Local L.A. Artist Highlight
Sarah Samantha Alexander
How did you start making music?
The first time I ever sat down in front of an instrument, I was four years old, and the instrument was a large, black, baby grand piano. Both my parents are musicians and my grandmother was a concert pianist with perfect pitch, so it was generally expected that I would try my hand at music at least once. At four years old, however, I just couldn’t sit still for any discernible length of time in order to practice. So, I played for a couple years, then went away from it for a few years. I began formal guitar and bass lessons when I was about twelve and fell in love with music from then on. I had an incredible teacher who taught me how to understand music and theory beyond just chords and scales. By thirteen, I was playing in a band and writing my own music. It was cathartic and empowering. I found writing music to be a great outlet for all the angsty teenage sentiments I was harboring. As I got older, I realized that music facilitates connection and understanding. It bridges the gap between generational, social, and cultural divides and acts as an incredible unifier. I feel very humble to be a small part of such an incredible, powerful communication tool.
You're going to a music battle. You can only bring one: an instrument or your voice. What do you bring? Why?
Guitar. Easy. It’s just the instrument I feel most comfortable with. I can also crank up the distortion and really blow out some eardrums, which would probably be helpful in a music battle!
Are there any songs that you have written that you feel you aren’t ready to share? Why?
Absolutely. Everything I write is derived directly from personal experience. When I write and produce a song, I feel as though I am then releasing it to the world to do with it what the world will. Sometimes, I am not ready to publicize the experience, or I haven’t fully processed the emotions associated with it, and releasing such a song would feel premature. Other times, the song simply isn’t good and needs a little more work!
Is there a song of yours that gives you goosebumps? A song from other artists? Why do you think that is?
Of course. I get goosebumps from songs all the time. I was listening to “Defying Gravity” from Wicked the other day and that gave me goosebumps. It’s the lethal combination of the crescendo of the orchestration coupled with the emotion behind the words that gets me.
Do you have any "guilty pleasure" songs that you can't help but jam to when they play?
“Party in the U.S.A”, “Lose Control” by Missy Elliot, “It’s Been Awhile” by Staind, “Mambo Italiano” … I can go on and on.
When do you find you get most inspired?
Hearing a new song that challenges how I perceive music is a great motivator. However, the ultimate source of inspiration is experience. I draw inspiration from the world around me. Whenever something happens that elicits a certain elevated response- anger, confusion, hopelessness, unsolicited joy- I try to funnel that feeling into a song.
How would you define "good" music? How do you know when you're hearing a hit? Are there any hits out there that aren't "good" music?
“Good” is so subjective. I really do enjoy all genres of music, so I don’t find any style or song to be particularly “bad.” Music serves so many purposes; it’s hard to come up with a definitive method of categorizing the good, the bad, and the ugly. I think innovative is a better musical qualifier. Then again, pop is exceedingly formulaic, and there are plenty of modern pop songs that challenge the status quo. Hits are also subjective. Case in point: “Old Town Road.” I guess what I’m trying to say is, I don’t know anything!
What snacks or food or beverages do you keep around during your creative process?
Flavored seltzer water and grapes. I’ll eat pounds and pounds of grapes in one sitting.
Do you have a ritual, something you must do on days when you're writing music or getting ready to perform?
A glass of red wine usually helps me with performance anxiety, so I’ll have one or two (or three) at the venue before we play. Other than that, just arriving on time and making sure soundcheck goes smoothly.
What is something you wish you knew about being an artist before you began your journey?
I wish I knew that just promoting shows on Instagram doesn’t work to draw as big of a crowd as one had hoped! I guess I also wish I knew that the number of followers on your social media, the number of streams on your Spotify, didn’t measure success nearly as much as hearing from a random listener in the crowd that they loved your music. That they understood what you were saying, and that they felt it too.
For the full interview and to get to know Sarah (Sans Faute) better, checkout our Spring/Fall 2020 Kind Writers Literary Magazine
Sarah Samantha Alexander also known musically as Sans Faute is an actor, writer, and musician from Los Angeles, California. She received her B.A. from California State University, Northridge, where she majored in English, Creative Writing with an emphasis in Playwriting, and minored in Theatre. Listen to Sans Faute on Spotify and Apple Music. Follow her artist journey: sarahsamanthaalexander.com