Interview with Sara Martin
1.What inspired your passion for music and who has been there supporting you from the beginning?
Growing up, there was always music in my house. When I was little, my dad would sit at the piano and hand me a microphone and just let me sing. I found an old cassette tape recently entitled “Sara’s First Songs” which was a pretty cool little time capsule. My parents have always supported and encouraged my creativity; they’re my biggest fans.
2. How do you feel about people downloading music rather than buying physical copies?
I’m old school; I refuse to get a kindle because I think there is something so special about holding an actual book in my hands, and I think the same is true for music in many respects. So many artists write their records with the intention of each song and even the artwork being part of an experience. However, as an artist I think the digital age is something that needs to be embraced; you have to make it work with you rather than against you. Ultimately, I want people to hear my music, and the internet makes it extremely accessible. And if they like what they hear, I invite them to come back for more.
3.How do you feel about the music industry today?
It’s certainly changing. There’s a lot of music out there that is personally not my style, but it fits into the well-oiled, money-making machine that is the music industry. But I think that people are ready for a change and ready to revive great music–or maybe I was just born in the wrong decade and don’t know what I’m talking about. But what’s great about how this world has evolved is that you can be an independent and successful artist if you treat yourself as a business. There are so many incredible resources and if you utilize them correctly, you can achieve your goals.
4.Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Announcing my pregnancy during my VMA performance. And maybe I’ll take an award home that night.
5. Do you think singer/songwriters are the best interpreters of their own work or do you believe some cover versions can be better than the original?
What I love about art is that it is transcendent. It’s not just about what the work means to the artist, it’s about what the work means to you. I’ll listen to a song sometimes and lose my mind because I’m like, “oh my god, how did you get in my brain, and why didn’t I write this??” Music often speaks to us in ways the artist didn’t know it would, or even intend. I don’t think cover songs are about being better or worse, I think of them as a song resurrected and presented in a way that one listener felt and decided to share.
6.Who have you always dreamt of working with and why? How would you go about accomplishing this?
This is such a loaded question. I once met Bernadette Peters and very awkwardly told her I loved her and haven’t quite recovered from that embarrassment… but if Billy Joel ever wanted to play with me at Dueling Pianos, I wouldn’t say no.
7.As you are starting out your career in the music industry what steps do you plan on taking to reach your goal?
I think self-promotion is key. We’ve graduated from a time where labels saw potential in an artist and took a chance. These days you have to present yourself as a full package, already branded, already marketed, already ready to go. I look at myself as a small business owner as well as a musician. You absolutely have to be both to get where you want to go. And you have to take risks and always be one step ahead.
8.Have you found that as you are starting out your career in the music industry there are aspects that have taken you completely by surprise. If so, what are they?
It’s so lonely. And you have to stay self-motivated. It’s a very strange world and definitely takes a lot of adjustment. My hours are different than my friends and my family, and people don’t always understand that you’re up writing til 4 o’clock in the morning and that’s why you sleep til noon, or what exactly it is you do in the studio all day. I imagine being in this industry is similar to when parents say, “when you have your own kids, you’ll understand.”
9. What is the greatest thing about working in the music industry? And what would you change if you had the opportunity?
Being able to touch people and help people. I have such a respect for doctors and teachers and our law enforcement, but I think the ultimate, often overlooked, heroes are musicians. On an intimate level, music can help you feel not so alone. It can elevate your mood if you’re in a bad one or help you cry if you need to let it out. You can apologize for something you’ve done, or celebrate someone you care about with a song. With famous artists, you almost always find a cause that they stand behind. They rally behind the gay community for equal marriage rights or give a voice to those fighting cancer. It sounds so cheesy, but these are the people we listen to, and I think it’s such a beautiful responsibility.
10.If you could have asked anyone for advice when you were starting out. Who would you have liked to ask? What would you have liked to ask?
What would be your answer now?
I wish I could have asked myself—like me as I am now—for advice when I was younger. I stumbled a lot until I kinda sorta figured it out. But I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I’m in love with what I do and I don’t think my music would be what it is if my past self had been advised by my current self. But it would have been nice to be prepared for this rollercoaster.
11.From your experience in the entertainment industry what advice could you offer people looking to get where you are today?
To look at your work as work in addition to art. It took a lot of practice to get myself to write when I wasn’t feeling “inspired”. Writing and performing is a muscle that needs to be exercised. You really have to learn how to turn it on. And off.
12. What courses/classes would you recommend someone take if they want to be a professional in the music industry?
I’ve always said that they best actors have also been directors, and the best directors have also been actors. Learn anything and everything you can about the industry. Pick up a different instrument. Learn Pro Tools. Take a creative writing course. You really need to become a mini expert of the industry as a whole, which will help you in every aspect of your career. You’ll learn how to pick the right photographer by learning what makes great photography.
13.How many years were you fighting to get to where you are today and what was that time in your life like?
I wouldn’t call it fighting as much as I’d call it growing, and I’ve been doing that since I was a little girl with her bare feet dangling from the piano bench. I would write music by matching the letters YAMAHA on the piano to where they lined up with the keys. Problem was, there was no real way to differentiate between the A’s, so needless to say, I did not conceive a new way to write music at the ripe age of 7.
14.From your experience so far, what have you found to be most challenging? And how are you dealing with it?
Staying focused, and not getting discouraged. I have to remind myself why I love doing what I do, and why I can’t do anything else. I constantly look for new opportunities, new ways to make myself grow and keep me focused. And it’s difficult because some weeks are busier than others. Every day for me is very different.
15.Share with us your proudest moment in your career so far?
When I released my song Collide. The response was so incredible, and it felt amazing to finally share it with the world after all the work I put into it. The song itself is so personal; it’s like I had this therapy session with all my listeners.