BY BILL HEATH
1- What inspired you to be a songwriter?
I always had a lot going on when I was younger…my parents divorced, my siblings had some health issues, and I was the youngest child. Sometimes it was hard to get a word in. Writing and songwriting gave me a way to say exactly what I felt without fear or explanation.
Plus, I was always better at creating melodies than learning “Fur Elise,” in my piano studies. I went through five piano teachers who knew little of what to do with me because I only wanted to play by ear. Songwriting made me feel good because it was something I had a natural inclination for.
2- Who are your main influences?
I’ve always been inspired by artists such as Ben Folds, Amy Winehouse, and James Taylor. With them I’ve never felt their songs were written to make money… they truly just tell their truth. Fearlessly raw lyrics.
I respect that they all explore more complex music theory and jazz chords. It’s pretty obvious when one studies their songs that they know their stuff.
Coincidentally both Ben Folds and James Taylor both played and grew as artists for a bit in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and are North Carolinians themselves. I spent four years growing my music career in Chapel Hill and feel a deep connection to these artists because I feel l we’ve traveled a similar road.
3- What would you call your musical style?
I would describe myself as a jazz pop/art pop musician. I enjoy the glitz and glam of the pop world… But also get bored with some of its music because it’s not experimental enough.
I seek to reach the mainstream with my music but also add a bit of experimental pizzazz. I like to write pop songs but throw in some cool jazz chord combined with electronic synth. Or cover a Motown song but throw in the banjo. I want to push the genre of pop in a fun and freeing way.
In my lyrics, I try to be as honest as possible. I’ve found that what I’m going through isn’t unique to me… and others find release and healing when I’m honest about my own situations and heartbreak.
4- What are your thoughts on moving to Nashville?
Nashville is great! There are a lot of famous spots that I can just walk into and play… It’s amazing really. People come from all over – it’s an international town. I’ve met people from Australia and California at some of the open mics I’ve frequented.
It’s also been really easy to find people to play with. Nashville is a music capital because it’s centrally located and tours can be set up easily. There’s a lot of room to grow here and always someone to learn from or song-write with.
Oh… And the food is really good.
5- Where do you want to go with your music?
I have big plans and positivity towards my future music career. The next few years will be focused on producing an Audio/Visual EP… meaning that for every song I will make a cool music video. I’ve already made a music video for one of my songs and found the process super fun.
Sarah Mae Chilton will be performing as part of an “Around the Creek” songwriters night on 10/20 @ 8pm in the Muddy Creek Music Hall.