Artist Interviews
July 5th, 2001

This is from a 20 minute phone interview that I had with Sara. The bold text is my questions/comments to her, and everything else is her replies.

The text that is in italics is available to downloaded as a .wav file. The link to the wav file can be found immediately after the italic text.

Some unnecessary text has been removed, and some sentences have been tweaked to make them more readable.

Here's the interview:

Who are your musical influences?

I always say first of all, my folks. They created an atmosphere for me to be creative at home. They had a knack for making me feel like I could try anything, so that was a big part of my doing music. My mom is a singer-songwriter, just as a hobby - it's not anything that anyone has ever heard on a public scale. She's always done it for her own enjoyment. And so I saw that modeled for me, I guess. It was a part of my life as a release-valve - music has always been a release-valve for me. My mom influenced me that way. My dad influences very much my thoughts and theology and things like that. He's a Bible teacher. He just isn't afraid of any topic or anything. He's always been very easy to approach. When I was in high school and struggling with my faith, or had questions about things, or whatever I was facing - he's not afraid of any topic like "we don't talk about that" or "we're not supposed to think those things". That was never a part of my experience growing up. I feel like he's kinda set me free to explore everything. Everything is open for conversation, and everything is open for analysis, and God isn't afraid of our questions. So I think that that's influenced my music.

Musically, I think that the greatest influence me, musically - when I was in college I had a roommate who turned me on to the Indigo Girls, and at that time their politics weren't as much a part of their music as it is now. Today their politics are very much a part of their music, so I have a difficult time reconciling that. But in college, I loved their first album "Indigo Girls". There are two girls, you know, in the pair. Amy Ray - she's kind of an angry writer. Emily Saliers is more of a ... You know what? My little boy is here. He just toppled over. He's just learning to move around.

How old is he?

He's 10 months. He's a goofball. (to Kirby)"You're alright". He gets a new bruise every day. (clip - 146k - 7sec) I'm trying to bring that number down to maybe one a week. So, the Indigo Girls...Emily Saliers, she writes the more contemplative, interspective songs about life, relationships, friendships, love, whatever, but the songs communicated to me in such a deep way and my inspiration from that was that I wanted to write music like that, but from a Christian world view. You know, I wanted to attempt that and I don't know if I am doing that, but that was sort of my inspiration. As far as the Christian music that I was exposed to at the time and the culture of Christian music, you know, I wasn't thinking "I want to be a Christian artist", that wasn't my original thought, but I was just writing music and as a personal goal I wanted it to be, you know, meaningful like this music was meaningful to me and that's I guess in the ear of the beholder, if the music is meaningful or not, but that was my goal.

Someone asked how do you balance your time on the road with your new baby, with your husband, and with your music?

Well, we are very fortunate because my husband and I work together, so we are together as a family 24 hours a day. My husband actually just yesterday, well, not yesterday, on Monday, got an office outside the home which is kind of good because for four years we have been working out of the home and now with Kirby here, it just got a little crowded. We live in a pretty tiny house, so it is just kind of giving us some breathing room. He is in an office in downtown Minneapolis now. It's been a blessing because I feel that the Lord has tailored this ministry to our family and if it wasn't that way, I don't have enough ambition to leave Kirby at home and go be a singer. You know, I really don't have the ambition to do that and so I feel like God has tailored this to our family. We are on the road together, we have a nanny, well, nanny is not the right word for her because she is also an assistant, she does work in the office when we're home and she helps me be a mom, she kind of frees me up to be a mom, so she's just been wonderful. Her name is Lori Hobbs and she is my right hand man. We've taken steps to make sure we can do this as a family and if I feel like that's not working out, then we need to look at something else.

How has your life changed since you signed your record deal?

Well, it's changed in some very positive ways because what Troy and I were doing on our own as independent musicians, we now have all these other people working on our behalf and that is a whole new experience because we were independent artists for almost four years before we signed with Jeff Moseley and INO. Troy used to wear ten hats and now there is an office full of people doing what he used to do which is great for him, I think that Troy just feels a tremendous amount of relief as far as his responsibilities go and can feel like he can focus on being road manager/family gatekeeper and that is part of his new role which is more specific and he is able to do things a bit better because he's not wearing as many hats. For me, it's better because as independents you sell your albums in concert, so that meant a lot of time on the road and we signed with Jeff when Kirby was two weeks old and I, as a new mom, was saying to Troy that something needed to happen because I was wearing out on the road and I needed to do better concerts. So, instead of going to Kansas City and doing five concerts, some of them just a block away from each other, how about going to Kansas City and doing a well publicized concert doing one concert and that way I'm not going to be burning the candle on both ends and will be able to do this for some longevity. I would like to do this for a while and at the pace we were at, I would not have been able to maintain what we are doing in public ministry.

Does he do anything musically?

Yea, Troy is a precussion player.

And, what all do you play?

I play the piano and I just picked up the guitar. I got a guitar for Christmas [1999] and I played it for a little while, but then my belly got so big when I was pregnant with Kirby that I couldn't fit it on my lap anymore, so I took a little break. I bought a guitar because I wanted to write on the guitar because I felt that if I could write on different chords, I could use different rhythms than I could write on the piano and it has really worked. I wrote "Painting Pictures of Egypt" on the guitar and I wrote some lullabye songs that I am putting together for a later lullabye album. So, I have really been excited about picking up the guitar. I don't know that I will ever play it in public [laughs], but as far as my own fun, it's been great.

Do you play the piano on the album, at concerts and that sort of thing?

Somewhat. I played a lot on Past the Wishing, our first independent release, and Nate Sabin, our producer, decided that for Conversations he would rather have Jeff Roach play some of the songs. I always say that my piano playing supports my writing habit and that's about it. I am not a tremendous player, I wouldn't even say I'm a piano player. I can play, I play by ear and I can get by, but, you know, it serves its purpose I guess and I'm not trying to downplay anything, but I don't know if you feel that same way, I'm sure you play the guitar very well if you're doing a guitar website...

Well, not really...sort of the same thing, you know...

I enjoy it. I enjoy the piano. It's always been, like I said earlier, piano music has always been a release valve for me and I'll be playing, you know, for the rest of my life. I have been playing all my life and I will play the rest of my life. Anytime I have tried to really pursue, you know, like when I took theory in college I was miserable because I felt like I was tampering with something I enjoyed so much, but theory was kind of ruining it for me. I am all for improvement and self-improvement and I definitely try to improve my skills, but I don't think I will ever be a concert pianist, that's for sure.

Do you write all of your own music?

Yea. So far. I would love to collarborate, though. If I got the opportunity to collaborate with certain writers I would really enjoy that.

Like who?

I don't know, I haven't really thought of anyone specific. I have tried to collaborate with Nate, he's a writer as well, but we write in a different way. I have written with some local artists here, just collaborating and it can be fun, it can be a lot of hard work, but it can be fun.

This is a question I have gotten for most of the people I have interviewed and no one has really been able to answer it. How do you write your songs? I mean, a lot of people on the site are obviously aspiring singers, guitarists, whatever, and they want to know where you start. Do you start with lyrics and try to put music to it or do you have a tune in your head or how does that all goes?

Well, I think for each individual musician, it's a completely different process. For me, there is a moment where I am inspired by some idea and that is usually the seed of the song. (clip - 167k - 8sec) Very rarely do I write music that's just music. I do have some tunes that I play on the piano or something that don't have lyrics to them yet, but I almost always start a song with an idea or a seed, you know, something that was said in a conversation or I saw someone in life or, you know, any number of things, I read something. That moment of inspiration is my favorite time because I am frantically scribbling down every possible idea and thought that relates to that thing. That to me is the fun part because I am trying to capture exactly what that feeling looks like. Then, I usually go to the piano many, many, many, many times and it's like force-feeding a baby, if you do it too much, they are going to stop eating and if I try to go in and work on a song and it's not coming, then it won't ever come and so I go in and if it's not working out, I walk out and if it is working out, then I will be in there for a few hours and so I'm maybe emotional than some writers because I think that other writers are very mathmatical in the way they write where I tend to be more emotional.

That comes through in your music too and that's part of what makes it so great, I think.

Well, thank you.

Another question along those same lines. In what place do you find your best inspiration?


It's not really one place, like a garden or whatever, that you just feel it.

Yea, and I also really enjoy putting myself in other people's shoes and trying to communicate "what does that feel like", you know, what would that feel like if I were in that situation. I have a few songs, I have books full that people will probably never hear, but I have one song right now called "The Keeper" and it's all about keeping a secret and what that does to you. I had a friend who had a very dark secret and when she told me the secret, I thought she had killed someone, you know, the way she set it up it was obvious that it was so painful for her to share this with someone and when she told me the thing, it was not even that bad, I mean, in perspective, it was not that bad, but it was obvious that in her life and in her mind this secret had grown and grown and grown and grown until it was just, like, murder, you know, the worst heinous thing that could happen. So, I wanted to write a song about that, but I don't have any deep dark secrets really, I mean, I've kept a secret before and I know how bad that feels, but nothing at this level and so I wrote a song about keeping secrets and it kind of compares kind of like keeping this [secret], "I watch as it paces from one end of its cage, daring me daily to open up the gate, but I'm the keeper, I'm the keeper", kind of like a zoo keeper having to watch this thing, "I wash it and I feed it, my how it has grown, I am the keeper" and I have to keep this thing because if I let it go, will it destroy me or it just run away, I don't know.

Excellent analogy.

I always thought if I sing this song, people will wonder what terrible secret I'm keeping and I really don't have terrible secret.

That's a good point too because people will think that to some degree.

Oh sure, and that's fine. I had to [become] okay with that a long time ago because if I share a song with someone, they are going to think it's about me whether it is or not. I don't mean to be critical, but I think a Christian audience tends to be very literal and have a very difficult time with artistic license.

Yea. I have found with the users on our site that there is quite a broad spectrum of views, within the Christians, on things like that where some people take it and say "Yea, that's cute" and others will wonder what deep dark secret you've got back there.


Well, we're about out of time, I don't want to take too much out of your day, so we'll go with one more question here about Regis, your pet African frog.

Oh yea.

Who gives someone a frog for a gift? (laugh) They just wanted to know the story behind that.

Well, I received a frog and I have given frogs as gifts. I got Regis when I was 21 years old from my husband, but he was my boyfriend at the time, we were dating. Regis was a little African clawed frog. They are these little tiny underwater frogs, they love to be underwater. They are just like a fish. They normally say they live 6-8 months, up to a year at the most, and Regis lived closed to three and a half years, I think. He made the transition from my hometown where I had grown up since I was five years old through college graduation. I am very close to my family - I am the oldest child, so I was leaving my family intact, they were still at home where I had been with them for the last 22 years and they were still having dinner and doing all those things and I was leaving to move to Minnesota, 600 miles away. So, I'm sure lots of people have moved before, but it was pretty hard for me to leave my family like that, but Regis made the move with me. When I really felt like I had no friends, Troy was working and I wasn't working yet, and Regis was my best friend at that time, he was great. Also, for my wedding I gave my bridesmaids each a frog for their gift and I gave them a little fish bowl with the rocks in there, so that was their gift.

I'm getting married in October, so I will have to suggest that to Kelly.

Are you? Congratulations.

Thanks. I don't know that she'll go for it, but it's a good idea. Well, Thank you for taking the time out of your day for us.

Okay, well thank you.

Have a good day. I guess, go take care of Kirby and keep him safe [laughs].

I will. He's just pulling up on something. He's trying to stand, you know, they just pitch around everywhere when they are trying to walk and he's just not there yet.

Yea, that has to be scary for a parent.

Yea, we've just cleared the room out. It's just a wide-open room now because he was hitting his head on everything. He'll have a little bruise just starting to fade and then he'll get another one on his forehead so his forehead sort of tells the story. Well, thank you very much, thank you for thinking of us.

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