Almost seven years after her debut hit tune, “Love Song,” catapulted Sara Bareilles into the limelight, the singer-songwriter has sold more than a million copies of her major label debut, Little Voice, received multiple Grammy nominations and judged the singing competition TV program The Sing-Off. Early this year, the singer, known for her powerful vocals and piano-driven melodies, left her comfortable hidey-hole in Los Angeles and moved to New York in the hopes of igniting a creative spark. There, she wrote her fourth LP, The Blessed Unrest, which dropped July 12th. Typically a solitary songwriter, she co-wrote the record’s first single, “Brave,” with Jack Antonoff of Fun. and embarked on her first solo acoustic tour. In this exclusive interview, Bareilles tells Music Connection about deviating from the norm and how her new experiences have impacted her latest work.
Photos by Danny Clinch
Music Connection: We’ve heard you’ve been a Music Connection reader, especially when you first started out. How did that and other music sources influence you when you first started out?
Sara Bareilles: Music Connection was one of the very first publications to feature me back when I was still at UCLA. It may have been a modest mention, and I am pretty sure I was wearing something hideous in the picture, but it was a huge deal to me. Feeling accepted and validated within the music community, I felt attached to that moment, and it made a big impact on me. I am very, very grateful.
MC: How and where specifically did you get your music career off the ground?
Bareilles: I got started through the L.A. community. It was really supportive. I started doing open mics and really small shows around the city, and it grew organically. Molly Malone’s, Westwood Brewing, Hotel Café. There also was a place called Space 6507 that I don’t think exists anymore.
MC: How did you manage your career when first starting out?
Bareilles: I did, for the most part, but a good friend of mine was really helpful in the beginning stages. He was my roommate at the time. He would burn CDs and have the clipboard with my email list at the shows and helped make those early days possible. I was very lucky to be put in touch with my manager, Jordan Feldstein, who I met early in my career as well.
MC: You just completed your first solo acoustic tour. As a singer-songwriter, does the solo tour experience differ from touring with a band?
Bareilles: I’m sure, as anyone can imagine, it’s different. It’s solitary by nature, so it’s a very introspective experience. At first it was a little lonely, though I was sharing the road with a great crew, but the musical experience is a different rhythm when you’re not sharing a performance space with a band.
I actually ended up loving it. It made me feel incredibly close to the audience, which I had been craving, and the shows were super rewarding in that way. There was no filter between the audience and myself.
As my first solo acoustic tour, I was terrified. I was trying to fill up the space. I didn’t think that was something I could do, and with prodding and urging, I just kind of felt like it was time to embrace the challenge, and it ended up being totally okay.