I recently had the opportunity to do my first email interview with Sarah Blackwood. You may know her as the girl in the video where five people play the same guitar and sing, or maybe you follow the band she fronts, or maybe you enjoy her solo stuff. And Hopefully if it’s not all of the above it will be now.
You have been playing guitar since your dad taught you at age twelve. Have you been singing just as long?
SARAH - I have been singing even longer. I used to sing all the time as a kid. I always loved it. But I didn’t start REALLY using my voice until I started playing music full time 6 years ago.
When did you first realize that you could sing?
SARAH - I sang a Michael Jackson song in a talent contest when I was around 9 years old. I guess that’s when I kind of figured out I had some kind of voice. Because A lot of the parents complimented me afterwards. haha.
Your writing style and words are amazing! You make it look so easy. What does the writing process look like for you?
SARAH - I think I need to be either really happy or really sad to write my best songs. Mostly sad. Sometimes I won’t write a song for months and I can’t write anything or be poetic. Then suddenly something will happen in my belly. I can feel it and know it’s a song. So I will sit down and write it for hours, days if I have to until it’s done. I have spent 10 hours in my basement working on one song at a time. It’s an intense process but that’s when I wrote my best stuff.
You have your own solo music, sing and play guitar/harmonica for The Creepshow, and occasionally do stuff with the band Walk Off The Earth. Is there anything you can’t do?
SARAH - Sleep. I can never sleep. When I have a break in one project I do something with the next. And I rotate that until I have seriously NO time left. But I am sickly obsessed with music, all kinds. I love being involved with different people and coming up with inventive things, ideas and things. When I die, it will be the best sleep I ever had. But even then I will probably continue to take on a million things all at the same time.
Speaking of the Creepshow, I understand that your sister Jen was the original singer for the band but you took over permanently after she got pregnant. Was it an easy transition?
SARAH - No. The transition was a lot of work. I said no when they asked me at first because Jen’s style and ideas have always been very different than mine. But then I found out the band had a European tour coming up that was 6 weeks long. So I then said I would do it. It took 2 months of practicing and a few practice shows and then we flew over there and in that 6 weeks I developed a character within the band. It was supposed to be temporary but when we got back from Europe it ended up Jen had her baby and didn’t want to tour full time so we started working on what the band would do with me in it for good. It was a scary thing for me never having played in a band before let alone one that had been originally fronted by my sister Jen. She is a strong personality with an incredible amount of stage presence and great inventive ideas. I looked up to her my whole life and the whole time I was filling in I told myself “Don’t fuck this up.” So when/if she came back it would be like she never left.
Do you see you and Jen ‘Hellcat’ working on anything together in the future?
SARAH - We played an acoustic show together last fall. It was amazing and we for sure will be doing more stuff together in the future. She’s my best friend. My brother Ian, Jen and I want to start a new band!
Family tour anyone?
SARAH - If not a tour, there’s a Christmas album for sure.
With such a musical family what was it like at home while growing up? I imagine you have a lot of good stories. Do you have a favorite?
SARAH - I remember vividly sitting around a camp fire at my grandparents cottage with my folks, playing “Puff The Magic Dragon” with my Dad on guitar and us in capes. Like super hero capes. I also remember when my Dad got a receiver for his stereo system and was able to plug in a microphone and we recorded our voices on to tape. It was awesome. Our house had a bunch of instruments lying around. Harmonicas, Kazoos, Recorders, Guitars and such. We always had stuff to play on.
Recently you did a cover of the song Somebody That I Used To Know with the band Walk Off The Earth that received A LOT of hype which was rightly earned in my opinion. How do you feel about all of it?
SARAH - We feel really happy! We have been working towards having a viral video for years now. If you look at all the videos we have made we always strive to make the coolest video we possibly can.
I’m told you had to cancel a solo west coast tour because of the hype it’s created for you. Will you be rescheduling at any point?
SARAH - I HATE having to cancel shows. I have never done that before and felt terrible. Gianni and I even flew out to Seattle to start the tour but the pressure built up so fast we needed to all be together when the video exploded and the band had to make some serious decisions really really fast. I will reschedule for sure. There’s a TON of shows that will be happening in 2012/2013!
In The Creepshow’s video for Hellbound it shows a sample of life on the road. What’s it like going on tour with a bunch of smelly dudes? Haha.
SARAH - It’s awesome and disgusting all at then same time. You learn a lot about being a woman when you spend all your life with men. It’s true. I learned patience. I would way rather tour with a bunch of guys than a bunch of girls. Guys are, for the most part, drama free and they don’t talk very much.
You also did a really cool cover video (Throw Your Arms Around Me) for a fan that lost a family member. That was honestly one of the most genuine and sweet things I’ve seen an artist do for a fan. Did it take you long to learn the song? And how does it make you feel that he would ask this of you?
SARAH - Thank you. I knew the song a little bit but not really. I just looked it up on line and played it through a few times. I watched a few other people’s renditions on it and then started to go through it my own way. It’s such a beautiful song and the story was so compelling. I love my fans and I love that music connects people. I try to be a part of that as much as I can.
Your latest single Wait It Out sold over 500 copies on vinyl in a matter of days! When can we order more and what can we expect from the record that goes with that song?
SARAH - I have another 50 going up in the end of March. You will be able to pre-order them soon. Then I am ordering another 500 and they will go up early April. So eke your eyes open for new fun projects to come!
What advice would you give to someone that wants to do what you’re doing now?
SARAH - Don’t get intimidated by the world. It’s a BIG place but if you work your ass off and get better at what you love you can make things happen. Use social media to get your music/art out there. You can make awesome shit happen without record labels and big companies. You can build your own empire. Work hard! Don’t be lazy and don’t complain and use excuses. There are no excuses for quitting. Appreciate life.
What do you see yourself accomplishing in 2012?
SARAH - I can see myself moving closer and closer to my dreams. It’s really cool. I feel so happy that I get to do this for life now. It makes me so so happy! I will just keep setting goals and reaching them the best way I can. Making music and staying connected with the planet and the fans and family and friends.
Last but not least my good friend Dave helped me with this interview so I owe him this, how do you feel about “short Italian men”? :)
SARAH - As long as they aren’t shorter than me I feel great about them! :)
Is there anything you would like to add?
SARAH - I just want to continue to thank everyone for their support. It’s seriously incredible that every day more people are interested in my music and what I do. It blows my mind every day that we have taken this role in the industry just from being who we are. That makes me so proud. I have never had to sacrifice any of myself in order to make music. That is amazing. And it’s all because we stuck to our guns and just did what we love and people caught on. Which means real music and real life is still out there and we will rise from under the ground and take over the world. Music will be alive again!