Sarah Ragsdale speaks with us today about her reflective new single “Reimagine” discussing a variety of issues affetcing us in today’s world, including disease, climate change, economic disparity, and social injustice. Check out our interview here:
“Reimagine” is a beautiful song about coming together as a part of humanity through a global lens. How did this idea come together?
The beginning of the song came to me one day as I was sitting in my kitchen and it was cool and rainy outside. Stay-at-home had been going on for a few weeks in New York and New Jersey. It was really a lonely and confusing time. The literal comparison of the “storm outside” that I was witnessing seemed very accurate to the metaphorical “storm” we have been experiencing. The pandemic, as well as social and political unrest, have put us all on edge! I revisited the song a while later to write the last part of it and complete the recording with piano, vocals, strings, and other instruments. Then, I worked (virtually) with a producer in the UK, Frankiesxine, to enhance the overall sound and really bring it to life! This is the version that was eventually released.
You self-produced, directed, and edited the music video. In what ways did you come up with the vision for the video?
I had to just think, ok, in this socially distant time, what visual content can I create myself?! What is within my skills and capabilities – in terms of shooting and editing – that will support the message of this song. In the end, I decided, it needs to be genuine. In that way, it couldn’t get more simple and straightforward than just singing right into the camera. At the same time, I wanted to show, ok I’m the messenger, but I am not the message. The message is about the world! Let’s think about it from a higher perspective! I hope the images help to convey this message.
How do you hope listeners react when they listen to this song?
I just really want that inspirational message to resonate. I do believe that this time presents many opportunities for all of us to truly contemplate the direction of humanity. In doing that, we may need to re-imagine our systems, the ways we interact with one another, and our priorities. We could use this time to prepare for when we are ready to really get back out there and restart our economy, open businesses, socialize…but perhaps now we can ask ourselves, when we do open back up, are there any things we want to change or perhaps even just tweak a bit? Are things really working for us now? Are our systems preparing future generations for a sustainable planet? Are we encouraging a just society where everyone can have a seat at the table? Are our economic priorities aligned with our values? Well, these questions all actually get to the core of each of us having to answer that crucial question – what are our values?
Your music digs deeper into the relationship between music and democracy. Was there a specific moment in your life that inspired you to focus on these topics?
This is an interesting topic. I don’t know that any particular songs discuss this relationship, however, I do think that any time we have the freedom to truly express ourselves we are benefitting from the rights of individuals living in a free and democratic society.
What’s your process when you’re writing new songs?
Typically, I will first hear the song in my head – it all pretty much happens at once. I will write my lyrics down in a notebook, and usually the melody will be memorable enough, but sometimes I might make a quick recording on my phone notes just in case.
How have these past few months of quarantine affected you creatively?
It’s actually been a great time creatively because the isolation allows the mind to wander quite a bit! Also, the pandemic, as well as the other social and political issues that we are witnessing, create many new emotions. This contributes to a palette of new colors, moods, and sounds from which to draw. I find that my music is now leaning towards considerations of social themes.
2020 has been a long journey for many artists coming up in the music industry. How has this year changed the game for you?
My performance contracts/gigs were cancelled! While it has been an amazing time for writing and recording, it has been a difficult time for musicians counting on live entertainment.
How would you describe your sound to someone who just listened to your music for the first time?
I think that my sound is a little different for each project. However, I have received comparisons to artists like Tori Amos, Regina Spektor, and Sara Bareilles. I can see how I would fit into that category of singer/pianists or at least have some characteristics of each of those artists. My music falls on a spectrum from sometimes up-tempo pop songs to quirky tunes to haunting ballads.
How do you know when you’ve discovered the right flow/sound for a song?
I don’t know if it is possible to know if it is ever the “right” sound. However, because I am an indie artist, I have the privilege of being able to say my song is complete when it just feels like it has satisfied the senses. This is typically when I can finally hear in my ears all the sounds that I have created in my head!
At the moment, are there any artists/albums that regularly inspire you?
I continue to listen to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton”. I think because I feel the importance of writing substantive contemplative pieces right now, I just really appreciate the musical, lyrical, historical, political, and social contributions of this artistic creation! I also think that many of my songs tend to be on the borderline of pop and theatrical sounds, so I respect the genius of these songs that cross over multiple genres and made such a cultural impact.
What has been the best moment in your musical career that you’re most proud of?
I was quite proud of my last album “Whimsical Romance” because of all the support I received from fans and friends to make it happen.
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Sometimes it all seems like just too much. It’s all so overwhelming we could freeze in this moment and just let everything wash over us. We may wonder if any one of us has a voice? Does it matter anyway? Yes, it does. In the most difficult of times humanity has found strength in unity and come back stronger. We are capable of so much more. Our creativity must be tapped and allowed to flow in order to #reimagine a healthy harmonious world. Let’s take this extra time spent at home to re-imagine our place in the world and the ways planet earth may come back stronger than ever – ready to turn challenges into opportunities. . Re-Imagine lyrics excerpt: “I feel weak even finding the words to speak. The heroes putting their lives on the line and all that I can do is speak.” . #heroes #future #opportunities #together #world #unity #creative #innovation #shootingstars #starrynight #sky #song
How would you define being successful as an independent artist?
This is such a difficult question. I’m not sure exactly how to measure success – especially if we consider how it fits into other parts of our lives as a whole. At the moment, I am trying to just keep moving forward with getting the songs in my head into a format that I can share with others – and hope that someone is listening! I think the best definition may be that success happens when the music has some positive impact on the world.
For our final question, we’d like to know what motivates you to continue chasing your musical passions?
I can’t help it. Songs and musical ideas happen and it is difficult to keep them inside. To record them and have them come to life in a way that can be shared with others – a message that could possibly travel the world – is like releasing a bird that just wants to fly.