We listened to your music and really enjoyed it. In reading about some of your goals we saw you enjoy using production software and wish to have accolades and a career in that as well. What can you tell us about this goal and some of your experiences in this industry?
Thank you!! And yes, I am currently studying audio engineering at Syracuse University and often do audio work for myself and others. I actually majored in it originally because I thought I wanted to be “behind the scenes” in the music industry. Then once I formed a band, I really fell in love with performing and now I’m here! I still produce and mix on the side though, because it’s still a passion of mine (and another musical outlet for me to channel my creativity!).
Tell us about some of the artists you have had collaborations with.
I started out singing harmonies in a band led by Delaney Hafener, who co-owns the Silo Studio, which is where I record my music. I also write a lot with my older brother, Ronnie Gross Jr, who is featured on my songs and has been the biggest inspiration that got me into singing. Once I got to college I was fortunate enough to collaborate with Lauren Goodyear and Gillian Pelkonen, two other songwriters, and Nicholas Peta, who now plays keys and sings harmonies in my band.
Since the pandemic, I’ve gotten to collaborate with some other artists like Remy Sher through Quadio, a platform for college musicians to network with each other. One of the positive things that have come out of the past couple of years has been the shift to work virtually. It’s amazing that we can write songs or produce music together over a facetime or zoom call!!
Photo by NIcholas Peta
You mentioned in your bio you attended Syracuse University’s Sound Recording Technology program. Tell us something about this experience that you feel made an impact on your career or something the program taught you overall.
The best lessons I learned in college were the ones I learned outside of the classroom. My professors taught me so much about the things that I am passionate about like singing and audio engineering, but nothing can prepare you for the music industry more than inserting yourself in the music industry!
Can you tell us about the performance where you opened for Clark Beckham (who described your vocals as “effortless)?
That was my last performance before COVID hit. I was so sure that everything was going to pick up after that performance. I had a tour planned a week after, and I was so crushed when it was canceled. I always reflect on that night with a bit of nostalgia. I was SO happy, and I had that feeling you get in your bones when you’re doing the thing you’re meant to do. If anything, I think it lit a fire under me once COVID hit to keep practicing and writing songs so that one day I’ll be ready to pick up where I left off.
Had you ever attended or performed at Syracuse’s historic Westcott Theater before that show?
Many times!! I had just seen the band The Brook & The Bluff a week before that show. Syracuse has a great music scene, so it was a very special place to perform.
All things in life present both obstacles and rewards. Tell us something about your overall experiences in the music industry that you feel are your biggest obstacles. Favorite rewards?
My biggest obstacle is often that I wear too many hats. It can get really taxing to constantly make content, write the songs, record them, and manage all of the things that go along with getting your music out there, especially when you’re still in college.
The most rewarding thing that has come out of this though is to see how people let my music into their little corners of the world. I know it sounds cheesy but I always say that songs are like friends that you share moments with. You drive in the car with them, you introduce them to your family, they comfort you when they’re sad, etc. To hear that my songs could resonate with people in that way makes it all worth it!
Which song of yours is the most important to you? Why did you write it?
It changes all of the time, but the one I always think back on is my song “For Now”. I wrote it in April 2020, during a time where I was finally starting to cope with all that was lost in the last month of my life. At the end of it all, I still had my family. They made me laugh, they encouraged me while I did my final exams from my kitchen table, they kept me smiling. I wrote and recorded it all in one night, then I asked my friends to send me voice memos of themselves singing on it. Although it is framed as a love song, this song is for my family.
Tell us something about your experiences in the music industry that you feel is the biggest obstacle.
Being in the audio world AND being a performer can really open your eyes to subtleties in how both communities treat each other. Sometimes I’m at a gig and am often underestimated by how much audio lingo I know. Other times I’m in a studio and when I reveal that I’m a singer, I sense that my loyalty to the audio world is questioned. The fact of the matter is, being an audio engineer is just as much of a hustle as being a performer. It can be really hard to do both sometimes. But the two worlds will always intertwine and the best thing you can do is learn a little bit about where each other are coming from.
What is the best decision, or most beneficial choice you have made regarding your career?
There was a time before COVID hit that I was making music that was ingenuine to me. I was making the music that I knew was popular at the time and that I saw other bands on campus playing. In my heart, I wanted to make Americana music. The pandemic really gave me time to rethink what kind of music I wanted to make. I became OBSESSED with artists like Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Yola, Brandi Carlile, etc. I would think to myself “now THAT’S the kind of stuff I want to make”. And so I scrapped my demos that I had made for “Songs from the Passenger Seat”, and started fresh in July 2020. Ever since then, I made a pact with myself to only make music that I genuinely loved and I’ve been so much happier since.
If you had to choose one title to be famous for, Vocalist, Instrumentalist, recording artist, which one is the one that would make you the happiest?
At the moment, I think recording artists would make me the happiest. It’s a collaborative job, and after the past couple of years, I realized how important it was to me to work with others. I also love the process of recording music, of course.
When you reach your goals, what is something you want to do that is positive for - (insert the thing you feel the world needs more – or less of here)?
I think that we need to make recording studios a more welcoming space for all people. There is a vast need for more women, LGBTQ+ people, and people of color in spaces where music is being made. When you see someone from your community doing the things you want to do, you suddenly don’t feel like it’s so impossible anymore.
What is something you wish people would ask you more?
(Now, please answer that question)
As a matter of fact, I always wish that more people would ask me about my audio background haha! It always gets overlooked, so I appreciate you asking me about it <3
If you could have an intimate one-on-one dinner with a famous musical artist, who is living, who would you choose? (In this meeting the person would have to answer anything you ask)
I would have to say Linda Ronstadt! She’s a huge inspiration to me because she did so many different styles of music. She was a jack of all trades, and she made it work, which not many people can do.
Have you ever written a song about a person and NOT revealed who it’s about?
Does the person know it’s about them?
Oh yes, many times. Like I always say, “if you don’t want a song written about you, don’t mess with a songwriter!” The good thing about my music though is that I’m constantly pulling inspiration from tv shows, movies, books, etc, so I always keep the people guessing 😈
What are you most proud of in your career/life?
Right now, I’m really proud that my music is a part of a larger community that goes beyond something I’ve made in my bedroom. I’m by no means “famous” or “viral”, but the little victories go a long way.
What advice do you have for a new band?
There is a lot of pressure on band leaders (singers specifically) that you need to know exactly what you want or else no one is going to take you seriously. When I first started out, I felt like I had to be bossy, even though that’s not the kind of person I am. The more confident I became though, the more I was able to let go of control. So I guess my main piece of advice is this: when you find a group of people who you wholeheartedly trust (and it’s okay if music relationships don’t work out sometimes), listen to their ideas. Sometimes, relinquishing control is the best thing you can do for your music.
Who supports you the most in your career?
I am really thankful to have parents who support my music career. My mom cries every time I show her a new song. My dad, despite having a really busy job, is at every possible gig he can make. From empty restaurants to sold-out stages, they’ve been there for all of it.
Tell us a little bit about your future plans like shows or future music releases.
Well, first I need to graduate haha! But in the meantime, I am writing up a storm, and I plan on releasing new music in the next few months. If all goes well and everything stays open, I plan to perform in NYC in April 2022, as well as around upstate NY.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions. We hope we can broaden your career and help you reach your goals by allowing fans to connect more with your artistic creations.
Check out her Instagram and follow her for updates! www.instagram.com/sarahgrossmusic