Devin Kiernan: How did you get your start in music?
Sarah Eide: Well, I started playing classical piano at five years old and I did all kinds of stuff in school – violin, choir for a little bit. Then in high school I was mostly accompanying for the musical theater club. I played for the choir and a little jazz group. Then I would also do classical piano competitions. But I was able to not just do classical music, I had a little bit of a diverse background because I did so much at school – I was kind of the pianist for everything. And then I finally decided that I wanted to do music as my profession. So I went on to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Devin: Very cool. Who are some of your favorite artists and in what ways have they influenced your music?
Sarah: It definitely changes every few years I would say. Growing up, Ben Folds was a really big inspiration for me. He was kind of the first younger musician I saw doing interesting piano work and not just playing the basic chords and singing. He was doing really interesting, fun things that really captivated me and launched me to learn how to sing and play like that. Also, Tori Amos, for very similar reasons. Their styles are very different, but they both play complex music. More recently it’s been a lot of folk musicians, like Patty Griffin and Anais Mitchell. They have more of a focus on the singing and not as much on the instrument. Mostly the artists that influenced me most recently have been on a superficial level though – they influence what I try to do with the instruments, but the artists that first influenced are more ingrained into who I am.
Devin: How would you describe your sound?
Sarah: I feel like a lot of songwriters struggle with that. I’m having trouble figuring that out. I think what I usually say is, I’m piano centric, folk rock. My songs are very folk influenced in the way that I write my lyrics – a lot of it is storytelling. It’s a little more straightforward lyrics, as opposed to rock, which is a little more abstract. The way I play, though, definitely has rock roots and blues/jazz influence.
Devin: I noticed you have a blog on your website. What prompted you to start writing?
Sarah: I guess what triggered it was a very good family friend of mine’s daughter died from cancer and she asked me to play at the funeral. It was just a really interesting experience and I felt sad, but honored, which is a strange mixture of feelings. And I wanted to write about that, but I didn’t know where to put it, so I thought this will be my first blog post.
Devin: That’s a very interesting story.What’s your favorite song that you’ve written?
Sarah: I think my favorite recorded song is probably “Forgiveness.” I really love my EP version with a band and I’m very happy with how that turned out. I produce all of my own stuff, so I’m kind of like my worst critic. But I actually do feel quite satisfied with the production of that song. It’s meaningful to me and it’s not very long, but it hits all the points I want to say in a beautiful way.
Devin: Do you follow a specific process when you’re writing music?
Sarah: A lot of times the first thing that takes place is just me having an internal thought. The first half of my process is all in my head, thinking about what it is that I’m feeling or what I want to say. Usually that comes to me pretty quickly, but sometimes it’s what’s happening in the world at this time or what challenges I’m going through, and finally coming up with one single concept that matters to me. Then once I have that figured out, the music comes before the lyrics. I’ll try some musical theme or chord changes that I like. Then I’ll start placing lyrics. But even that changes sometimes. Sometimes I’ll come up with a chorus pretty much instantly and I’ll build around that.
Devin: What would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?
Sarah: To be honest, I don’t tend to think in those terms. I have extremely high goals for myself and I feel like those goals will be my highlights. So, I studied film scoring, which means writing music for media. And I wrote music for this very popular YouTube video called “Animation vs. Animator 4.” They guy who did them (Alan Becker) is kind of a YouTube star and he asked me to write the music for it. I would say it is a highlight because it’s not like a lot of my other film music. It was amazing that so many people listened to it. I actually had some people write me and say that they loved my music, and that was a pretty cool feeling. To have people really pay attention, that’s probably my highlight. And I’m working with him again on his next project, which is “Animation vs. YouTube,” so we’re gonna get pretty meta with that.
Devin: What can we expect from you next?
Sarah: Well, I’m working on a single right now. I’m hoping to be done with that by the fall. I’ll probably do a big release thing in Chicago. Otherwise, I’m working on the music for this next Alan Becker video. I’m still trying to decide if I’ll pursue another album. My friend Leah and I were talking about doing an album together. But it’s hard to write and perform so it might be in my best interest to focus on performing where my fan base is (Chicago).
Devin: That sounds great! Thanks so much for sitting down with me.