th, and release show at Rockwood Music Hall on February 18th. And many more things after that, so stay tuned! 2017 is gonna be big.