We were fortunate to catch Sarah Darling in Exeter where she was supported Ward Thomas recently. We chatted briefly after the show and she agreed to have a better chat once she'd got back to Nashville and unpacked from the tour (plenty of washing to do no doubt!) She stayed true to her word and a few days after hitting US soil, she sent an email with all of her responses to my questions, read on to find out what she thinks of Marmite, how she likes to eat her cream tea and how she came to fall in love with a certain song by The Smiths....
You moved to Nashville from Iowa when you were 19 years old, was it as you expected it to be when you first arrived? How did you find the music scene there initially? and how do you find it now?
Moving to Nashville was a life changing experience on so many levels. I was starry eyed and quite you young when I made the plunge. Not to mention, a small town Iowa girl. The first few years were quite tough. Nobody tells you how hard it is to pay your bills and chase your dream at the same time! I was embraced immediately into a writing group when I got there, who I'm still friends with. I consider those some of the best days of my life. It's that life that you live, heartbreaks, struggles and new experiences that shape you. Nashville made me who I am and the beautiful people who have helped me along the way. It's exciting to see all the art being created everyday from this city! The music scene is more exciting than ever because it's so diverse. Nashville is growing.
Ward Thomas and The Shires are just two UK acts that are really flying the flag for UK Country music right now, do you think that they’re accepted in America as well as an American country artist or band would be?
It's so exciting to see what Ward Thomas and The Shires have achieved. Country music is about the real life stories, and can translate anywhere in the world. After being on tour with Ward Thomas this past month, I felt such a connection with the UK audience. They embraced me which warmed my heart. Country is becoming quite cool in the UK which excites me! I think it is wider than it's ever been in America. Both duos would be welcome with open arms. I would love to see them both on the Opry stage.
We have a chain of stores here in the UK called ‘John Lewis’ and every year, they do an amazing Christmas TV advertisement, I was checking out your lovely stripped back cover of ‘Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want’ by The Smiths, this would be PERFECT for the advert, should I put you in touch for the 2017 campaign? (for info, here’s a link to last year’s advert which was written by Noel Gallagher from OASIS)
First off, I know these adverts and they make me cry. Maybe this makes me an honorary Brit! I loved the last one with 'Half the World Away' and the man on the moon. I could see many tracks on my album work, but most of all 'Stargazer!' What a special song. How on earth to I get in touch with John Lewis!?
Are you a big fan of The Smiths or was it just this song that attracted you to them? If you were to meet Morrissey, what would you as him?
I was introduced to The Smiths by my husband James. The first time I heard 'please please Please, let me get what I want,' it stopped me in my tracks. The words say everything I've ever wanted to say being a musician and chasing a dream. If I met Morrissey, I would thank him. It's an emotional one for me.
You told me in Exeter that you’ve designed some of your own boots through a company called Durango, how did this come about in the first place and can you send me a picture of your design(s)? Where can people learn more about them?
A few years back I had to opportunity to design my own cowboy boots with Durango. I got to pick out the leather and accents etc. I get massively excited when I see someone wearing my Sunflower slouchy boots. Check out durangoboots.com
I read that you also have your own French Macaron company called ‘Sweet Darling Patisserie’, where do you run this from, do you have a shop or is it home run?
5 years ago, I went to Paris for the first time. I fell in love with Macarons, my husband, and the beautiful city. I loved the culture so much, I started my own macaron company in Nashville. It keeps the love and story alive for me, and I've always been a cook. Currently, I own a couple of patisserie carts that roll around Nashville. Check out Sweetdarlingpatisserie.com and fall in love with the story. I hope to meet Jamie Oliver one day!
You’re married to a British guy, what has been the oddest ‘British’ quote or terminology that you have come across so far?
Bobby Dazzler for sure! The first time I heard it, I laughed out loud.
I read in a previous interview you did that you are well versed in Cream Teas, did you know that people from Devon put cream on first THEN the jam whereas people from Cornwall put the jam on first THEN the cream?
I can't get enough of Cream Teas! In fact, I have my own tea parties in Tennessee with all the treats. I'm definitely siding with Devon on this, cream, then jam! What do I know!
What was you reaction when you first tasted Marmite?
Salty! It was when I tried it with cheddar that changed me! I love it now.
You attended C2C (Country to Country) earlier in 2016, who did you meet whilst at the event and anyone UK radio DJ’s that really helped you out? I assume that you have met Bob Harris before?
When I played C2C in March, I had never played in the UK before and didn't know anyone. I wanted to meet Bob Harris while I was there but never got the chance. This dream came true last month, when I got to do an Under the Apple Tree Session while on tour. All I have to say is, what a gem of a person he is. I love listening to his stories, and he has the nicest family!
Your musical influences mainly gravitate around Country music artists though I did see Coldplay in the list, any other UK acts that have had an effect on either your songwriting or approach to playing?
Coldplay has been a big inspiration for me. They are quite Dreamy and write songs that I relate to. There is a lot of hope in the music they put out, and the talk about Stars! My dream duet partner is Chris Martin!
The new record ‘Dream Country’ has been funded via a ‘pledge’ campaign, doing it this way, would you say that YOU have had more input to the creative process rather than a large label pushing all the buttons for you?
Dream Country has had my full creative stamp on it. I hand picked all the musicians, songs, and studios. I'm more attached, because I've put my heart and soul into the process. Plus, my fans helped me do this. I want to make something wonderful for them.
Just how many hours of writing, arranging and general hard work have gone into ‘Dream Country’ so far? Would you say that the record will be your ‘work of art’ or are you always thinking of ways of improving on what you’ve already put out (or will put out soon)?
For the first time, I feel really peaceful about my album! I'm usually wanting to change so many things, but start to finish I love this body of work. I honestly think the strings are what get me every time. I wanted tons of strings! I've been writing for Dream Country for 2 years or so. Most of the tracks are written with my close friends who know me well. A true labor of love!
You’re not signed presently but you WERE on a label, did you try it but decided you were better off without them? (I’m happy to edit the question if there is a reason for you moving away from them, just change to make it fit - or ignore altogether if its personal!)
For 7 years I was signed to a great label in Nashville. My deciding to leave was a decision to be more artistic and free. I had a very strong vision for who I was but could never articulate it there. I had a drive to explore my music more. Fast forward to my new album Dream Country, from the start to the finish, it's so much of who I am. It's what I've always wanted to give my fans. I am totally open to the possibilities of a new label one day.
If you could create your own ‘supergroup’ using musicians who are alive/dead or fictional, who would be in your lineup and why?
Oh this is a crazy question but I love it. My supergroup would definitely have David Bowie on lead vocals. Maybe Dave Grohl on the drums! Chris Martin on the piano and vocals. Sting on the bass and Prince on electric guitar. Best group ever!
You’ve been singing and playing for a LONG time, what advice would you offer to someone just starting out on their musical journey?
My advice is to always be yourself. Don't try and compare yourself with anyone, but find your own lane. It's about what you are trying to say to the world that really matters. Most of all have fun and enjoy the ride!
Lastly, tell me about 3 acts from Nashville that our readers need to be checking out right now?
We'd like to thank Sarah for staying true to her word and actually coming back to us with her answers to our deep and meaningful questions! We wish her every success in the future and hope to see her on UK shores again in the not too distant future. If you want to keep in touch with Sarah and her whereabouts, all of her social media pages are below.