Sara Syms is an accomplished artist, singer and songwriter based in New York City. She presently performs with her current band, The Ashen, and is wrapping up her new album project which she has been recording at the famous Dreamland Studios in upstate New York, built inside a historic 19th church, which has hosted artists including Herbie Hancock, 10,000 Maniacs, and The B-52’s. Her music has been described as “ambient Americana.”
DS: How did you hear about Dailysingle? What are you expecting from being on the front page?
Sara Syms: Contacted to do an interview by a fellow singer friend from the magazine. As for the front page? Gosh, the possibilities are endless!
DS: What are the most memorable years of your life and what happened to make them so memorable?
Sara Syms: I had a pretty crazy childhood. My mom had me involved in everything. Studied piano and violin, sang in an internationally touring children’s choir, was a figure skater, and somehow found time for school. Though at times it was a bit taxing, there are so many wonderful memories and so many things to be grateful for. My past has definitely formed me into who I am today.
I tend to write from a pretty dark place so the challenge for me was finding balance.
DS: How would you best describe yourself?
Sara Syms: I'm one of the most passionate, hard-working, emotionally driven human beings you will ever meet. Aside from that, I am about as down to earth as they come. Tend to be a bit of a clown. Mastered the art of sarcasm. Not afraid to break into a river dance. Tend to see the good in everyone. Family and friends are my world. There's almost nothing I wouldn't do for them. I am truly blessed to be surrounded by such incredible people.
DS: What are the must-haves in your daily wardrobe?
Sara Syms: I would describe my style as tomboy-chic… Love to doll it up from time to time but definitely never underestimate the importance of comfort. You will rarely catch me in stilettos.
DS: Who do people tell you you look like?
Sara Syms: When I was a kid. I got Debbie Gibson, and I've gotten everything from Eliza Dushku to Julie from The Real World (Mormon on New Orleans season)
DS: How did you end-up being a singer and songwriter?
Sara Syms: Pretty sure I came out of the womb singing. Music has always been a huge part of my life. Studied piano and violin at an early age, was a piano performance major in college. Have been in many bands over the years but was always afraid to write. After much support from my friends and family I started my band, The Ashen. I wrote anything, everything and everywhere. The floodgates were finally opened. I tend to write from a pretty dark place so the challenge for me was finding balance. I have to say it is one of the most therapeutic things I have ever done, and there is no looking back now.
“Do you miss the ritual of buying albums (enjoying liner notes/artwork), or is the way we consume music now better (iTunes/spotify/last fm/Pandora)?”
Participate and answer Sara Syms's question on The Wall below.
DS: Can you tell us more about your job?
Sara Syms: My 'job' is my music. I am a bit of a genre chameleon but am most at home walking the fine line between Ambient and Americana. Have always been inspired by such artists as Portishead, The Cranberries, Warpaint, Dido, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Sia, Cowboy Junkies, and that is the driving force behind the music of The Ashen. On the other side, Americana has always had my heart. The likes of Ray LaMontagne, Jeff Buckley, Ryan Adams, Patty Griffin, Neko Case, Leonard Cohen, Buddy Miller and Gillian Welch. The balance of the two keeps me constantly inspired.
DS: Let's talk more about you and your tastes. Any hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time? Any thing you like and recommend?
Sara Syms: I love to travel, wish I had more time and money to do so because I would take the world by storm. There are so many places I want to go. My top picks at the moment are Madagascar, Galapagos, Cuba, Croatia, Greece, Tibet, Papua New Guinea, ugh now I am depressed. I am psyched that summer is around the corne because I love the ocean. Being a fellow crab (cancer), I could spend all day in the sea.
DS: What is a typical week for Sara Syms?
Sara Syms: Aside from work, week is filled with rehearsals, hours of writing in the evening, gigs, and spending time with friends. Am “part mom” to my best friend’s puggle, Violet. She is an amazing creature, and I can’t imagine this world without her in it.
Moonless Sky by Sara Syms
DS: Some quick questions: What is the first thing you do in the morning?
Sara Syms: Run across the street to get an ice coffee. It’s my little treat. All year round.
DS: What is your favorite restaurant in New York City?
Sara Syms: Another loaded question! I heart food. My friends and I are huge fans of trying new restaurants any chance we can. My favorite cuisines would definitely have to be Thai, Sushi and good ole' Southern BBQ- I'm still looking for the ultimate restaurant that combines all 3. Georgia’s Eastside BBQ (lower east side) is pretty amazing. Late night Borscht from Veselka is pretty tasty too. Mmmm borscht.
DS: What is your favorite song today? Of all time?
Sara Syms: That is a totally loaded question. Of course there are millions of songs by themselves I couldn’t live without but I am a big fan of albums as a whole. Can an entire album tell a story. Some faves of mine are Ray LaMontagne’s “Till The Sun Turns Black”, Smashing Pumpkins “Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness”, Ryan Adams “29”, Porcupine Tree “Fear of a Blank Planet” (love these guys). And now to not totally dodge the question, these couple songs have special places in my heart. Disarm (Smashing Pumpkins), Angel (Sarah McLachlan), Sour Times (Portishead), Angel From Montgomery (John Prine), Together Again (Janet Jackson), Heart Shaped Box (Nirvana), Lover You Should Have Come Over (Jeff Buckley), Hurt (Nine Inch Nails), Forgiveness (Patty Griffin)
DS: What is your favorite "drug"?
Sara Syms: Music is my life. It is what I was put on this earth to do. I truly believe that. I am most at home when singing or performing on stage. It is the ultimate high.
The photo shoot
DS: What is in store for you? Any key projects for the next months? Anything you want to share? Can our readers help you with anything?
Sara Syms: My band The Ashen just released our debut EP “To Begin Again” and it is available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon. Check it out! Just search “The Ashen To Begin Again”. I am about to embark on a solo Americana album in an absolutely breathtaking studio upstate NY (near Woodstock), working with incredibly talented musicians including a string quartet, and an amazing engineer, Matthew Cullen who has worked with Ray LaMontagne, Rachael Yamagata, Martha Wainwright, Madeline Peyroux, My Morning Jacket and many more. We will be recording this album live at Dreamland Studio, a 19th century country church which has been host so such legendary artists as Pat Metheny, The Band, Herbie Hancock, The B-52s, 10,000 Maniacs, John Hall, and current artists Beach House and Fleet Foxes. So much has happened in the past year and I can’t describe how truly blessed I feel. Check out details on the project at http://sarasyms.tumblr.com/
DS: Anything you want to add to close this interview?
Sara Syms: It is never too late in life to follow your dreams. Though at times it has been hard, I have never conformed, never given up on myself, and will forever pursue my passions. Everyone has a story to tell and through music is how I choose to tell mine.
DS: Thank you Sara Syms
Sara Syms: Thank you, DS!