Q&A with Sara Groves
She’s no doubt one of my all-time favorite songwriters. She’s one of the kindest and most authentic artists you could meet. She’s recording timeless arrangement that will still be relevant 40 years from now. I’m talking about the one-and-only Sara Groves. In fact, this summer I wrote a blog post called “The 6 Things I Love About Sara Groves.” She’s the featured guest this week on Under The Radar, and here’s part of the interview I recently did with her.
DT: When did you first know you wanted to pursue music as a career?
Sara: Well, I wanted that as a little girl singing into my hairbrush. It’s not just about doing the music I have a drivenness to communicate, probably even more than music, to be an artist or do music; I have a compulsion to communicate. So I’ve always, even when I was really young, wanted to share my belief and my thoughts with people. So I used to preach into the mirror, you know sing a song and go into a little mini-sermon, things like this. I want to communicate, I feel more driven in that way.
DT: You just released your 10th career studio album Invisible Empires. What’s the theme behind the new record?
Sara: The title Invisible Empires is from a song called “Obsolete.” I’m nearing 40 and I think, you know struggling as a woman, if I take a nap I have to be ready to have pillow lines on my face now for a good 4 hours after my nap. I just don’t have that bounce back that I used to have. Just little things – especially in a profession where you’re up on stage and you don’t want to care too much about what people think or what you look like or things like that. But I just started thinking about all the people who are sort of left behind in our culture. There’s such a frenetic surge right now of technology and everything is just flying forward at such a fast pace. The gadgets that I own, in a matter of a year, they’re obsolete. I went into the Apple Store, and I told the guy behind the counter, “I know this isn’t your fault, but I really resent the forced march forward.” I have to literally discard my old stuff and buy all new. And I think, “Where does that leave the poor? Where does that leave the elderly? Where does that leave people who aren’t keeping up with this massive frenetic surge? I feel it in my spirit. I feel like I’m not sure I was made to live this way. I’m not sure I was made to have so much information coming at me that I can’t concentrate or focus on anything. So we’ve forgotten how to be still in some of these things. And so the record kind of revolves around that.
DT: Can you tell us more about the song that inspired the album title?
Sara: The song “Obsolete” is just about feeling obsolete. To me the internet feels like walking through a hall of doors, just a million doors, and looking in all these portals of so many people having fun – “Oh, look, they’re having a blast.” I was just talking with a brilliant, young single woman who I think is amazing, and she was saying, “I feel so inadequate – the Internet makes me feel so inadequate, because I just constantly see all these things that people are doing; it’s always in front of me.” So the record is looking at the invisible empires that we’re building – we’re spending a lot of time building these virtual worlds. This has duel meaning, very artistic of me. All the while, God is really involved in this very real invisible kingdom that we can’t see. I want to be about those things; I want to be rooted in this invisible kingdom that is so real and so transformative.
DT: Where do you draw inspiration from as a songwriter?
Sara: I would say #1, conversations. I love to converse with people, I love to hear about what’s going on in their lives. Secondly, reading – I’m a huge reader. I am just inspired by stories and the intricacy of the human machine. How we interact with the Divine is perplexing to me and something I always like to explore. Yeah, that’s the top two I would say.
DT: Are you inspired through listening to other artists’ music?
Sara: I do listen to other people’s music, but when I go to write, I don’t as much, because I tend to feel less able. Sometimes I listen to music and I think, “Should I be doing more like that?” And then when I come to the piano I think, “You know what? I just have to be Sara Groves - I can’t be someone else.” So sometimes listening to other music, it doesn’t inspire me as much as it makes me feel all double-minded – thinking I should be cooler. You know what? This is what I’ve got. Not that I don’t want to grow - I want to grow - I want to always be pursuing creativity. But if I’m feeling I should be more “rocker chick,” then no, that doesn’t work. It ends up making me write songs that are dumb when I’m in that mindset. [laughing]
This week’s UTR features music and conversation with Sara Groves, including 3 new songs from Invisible Empires and an exclusive performance at the UTR Studios. Also, for a limited time, you can enter for a chance to win Sara’s entire CD library – with each album autographed!