Posted Feb 18th, 2009 (1:02 pm) by Matt Midgley

Sera Cahoone, an indie folk/alt-country singer/songwriter currently signed to Sub Pop records, recently sat down with us for a quick interview about her music, influences and upcoming projects.

InYourSpeakers: Well, you’ve been a member of a good number of bands now, back in Colorado and then again since you’ve been in Seattle, and you’ve also worked with a lot of bands. By comparison, how are you liking the whole solo musician aspect?
Sera Cahoone: It’s nice to have a bit more control over things, over your career in a way. With drumming you kind of just had to rely on people, really, and just wait for them. So it’s really nice to have that control, at least for the most part. Ha ha.

IYS: While drumming, did you ever get the chance to write any of the songs you were playing?
S: No, not really. I just basically learned the songs the bands were playing and played along with them. It has definitely been a long process for me to start writing songs and playing by myself. I don’t think I was ever ready back then to get in on it in most of the bands that I was in. I was just [writing songs] at my house quietly.

IYS: It was your secret project?
S: Yes, definitely.

IYS: So the entire time you were with Carissa’s Wierd, working with Band of Horses, etc, you were preparing your solo thing on the side?
S: Yeah, I’ve always been messing with guitar and singing. I’ve kind of gone through a few different styles and stuff, I guess. But yeah, it was definitely a long process for me.

As a drummer you can just kind of hide in the back. I’ve always been pretty shy, I mean, I’m getting better, but singing and playing guitar in front of anyone was pretty horrifying to me then, so that took a long time to overcome that -- to have people hearing what you’re saying, having all eyes on you, it was something I’ve had to overcome.

IYS: Do you feel like the style you’ve taken in your solo work was always there under the surface, or do you feel like it was a result of the different groups you’ve been with?
S: It was definitely heavily influenced by each of them. My music is definitely a product of the different bands I’ve been with in at least a sense, even though a lot of them aren’t really the style of music I’m doing myself. My ability to write music though; Song structure, knowing how a song is to come together... Especially when I was in the band with my friend Patrick Park for quite a long time, I learned a lot from him as far as structure and songwriting. But as far as style goes, something came from each band, but moreso from the type of music I like to listen to and from years of building it on my own.

IYS: Your label debut, Only As The Day Is Long was just released this last March on SubPop records, and before that you self-released a self-titled solo album. It having been almost a year now, the obvious question is what you’re working on now. Do you have another album in progress?
S: Yes, definitely. I have a bit over half of the next record ready. My plan is to record in the fall, but I’m not going to rush myself too much. I definitely have a lot of ideas and stuff that I’ve been focusing on and will focus on for the next few months.

IYS: Stylistically, can we expect it to be a continuation of what you’ve done so far?
S: Yeah, I’m sure it will definitely still have that same kind of feel. I have some new things I want to try with it, but you’ll be able to see that similar style.

IYS: Your music is generally considered a mixture of alt-country, traditional country/western and what we’ve been calling modern indie-folk. The latter has become especially popular in the last few years, particularly on the independent labels with bands like Iron & Wine, Fleet Foxes, and your former bandmates Band of Horses as a few examples. Do you feel this reflects on music as a whole and it’s movement?
S: I think it’s great. It seems like a lot of bands are going back to the basics, stripping it down, which is always a good thing in my opinion. A lot of bands tend to overdo, overproduce and overthink things, and it just seems like a lot of bands now are getting back to the core of the music, really.

Where do you think things will go from here?
S: I think things will build back up over time and we’ll go through that cycle. I mean, it definitely seems like it will cycle that way. You can see now with a band like Fleet Foxes, and how well they’re doing so quickly, a lot of people are wanting this kind of stripped down music right now.

I guess we can already see that progression in Iron & Wine, for example. The difference between his first album and latest is pretty stark.
S: Yes, but I think even with the later stuff it’s still very centered on the music rather than the production, which is what people want right now, I think.

As cliche as it is to ask, how do you feel about the industry as a whole right now?
S: Well, I’ve not been dealing with it firsthand very long, and the people at Sub Pop have been great to me, they’re all really nice people, so I think I’ve been lucky so far. I mean, I know there’s a ton of BS going on out there.

And as far as traditional records vs the iTunes a-la-carte style?
S: Well, I can see why the iTunes style is popular, and I think it’s good that people can get music the way they want it, but at the same time, it’s a bummer because I know there are a lot of albums that were made to be listened to as a whole and not broken up. I like it a lot, but I hope it doesn’t fully go that way, because that would really be a bummer if people don’t make records anymore, or vinyl anymore, and it just all becomes computer files. All in all, I think any way that your songs can get out is good though.

You just came back from a tour, right?
S: Yeah, I just got back a few days ago from a West coast tour.

How do you feel about the movement towards large festivals rather than smaller individual shows?
S: I definitely enjoy smaller shows a lot more. I don’t really enjoy playing big festivals very much because you’re just kind of rushed and it’s just not the kind of atmosphere I like to play in. In a club or small venue, you can actually go talk to the audience and it feels a lot more direct. I mean, festivals have their place and I don’t hate them, but I definitely prefer clubs.

That being said, do you plan on going out on tour again before you get back in the studio?
S: Yeah, definitely. I’m sure I’ll go out on one or two tours before then. I don’t have anything set up right now, and it’s hard to say where or when though, at this point -- we’ll just have to see.

Well, thanks for taking a few minutes with us. Anything you’d like to leave people out there who haven’t yet heard you or are just getting into your music for the first time?
S: I just hope that everyone will take some time and listen to the music and let it speak for itself. [In the independent music scene], sometimes if music is labeled country at all, they won’t even give it a chance, which is sad to me. I’d like to think my music is a lot of different things, so don’t let that description scare you off.


Editor’s Note:

I have to second Sera’s closing bit there; I seriously hope everyone gives her music a good listening. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find the juxtaposition of it’s beautiful serene music and her raw, poignant lyrics quite appealing. I look forward to all that she has in store for us, and in the meantime, everyone out there who hasn’t heard her needs to play catch-up!

Sera Cahoone Myspace
Sub Pop Records

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