By MIKE CHAIKEN
If you look at the performance calendars around Connecticut, 19-year-old singer songwriter Sarah Barrios seems to have come out of nowhere to become a fixture on the local music scene.
Sarah, who is coming to The Space in Hamden, Feb. 7, currently is up for best new act at the New England Music Awards. She also will be one of the artists at the annual SWAN Day event, which will be held at Illusions in Wolcott this March.
We caught up with Sarah via email to talk to her about herself, performing, and music in general.
Observer: You’re relatively young as a musician on the Connecticut music scene. Talk to me about when you first found yourself gravitating toward a love for music?
Sarah: For me, music has always been a huge part of my life. My parents have musical talents of their own, so I’ve kind of grown up with music. I didn’t start writing my own songs and playing guitar until I was about 13, and I really enjoyed the feeling of telling a story. I think ever since I was little, pursuing music as a career was a dream of mine. I just never though it would be possible. About seven or eight months ago, I decided to audition for “The X-Factor” and I think that’s when I decided I wanted to take things seriously.
O: Rather than a raucous rocker or a female voice over a mix of EDM, from what I’ve seen of your videos posted on-line (http://www.youtube.com/user/sarahelizabeth153/videos), your music is just your melodic voice backed by your guitar. What do you like about that particular approach to music?
S: I think it’s kind of a nice way to really hear someone’s voice, to hear the tone and the words in a more intimate way with the audience, I think that makes the songs more interesting.
O: Your bio material cites Ed Sheeran (“The A-Team,” “Lego House”) and Ellie Goulding (“Lights,” “Anything Can Happen”) as influences. What is the strand that ties these artists together and how do you think they influence your approach to music?
S: Well, Ed and Ellie both use a lot of acoustic instruments when it comes to their music and they both have a distinct sound, which I personally really enjoy. They each influence me in different ways. Ed can tell the most moving story, in the most beautiful way, and still have it be a catchy tune. So for me, Ed’s descriptive songwriting is something that inspires me. With Ellie, I really like the tone of her voice and the catchy acoustic-pop feel some of her music has. So I try to incorporate that into my own songs in my own way!
O: I see your name at gigs all the time, such as the upcoming show at The Space, as well as later in the year SWAN (Support Women Artists Now) Day. Is this because you hustle to get your name out there… or is it through word of mouth that people want you to perform, or is it a mix of both?
S: It’s a bit of both to be honest. My mom, who is currently my manager, does an unbelievable job at finding me gigs. She always says, “The worst they could say is no” and I think that’s a really good mentality to have. We really work hard to get my name out there, but it only spreads with the help of others and it’s been truly amazing to see just how many people want to help.
O: How do you feel about the response you have gotten from audiences in Connecticut?
S: It is absolutely incredible and it’s so humbling to see just how many people support my dreams and aspirations. It keeps me excited about making music.
O: What do you like about the live experience as a performer?
S: Definitely the crowd response. It’s really exciting to see people enjoying the music you’re playing, especially when it’s your own.
I like to be able to connect with the audience through music and to be able to play an original and see someone nodding their head, or clapping or smiling. It’s a really great feeling knowing you’ve connected with someone in some way.
O: You’re also up for an award as best new act from the New England Music Awards. (You can vote for Sarah as well as other performers from Connecticut at www. nemusicawards.com/nominees. Deadline is Jan. 31.) How does that make you feel to receive such recognition? How much pressure does that put on you to receive that kind of accolades?
S: It makes me feel so honored. To be nominated for a New England Music Award is a huge deal for me and it definitely makes me excited to be apart of the NEMA family. As for pressure, I kind of put pressure on myself to be the best that I can be and to deliver the best music that I can deliver to people. My name is out there more now but it’s more exciting for me than it is nerveracking. I’m excited for more people to hear my music and to just keep playing to as many people as possible.
O: Your bio materials say you’re working on an EP. What is the status on that? And what can fans expect from it?
S: Yes. I’m currently hoping for it to be released in the late spring, but I definitely need the fans’ support. I’ve launched my Rockethub, which is a site in which people can donate money towards a specific project and they, in return, get a gift from myself. Here is the link if anyone would like to donate: http://www.rockethub.com/projects/34595-help-fund-sarah-barrios-s-first-ep
Fans can expect to have about three songs, all originals that I’ve performed live that represent myself and my sound and I’m really excited for the fans to hear it.
O: You write your own songs. Where do you find your inspiration that causes you to begin the writing process?
S: I think for me it starts with a trigger. A feeling, a memory, a story, something that makes me feel an emotion. It could be a bad break-up, or a quote I read on a fortune cookie or a person I saw in the street, I see everything and everyone as a story that can be told. So, I guess I find my inspiration from the world around me, and the experiences I’ve had.
O: What are your long term goals as a musician?
S: I’m hoping to one day be signed by a record label and travel the world. To hear my songs on the radio, to play to thousands of people in an arena, and hear people singing my songs along with me. I want to be able to connect with people all over the world through music. I write songs because I enjoy the feeling of creating something and being able to tell a story. But I think knowing that your songs could help someone who’s gone through something similar or could help make someone happy is a much more rewarding feeling, and if I can do that on a world-wide level, that would be amazing.
O: Other than the gig at The Space, what other gigs have got lined up?
S: On Feb. 7 (at 5:30 p.m.), I’m opening for past “X-Factor,” and now current “American Idol” contestant Jillian Jensen at The Space (295 Treadwell St.) in Hamden.
Feb. 13 (I’ll be at) Wilson’s Pub in Collinsville. Feb. 23, (I’ll be) at Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston, Mass.
For more information about Sarah Barrios, go to https://www.facebook.com/sarahbarriosmusic or TheSpaceCt.com