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  • Interview: Sarah Borges

    Fri, 11 Apr 2008 12:54:40

    Interview: Sarah Borges - The country-punk firecracker talks Beantown, indie roots and down-home Irish jigs [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    What's the first style of music that comes to mind when you think of Boston? Country might not be the rote answer, but singer Sarah Borges makes a good case for the genre's consideration in the running. Along with her band, the Broken Singles, the Boston resident rustles up a boot-stomping, honky tonk style that mixes in a healthy dose of punk and alt rock for good measure.

    Her 2007 LP, Diamonds in the Dark, established her as a rising talent with an ear for especially strong songwriting. So strong in fact that the album finished the year on numerous best-of lists. We were lucky enough to catch up with the singer for a one-on-one interview, during which we talked everything from her musical roots, to two-stepping Irish style. If we learned anything during our time together, it's that musical appreciation is more about melody than your geography.

    First of all, I love the record, and that's why I decided to reach out and get in contact with you. The songwriting is just so strong all the way through. I think you should be really proud.

    Thank you so much, we are. We're so pleased with the reception we've gotten from it. Plus, we're just personally proud of what we did, so it's nice that other people think so too.

    I honestly didn't know about the record when it first came out, but found it through this ground swell that's built up. You were on so many '07 best-of lists, and I feel like the album has really grown on its own merits. Do feel like you've heard that a lot?

    I have, and I feel like part of it is because we kind of ran the gamut on the record. We have something that appeals to everyone. So if you didn't like the first song, maybe you liked the second song. There really is something for everyone. So you're absolutely right, it just keeps growing and growing.

    The country influences, the rockabilly, the alt, the punk—it all comes through. Growing up in Massachusetts, did you get a lot of country in your diet early on?

    Well, I feel like this record is sort of a diary of what I learned about music in the past ten years. I was an indie rock kid, and a punk rock kid. Once I started to grow and play in the Boston scene, I found this roots music undercurrent here. It incorporates a lot of country and rockabilly, just like you said. It was just from going out and seeing great live bands and wanting to do that myself.

    You say you were down with punk and indie rock growing up. What were some of the punk bands that influenced you?

    Well, I am currently a big fan of the band X, and also bands like The Clash. The L.A. scene in the late 70s, early 80s, is the time period of music that I most wish I could've been a part of.

    You were saying there's a love for roots music in the Boston scene. It's interesting that so far north people are exploring those sounds.

    Yeah, I don’t know if it has to do with what geography you're living in. It has to do with American music history. We get that question a lot being from Boston, but certainly there's a lot of that going on.

    Have you gotten a chance to play in Nashville, where a lot of American style music was cultivated?

    You know, it's so funny. Just because Boston rhymes with Austin, people mistakenly think we're from Austin. But we have traveled to Nashville and Austin—we've toured the whole country—and people seem to think we're pretty authentic, so it's been great.

    So let's talk a bit about the songwriting process. When there are so many sounds you want to incorporate, how do you first sit down to start banging out a song?

    Well, typically I sort of make the framework of the song while I'm sitting alone by myself, and then my band really helps me flush out the ideas. It's me being the architect of the building, while they're the builders. We really do work as a group, and those guys each bring their own style to the table.

    How have you adjusted to all the new attention you're getting as the album keeps getting bigger?

    Well, we just keep doing what we're doing. But one of the things that happens when you start to get a little bit more attention, is that you get the opportunity to play more live shows. So I think that's the biggest way that a band can grow—learning on the fly and seeing what people's reactions are. So that's been great. It's really opened a lot of doors for us to be able to play a lot of dates per year.

    What kind of venues do you usually find yourselves in?

    We sort of run the gamut from little, teeny dirty rock clubs, to big festivals. Each one has its own benefit. Certainly at the festivals, we get to play in front of lots of folks who have never heard of us, and at the little, teeny rock shows, there's always the opportunity to jump up on the bar and get the crowd involved. So we like all of them.

    I'm down to rock out, but, personally, I connected most with your high lonesome numbers.

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