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INTERVIEW: Sarah Morris

How would you classify your music?  

Americana/Alt-Country Singer-Songwriter.

2. Who are some of your top 5 musical influences?  

Just 5?  So hard!  🙂  Growing up it was Bette Midler and Mariah Carey.  Later on it was Alison Krauss and Patty Griffin.  My musical hero is Lori McKenna – she’s a killer singer-songwriter, who’s also writing quality Nashville hits while raising a family.  That’s the dream!

3. What do you want fans to take from your music?  

Well, I want the melodies to get stuck in your head!  But more importantly, I want people to see themselves in the stories, to feel understand.  That’s what I went to music for – to find someone who could speak to what I was experiencing, put into words what was running messily through my mind.  So I’d love it if other people could get that from my music.

4. Can you tell us a bit about your latest album? When will it be released and how does it differ from your previous work?   

Ordinary Things was released in September 2015.  I worked on a local release first, and am now putting it out there on a broader scale.  I am so proud of this album.  First, the songwriting was this wonderful experience for me – completely different from the way I’d written before.  I joined a group of writers on Facebook (all strangers to me) who signed up to write one song a week, based on a weekly prompt.  By the end of the week we would post a video of the new song, in it’s super-raw state.  I’d never written to a deadline before and it completely energized me!  I am at home with my two children all day, and I found it really hard to balance songwriting with all of the Mom ‘stuff’.  The deadline made me adopt a  “done is better than perfect” mantra, and that felt so freeing.  So, when I went into record this album I had twice as many as I needed, so we could really pick the ones we were IN LOVE with.  I had brought all the songs to my bandmates, and we’d worked on the arrangements, so everything felt very solid stepping in to the studio.  I worked with Eric Blomquist at RiverRock Studios, he’s worked with all kinds of bands – hip-hop, rock, gospel – and we’ve been friends for a long time, so it was a super comfortable place to be.  I did throw in one song at the last minute, “Brighter”, which we arranged in studio.  That song actually came together really fast, and Zach Schmidt, our drummer, added this beautiful piano part that is so perfect, and for me totally unexpected.  We started out the album wanting to be true to each song – I think we managed that!  And because of that you get a variety of styles on here – some Americana, some country, a little pop, some rock – but there is a cohesiveness that I am really proud of!

5. What do you love and hate about the Music Business?  

Well, I love music – so that’s probably the answer there!  I love performing, I love writing, I love working on arrangements with my band.  I love connecting with fans – anyone who has a response to my songs – that is such a gift.  What do I hate?  Probably the uncertainty, I like routines!  And security!  And control!  And in the music business, you don’t get a whole lot of that!  Although, in the last year I’ve managed to set up solid routines around songwriting, so, YAY for me 🙂

6. What is the best concert you have been to? What do you like most about playing live?

I’ve been lucky to see some amazing concerts.  Once I saw James Taylor outside and it started raining during “Fire and Rain”.  That was pretty magical!  I also was able to be backstage at a Tim McGraw show – we stood in the wings so we could we were 10 feet away from the action on stage and could watch the performers as well as the fans, and it just hit me how powerful of an interaction a concert can be.  In the past I’d seen it from the point of an audience member – enjoying the music, or when I’d performed, I was mostly focused on not messing up (this was a long time ago) – but in that moment I felt this crazy amount of energy going on between the performer and the fans.  When a show is going well, I feel that now – albeit at a smaller level since I’m not playing arenas!  It’s a conversation of sorts.

7. Is there a song on this latest CD that stands out as your personal favorite, and why?  

Sway Me is probably my favorite.  That song was week 6 of my first songwriting challenge, and when I finished making my video for it my husband (who’d been listening in the other room) said, “I really like that song”. And I realized that you know what, I really liked it too, like maybe my songwriting had made it to the next level.  It felt like such an honest story about a moment that can occur in small or big ways for people all the time – sometimes you just want the other person in your life to try a bit harder to convince you, to remind you why you should be there.

8. How have you evolved as an artist over the last few years? What made you decide to come back into the music business?  

My vision of what it means to be an artist has become clearer – an artist is someone who MAKES things, and often reaches to make beautiful things.  My goal is to continue to make things, and they will probably always be musical because I cannot draw or paint or sculpt to save my life!  Also, in every way I’ve become more diligent with how I approach music – and I think that’s made a world of difference in what people would see in the audience.  It’s allowed me to be in the moment at shows where in the past I maybe was a bit more hesitant.      I never really left the music business, I always kept my toes in the water – but I read two books back-to-back – Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, and Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection –  that got me thinking about what I wanted to model for my children – I want them to see a Mom who is ALL IN in pursuing her passion, because I hope one day they will do that as well – so that made me decide to go after my music in a bigger way.

 9. If you could meet, play a gig, co-write a song, have dinner, get drunk with any band or artist (dead or alive) who would it be?  

Lori McKenna would be a big one – I’d love to meet her, have dinner with her, co-write a song…two other dream co-writes would be Shane McAnally (he writes ALL the best songs on country radio) and Jason Isbell – I’m a little obsessed with him right now.  I’d love to have a drink with Alison Krauss or Patty Griffin.  If I was going to get drunk though, I’ll say Mariah Carey because I bet she drinks the best champagne, and we’d certainly be doing it in a limo 😉

  1. So tell us what’s next?  

I just started up another session of the songwriting challenge, so writing more songs, and also playing a bit out of state.  With the kids, I’ve stayed in Minnesota for all my shows the last few years, so I set a goal for 2016 of playing shows in 4 other states.  My first show of 2016 was in New York Cit at Lincoln Center for the NewSong Music Contest finals, so I’m 1/4 of the way to my goal!  Also, I’m sending Ordinary Things out to AMA reporting stations at the end of the month, so hopefully you’ll be hearing me on stations throughout the country.  AND I’m finishing up a music video for “Sway Me”.  I’d love to be able to record another album at the end of the year – the songs are piling up!!

 

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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