Sunday, December 20, 2009

Interview: On Record with Sara Lov

To many, Sara Lov is known as the female voice behind Devics. Now both Lov and Dustin O’Halloran have solo projects of their own worth listening to. Sara Lov’s current album, Seasoned Eyes Were Beaming, gives fans a new sound from Lov that has received critical acclaim by tastemakers everywhere. After capturing live footage and talking to Lov, it is easy to understand what the buzz was all about.

The other talk about Lov this year has been about her childhood. After an LA Weekly interview, it seems that every interview or write up about Lov after that interview focused heavily on it. It is not that there isn’t a story there, because Lov is a victim of childhood kidnapping. Too often with Lov this year, her childhood story was too much of the focus and her music seemed to play second fiddle.

Lov’s got quite the story in itself when it comes to her album, Seasoned Eyes Were Beaming. It was originally released in spring on Nettwerk, but Lov left the label shortly thereafter. She later re-released it through Filter in August. I caught up with Sara Lov when she was in Austin and spoke with her about her live show that features a record player and what’s behind her new album.

How did it feel to play in Austin again?

Sara: I felt great. I’ve only been here with my old band, Devics.

I can’t believe it has been that long since you played in Austin. Usually indie singer-songwriters do well here and love to come tour through Austin.

Sara: I just started though as a solo artist. I was supposed to come for South By Southwest. The label I first signed with, didn’t want to pay for it so I couldn’t afford to come. I ended up leaving that label and that’s why Filter re-released my record.

How has it been for you touring as a solo artist?

Sara: Again, my solo thing is still pretty new. I just put my record out originally in April only to get it released later on in the year. All the shows I had been doing before were with a band. When I went to Europe I did it with me, a cello and a piano. I did that on the West Coast as well. I just did my first full U.S. tour as a solo artist. Since I’d open on a tour with three bands, it made sense that it would be just me. I don’t like playing by myself. I feel that I am not good enough of a guitar player. I’m more of a singer but I knew I needed the music. I was trying to figure out a way to do that and then the record player idea came up.

It was a very cool idea. I saw it and looked vintage, nothing like high end DJ turntables.

Sara: Actually, it’s not. It’s kind of a trick. Originally I really did want a vintage record player because I thought it looked cool. I almost did it because I found a guy who was going to loan me one with an XLR, which would allow it to go into the P.A. It was going to be perfect I thought. Then he told me that once he understood what I was actually trying to do, I learned that it was a bad idea. The old record players are not perfect in terms of speed. They can slow down and speed up. He told me that if I was playing an instrument to it, and if it speeds of or slows down while I was playing, it would be out of key. Plus they weren’t reliable enough to tour with. I had to use a new record player in order to get the reliability and sound quality I needed, but I didn’t want it to look like that. I ended up finding this old vintage suit case and went and had foam cut to fit in it. I traveled with a super fancy DJ record player and it traveled in a flight case. Every night I put it into the vintage suitcase. I made a hole in it so the cords can go in the back. I put some lights around it and stuff to make it look warm. In fact, I made a video about it on YouTube. It has made me a better guitar player in the sense that I have to play perfect to be on time with the record.

Has it ever skipped on you?

Sara: There were a couple funny incidences where it skipped or did weird things, but it made for a good joke on stage.

So the entire set was performed with a record player?

Sara: I had a couple of Sea Wolf’s members come out and play two songs with me. Ted, who was in Divecs with me, played bass. Lisa played piano. With them, it was like a whole new world and sounded so much better.

Let’s chat about your album, Seasoned Eyes Were Beaming, for a bit. I would love to know about a couple of specific songs, starting with the song “New York”. What’s the story behind that song?

Sara: I don’t really love to talk too much about lyrics because I feel when I listen to songs, I create a story in my head and I don’t want to take that away from people. I think it builds a story for you.

Well if it is based on the stuff I read in your bio, specifically the moving around and all the difficult events in your childhood, it could be anything from that really.

Sara: It’s not an early memory. My childhood, even though it was really talked about, is not something I write about that much anymore; maybe every now and then sure. In the song “Seasoned Eyes Were Beaming” there might be hints of my past. I wrote a lot about my childhood in Divecs. I tend to write about what I’m going through so stuff is a little more current.

So then what is the meaning behind the album’s title?

Sara: For me that is basically the idea that as you get older you are trying to maintain your idealism as you let go of your innocence. It is a really easy to lose because when you’re young, everything is beautiful, exciting and brand new. As you get older and more jaded, it is harder to feel that way. When you find those moments and you feel like you are looking through young eyes again, that is what it means or is referring to.

Tell me a little something about your former band Divecs for those who don’t know.

Sara: I have been doing music for a long time. In Divecs we made five records and three EPs. We started when I was in my early twenties. We played at Emo’s in Austin with Live To Experience in 2002, if you can remember that band.

So do you think you’re childhood, other than the Divecs connection, is what drives media and fans to give you a listen?

Sara: It seems like it. That’s fine. I don’t have a problem talking about it.

Do you think after this album the questions or talk about it will fizzle away and focus on your music more?

Sara: I don’t know. To me, it’s been around so long and people are still talking about it. Maybe I’ll have a different story or tell my later in life story for my next record.

Will it be a happier record? Maybe less dark? I mean you fooled me into thinking Seasoned Eyes Were Beaming was going to be happier record based on the cover.

Sara: I did the artwork like that so it would not be so dark because I felt like the music was. I thought it brought a nice balance to it. Dark is the kind of music I make and I always have, but you never know. I don’t know if I’ll ever be happy pop songs kind of person. I like a lot of that stuff, but it isn’t what inspires me to write.

Speaking of music you listen to, what is something you haven’t told people yet or something that people might be surprised to hear?

Sara: I started out on the Beatles and Beach Boys. My first discovery was the Grease Soundtrack and Abba. That’s pretty cheesy. One of my first real loves were The Smiths.

What is it about The Smiths that speaks to you?

Sara: I was probably about fifteen years old when I got into The Smiths. At that time I thought I had an idea of what the lyrics meant, but when I got older they meant something different. I think for me it was his voice, lyrics and I got to meet Johnny Marr (Smiths/guitar) a few times.

Do you ever think of writing your own autobiography one day?

Sara: I’d like to. I thought about it a lot lately. I get so many questions. I’d like to try and I think I will. It’s just a matter of me doing it. I’d also like to write it because it will be good for me to get out. Then there’s also people getting facts wrong and when I’m read it I get frustrated. I’d have to figure out what parts to write and what not to.

Is there anything we should know about you as a solo artist that I didn’t touch upon?

Sara: I’m really into the whole YouTube thing. I have a YouTube channel because I have three amazing videos that I had amazing people help me make. One is for “A Thousand Bees”. It was done with a photographer named Noah Webb. It was his first time directing a video. We did all of it with still photographs. The other song is “New York” which was the first video I did. That’s based off my drawings and was directed by Marco Mirandi. The other video is for “Fountain” which features some amazing illustrations by my best friend, Seonna Hong. Check out the covers too that are also on there. They came from fan requests.

So does this we can expect an acoustic cover album from you in the future?

Sara: I do want to do more covers on YouTube. I still have a ton more that I want to do. I love doing other people’s songs for fun. It’s easy to do. What kept me from doing more was I started touring. If I ever did a cover album, it would be with a band.

**Currently Sara Lov is preparing for a January tour overseas in Italy to support Seasoned Eyes Were Beaming. In the meantime, check out this Double Stereo exclusive of Sara Lov performing “Touched” at Emo’s in Austin, Texas.**

Double Stereo: Sara Lov live at Emo's from Nite Owl Media on Vimeo.

(Interview written for and published on

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