“Simple and sad with a shot of scotch.” That’s how musician Sara Lov describes her simultaneously dark and angelic sound. The former frontwoman of Devics (who were signed to Bella Union by Cocteau Twins’ Simon Raymonde) and current solo singer paints an apt picture of melodies that are both minimalist and poignant with heady vocals that warm you from the inside.
Singer/songwriter Sara Lov was born in Hawaii in 1970 and later was raised by her mother in Los Angeles after the divorce of her parents. At the age of four she was kidnapped by her father and taken to Israel. Sara Lov lived there with an international fugitive from justice until a decade later when an uncle brought about her repatriation to the United States.
With the release of a new record and a penchant for creating brilliant cover versions of artists like Arcade Fire, we were absolutely enamoured with Sara. Amy talked to her about songwriting, her influences and the future.
TDOA: I think you mix twee and folk in this really interesting way. Can you talk about the variety of sounds on this record?
Sara: A lot of what you are hearing is the amazing talent of Mr. Zac Rae who produced the record and played most of the instruments. My idea was to try to translate these songs into a style that fits me. It’s hard to say in words how that happens or why, but what I like to do is choose musicians that I love and trust and let them do their thing. Patrick Park is an incredible guitarist and song writer in his own right and he played guitar on a few tracks, which added so much depth. Blair Sinta played drums and Joe Karnes played bass. I love those guys. They are such incredible musicians and they are super fun to play with.
TDOA: Your highly-interesting past is obviously an influence in your lyrics, but how do you think it influences the raw emotion your voice has?
Sara: I suppose my voice is the transmitter of my emotion and my personality. We are all influenced by our past and it shapes and molds how we view the world and express ourselves. My intention in singing is to deliver my truth and I suppose the truth is sometimes sad.
TDOA: You’ve released several EPs and albums since 2008 – 5! What do you think makes you so prolific?
Sara: Wow. Sheesh, I certainly don’t think of myself as prolific, but thank you. I am actually a really slow writer which is why you’ve been hearing so many covers coming from me. I don’t put too much weight into what I’ve done. I’m more focused on things I’d like to do in the future.
TDOA: How do you think those releases have evolved? How have you evolved as a musician?
Sara: It’s a constant growing process. I hope I am getting better, but sometimes I feel like I just keep getting harder on myself. At the same time, I have relaxed a lot with my whole outlook on music. I have learned that I write a lot better with a partner. I definitely miss writing music with Dustin (my partner in the band Devics). It’s been great to explore writing songs with new people.
TDOA: Nothing’s better than a good cover. How did you decide that Beck & Arcade Fire were the best fits for this record?
Sara: The Beck song was sort of a happy accident. Zac and I were in the studio messing around and we started playing that and it, but it wasn’t planned. That Arcade Fire song was my favorite of that record. At the time I had finished my first full length, but we thought it would be good to release an ep first. We needed a few extra songs and quickly, so covers were a good idea. This was back in 2009. We released “The Young Eyes” ep first and then the album.
TDOA: You’re joining a pretty thick repertoire of raspy-voiced female singer/songwriters. What do you think is differentiating about Sara Lov?
Sara: I don’t know. It’s kind of hard to know what your own voice sounds like. I love playing music but I’m not good at analyzing mine.
TDOA: Ultimately, though, I think your best comparison is to Tori Amos – who do you think your contemporaries are, male or female?
Sara: I have so many current favorites that it would be hard to narrow it down, but some of the big female ones that come to mind are: Feist, Beth Gibbons, Cat Power, PJ Harvey, and on and on and on.
I’m a pretty big music fan, so I’m always discovering new things that I love. At the moment I’m loving Fleet Foxes and My Morning Jackets new records, as well as James Blake, Vetiver and lots and lots of old music too.
TDOA: Another cool “meshing” together of themes on this record is how the dark undertones sort of struggle with innocence/tenderness in the songs. Can you talk about that a little?
Sara: Yeah, I guess I always lean towards the dark. It’s important to me that it always has a thread of hope though it somehow. I don’t want to be so bleak. I think my next record will be a bit brighter.
TDOA: “La Bambola” is also a unique track/cover. What made you choose it?
Sara: This is one of the songs I first fell in love with when I was living in Italy. It’s from 1968 from a woman named Patty Pravo who is sort of a legend and a bit of an eccentric woman. It’s a song that everyone knows and loves there and really resonated with me. I wanted to do a song in italian since I spent so much time there and do lots of touring there. It was really fun playing this song on tour in Italy and having the whole crowd singing along.
TDOA: What is in the future for you – are you touring, recording, just chilling out?
Sara: I’m always working on something. At the moment I have a couple of things going, but I also have a day job so it’s whenever I have time. There is a Smiths tribute record coming out and I did the song “Well I Wonder” for it. That should be out soon. I don’t have any touring plans at the moment, but the next time I release a new record I will.
Purchase Sara’s newest record, “i already love you” and visit her facebook page, here.