New York born Sari Schorr will release her second studio album Never Say Never on Friday 5th October. The new album was recorded in The Grange Studios in Norfolk and features Bob Fridzema (ex-King King) on Hammond and keyboards, Ash Wilson on guitar, Mat Beable on bass and Roy Martin on drums. To support the release of the album, Sari will embark on her ‘Never Say Never’ UK Tour on 13 September.
Sari Schorr has a voice like no other, hyper powerful, husky, muscular, with an incredible texture and range. She delivers sentences as a boxer would throw an uppercut to his opponent.
In 2016, Sari first burst onto the Blues-Rock scene with her critically acclaimed debut album, A Force of Nature, produced by iconic British Blues pioneer Mike Vernon (David Bowie, Eric Clapton, John Mayall, Fleetwood Mac, Peter Green).
To see all of the dates and places Sari is playing and hear tracks from her new album “Never Say Never” please see the end of the interview. I will also be reviewing the album shortly so watch out for it – it is a belter!
In the information I received about your album it says that you seem to have travelled all over the place in this past year, New York, Spain, Germany, Wales, all manner of places, how on earth did that happen?
When I look back and think of all the places I have been and all of the miles I have covered I am glad that I didn’t realise at the start or else it would have been completely overwhelming. One thing just naturally lead into another, I met someone who wanted to manage me in Costa Rica, which lead me to Germany where I met my song writing partner and producer on this album, Henning Gehrke. We have been working together for years. Working with Mike Vernon on the first album lead me to the UK and that is where I got my deal and put the band together. I have to confess I feel like I am home when I am here, people have to remind me “honey, honey, you live in Brooklyn remember, with the 3 pitbulls?”
Lots of giggling by us both.
I feel so at home here, I love it. So, we have our September UK tour and I am “That’s great, we are going to be on home soil in September!” But the funny thing is, honestly, the easiest part of all this travelling around I always do feel that I am home when I am with like minded people. When you are with people that you connect to right away you share this love of Blues Rock and so right away there is this common thing and that creates a sense of familiarity where there is this connection that you have. This really helps. I was asked yesterday about my favourite venue to play in and I was thinking … I don’t really remember the venues, I often don’t know where I am but it is the people that you connect to and when you have this you can go anywhere. I was in India and Haiti doing humanitarian work and I felt really at home and very comfortable, a little too comfortable as it was a little bit dangerous and you forget and let your guard down. You have to realise that we are all just one big family, I just have to learn to get through life with less stuff, just what fits in my suitcase!
Lots of giggling and chat about home from home comforts and the pitfalls of packing.
Talking about that connection, having seen you on stage with your band and in particular, Ash Wilson, that connection seems majorly strong and you seem to have great fun. How did that come about?
This is one of those miracles that happen in life. It was a chance meeting, he was supporting me in London but I had heard he was a stunning guitarist and when we met beforehand, during soundcheck, he was so charming. He captivated me and I knew I had to hear him play. I never, in a million years, think we could have the chance to work together. We hit it off immediately, we did a really funny interview backstage and right away there was a connection and we both felt comfortable. He is, what you see is exactly what he is, full of integrity and an abundance of talent. I really love working with him. The whole band just clicked. You can work with the greatest musicians but if you don’t have the chemistry, it is not always easy as we spend endless hours in the bus together and you hear stories all the time about how much tension there can be when you spend all of that time together and everyone is exhausted. With these guys we are laughing so much. When we are not talking about music or playing music we are just enjoying each other’s company and it helps you forget that you are tired and it is a hard day. It gets you through the hard times, it really does. I am so lucky for that. They become your family, we are just one big family.
That is what you want though, it is the utopia, it seems to me
Yes, it is utopia. It comes across in the music too. I have worked in some situations where band leaders instil fear in their musicians and would yell at them if there was a mistake or something wasn’t right. That is the first step in blocking creativity, you have to make people feel relaxed and comfortable in order for them to be inspired and give you the best they have. So, I think we are doing that for each other. We are creating a situation where we are setting each other up to succeed. That is a team.
I loved your quote about song writing and running through sand in stilettos * I bought an amazing image to my mind
*The full quote is “Song writing is like running through the sand in stilettos. You really can’t get anywhere until you bare your soul”
Thanks for picking up on that.
It is probably a girl thing, stilettos just click in my head!
Lots of laughter
I was thinking what does it feel like, it took me a little while to come up with it but as soon as that image was in my head, I was “Oh my God, that is exactly what it feels like, you want to walk out of here, you want to look good doing what you are doing, you want to make it look easy, but hell it is hard, it is really hard.” I have to just not be afraid, to be honest. For me song writing, I love it but it is hard, I struggle with finding melodies that are accessible but interesting. You know, stuff you can live with and not get tired of. There is a fine line between doing something that is generic and something that it just too abstract and with lyrics, it is even worse. Trying to find a way to say something that has been said a million times but in a different approach, it hurts.
I accept it and I am willing to raise my hand and say for me song writing is a wonderful but painful process.
For me I feel that you have laid yourself completely bare with this album, emotionally, there is lots of vulnerability. How do you weave that into the process, do you start with it or is it more of having to get something out, a need to talk about something, even if you don’t really want to, does the song pull you in a direction?
When I think of a song like “Beautiful”, it was a really hard song for me to embrace and because it felt so uncomfortable I knew that I had to pursue this, so in that case it was the challenge of overcoming my fears of full disclosing, being completely honest to write that. With the other songs that are more political, that was absolutely a reaction to everything that was going on, especially in my country. I never thought we could rise to such a low of morality, of social bias of injustice all of these things. I have a real problem with injustice which is why I am interested in social work. I was outraged and music is a outlet for me to divert that energy and try to create something that is positive. That is the interesting thing about the human spirit, we all, every single person, has the capacity to take challenges and adversity and convert it into hope and love and something that is positive for the future. That is one of the most beautiful things about the human spirit.
I totally agree with you, it is amazing to see people who have been through so much or have so little just how their souls shine through
Absolutely, I find people who are in the most desperate situations fulfil the greatest part of their human spirit, it is incredible. Perhaps because so much has been stripped away that what is left is the beauty of the human experience.
Was it a hard album to record?
No, that was what was so interesting. It was a hard album to write but an incredibly easy and joyful album to record. I decided I wanted to di it live and although it always much riskier to go in and record an album this way, people who know me know that I never shy away from risk anyway! I felt that this was the best way for us to deliver the most honest performance of the songs and get the energy across. We wanted people to be able to hear the sweat in the tracks!
The secret was that we took the songs out on the road, played them in front of people, got feedback, reworked the songs inside out to a point where we really felt that we had bought the songs to the pinnacle. Then we went into the studio and nailed song after song and spent two and a half days recording the songs live. Then we had the opportunity to do some overdubs and we went to Germany to do some additional guitar parts and background vocals but the heart and soul of the record was done in this fabulous, all analogue studio, in a 19th century converted barn in rural Norfolk. It was perfect.
You are going out on tour in September, is there anything special that you do to keep your voice in shape, is it different when you are on tour?
I don’t have any pre-show rituals other than to relax and enjoy the company of the crew and the band. When I am at home I love yoga, I love walking and get walked every day by my 3 Pitbull’s! They take really good care of me.
What are they called?
They are triplets and sisters and they are called Sophie, Elenora and Chianti, my husbands in the wine business! She is a big drinker and so her name is Chianti!
I bet you miss them so much when you are away?
Oh, it is terrible! They try and get into my suitcase when I am leaving. It breaks my heart. They are getting a little bit older now and so can’t do really long walks and so I have an oversized stroller, two of them end up in there and the other walks, fortunately anything goes in New York so no one even looks twice! Other than that I have some pretty interesting looking kids! I was getting too tired carrying them, as when you carry one they all want to be carried and they weigh 60 pounds each, so the stroller was needed.
Lots of laughing and doggy chat!
You have worked with some really inspirations people with impressive pedigrees, like John Baggott, what was that like?
He was so generous and lovely. He was really kind. It has been amazing, I have worked with Bernard Perdie and other great guys in the past and you find that the more successful the more generous these musicians are. I always try to work with musicians better then myself as it helps me to achieve greater and greater things all the time. I never feel as though I am done learning my craft, it is an endless journey. The artists lament!
I guess that part of creative thing is wanting to be better each and every time and work with inspirational people that are successful
That is what is so addictive about this, you are never done. There is always the next challenge but with it comes the next reward. It creates a cycle of addiction.
That is a good way of putting it. Have you got any advice for young women in the industry or thinking about entering the industry?
First of all surround yourself with great people and that was the most challenging thing for me, but I have that now, with Alan Robinson, my manager, he is President of Manhattan Records. Don’t make excuses for anybody, surround yourself with the best people, people who deserve to be part of your team and part of your success and don’t allow yourself to be marginalised or victimised because you are a woman, stand up for yourself, believe in yourself and follow your heart. Know it won’t always be easy, but that’s ok. Accept that because its going to be filled with all kinds of challenges there will be pot holes in the road, some of them too big to avoid, just don’t spend too long in them. Develop your reflexes so you can avoid the little ones!
Lots of giggles
Take it all on! Sometimes we expect things to happen to easily and too quickly but that is what the album “Never Say Never” is about, never give up hope, believe in yourself and don’t quit until you can actually hear yourself say “I did it!”
Very sound advice. Who are you influenced by?
Martin Luther King, I idolise him. The people who create beauty in life, these are the people, the nameless, faceless people that we pass on the street that we don’t recognise but who are doing little things to make the world a better place. It is generally the people who don’t ever call attention to themselves, those are the people I find to be really inspiring.
I get a lot of support from my family, I am very close to my Mum, I lost my Dad on Christmas Day, years and years ago but I feel that he is still a strong presence in my life. He was my greatest influence. He taught me that talent is common but execution is where you really need to work for what you want and if you do you can achieve anything.
That has bought a tear to my eye, I have to say
He was a jet fighter pilot and my Mum was a fashion model.
You come from an excellent pedigree don’t you
Lots of laughter
Well, I am nothing like either of them
I don’t know that, I think your Dad must have been determined, set on his course and passionate about it and your Mum was the embodiment of beauty and I think you are a great mix of those two things
Thank you so much, I give you every permission to write that! I will show it to my Mum.
Lots of laughter
I will be sure and send your Mum a copy, don’t worry.
Lots of laughter
It is one thing to write an album like this but then when you come out of your nice creative bubble you have to face the real world again, it is OK, wait a second, now we hope people actually have a chance to hear what we have been doing.
Do you have a favourite track on the album?
It depends on my mood, right now it feels like I have a litter of 11 babies and I want to kill them all because it hurt so much getting them out!
But it really depends on my mood and so it was hard to determine the running order but luckily Alan Robinson came up the best order which showcases them in the best way. I love “The New Revolution” and “Freedom” because of the political undertone and the message running though them. “Beautiful” because of the honestly and “Back to LA” because of where I was emotionally when I wrote it.
I guess it is obvious that they are all going to be your favourite at one time or another
You know why? You don’t hear the bad ones as they didn’t make the record. We picked out the tracks that we absolutely believed in and truly loved ourselves. There are 30 other songs on the cutting room that no one have to suffer through. We only wanted to give the best we had.
Can I ask about your humanitarian work, it sounds as though this is really important to you?
It often happens in music, I was doing an Amnesty International project, I was producing the European side of it and from that I was introduced to a young girl who was the mayor of her village and it sounded right up my alley. I went to India with her and it fascinating how all my music experience went into helping her overcome some of the challenges she was dealing with, the political climate there, having to make speeches and deal with all the media. I had done a benefit concert for an Orphanage in Haiti and after meeting the people involved I told them “I was glad I was able to do this concert for you, but I want to do more.” This lead to me going there and working with them and this is something that is still very important to me.
It is important to give back and I feel that that I can never give back enough. When you look around and see how much suffering there is and how much I love my work, which is such a gift, it gives me a crazy sense of social responsibility.
You can really hear in your voice just how passionate you are about that.
Unfortunately, I had then run out of time with Sari, so I wished her a lovely day and thanked her for her time.
Tour Dates – click on the link to be taken to the venue for tickets.
Leicester, The Musician Thursday 13 September
London, Borderline Friday 14 September
Mickelton Live Saturday 15 September
Bilston, the Robin 2 Tuesday 18 September
Bristol, The Louisiana Wednesday 19 September
Pontypridd, Muni Arts Centre Friday 21 September
Derby, Flowerpot Saturday 22 September
Oxford, The Bullingdon Thursday 27 September
Poynton, Blue Funk Rhythm & Blues Club Friday 28 September
Godalming, Wilfrid Noyce Community Centre Saturday 29 September