August 10 2016

Standard Sounds Presents: Sarah Walk

New York-Standard Sounds
On Thursday, August 25th, Standard Sounds and 25-year-old pianist, singer, and songwriter Sarah Walk come together for one intimate night on the top of New York. After growing up in Minneapolis and studying at Berklee College of Music, Walk signed to One Little Indian Records and worked with producer Steve Brown to create her debut album. Walk's knack for songwriting and capturing heartbreak (exhibited in her new single "Keep On Dreaming") have been catching the ears of the music scene, and Standard Sounds is lucky to nab her on her ascent. 

We connected with Walk to learn a bit about her influences and life on tour opening for Laura Mvula. Get to know Sarah Walk. 

Standard Sounds Presents: Sarah Walk
Thursday, August 25, 9-11pm
The Top of The Standard
The Standard, High Line
Free with an RSVP to top@standardhotels.com

You're a pianist and songwriter. How and when did your love affair with the piano start and what do you love most about it?
I started making stuff up on the piano when I was probably 6 or 7. I used to take piano lessons, but I would never really learn the music and always ended up just playing my ideas in my lessons. Once I got to high school and went through my first heartbreak at 14 or 15, I started writing songs about my experiences instead of what I saw around me. That's when it really became powerful for me—when I was able to take something small and personal and make it bigger than myself. 

When writing a song, do you often find that the piano melodies or the lyrics come to you first? Can you let us in on the writing process of one of your songs on the album?
It kind of depends on the nature of the song. Heavier songs usually start with a piano part, and with melody, I tend to write phonetically, just sing something that feels right, and then place lyrics in later. With the softer songs, it's more focused around the lyrics early on. 

Who are some of your favorite pianists and songwriters that have influenced you?
I've been inspired by a really wide range of different styles. I used to rap when I was like 8 or 9 (my best friend and I would put on concerts for our neighborhood...) and then I got into pop, rock, alternative, and folk. Some of my biggest inspirations are probably Radiohead, Fiona Apple, The Beatles, Jeff Buckley, Joni Mitchell, Lauryn Hill, and Chris Merritt (a now-friend and amazing piano player/songwriter that many people don't know about). I like a lot of different kinds of music for the various things they offer and I think that's why my record has a lot of diversity to it. I don't really want to compromise and stick to one style.  

You were recently on tour supporting Laura Mvula and playing these songs for an audience for the first time. How has the experience been for you and was there anything surprising with how the songs were received?
Well, there's nothing better than playing for a warm and welcoming crowd and then being able to watch an amazing show afterwards. I found Laura's audiences to be really appreciative of the music. It felt like they were inside of the songs with me and that's what you want as a performer. It was a pleasure to share the stage with her and perform for her fans. 

The Standard
You're currently splitting your time between Los Angeles and London. What are things you love about each city?
I actually haven't been back to LA for almost a year now. I grew to enjoy it there, but it did take me a while to get to that point. The shift to London came at a perfect time in my life and it was a real luxury to be able to go to a new city to create something with no distractions. 

If one was to visit your home state of Minnesota, what should they do or check out?
Food is always a priority! I have a few go-to restaurants in the city and there are some great breweries, too. This time of year, it's always fun to go to a baseball game or the Minneapolis farmers' market. First Avenue and The Dakota are some fun venues to check out, too, but I mainly spend my time with my dog and my piano when I'm home. 

What are you listening  to these days?
A friend of mine just told me about the band Bear Hands, and I've been really enjoying their new CD. Anderson .Paak is a recent favorite, too. 

Are there any songs that didn't make the cut that you're dying for people to hear? 
There are a few that I still haven't forgotten about and may try to put out there in the future, but right now I'm really excited about making new music and moving forward. 

If Sarah Walk had a superpower, what would it be? 
Probably to worry less, which isn't a superpower at all, but for me it sure feels like it. 

What can we expect from your performance at Top of The Standard?
A lot of smiles I hope. I'm really excited to share this music with people and this is the first show in the states that I've done playing the new record. I love New York and I love playing with the band I'll be with. I think it's going to be a really fun and intimate night.