Sarah Blackwood: Taking visual music to the next level - INTERVIEW
blog by Kathryn Przybyla • December 04, 2012 @ 11:25am
It seems like everyone did a cover of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” when it finally blew up in North America this past year. But there was one group that stood out from the crowd.
Walk Off the Earth produced an insane cover of the popular song with all five band members playing a single guitar. The video hit 35 million views in under two weeks and currently is just under 140 million.
Calling Burlington, Ontario home (just north of the border on the way to Toronto) Walk Off the Earth has dominated Youtube with creative covers of songs and even recently released an original album, “R.E.V.O.” Optimizing on their internet fame, the band has collected an incredible following of new fans especially on their current headline tour—making a stop in Buffalo on Friday at the Town Ballroom.
Originally scheduled for October, the Buffalo date was moved to this week with I’m Happiest When, Free Henry and the Mowgli’s opening the show at 7 p.m. We got a chance to chat with Sarah Blackwood about the upcoming show. The lone female in a talented group of well-trained musicians, Blackwood has a rockstar quality about her that comes out in her music with confidence and spunk.
Calling Jim Morrison her idol, Blackwood exudes energy and a passion for creating music that inspires people. Despite her small stature, she isn’t afraid to be front and center when it comes to the band’s success—she can clearly handle herself with the rest of the boys.
Take a look at our interview below.
Looking forward to anything while being on tour?
Sarah Blackwood: All the new places and meeting new fans—all of that, definitely. It’s always fun to play shows and we’re excited for that. We’re just stoked to play for people.
Will this be your first time in Buffalo?
SB: I’ve been to Buffalo tons of times. I used to play in a punk band and we performed at this really small venue—Mohawk Place.
Being based in Burlington, Ontario (just across the border in Canada) how is it playing for a hometown crowd?
SB: It’s definitely one of the highlights on a tour of shows. Right off the bat we just go crazy right away. The last time we were in Europe and almost missed the Burlington show—flew overnight from California and just made it in.
Flights just can’t get their shit together, but we were delayed and showed up within minutes of taking the stage. It’s all about timing.
Tell us about the video for your new song “Red Hands.”
SB: The video is amazing. Ninety percent of our videos are one take and this was the most challenging one take video we’ve ever done. There’s lots of choreography and it’s super cool. The way it was thought through is insane.
Gianni and I read the treatment and didn’t even understand it—we liked it. Instead of typical videos, we were like f**k it—this sounds crazy, it’s probably going to be crazy and it’s amazing.
What about the rest of the album?
SB: The rest of the album is awesome. “Gang of Rhythm” has a really cool sound with lots of trumpets and chello. “Summer Vibe” is on there too. It’s a great collection and collaboration of writing. We were excited that our original music is starting to spill out since the last little while has been focused on covers.
You guys are incredibly creative when it comes to re-working those covers. Any favorites?
SB: I don’t know. I really like our “Roll Up” loop video. Gianni is an amazing producer. He can map out things in his head quite accurately and has a lot to do with the story lines in the video. As much as I love being in front of the camera, it’s awesome to shoot too.
Our Adele cover is pretty interesting. All of them are really close to me when I start working with them. It’s hard to choose. “Love the Way You Lie”—that was the first one Gianni did with a loop pedal and he sent it to me.
I was like, dude why am I not in this video!
What songs are you guys planning on covering in the future?
SB: We actually have three songs ready to make videos for—we never stop and continuously writing our own music. Sometime’s we’ll hear something and be like “we’ve got to cover that.” I don’t want to give any of the upcoming songs away though.
You guys play so many instruments, some I don’t even recognize. What are your favorites to play?
SB: I started with guitar when I was 13 and that was my go-to instrument. Gianni started on drums real young and “Beard Guy” is even classically trained in piano since he was four—we all have out things. I’ve been singing since I was a young child, but I always got bored.
I played the ukulele and then started working with Walk Off. I learned a lot of chords on piano and picked it up pretty easily. The same thing happened with all the guys. With producing music, Gianni picked up all sorts of instruments so he wouldn’t have to pay anyone else.
Things come naturally to us and give us a couple times, we can figure things out. We’ve just gradually picked up more instruments. It’s like “oh well, guess I’m going to have to learn this now!”
Who are some musicians you draw inspiration from?
SB: For me, my dad loved rock and roll music and the Doors. I saw the movie when I was 11 and it changed my life. I wanted to be Jim Morrison and it was all about the poetry and sound and a character on stage—a unique voice.
We’re influenced by lots of stuff. None of us are closed minded. We al listen to hip hop, rock and roll, dance music and pop. We never close our mind to one genre, we want to play it all.
Are you a hot, medium or mild kind of wing girl?
SB: I’m vegetarian, but I’m sure the guys love Buffalo wings.
What are your favorite songs to sing in the shower?
SB: I don’t usually have a steady shower since we’re on the road, but it’s usually whatever’s in my head. Yesterday, Gianni and Marshall were working on something cool. But it always changes.
Photo courtesy of Facebook.