'I've been saying “fuck it” a lot lately and I've never been happier' - Sarn
SARN is a one person operation until I get into the studio. Once there, SARN transforms into a musical juggernaut – no joke. I’ve been fortunate to work with really good, smart and creative musicians. I’m talking heavy hitters. I mean, c’mon, for starters, John Vanderslice…
Foreign Feeling was my first EP, which I released in March of this year. It was recorded in two days in June 2014. It was my first time working with John and I think it's a great record that sets the tone for what I want to do with my music. I held onto the EP for a long time because I wasn't sure what to do with it and that was very stressful. One evening in March, after a bottle of wine, I thought, "fuck it. I gotta let this go." That night I found a picture, threw it in a crappy photo editor on my phone, picked two of six available fonts and created the album cover. I put it online and said good riddance! Only after that was I able to focus on creating what would become Go Tell It To A Wall.
Both EPs were recorded to tape at John’s analogue studio, Tiny Telephone, in San Francisco. Here are some tidbits from the Go Tell It To A Wall session: there were no demos for the album. No one knew what we were going to record until I got there and started playing in the live room. Before going in, I simply told John I wanted it to be “weird”. John likes working very fast and so do I. We embrace imperfections. We like them and we kept them on the record.
I like to write late in the night when I’m alone and it’s quiet, usually sometime past midnight. I’ll take a walk outside and wander the dark empty streets to gather my thoughts. It’s very haunting and peaceful. Then I’ll go home and hash things out with an acoustic guitar. Most songs stem from a lyric that I really like. To me the lyrics are the most important part of a song. It could be one or two lines I came up with while waiting for a sandwich at the deli counter. I’ll take that and form a melody and guitar parts and build from there. I almost never finish a song in one sitting. A lot of times I’ll abandon a song midway and forget about it until a couple months down the road. When I can recall the lyrics and melody without hearing it for months, I know it’s a keeper.
Third Opinion: Outside of the studio, SARN is just a guy named Sarn from Sacramento, CA, who lives with his wife and dog in the suburbs. But inside the studio, Sarn is a different breed altogether. His first EP Foreign Feeling was released in March and produced by John Vanderslice, a veteran in the industry and collaborator on acts such as St Vincent and Spoon. This first release captures both SARN's lyrical and musical talent. It feels natural, easy and intimate. Glue is a great example of the simple SARN staple of good music and lyrics. ‘And my head has melted like the glue, all the glue that kept me stuck to you’. It’s the kind of song Christopher Owens would write. KIT is an equally beautiful song which ponders the downfall of love, but unlike so many other bedroom love songs, its final humorous twist shows great song writing originality.
The EP is a poignant introduction to SARN's music universe. It’s a refreshing reflection on the song writing trade to see that lyrics are the foundation of his music. This happens less than you think. But perhaps this allows SARN to break free from the scrutiny many artists place their finished songs under, and instead allows the essence and message of the music to thrive. Imperfections are fine and part of the deal, and that’s good. But don’t get me wrong, when you listen to the production, careful consideration has gone into its execution, it's just not over-thought.
Then there’s the title track, Go Tell It To The Wall. If the EP were to have been released on an indie label as originally planned, this was the single. It’s catchy, grungy in its own right; essentially the witty ramblings of a man who has heard a lot of it all before!
The clear stand out track on the EP, however, comes in the form of Candles Out. It’s the KIT of the second EP, but with a greater compassion towards lyrics and feeling. Where in many of SARN’s tracks the lyrcis hold their own, here the harmonies and melody really do them justice. It’s a haunting track, organ pads and all, but it’s beautiful. Really beautiful. Take the following lyrics:
This EP is free on Bandcamp, because “fuck it”. And if the EPs have proved anything so far, this mentality works for SARN. Pavement, Yo La Tengo and Wilco have all been sighted as continued influences on SARN, for us it’s more like music from a bedroom on the moon, but it will be interesting to see how these bands will influence his next release.