My readers and writing colleagues are well aware of my penchant toward southern gothic literature, so it's no wonder why I'm a fan of today's guest: Thayer Sarrano. My introduction to her was her song "Quiet Now Your Bones" (click for sample) from her album Lift Your Eyes to the Hills, (2012). Her songwriting is deep and will take you with it, immersing you into a mystical southern gothic wonderland. I've asked Thayer a few questions, and she was kind enough to oblige:
DN: You're the first truly southern gothic artist I've featured on the
blog, and it's an honor to host a kindred spirit here. One trip through
your album proves that you're a strong writer. Is southern gothic
something you slipped into easily or has it been a fairly recent
discovery for you?
TS: Thank you, what a compliment! I honestly don't know. I think the instrumental side of what I write is more a reflection of that southern, dark or gothic style. I also grew up with a lot of chanting in church, so there is this cathedral gothic that's part of me too. As far as the lyrics go, so far I've just written without thinking about it much. So far I've only written about personal experiences, even if they exist sometimes in a different world. I say "so far" because I'm interested in pushing myself further now and expanding my writing beyond my own experience.
DN: What's the strength behind the southern gothic voice that makes it powerful?
TS: I wish I was my grandaddy to answer this question, I'm not qualified! Honesty is the first thing that comes to mind. Southern gothic writers I like have a way of showing everything above and below the surface in such a simple way that feels poetic, complex, and definitely stirring. Contrasts are powerful, and I think there's a lot of play in contrast in southern gothic writing.DN: You've listed before that Nick Cave, Tom Waits, and Neil Young have had an influence on your music. Do you have an author that's had a strong influence on your writing?
TS: I love Rainer Maria Rilke, but I think I'd have to say inspiration more than influence, because I've never written anything that could be compared to the level of his poetry.
DN: What interests outside of music do you have that help shape your style?
TS: Painting is probably the biggest. Often I'll make a painting, which is a way to give form to the abstract/spiritual/ether, feelings, senses--whatever it should be called. Then, at some point I just look at what I made and write a song about what I'm seeing. I always feel that my writing is literal, descriptive, and factual. Nature, places I feel connected to, the woods, fashion, home, yoga/spiritual practices, and weather are other interests that shape my style.
DN: I've seen more chatter recently from the music world about Athens, GA in reference to several music festivals. It's been a great music scene for a long time, but do you think it's seeing a revival?
TS: I wouldn't say revival, because I don't think it's ever stopped. But it does feel really exciting here. There have been some great new venues lately, a new music business program at the university, Camp Amped (a rock and roll camp for teenage musicians held at Nuci's Space - a resource for mental and physical health and practice spaces for musicians), and bands and festivals seem to get more attention all the time as they keep growing.
DN: If I go to Athens, GA to visit what do I absolutely have to do while in the area?
TS: See the tree that owns itself, eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner (I can't list restaurants because there are too many that are wonderful), go to Avid Bookstore, Community (sustainable fashion boutique), Agora (vintage and treasures), and go to one of our record stores downtown to buy local music :-) Pick up a Flagpole magazine and go to all the shows you like and the bars in between. It's all really close together, so just do everything!
DN: And speaking of things to do, what have you been meaning to do in the area but haven't yet?
TS: I've always been meaning to do Flagpole Magazine's self-guided Music History Walking Tour.
DN: You've been writing poetry for quite a
while. You wouldn't happen to have a poem written by six-year-old Thayer
that you'd like to share would you?
TS: I cannot think of a poem, but I did write and illustrate a children's book when I was six for my school library called "Kind Tales of the Forest." It starts off with these two young chipmunks that dream of playing guitar and piano, but they have no money for instruments...foreshadowing! But who knows, maybe it'll all come full circle--be published and fund my new record!
DN: A big thank you to you, Thayer. You've convinced me I need to get to Athens sooner rather than later. To all of you readers out there, you can go to www.ThayerSarrano.com for more information on her albums and for ways to stay in touch with her. And yes, you can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.