For those of you who don’t know, I grew up down south in Snellville, Georgia, which is as small as it sounds. At least it was when I lived there. Funny thing is that for such a small town, we’ve got quite a few crazy-talented folks and we all went to high school together.
One of these fabulous individuals is singer/songwriter Sally Jaye, who you might know because I keep pushing her group, Ladies Gun Club. I kind of love them. Listen to their remake of the Talking Heads “Road to Nowhere” and tell me you’re not a little intrigued.
Anyway, I caught up to Sally a couple of weeks ago and asked her if she would mind sitting down and letting me pick her brain for a bit – and of course, babble about all kinds of other shit because that’s what tends to happen when old friends get to chatting after being apart for several years – and lucky me, and lucky y’all, she said yes.
Sally Jaye looking all fierce and sexy. Those eyes are to die for…
First off, tell us a little about who you are and what makes you tick.
I’m an artist/songwriter with a head full of ideas and ways to express myself looking for ways to slow down the pace of life a little so I can gradually execute some of these ideas. Things that currently make me tick – my two babies (three years-old and one), preparing good food for my family (although I’m a pretty sucky cook), punk rock music (my most recent musical obsession), sitting on my front porch at night, and then there’s my hilarious and brilliant husband…
We haven’t chatted since high school (wow!), so fill me in as quickly as you can on your journey in the music industry.
It’s been long time! But I have some great memories of us in high school that are attached to music…in particular, I remember a lot of driving around in your red car (Corolla?), listening to Michael Jackson, the Bad record.
Long story short, a couple of years after high school, I found myself interested in songwriting after hearing Nanci Griffith’s live record, One Fair Summer Evening. I have been through a lot of musical phases, but old country music has always stolen my heart, and that’s the genre where I feel most at home. So now I’m just hoping to always make music when I feel like it…and hope I feel like it.
Every artist has a process, a way from getting all the ideas banging around inside of your head out to the public. As much as I would like to be all organized and whatnot, my process is rather willy-nilly and very free-flowing. What’s yours like? And how different it is for a musician as compared to a writer? Do you write your music and lyrics? Which comes first, the lyrics or the music?
That’s a great question, and I’m always interested in what other artists have to say about this.
Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out a process.
My children are only three and one, so I have a very full mom schedule. Before I had kids, my process was very free and “willy-nilly,” like yours. Sometimes I would just drive for hours with the stereo on to feel inspired, and sometimes I would hole up in my little apartment, most of the space taken up by my huge, old piano in my living room, and go back and forth listening to music and writing my own music all hours of the night. It was terrible for my neighbors.
Now, I have to set aside time to play and write, which is a challenge for me. When the kids go to bed, I’m usually pretty exhausted and not feeling particularly inspired, but I’ve always felt that when you have something to say, it will come out, and when you don’t, take in everything you can in the world around you to fill up the well. I’m listening to a lot of music right now that I’ve somehow missed in my life. For me, the music and lyrics come at the same time. A song that you feel confident about, usually happens very quickly. It’s when I have to labor over them that they lose their soul. But I am trying to be more open to keeping unfinished ideas around and working on them.
I know you’ve always been in the arts, what with your mom and all of the theatre we did as kids, but when did you know you wanted to focus on singing? How has that journey been? Do you feel like you’re still learning things every day?
I hope I never stop learning. There is no age limit on being artistic, so there’s no reason to stop learning. I don’t really consider myself a vocalist, because that’s a different skill set. I feel like I’m a songwriter who writes songs to suit my voice. And sometimes my voice suits what other artists do, but not usually.
How would you categorize your music? What genre? Do you even like to categorize it?
I would put my solo music and the music I write with Sarah Roberts in Ladies Gun Club, in the Americana genre. But most everything I’ve been influenced by goes back to classic country artists, bluegrass, folk, and old rock n roll.
Do you have a diehard fan base? How hard were they to build? And how hard are they to maintain? In this day and age, are you finding that even the music industry must use social media to promote music?
I think I have some diehards, only because when I take time off and come back with something, they are always the ones still paying attention. I could not appreciate them more. They help me by sharing my music with others, and as I’m sure you are finding out, word of mouth is the most meaningful way to get your work out there.
What are you currently working on?
Right now, I’m in the middle of finishing up the new Ladies Gun Club record. That’s due out in early 2015, and it’s full of weirdness! I am also releasing the first part of a two-part EP collection on Dec. 2nd. That is a solo project I recorded in Asheville, NC with producer, Josh Day.
I got pregnant in the middle of making this record, so part one is more soft and sensitive, and part two is more yelling…haha! I had to get some things out, before I stepped into the mom world.
Do you have a favorite album? Song?
So hard to answer. But if I had to pick one album I’ve listened to more than any other in my life, it would be the Trio record with Dolly Parton, Emmy-Lou Harris, and Linda Rondstadt. It always blows me away.
Writing is a very solitary process, but aspects of getting a book published involve others. I’ve met several people along the way who have become major parts of my support system. Is it the same in the music industry? Describe your own support system – who has helped you along the way to getting your music out there?
The most help I’ve had is the people that have listened and shared my music with others. The people who have come to shows, and sometimes been the only one in the room. And Entropy Collective, who manage me and Ladies Gun Club. They are like family to me. And the other songwriters I have known or not known who have inspired me.
I’ve got to ask – how amazing is it to perform live?
It is amazing and terrifying.
What is your favorite aspect of singing? Your least favorite?
My favorite part about singing is how it makes me feel. That’s all.
Favorite album? Favorite instrument? Favorite singer? Favorite genre? Coffee or tea? Dresses or jeans? Heels or flats?
Trio, drums, Emmylou Harris, Traditional Country, both, jeans every day except dresses in the summer, flats.
If you could have dinner with five people, who would they be?
If I picked famous people, I’d clam up with nerves and blow it, so I’d go with some close friends, drink wine, and stay out late.
3 words to describe yourself.
open, clumsy, loud
Name 3 books you love and the perfect songs to go with them.
This is a great question, and I am ashamed to say I currently can’t answer this question. (But I’d love to hear your answers!) I’m waiting for my babies to get a little older so I can start finding time to read again. But Flannery O’Connor has always inspired me musically.
The indie author game is both incredibly rewarding and insanely exhausting. I know you’ve been quite successful in the music industry and have been doing your thing for some time. Any tips for aspiring songwriters/singers you would like to share?
To songwriters I would say write what you know, and then do whatever you want. The choices will change all the time, and what’s important to you will change. And if you start to get hung up on something (business, art, or life), think of one of my favorite lyrics of all times, “Most things I worry about, never happen anyway…” – Tom Petty (I take that line in the most positive way.)
Anything else you’d like to say – now’s your chance. Go for it.
Thanks for this. It’s great catching up with you, and I’m thrilled for you and your book series! I pretty much idolized you in high school!
Anyone interested in my work can check out part one of my new record, Too Many Heartaches, Pt. 1 released on Dec. 2nd, and part two in early 2015. The new Ladies Gun Club record will also be out in early 2015, and this one is full of surprises. Also look for the feature film, Too Late, written/directed by Dennis Hauck, starring recent two-time Oscar nominee, John Hawkes, and a bunch of other actors you’ll recognize like Dichen Lachman, Crystal Reed, Natalie Zea, and the incredible David Yow, lead singer of The Jesus Lizard. I’m acting and playing music in this film. It’s a unique project in that the whole film was shot in five shots on real film, with no editing at all. Pretty crazy.
Want to catch up to Sally, you can find her on Facebook, Twitter or her website:
Twitter – @sally_jaye