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Sara Bareilles

Photo of Sara Bareillescourtesy of the artist

How would you describe your music?

Piano based mostly, pop rock. Definitely I have the heart of a pop-loving piano player. I grew up on Abba, Chicago, Billy Joel, Elton John. But I'm a tomboy so I like to feel like I'm maybe rougher around the edges than I really am. But that attitude brings out the humor in me. I love irony and I think there is so much power in language. I love seeing women especially embrace that and not be afraid to "play with the big boys".

What is your role in your band? In the studio? In business or marketing decisions?

"In the band- I'm the boss. :) I'm the bandleader, songwriter, singer, girlfriend, best friend, and road mom. In the studio- I'm the artist. I'm the decision maker along with the producer, and I'm (hopefully) the visionary. I'm the one who's trying to articulate what's in my brain, and the one who's main purpose is to defend and communicate the essence of the songs. In business- I'm the product. I know that, and I hate that, but that's my reality. I've spent the better part of the last 4 years swallowing that very bitter pill. And honestly everything got easier once I stopped fighting it. "

Describe your gear.

Yamaha Piano at home, Yamaha Clavinova for touring, Shure Microphones, Martin acoustic Guitar and Ukulele, Epiphone Sheraton Electric Guitar, Fender Deluxe Guitar Amp, Fender Wurlizter. I love my gear. I love each piece like it's an actual extension of myself because essentially it is. I'm a songwriter and the instrument truly outlines where the writing goes.

Related Themes: Gear

Do you think being a woman and a musician is different from being a man and a musician? If so, how? Was there a moment that made a difference clear to you?

ABSOLUTELY. It's infuriating. I am still learning how to deal with that. It unfortunately is assumed in most places in the music industry, that girls need coddling, and that can come in all different forms. It's incredibly easy to find people to tell you what to do, what to wear, what to say, what to look like, who to sound like, blah blah blah. Girls are scrutinized in a physical way first, then people listen to their musical voice. Boys can be fat and bald and assholes, while girls are punished for that. Not always, of course, but it is all too often assumed that we don't have a vision, or direction, or perspective. I have learned that the hard way. I had to have success before anyone would listen to me.

Do you see differences between generations of women musicians?

I see the young generation lacking a sense of direction that isn't image based. I want more Joni Mitchells, Tori Amoses, Joan Jetts, Janis Joplins. And I want to see more women feel empowered to be who they are at a younger age. There are a lot of fantastic examples of strong ladies out there but, like myself, I feel like we don't give ourselves permission until we are older. And it sucks that I just said older and I mean 30. I'm as lame as the rest of em.

Related Themes: Off The Clock

Did anyone ever give you any valuable advice about making your way in the music industry? What advice would you give to a woman musician just starting out?

"I would say to someone starting out two very important things: 1. speak your truth, and don't doubt that you have the instincts to lead you through this industry. We are encouraged to doubt ourselves and listen to a lot of opinions, but ultimately we are given the tools to guide ourselves. 2. Surround yourself with people you trust on a gut level. I'm not talking about getting a lawyer or a manager who's your best friend. But trust that they are honest, and they'll work hard for you. And do the same for them. If we have to listen to a lot opinions, they might as well be from someone we trust. "

Related Themes: Advice

Why did you choose to play the instrument you play?

It was accessible and my big sister played it growing up, so I think I started mostly as a copycat. But I fell in total and complete love with the piano. I never studied, but growing up, I spent every spare moment getting to know it. I'm still working on becoming a better player, but I play with passion and it is the perfect foundation for my first love, which is singing. I have been singing since I could talk, and it absolutely is one of my dearest friends. I feel like I know myself through music. It's like going to church. Except I don't go to church... so maybe it's a little bit different.

Related Themes: The First Time