INTERVIEW: Owen Sartori

Hi Owen, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

It’s a pleasure to meet you, and thank you so much for taking an interest in the record!  Things here at the studio are busy in a really good way.  Lots of stuff on the horizon, which is always fortunate in this industry.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Nobody Gives A Damn”?

NGAD was never really supposed to be the first single on the record, and in fact, most of these songs were written around a decade ago when I was still supporting my debut solo record, “Another Beautiful Day in the Cube.”  Once I stepped into my role on the other side of the glass, so to speak, the old band members suggested that I sort of owed it to them to record these songs, and they were right.  So, here we are.

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

Funny enough, it was the Radiohead release of “In Rainbows” that inspired the song.  If you remember, they were the first big band to do a “name your price” thing online.  I loved the idea and I’m happy that they came out ahead on it, for sure.  But when I found out that 2/3 of the downloads came from people who put $0 as what they were willing to pay, well, I sort of lost it.  We work so hard in this industry, and a large majority of the public just told Radiohead (with their wallets) that they believed their music, investment, time, creativity and so on, was worth literally nothing, that’s when I decided to pen that jaded little number.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Not for this one, although a friend of mine did an animated video for the song “Cool,” which you can find on Youtube.  Other than that, I think if the fans want to make videos for my songs, I’ll trust them to do a better job than I would – and I’ll give permission if they contact me.  🙂

Why naming the album after this track in particular?

I hate to say that it’s because that what I really feel, because there are some amazing fans out there who have supported me through my career.  Truth be told, I have no idea whether people will take to the record or not.  Over the years I have seen some of the most gifted writers and bands make extraordinary music and give so much of themselves… and when you have an entire generation of music listeners who have never once had to pay for music (whether it’s because of piracy or streaming), these artists have no way of supporting themselves financially.  It’s a truly sad state of affairs.

How was the recording and writing process?

All but one or two songs were written 8-10 years ago, so that part was easy.  And, I had made sketch demos of some of the songs a while back.  So when it came to actually producing the record, it was a slow but relatively easy and fun process.  As a professional producer now, I have to tailor my work for a particular audience, whether that’s the artist, a label, a publishing company, that sort of thing.  With this one, I was able to do whatever I wanted and get the songs to a place where the only person I had to please was me.  That was particularly refreshing.

What was it like to work with David Raso and how did that relationship develop?

Donnie Vieira, Davide Raso and I started F5 SoundHouse about 5 years ago.  We’re now in a place where virtually every record I do is a co-venture with Davide in some capacity.  We switch roles depending on the project, but he’s a great sounding-board for ideas and an even better “quality control” guy for first mixes.

How much did he get to influence the album?

Not much, not on this one.  He was there with suggestions after my first mixes and I took a lot of his advice.  But this project, by and large, was a self-produced effort.

After 30 years in the scene – how would you say this record in particular showcase a matured side of the band?

I’m not sure that it does!  I left a great deal of the rawness in the mixes simply because it “felt right.”  Perhaps that IS a maturing characteristic, having been so focused on the little details on so many of my previous albums.  Letting things go may count as maturity, so I’m going to stuck with that.

Does Minneapolis play a role in your album?

Well, it’s my adopted home of about 20 years.  I’ve been so lucky to meet and become friends with some of the local heavyweights over the years, and the size and richness of the talent pool here is difficult to match.  So, yes, in a way it does play a role in that it is the reason I’m on this current trajectory, and it keeps me sharp and creatively satisfied to be able to work in a music culture like Minneapolis has.

Having played and travelled different states how all this cultures have influence you musically?

I think the two biggest influences on my music have been the LA pop/songwriter music scene and the traditional Irish music scene.  The LA writers like Mann, Buckley, Penn, Falkner and Brion all deliver uncompromisingly musical and intelligent works.  Nothing really comes close as far as I’m concerned.  And as a frequent visitor to Ireland, I find there is a richness and depth to their music that can really be found nowhere else.  I try to draw from the brains (LA) and the heart (Ireland) a lot in my writing.

What rumors and aspects of your life did you get to explore with this album?

Oh, lord…  Let’s see, there’s a lot about the music industry in there, trying to “fit in,” some stuff about heart-break and redemption, bad marriages and good ones, family, religion, politics… you know, all the stuff you’re not supposed to discuss in polite company.  I must not keep polite company (or BE polite company) because I tend to like talking about these things a lot.

Any plans to hit the road?

Not as an artist, although I do still play small festivals and private shows from time to time.  Most of my traveling is and has been as a writer and producer.  I’m often in places like Chicago, Nashville, New York, Ireland and Switzerland (thanks to Davide, who speaks 5 languages).

What else is happening next in Owen Sartori’s world?

I’m staying focused right now on the important stuff… writing and producing music for artists who are relatively early in their musical journeys.  Mentoring them and guiding them, helping them see and avoid the many pitfalls in the music industry.  I’m continuing my work at F5 SoundHouse in Minneapolis, writing new music with a couple of extremely talented writers and, most of all, keeping my family happy.

Watch here.

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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