Q&A with Sarah Jaffe

Sarah Jaffe of Denton, Texas makes the perfect crossover kind of indie pop. It's catchy, but not blase, indie, but not obtuse. We talked with her about her album Don't Disconnect, working with friends on the followup remix EP, Visions, and Sarah's favorite things. 

-Adam Downer

GGM: Visions is largely a remix EP. What made you want to look into releasing this style of EP?

SJ: I’m a fan of a good remix. I love to hear another artist’s take on songs. So I had a group of friends, including Rob Sanchez and Symbolyc One, they all did remixes along with other Dallas artists I know and really like. They’re all friends I trust.

GGM: Your music strikes me as really philosophical, from The Body Wins being about the physical and Don’t Disconnect being about hyper-connectivity. Can you tell me about the concept behind Don’t Disconnect in your own words?

SJ: When I was writing the song “Don’t Disconnect,” it was about the physicality of missing someone. But when I was thinking about the record, it became apparent that maybe I was a little bit aloof and disconnected from the people I love and have relationships with. I got lost drowning myself in other people’s business because it’s so easy to do that nowadays. You just have other people in your face 24/7 and you can lose yourself in that. I started thinking about the idea that the word “disconnect” could take on a physical and, I guess, metaphorical form. I found that it explains a certain timeframe for me.

GGM: I am hearing some 90s, fuzzy guitars on Don’t Disconnect. Can you tell me what you wanted to do sonically with this album?

SJ: I don’t set out on each record with the intent to do something different for the sake of being different, you know? Obviously different stages happen when you listen to different things, and I’m constantly listening to different things. I think each song on each record comes out a little bit differently, and you might think “oh, this person is changing their sound.” That is the case, but not necessarily with intent. With this record, I just wanted to have fun.

Being in the studio is my favorite part. I love watching a song progress from my demo form into the full McKenzie Smith version. He owns the Redwood Studio in Denton, where I recorded my album. This record was all about collaboration with McKenzie. I adore him as a person and friend, and as a drummer he’s one of my favorites. I love working with him. He’s an incredible talent. Sitting down with him and talking about where we thought the songs were going was great. We had fun with it. We didn’t really overthink things, which I can do in the studio. With this record, it was about making a song and not trying to make it what it’s not.

GGM: What are you jamming right now?

SJ: I really like Father John Misty’s new album. This other guy I’m into is called Erik Hassle. I haven’t heard a lot about him and I’m not sure why. I guess he doesn’t get a lot of publicity in the states. Been addicted to his stuff.

GGM: Favorite albums growing up?

SJ: Patty Griffin’s Flaming Red was a favorite. The Bends by Radiohead was a life changer. I also had the cassette of The Cranberries’ No Need to Argue. They’re great!

GGM: Have you seen any good movies recently?

SJ: We just got Apple TV, which means I never leave home now. I just watched American Sniper, which was intense. I also saw Moonrise Kingdom, which isn’t terribly new, but I thought that was really good.

GGM: Do you watch any TV shows?

SJ: I do! I watch Veep a lot. I’m also into a show called Silicon Valley. It’s really funny. My favorite TV show is Broad City. I love that show. It’s wonderful.

GGM: Have you read any good books recently?

SJ: Right now I’m reading this David Bowie book my friend got for her birthday called David Bowie Is... It’s an extensive look at his fashion and stories. It’s a large book and really interesting.

GGM: Do you have any favorite articles of clothing or clothing brands? Small shops you like to support?

SJ: I love shoes. I’m addicted to them. There’s a brand called River Island I like, and also there’s an online shopping place called Asos. It’s pretty amazing, and I visit it every day! I just bought these incredible YSO gold boots. It’s part guilt for how much I spent, but mostly excitement.

Most of my shopping is for old, vintage T-shirts or shoes. There’s a place in Dallas called Dolly Python. It’s an incredible store run by an awesome person named Gretchen Bell. They sell shirts and just some weird shit!

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