IN a full and frank interview…
Sara Diamond goes into depth about her music career and spending time in L.A. I ask her about the time in California and whether it was an enriching process – and what the differences are between Montreal (where she is based) and L.A. She talks about the new single, Stay a Little, and what comes next – and whether there are going to be any U.K. dates further ahead.
Diamond discusses her childhood and how she latched onto music young; the artists and sounds she was exposed to – finishing by offering some great advice to new musicians coming into the industry.
Hi, Sara. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey, Music Musings (or whoever, by name, is going to be publishing this)! I’m doing great on this lovely Friday morning. Coffeed-up and ready to go. My week has been lovely - I released my third single last Friday; so it’s been wonderful hearing people’s feedback throughout the week. Plus, sessions and as many fall (autumn) runs as possible...
How has your week been?
For those new to your work; can you introduce yourself, please?
I started singing mannnnyyy moons ago…went back and forth between loving and hating it -kind of like dating.
But, I think we’re married now (weird analogy?). It can be tricky, putting your heart out on the line; making music that goes there. I’m finally getting to a place where I’m learning about the secrets I keep even from myself…so I’m implementing that into my music, which is really liberating.
On a non-music-related note: I LOVE space. It boggles my mind. Everything about the universe we live in…I also love red wine and going on hikes with my friends. Plop me outside and I’m a happy camper. I have a small tattoo on my right ring finger. My hair has always been super curly and I’m finally learning to love it (see picture below…).
PHOTO CREDIT: Sara Diamond
I like giving gifts more than I do receiving them. My favourite colour right now is orange….AND…last thing: I love Friday the 13th.
Stay a Little is your new single. Can you tell me what inspired the song?
I wrote Stay a Little right after my first heartbreak; literally right after.
It was kind of a long time coming…but one of those things you can’t imagine actually happening. I got into my bed; I looked out the window. It was 5:00 A.M. and the sky was just dark. I didn’t want to see the sun or the moon - because both meant acknowledging the truth of the situation. Last night we were together, tomorrow morning we won’t be ‘us’ anymore. The moment seemed to not exist; so I wanted to stay in that space.
In terms of the relationship; I knew every outcome would cause suffering. So, I just wanted to stay in one place and forget about everything.
Do you think there will be other singles soon? Any E.P. in the pipeline?
Most definitely. Expect a lot more music. I’m just going to be getting it out there, constantly, and passionately.
Life is too short to not put music out.
I believe you started singing when you were super-young. Singing on the children’s record label, KIDZUP; was that the moment you decided music was your future?
I remember being ten and knowing that I wanted to sing professionally. I mean, I was ten, so I only had superstardom (Hannah Montana 2.0, anyone?) as a benchmark…but the intention was there. It took many years, trial-and-error, to get to the place that I’m in right now…which is the belief that music is my present. If I carry out my life making the best possible present moment, music will be a part of my life forever - as well as all of the things that bring me clarity and joy.
Back in 2008, you told your parents you wanted to go to L.A. What was their reaction?
They kind of chuckled and didn’t think much of it.
I mean, I’m sure three-year-olds telling their parents they want to be famous is a regular and exaggerated occurrence. But, when I got the opportunity, they were the most selfless, supportive; compassionate parents - and they let me go, which I will be forever grateful for because they let me fly and then fall (with no judgment) - and now fly again, in a different way.
PHOTO CREDIT: Grant Spanier
You did arrive there aged fourteen. Was it eye-opening experiencing the city at such a young age?!
It was definitely eye-opening.
I’m from Montreal, and to be honest, I was a very typical fourteen-year-old. I hadn’t been to a party or gotten drunk ever (aside from being tipsy at Passover…but that’s an exception, right?!). I didn’t wear much makeup and I, luckily, grew up in an environment where my peers were all supportive of each other. L.A. was, basically, the opposite…tons of stage moms with twelve-year-olds in full face makeup; dyed and curled hair at like 10 A.M. Tons of backstabbing; tons of gossip. I dealt with more ‘friends’ spreading rumours about each other than I thought was possible…and it was mostly career-driven. I remember getting snuck into an industry party and feeling SO uncomfortable when I was offered a drink (I mean, I was fifteen!). I think the most eye-opening thing was the realization that it’s the people that make life worthwhile.
I was doing some really cool things in LA but I was fifteen-years-old and 3000 miles from my friends and family, trying to be ‘famous’…and it really messed with me.
A girl-band formed and you experienced some ups and downs. Do you think, looking back, it was a positive experience? What did you learn from your time there?
It was 100% a growing experience which, to me, is a positive experience.
Everything in life is either a lesson or a celebration. Either you’re learning and growing or celebrating a moment of clarity. The girl-group, being in L.A., was really taxing on my mental, physical and spiritual health. I was a wreck - but it made me grow up really fast. I took that growth, which could have become destructive, and (just) let it happen with as little judgment as possible. Somehow, I was able to come back to Montreal and not think that I had ‘failed’. I think that was the biggest gift. I was so miserable in L.A. that being home was such a success…I could be OK, again.
I think the biggest thing being there taught me was that music is therapy. I had nothing to write about because I hadn’t experienced anything, really. I grew up in a bubble. L.A. gave me that shake-up. Everything sort of spiralled downwards for a few years from there - which let me go into the pain and grow out of it. We see mistakes, pain and ‘failure’, as a bad thing: they are the complete opposite. They are the stories that shape us; the building blocks that then become a strong, resilient and beautiful castle.
Montreal is your base. How does life there differ to that in L.A.?
We get four seasons in Montreal but L.A. gets the ocean and majestic mountains.
I notice Canada is thriving in regards its music. Why do you think there is such a productivity and quality in the country?
I think, in recent years, more than ever, there is a pride that comes along with being a Canadian musician. It’s not something people feel the need to shy away from to ‘make it’ in the States (or anywhere else). It’s like, ‘no, we’re Canadian, and we have the same talent, determination; ability to connect as anyone else’. We want everyone to succeed. It took a few prominent people working extra-hard and passionately to break the status quo for everyone else. It really is a wonderful thing. Given the political climate in the U.S., other countries need to jump on every opportunity to show that inclusivity, connection; unity and peace are the most important things.
Above ‘making it’; above just about everything.
What tour dates do you have coming up? Where can we all catch you play?
I’ll keep you posted.
Will you be coming to U.K. anytime soon?
YES! I don’t have a date set yet, but trust me, I will jump on any opportunity to come visit.
If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
Amanda Marshall - Everybody’s Got a Story
I used to listen to it ALL the time with my mom when I was younger. I hadn’t listened to the album in full in YEARS….but my mom and I listened recently again and we knew every word. Looking back at it, I realized how much it shaped me as both a listener and a writer. Her honesty, story-telling ability; passion…it all pours out through her. It’s fantastic…and Amanda Marshall is Canadian.
Justin Nozuka - You I Wind Land and Sea
That album got me through the toughest parts of L.A. I remember listening to it over and over (and over) again. I’ll always have a soft spot for it - purely out of thanks for helping me through those moments.
PHOTO CREDIT: IX Daily
Frank Ocean - Channel Orange
Channel Orange was my first experience with music that resonated with me on an artistic level. He was so different - and his music captivated me from the moment I heard it. It really made me realize that you can bend the norms and still produce beautiful, relevant; catchy, honest music. It was a feeling more than anything else, and that really captured my attention, both as a listener and an artist.
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
Don’t get caught up in the hype.
There is SO much more to life than views and followers and branding. YES, those things are important, fun and part of the job but it is so easy to get lost in it. I’m like suuuuuuuper-up-and-coming and I still get caught up in it. As a society, we’re losing our connection to something greater- nature, community; human-to-human vulnerability…and music has the ability to bridge that gap, tap into that.
Fame is fleeting: life is even more fleeting. Enjoy every moment of it - even the 'bad’. That’s where you’ll learn the most. Thank your family and friends for guiding you - even if it was through anger and pain. They taught you strength.
Read a book. Create music with people because they move you. Don’t lose sight of what makes you so perfectly imperfect - that is the zone you want to tap into. That would be my advice. Focus on being the best version of you and you will flourish…and your music will thank you.
Christmas is approaching. Do you all have plans already or will you be busy working?
I’ll be writing music and spending as much time up north as possible.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Everybody’s Got a Story by Amanda Marshall (and if you want to be extra-amazing; post the lyrics, too!)
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