I met with my dear friend and fellow Denton dweller Sarah Jaffe a few nights ago on the precipice of her quaint Texas tour triggered by the release of her EP “Even Born Again.” Sarah is above all else an engaging person, who also happens to write folksy rebellious anthems, juxtaposed by her angelic vocal chords. There is a certain redeeming air to many of her songs, such as the title track “Even Born Again.” I seemed to have stumped her when I asked her what her best experience has been while performing. She paused for awhile and finally said that she did not think it had happened yet. Sarah knows that her best days are yet to come, and her silent optimism has a tendency to infect her followers as well. Sarah rested comfortably in her bed while I typed on the floor the following conversation.
JD: What are some of your musical influences on the new EP?
SJ: I think Magnetic Fields comes through, probably a little bit of Ryan Adams. All of the songs on the EP were written in the last two years, but some of the songs that are going to be on the full length are three years old.
JD: Where do you see yourself going in the next few years?
SJ: I hope that I’ve had some tours under my belt, because that’s all I really want to do. Traveling seems to uproot a lot of inspiration for me. Staying in one place, you get anxious and start thinking about all the things you’re missing. When I’m traveling I feel like I’m doing the things I should be doing.
JD: What is your songwriting process like?
SJ: I just have trouble communicating, so I try to make the songs the communication. It sounds trite, but music is a form of relief for me. To try to get it out sometimes is the healthiest form of vomiting, mentally and emotionally vomiting.
JD: Let’s talk about the consumption of music today. With the birth of the internet, some few odd years ago, coupled with the phenomenon of Britney Spears, media sharing websites sprang up like a plague of locusts making the musician’s life harder. Not only that, but now you have equal access to professional sounding recording equipment, that is not near as expensive as it once was. So the market is essentially saturated with new acts, and there really is no money in it, no means to make a living, except for the select few that sell thousands of albums. A band needs to sell a lot more albums now than they used to need to in order to make a living. It is quite a disheartening and dire situation.
SJ: It is so much harder to get into the business nowadays. I haven’t even scratched the surface yet. It’s all consumer based now, and anyone can have a band, which leads to there being a lot of shit out there, but it’s a good thing too, because bands are getting opportunities that before would not have been possible. I think with persistence you’ll stand out. In the days of Patty Smith music really meant something, but it’s not about being revolutionary anymore, it’s about making money. The most successful artists are those you hear on the radio, who you wouldn’t really call musicians, yet they are making the most money.
JD: There is no justice.
SJ: Yeah exactly, I think that if you’re going to attach yourself to some form of music, let it mean something to you. When all you eat is junk food and then you eat health food, you find out what you were missing. The majority of Americans don’t know what is out there. They only listen to what’s on the radio, and there’s so many good bands and so many good musicians that are in need of discovery.
JD: Tell me about some of the girly rap duos you might be in?
SJ: MOTHERchild, consists of myself and Beth Henry. We’re just two girls who like to freestyle. Both of us started rapping and we joined forces and played around in Garage Band for four hours one day, and that’s what you’ll hear on our myspace.
JD: If you could collaborate with any person or band, who would you choose?
SJ: Magnetic Fields (Steven Merritt), unrealistically speaking, Leonard Cohen.
JD: If you were a celebrity impersonator, dead or alive, who would you be?
SJ: Benny Hinn, I find him comical.
JD: What’s the best day you can imagine? I mean Disney type stuff.
SJ: Me jumping off a water fall and into an underwater world, and I find underwater objects.
JD: If you could live anywhere in the world, Denton not included since that obviously would not be fair to the rest of the world, where would that be?
SJ: Scotland, I like the plaid pattern. I’d like to live on a farm there and raise sheep, and pigs, and cows for milk, and churn butter, and grow tobacco, and smoke a pipe, and read books all day.
Sarah’s myspace is your source for all of her touring details, and it is also a place you can go to listen to more songs. She will be playing in Austin tomorrow night, August 9, at Stubb’s @ 8:00. The “Even Born Again” EP will soon be available at Good Records in Dallas, on iTunes, and at the shows.