Jenny Anne Mannan

American Songstress

Sun Midnight Sun: Sara Watkins

Sun Midnight Sun, Sara Watkins' second album for Nonesuch Records, came out last Tuesday. If you don't have it already, please go buy it real quick. Then meet us back here.

Sara is one of my dear friends, and I wanted to talk to her all about her new record. Actually, I wanted to talk to her about all kinds of things whilst, for once, avoiding my kids' finely honed Mommy-Is-On-The-Phone-Let's-Ask-Her-For-A-Bunch-Of-Stuff radar, so I made an appointment and holed up in my husband's office, away from needy voices and distracting antics, for a good long chat with my girl about life after 30, marriage, becoming a solo artist after Nickel Creek, and writing and recording her second album.

So. What have you been up to since your last album came out? What are the highlights?

SW: My first solo record coming out was a pretty big highlight, and there were some other things that happened right away. Turns out there are some perks to working with John Paul Jones, aside from that perk in and of itself, you get to play with some other people too. So I got to play on Jimmy Fallon with John Paul Jones, my brother Sean, and Questlove played drums on “Long Hot Summer Days”. I was freaking out. I totally rushed! [laughs] 

I got to be part of the whole Prairie Home Companion group for a little while, Garrison Keillor having me join the show for so many broadcasts was really nice. Doing the Summer Love tour was so totally different for me because I'm holding a microphone, wearing a Betsey Johnson cocktail dress, getting to walk around in heels every night...

That is just so fun! What was that like, I mean being in that kind of a situation with Garrison Keillor?              

SW: I loved it. I actually practiced holding a microphone while singing, holding the mic in my hand. The only other time I’d seriously done that was this one sort of this gimmicky song with Nickel Creek and then like karaokeing and I sound horrible when I'm singing and holding the mic and singing karaoke, so I thought, "Wow, this is totally different, I need to actually practice how to do this!" So I practiced just so that I wasn't freaked out about the mechanics of it. Which sounds totally stupid, but there it is!

But it doesn't at all sound stupid, because you know, in the setting that we grew up in, being that kind of a performer, especially as a woman, was definitely not encouraged or considered valid. But it's about being feminine and figuring out how to channel all of that energy into the performance, I think it makes so much sense. I wish I could have seen it!

SW: It was really fun. And you're right, we come from the school of sort of roughing it, where if you try to make anything too pretty it’s almost a strike against you. I mean, girls are definitely welcome to look pretty, but it’s a pretty tough scale that people are judging you on, and if you wasted any energy on showmanship when you could have worked on singing a few more notes in better tune, it’s almost unforgivable. Which is totally valuable, but it’s fun to be on the other end of it. It's still the folk world, but it's the most accepting environment possible - Prairie Home Companion fans are so loving and accepting.

What was really fun was getting to be Garrison’s date every night onstage, where I just supported him. It was like we were going to a business dinner every night and he was the selling point and I was kind of supporting him and jumping in when it was my time, and he’d let me shine in my was kind of this whole dance. And I got to sing a few of my own songs, but mostly we were just singing duets all night. I’d sit on this little bench while Garrison would tell stories and do his monologues and then I'd rejoin him and we’d sing lots of oldies and classic American songs.

 And that was a pretty unique situation, right, to be Garrison's sidekick?

SW: Um, I think he'd done some similar things on the tour, but the one thing I did do that was totally unique was guest hosting “A Prairie Home Companion”.

So did he come to you with that idea?                                                                                            

SW: During Summer Love, the final days of the tour, he told me he was hoping to have a guest host. He wanted to see the show from the sidelines, and he thought I would be good at it. I was totally blown away and of course I said yes...I got super nervous, and then I got really excited because he was going to let me bring any guests that I wanted...there were several ideas that I brought to him and he'd say, “Uh, let's do it this way instead.” And I was like, “Totally fair! Totally fair.” And it ended up of course being the right call, because he does know how to run a show after all! He was really generous.

Making the jump from fiddle whiz kid to solo artist - was that a scary transition or do you feel like it happened pretty seamlessly?

SW: It was a little intimidating, mostly on the logistic end of things. We decided in the beginning of 2006 to put Nickel Creek on the shelf, and we gave ourselves 18 months to do that, so I had plenty of time to consider what I wanted to do and just take myself more seriously as an individual artist...That, combined with the Watkins Family Hour, which was basically my other band for all of those years anyway, those were really helpful. But the biggest transition was learning how to tour manage. That was a whole different kind of stress. I kid you not, Jenny Anne, I will be a better mother because I have tour managed!

Oh of course you will!                                                                                                                             

SW: I cannot imagine having a child at that time, having not done really anything responsible, let’s be serious, for more than a couple of days at a time! [laughs] So I took on tour managing, because I remembered that my mother told me all those years that I could do anything I set my mind to. [laughs] But it was just logistics - planning flights, making sure they were the cheapest flights, reconsidering all of the options, and then touring with my brother Sean and 2 other grownup men who have toured under a lot of circumstances and really were nice to me to pal around in a minivan with me all the time and pick up different backline in every town that we were in and sleep in motels and drive hours...all the stuff that bands do but for some reason it felt, because I was making everyone do it and it was for me rather than for a united cause, it felt like I was putting everyone out a lot more. They were all really nice about it but no matter what it’s gonna feel like I’m making them do this and they’re not getting paid well enough. So that was a transition, adjusting to the logistic end of things. And then the accounting is still a nightmare. But I’m so glad for it, gave me this huge pride of ownership for a whole different side of the career, not just being a musician that people make excuses for on the business and social end of things, but owning something a little more, like owning my business, knowing how to do a little bit more of everything.

Do you think that sense of ownership has informed your artistic development also?

SW: Yeah. I think it has given me a little bit more bite into what I care about and what I want to achieve because after all, working harder for something makes you want it more.

It seems like it gives you not only more to say, but it also gives you a sense of authority when you say it.

SW: Cause I’m not just making up stories imagining how responsible people live, I’m trying to join them. [laughs]

It's where the left and the right sides of your brain unite, and there's magic in there!

When did the Watkins Family Hour start?

SW: It started when I was 21, so 2003. We were doing 3 weeks on and 1 week off with Nickel Creek, so during that one week we would do the Family Hour and it was me & Sean and Gabe Witcher. We would have friends join us as guests, people that we knew from Largo [the LA club that the Watkins Family Hour calls home], or friends who happened to be passing through town - Tift Merritt was one of our first guests, she was just passing through one night and she sang some songs. And mostly to begin with it was just us ripping off Tim & Molly O’Brien songs and Hot Rize and Bluegrass Album Band songs, just doing super easy ripoffs basically but they were really fun for us, because it was our “for fun” band.

After a year or two we decided we wanted to put a little more thought into the songs, so we tightened up the screws a little bit and there were a few years there when we had a group of consistent musicians who were the Family Hour band, and then they went on tour and that happened a few times, and the group we have with us now has been with us for probably 4 or 5 years. So whenever they’re in town they play with us. That’s the band, and then we have guests come in. Occasionally we’ll have a whole band come in as a guest, but generally it’s just a singer.  

So that’s how you met people like Jon Brion and Fiona Apple...

SW: Yeah. I met Jon one night at Largo - we opened for him one night, Nickel Creek did, and he let us play some songs with him. I would drive up every Friday night to see him, and it was a 2 hour drive home, so the owner of the club, Flanny, would let me sleep on the couch for an hour while they vacuumed before they closed down so that I could get some sleep before I drove home. [chuckles]  

How did you meet your producer, Blake Mills?

SW: I met Blake through Benmont Tench - Benmont has been the piano player for the Family Hour for many years, like 6 years now, whenever he’s not on tour [with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers]. He has on Sundays these weekly music hangs, at his house whenever he’s home, and Blake came to one of those. I think Gillian Welch brought him. And then I would see him at jams and hangs - a few times in a short while - and then we started bringing him down to the Family Hour and he would play with us. And I was trying to figure out who I would want to produce my record. I knew that I didn’t want to go for some big producer who had a big giant career and a big sound... even if I had the option. I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to afford them anyway, but I knew that I wanted something else. I loved Blake’s Break Mirrors cd and I liked his songwriting, and I saw that he’s the kind of player that when he’s around everyone kind of plays a little differently, and adjusts a little bit, and kind of redirects their thought process a little bit. It’s not through any kind of forcefulness or attention getting - on the contrary he’s more...people just sort of go to him and kind of gravitate toward where he’s directing songs. And that was really intriguing, and I always liked where things went when he was sort of directing traffic. So I asked him to produce a few songs - I knew I wanted him to produce the whole record but I kind of chickened out and just asked him to produce a few songs, to see if we could test it. He said, “Yeah, I’d love to, what do you have in mind?” And so I told him a few things that I wanted for the direction of the songs and how I wanted to approach the record, and he said, “Sounds great, let’s do it!” So we did 4 songs in November and it went really really well, and we knew by then that we were planning on doing the whole record together, so we recorded the rest of it in December and January.  

Was it kind of an audition then, those first 4 songs?

SW: It was kind of like an escrow process - an out option for both of us where...I just wanted to make sure that we worked well together in the studio. If there’s an out option, even if it doesn’t seem like anyone’s going to take it, sometimes it just helps the process...So it was just kind of, “You know, if you’re miserable, or this turns out to be a horrible idea, we don’t have to do this.” But it went really well.    

How important do you think friendships are in the studio? Do you think if you’re too close that it can inhibit the process?

SW: [laughs] That’s so important! Sometimes it can really help to know people really well, and sometimes it can get in the way because you might be working with them in a different way than the relationship generally works. So in this case, I didn’t know him very well at all. I knew that we got along, and I knew that he was a really nice guy, and that everyone respects him. He has a very good reputation. I also knew that he’s 5 years younger than I am, so that was a little funny. I really loved that he’s young. I found out after the first week of recording that he had never produced anybody officially before. He had co-produced things - stuff for Jessica Hoop, and a lot of other people - but his name was only on one or two other things and it was all co-production stuff. So this was going to be the first thing that he had produced by himself. So it was really fun. And we did it in the studio that he basically grew up in, and used his engineer...I wanted the songs to be formulated with Sean, and me, and Blake all there. That was really important because I didn’t want myself to get carried away with some really exciting idea that was totally new but really had nothing to do with who I am as a musician and who I will be out on the road...I didn’t want to put on these fancy costume clothes that I would never really wear, and I could totally see myself doing that. So having Sean there, in addition to having his incredible musical insight, was really nice because he is my band, basically. That was a guarantee that we would be working with some of the tools that I have on the road, and also it helped me stay grounded in where I come from and a place that I might be going to, and then Blake was just adding to that. So instead of leaving something familiar and adopting something totally new, having Sean there was really valuable in maintaining this continuum.    

I think that definitely comes through in the record, because Sean’s playing and what he does on your songs is such a part of the sound that we hope to hear from you, that if that weren’t there something really important would be missing. There’s all of this new and exciting stuff happening on the record, and then there is an element of grounded authenticity...which I think all works together to make something that is so multi-dimensional.

SW: Thank you!  

The duets on this record are so amazing. I remember you posting something on Twitter about recording with Fiona Apple and having a runner’s high. And then I heard the song, "You're The One I Love", and I completely understood why. Was that a song that you thought of doing with her from the beginning?

SW: Yeah. So, Fiona is a frequent guest on the Watkins Family Hour. Well, she is more than a guest - she has declared herself and we have declared her a member of the family. [laughs] So I’m always looking for songs to do with her, and I was on this Everly Brothers kick for awhile, and I heard that song and really liked it, and I just felt like it should be a little bit darker and a little bit more stalkery and more obsessive-sounding, and I thought I would really like to sing it with Fiona. I thought it would be really fun to sing it with a girl...In the fall of 2011 I finally sent it to her and said, “Dude, do you want to learn this and sing it with me?” And she said yes, and so we sang it for a few Family Hours, and then in the second half of making this record we were looking at adding a couple of songs, so “Impossible” got added, and this one, “You’re The One I Love”. I asked her to record it with me and she said yes! I had never been in the studio with her before, and she was into it, which was so much fun. We had the song recorded, and then she came in and we sang it together in the same room. And it was just so fun and so intense, it was really awesome.

Was her persona different in the studio than what you’re used to when you play live with her?

SW: Yes, not personally, she’s still Fiona. But she sounded different on the mic - like when she was singing on the mic, I thought, “Holy crap, this is the voice that I heard so long ago before I knew her!” Just the subtleties of how she gets in and out of notes, you can hear a lot better when you’re in headphones, and when she’s singing with headphones on, I think, she gets to those places. It was just really fun. And we tried a few different ways of singing it, and then the last 2 passes we didn’t break eye contact the entire time. And it wasn’t awkward, we talked about it afterwards and it wasn’t weird, you know, “Oh shoot we were looking each other in the eyes, I’m going to look away now,” it was just like the most focused energy I’ve ever had singing with somebody.

That energy really comes through. One of the things I’m always sad about when I listen to a record vs. hearing people live is that a lot of times the intensity of the performance doesn’t always translate into the studio. It’s not about the mechanics of the engineering, it’s just that the energy is so different in the studio compared to when you have an audience. But in this situation it was so obviously a magical moment that completely transcends literally feels like you’re sitting there in the room watching it. So awesome.

SW: Thanks!

And then all of the string parts on that song are so cool. On the whole record, really.

SW: Blake was really helpful with the string parts, actually. A lot of the really definitive parts, like on “I’m A Memory”, there were certain things that he asked of me that I wouldn’t have thought to do, which is always the fun of playing with people who aren’t necessarily string players. Like those soaring string parts that are kind of cinematic? Blake was like, “Can you just get from the lowest note to then the highest D in like a bar?” And I said, “Well I don’t know how I would do that without it just being like a straight arpeggio, or something, I can’t really scale up that fast...” And he came right back, “Okay, so you can’t do it. How would you do it?” Which is such a great question! So I basically just faked it 3 times in a row and it sounds like this [laughs] small string section playing fairly accurately! So suggestions like that are so fun and helpful.

I love that part! It worked out. You did it. How did you do it?

SW: I just played a bunch of notes!

I remember that you meant to have Jackson Browne sing with you on your first record and that didn’t work out.

SW: Yeah. The timing just didn’t work out, you’re right, I’d forgotten that I’d asked him that first time around. So it worked out this time. He just came by and, he’s on “You & Me”, and then “Take Up Your Spade”. And I just love how his voice comes through - it’s pretty recognizable, even though it’s not really featured. Oh and he’s on “I’m a Memory” too, he’s on 3 songs. He and Blake are really good friends, and they’d worked more closely together than I have with Jackson, so we played a couple songs for him and mentioned, “Yeah, we were hoping you’d sing on this one.” And he said, “Great!” and so he did. It was so funny when we were soloing his vocal in mixing because his voice has so much to grab onto when you listen to it - there’s the roughness, there’s the smoothness, there’s the way he gets out of each note with this’s just wonderful.

How did it feel having a person whose voice is so iconic sing a song that you wrote?

SW: It was pretty great. He’s just such a sweetheart that you don’t think about it as much as you might think because...well, of course you think about it when you’re in there because you’re aware of what’s happening, and I’m human, but he’s just singin songs, and he is so sweet and generous with this time, that he doesn’t put any additional sense of “You should appreciate that I’m here” onto anything. He’s just very gracious. But yeah, it is pretty crazy that he’s singing 2 of my songs. And I especially loved him on “Take up Your Spade” because I feel like you can really hear his voice stand out, and it was fun to hear him and Fiona. It was really fun hearing them together, that was a fun little...almost like a trick that I played on everybody. [laughs]

“Take Up Your Spade” is one of those songs that you hear that you sort of always wish you could have heard your whole life - it’s like it’s familiar in all of the right ways but it says things in a fresh way, like you think you know where it’s going and it does go there, but it’s in a way that surprises you - so timeless and so beautiful. Where did it come from?

SW: The melody started like 2 or 3 years ago when I was in Scotland on tour with Transatlantic Sessions, this group of people from America and UK who tour, a wonderful little series, and Bruce Molsky was in the show. And I got the melody idea from hanging out with Bruce. I knew that I wanted to write a song - this is actually a song that I did have some goals for - I wanted it to be congregational in feel but not religious in lyric, and I hoped a group of people would sing it together someday. And it was really nice having it turn out that way - I hadn’t told that to Blake, but he was the one who brought the idea of having everyone who was singing on the record come and sing on that song at the end. And I really loved it and it helped the song kind of come around to what I was originally hoping for. The subject matter came from something that my mom used to always say to me, especially if I’d had a particularly difficult yesterday, my mom would wake me up and say, “Good morning! It’s a new day, without spot or wrinkle!” and I loved that. I still think about it a lot, and so I wanted a grown up way to say that. And it carries with it a little bit of baggage, the feel of the song - I wanted it to have this realistic sort of trudging that you feel as an adult when you’re just starting the process of acknowledging that you can start over again. I wanted it to feel adult but still have what my mom used to say to me in there.

How are the instrumentals on this record different from the way that you would have treated an instrumental on your album a few years ago?

SW: The first song, well both of them, changed quite a bit from how they first started. They were both sort of fragments. The first one we did was what turned into “The Accord”, and that was a fiddle song that was originally very fiddle tuney. It was uptempo, and had kind of a double time feel to it, and I played it for Blake and he just basically said lets’ try playing it half that speed, what if we did it like this? And he started playing it at the tempo that it ended up being recorded, and we changed a few chords and added a couple phrases here and there and it just ended up having this great little personality. I’m really glad for how it turned out because, I think I told Blake before playing it that it’s always weird doing a record and then the novelty of “Heeere’s a fiddle tune!”, just “Aaand I play fiddle too!”, and so I was really pleased with the direction it took because they both fit in with the sung songs a lot better than they would have the way that I’d written them. And when I wrote them, I didn’t know what the record would turn into and I didn’t really have any context, so it was nice to put them together with Sean and Blake after we saw a little bit of how the record was turning out.

The other song, “The Foothills”, I did write for the record because I wanted to have another instrumental on there. I had the start, and Blake helped me finish it, and then he started messing with the tones on everything. I played it 6 times - 6 fiddles in unison, and they were really close to each other...they all matched and we couldn’t really hear the difference, so we messed with it a lot and tried a lot of different things - putting some effects on some tracks, using different mics with only one or two fiddles, amping and different things, and eventually we ended up with the way it sounds on the record. That was one of those times where I thought, “I’m just going to let Blake see this through until he’s done with it, because I really don’t know what I think yet,” because on principle I hate effected violins. So there were certain things where I was firm, “No, we’re NOT doing that, this sounds like a violin we’ve all heard that does not sound good.” So I put my foot down in certain places, but it was exciting and enticing to be in a situation where I decided, “Okay, I trust Blake, I obviously want him to have an opinion on this record, because I hired him. I’m a little uncomfortable right now because I would not be making these decisions, but that’s why I have a producer, because I want somebody else’s opinions. I’m going to sit back and wait until I know if I actually like or not, I’m not going to react out of being uncomfortable...” And sometimes that would end with, “Okay, I’m really not comfortable with this, this feels like you, it doesn’t feel like me.” And other times, “Okay, this is great,” and either he’d come around to a place that I was comfortable with on his own, or I would come around to seeing that there was a purpose for this and I do identify with the sounds that are coming out of the speakers right now. And on “Foothills”, I realized that what was working was that it’s not just the fiddles that have effects, it’s the whole stinkin track that’s squashed and distorted and lumpy sounding. And the more I heard it the more excited I got. So I couldn’t be more pleased about that song.

What I think is so interesting is that there parts of the bowing and nuances in your playing that you can hear so much more clearly because of the effect on your fiddle than you would be able to if you had just recorded it in a traditional way. To me, it almost replicates how it would sound live if I were sitting there watching you - some of the bowing is just so YOU - it was so fun to hear it and be able to actually picture you playing it. Because I think it's the spirit of how you play your fiddle on a song like that.                                             

SW: Thank you! That's awesome to hear!

Thinking about some of the life changes that you’ve experienced since your last record: you’re married now, you’ve turned those things give you a different perspective about your music-making and creativity?

SW: I think that a huge part of my creativity is a result of the security that I have in my marriage. Because he’s so unstoppably encouraging of my career and what I do and just the fact that it’s part of who I am, because he’s so relentless with all of that encouragement - and believable, like I actually believe him that he likes all that stuff about me - that relieves me of any kind of guilt...not any kind, I mean I still feel guilty...but a lot of the guilt about time away from home, and just the way that my life affects his life in sometimes a difficult way...because I know that ultimately he supports me 100%, even when he’s sad that I’m leaving, that first of all makes me work even harder, and it helps me be more creative and free with writing and it keeps me excited about music, because I know that I’m not just letting him down. I know that a lot of people in relationships have a hard time maintaining their excitement about music or their art, whatever it is, when they have the feeling that it’s making their loved one jealous. And I’m so lucky that I don’t feel any of that jealousy from Todd, regardless of the fact that I’m gone a lot. He could be jealous of people, of time spent with music vs. time spent with him...there are a lot of things that you could be jealous of - other families that have a much more stable, normal life - and I think because I don’t feel that, because I have a relationship that I feel gives me the freedom to be this, I think that helps me feel freer about creativity.

We’re always talking around here about the creative process. Had you been writing and collecting these songs for awhile, or did you write them specifically for the record?

SW: They were just sort of songs that had come up since the last record. And there were several songs that I’d worked on that didn’t make the cut, which was nice - I was glad to have some to throw away. I have a hard time...whenever I’m writing a song and I take a moment to stop and admire it, or think, “Wow! this would be really good for this or that,” I just lose it. And all of a sudden the song becomes half of what it should have been, because it’s more of a show than just existing. I loved your blog post about creating for creating’s sake, and I think that for me, as soon as I stop and admire something too early when the process isn’t completed yet, it takes away from what the end result could have been and it changes the whole perspective on why I’m doing it. It’s almost like a curse - whenever I’m writing a song and think, “Oh I hope so and so likes this lyric, maybe they’ll like that part,” immediately I want to slap myself because I know that I’ve come out of it and I have to either put it away or just refocus and shake myself out of that mindset as quickly as possible. And so, in saying that, I mean that I wasn’t writing any of these songs for this record. I haven’t figured out how to write with a goal. Except for “Lock and Key”; that one had certain constraints: it’s a me & him story, it’s okay to have some old timey lyrics, and I have an idea of how the story’s going to end, and so there are certain rules around it but I might not always even have those rules. I’ve never been able to write with a purpose, really, at least for a record. Not yet anyway. People write with themes, like, this whole record is about something, and for me I feel like either it’s going to be about that thing because you can’t write about anything else right now, or you have to really concentrate and it’s sort of this challenge to yourself to focus things. I don’t need to have any more challenges to writing a song - I just feel like I’m lucky to get any song!

Yeah, you want it to be real and you want it to come from a place of authentic inspiration, and sometimes if you have too many parameters, it can kill the actual spark, the real life place that it comes from. Didn’t you used to do songwriting challenges when you were on the road with Nickel Creek?

SW: Yeah. We’d pick a title and then write a song within 24 hours with that title. I think that was really helpful, if for no other reason than to help me not take myself too seriously and not be too precious about everything and feel like everything has to be good. It’s like, no, you’re just doing something, you’re just using crayons or something...and that was really good. I’ve done those songwriting games since then, and it’s really helpful if you have this block where you feel like nothing is good and so you’re not doing anything - that’s totally unproductive and it’s very hard to get out of it if you don’t just get the wheels turning.

Actually one project that I have been a part of that I'm really proud of is called For The Sender, it’s a really cool project that my friend Alex Woodard put together, and that’s one time when I was actually writing for a purpose. It was a really good exercise where we had these letters that people would write telling us their life story, and we’d just pick something out of the letter that seemed to make sense...that was really fun. I was co-writing with this guy Jack Kempshon, really great songwriter, and the feeling that I got from him while we were writing...because he’d just be sitting there with his guitar and singing these melodies and spouting out words without really being self-conscious at all about if it was going to work or not, and just seeing what people grabbed onto, and he would build on it. And he was so quick moving that there was no time to say, “No, I don’t really like that.” I’d have to suggest something if I wanted it to be different, because we’re moving right along here, so if you don’t like it then what’s a good suggestion? And that was really helpful - a really nice tempo and a different way to go about it.

I think it’s helpful to just accept where you are. I feel like I’m much more critical...I have better taste than ability in a lot of ways. [laughs] I hate it, it’s horrible, but what can you do about it? To an extent I just have to be there and do it, and I feel like I have a better idea now that I’m a little older too about what the past and the future means, which is funny, because you’d think you’d have a bigger idea of the future when you’re younger and you have more life ahead of you. But going into this whole record - the artwork, everything about it, partly because of how much I put into the first record and how much I learned about the process in terms of artwork and promotion and how you portray yourself and what you want to do and what your goals are and figuring all of those things out as I went, I’ve got a little bit better idea of what I want now, and I also know that this is this record. And I’m really proud of it and I’m excited for it, but it’s not my last record. It’s this record. And there will be more. There’s a lot of comfort and excitement in that. Not in a surrendering kind of way, “Oh well, there’s always next time,” it’s just, no, this is how it is now, but who knows what it will be next time?

Right. This is another piece in the puzzle.

SW: Yeah. And I actually did try as hard as I could for this - I didn’t phone it in, and I was really lucky to work with Blake and a lot of things fell together that made me really proud of the outcome, and all of that makes it something to celebrate, and I guess see it as, “Oh sweet! This is what happened that represents the first big chunk of my life.”

You've always done such a great job of communicating with your fans - I remember when Nickel Creek was touring and blogging wasn't even really a thing that people did, and you would write journal posts on your website from different cities. You've always treated your fans like friends, it seems like. Is the feedback mostly positive for what you're doing now?

SW: Yeah, I think so. It's funny, a lot of Nickel Creek people don't know that I'm doing this. A lot of times I'll be playing, opening for somebody, and towards the end I'll mention that I grew up playing with Nickel Creek and they'll realize, "Oh, that's how I know her!" It happens all the time. And I always feel glad, "Yes! I got another one back on my side!" To an extent I'm still trying to spread the word to anybody who cares, who felt an attachment to the band, I'm doing this other stuff here so please join me. All the while still trying to be myself and not live in the past too much.

I'm so excited for you. It's such a great record. It's spectacular music, and it's so inspiring to watch. I feel like I could talk to you about this for hours and hours, but you have been so generous with your answers and your time! Also, I just think what a great idea to make an appointment with my friends to hang out on the phone!

SW: I know! I should enter in the GoogleCal, "Call with Jenny Anne" much more often!

Visit Sara for upcoming tour dates and info.


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