April 6th, 2016
You may already be wondering what Sarah Troy Clark has to do with Stone Willow or jewellery? Sarah Troy Clark is an artist both musically and in her sketching. She comes from my home town of Bragg Creek, Alberta, Canada. I had the opportunity to watch her music career develop and blossom since she was a teenager at the Bragg Creek Centre for Youthtopia – a concert event supporting and highlighting young talent. I have purchased Sarah’s CDs over the years and have been so impressed by her talent and growth. Now, I have Sarah’s self written and sung music singles playing on my website: stonewillow.ca – Artists supporting artists – and it helps that I love her work 😉
So I asked Sarah if I could ask her a few questions to highlight this talented young artist, post on my blog and other social media. Share her talent and her story, along with her music playing on my site.
This is what she had to share:
1) Looking back into your childhood, when was the first moment that you knew you wanted to be a singer/songwriter? What inspired you?
I don’t really have a specific memory of that moment. I know my parents always had music playing in the house since the day I was born, weather it was Backstreet Boys, Enya, Allan Jackson, or ABBA (Yeah not exactly a lineup I associate my music with nowadays, but certainly some legends haha), so I think some of the early moments were inspired by that. I’m sure I just wanted to try and replicate the sounds I was hearing even if they didn’t make sense to me. I think as early as 3 or 4 I was playing around with piano and mumbling melodies, and by 5 I was starting to write my own songs. I think it really became clear to me that a life of music and songwriting was possible when my Mom and I started going to concerts regularly when I was 8 or so. I loved watching people perform on stage and pour their heart and souls out in front of an audience, and, as much as it terrified me, wanted people to gather in a room and watch me play my music too. It takes a confidence and willingness to be vulnerable that I’ve always been enchanted by and aspire to have.
2) How has your work developed over the years and for any specific reasons?
There have been a handful of specific times in my life that have led to a lot of changes in my music, and they continue to happen today. I think my work started out as an outlet; something that wasn’t even really intended to be shared that was just my way of letting out whatever I was feeling, and being a kid who was bullied in school it lead to a lot of ominous piano ballads. haha Songwriting really helped me get through some stuff!
Fast forward 11 years and music is more of a craft for me now. It’s pretty much impossible for me to sit down and write a song these days without considering how it might effect other people, how it might sound on a record, how it might do on radio, how suitable it might be for another artist to perform, etc. It’s harder to just pump out song after song now; there are so many different influences and restrictions I can put on myself. My understanding of how songwriting works has also expanded a lot so I’m pickier. I can never just stick with whatever line or melody first comes to mind; there’s always something to refine or clarify. Some days I wish I could go back to my ten-year-old approach to writing and just not give a crap about anything except expressing myself, but I suppose that’s how most things worth loving or having work. The more you get to know whatever it is and the more time you spend with it, the more intention you need to have about it all if you want to stick with it and take it to the next level. Songwriting isn’t just a hobby or passing fancy for me anymore; it’s my life…so it isn’t always easy.
3) What is your most cherished moment or memory of your singing/song writing experience?
Tough question! I think some of my most cherished moments are ones that involve a small venue full of people, some strangers, some family, listening to me perform and looking over at the people in the front row to see someone crying or smiling or closing their eyes. The intensity of that moment will never leave me. I love making people feel something. The handful of memories I have of moments like that are what keep me going on the more challenging days of being a songwriter.
4) What part of your work brings you the most joy? What is the most challenging?
Being in studio is probably my favorite part of the day to day life of being a songwriter. I love the creative process and love being in a room with a bunch of instruments and a producer and just messing around! It never gets old.
The most challenging part of my work is probably the vagueness of it. I think most other jobs have a clearer path and value in society (like being a doctor or lawyer or accountant or what have you). When you’re a creator you have to have incredible patience because the moments that remind you why you do what you do and why your job is important can be much more rare. That can be really demotivating at times. It’s also harder to tell if you’re doing things right or if your work is paying off, because you might be writing the best songs of your entire life but have no idea because you’re still a nobody in the industry and only your roommates and your cats have heard your songs.
5) How often do you release new songs? Are you on a schedule to write or do you produce when it feels right and you are ready?
These days I just try to write and create as much as possible. As for releasing music, I only really release anything if I think it’s high enough quality to be shared. I don’t always have access to a producer and don’t know how to record my own music myself yet so I can’t really have a schedule. I just have to keep creating and networking and co-writing and sometimes that leads to having a demo of a song that I’ll share. I think in the next year or so though I’ll be able to return to the drawing board and start thinking about my own record or whatever, but in the mean time I’m just trying to write great songs.
6) Over the years, there must be hurdles, stumbling blocks, quirky stories. Anything that you would like to share with an audience?
Oh man, well I’ve said and done some pretty stupid stuff in front of audiences before so I guess those might count as quirky stories or as road blocks.
As for hurdles, I think one of the biggest hurdles for me as a creator has been learning to not interpret other peoples successes as my failure or inadequacy. The deeper I delve into the music business the more people I meet, and most of these people are more talented than me or more successful than me. Some of them are even younger than me and are seeing a lot more success in their career than I am so far despite having spent less time working on it. So it’s hard some days to not be discouraged by that and to sink into a dark cloud of self pity that includes thoughts like… “I’m not as successful as they are so I must not be capable of reaching that level of success” or “Their successes stand in the way of my success” (as if there are a limited number of golden tickets being given out to the ones who get them first). Thoughts like that are completely useless and inaccurate The music business is a very unpredictable industry and nothing is as simple as winning or losing. That can be both helpful and scary as a creator, because if you’re somebody who has yet to see the success you want you can still have it if you keep working for it, but if you’re someone with a record deal and a fan base, even those things are not for certain. The landscape can change for the better or for worse super quickly in this industry.
7) I’ve seen some of your visual artwork as well and I hear that someone discovered this other talent of yours. Please tell me about that. Do you have a favorite piece?
Long story short, one of the artist managers at the company I work for (an artist development and publishing company called Be Music) saw my sketches one day when things weren’t busy at work and he eventually asked me to draw up some album cover artwork for his artists’ Christmas singles this past Christmas. It was a crazy feeling to have anyone care about my visual artwork as I hadn’t really spent any time doing stuff like that since high school and had certainly never been paid to do it. So now Marc Martel, one of Be’s artists, has two Christmas singles with artwork that I created. Super weird. I think my favorite piece might be my latest actually. I drew the cover of Gwen Stefani’s latest single “Mercy” and I think it turned out pretty good despite being just a sketched replica of her photo. It’s been really nice to have an excuse to get back into that stuff and I think having more than one creative outlet has added a fresh spark to my songwriting!
8) Do you have a favorite song that you’ve written and why?
Much like my visual art, I usually love my latest work the most so my favorite songs of mine right now are the ones I’ve just finished. I’m always trying to create something better than my older work so sometimes I won’t even finish a song If I don’t think it has the potential to be better than something I’ve already created.
9) What do you find helps you to song write and be creative? Any tips for others?
Fearlessness, I suppose. Not to say that I’m always fearless, but the days where I feel confident in my abilities and open to failure are the days where I usually create the things I’m most proud of. I don’t think very many legendary things are created without taking a risk and being willing to create something that is absolutely terrible. So If I could give any advice to creative people it would be to leave the theory and the practicing at the door as much as you can when enter into a creative space. I fully support honing your craft, learning theory behind music and art and being picky when creating something, but when it’s time to pick up the instrument or paintbrush and be an artist I think it’s best to just go with the flow and trust yourself. I think the most original and beautiful works of art are created that way.
10) Where can people find your work?
My latest demos can be found here
My two latest records available for purchase can be found here
My Instagram account where people can find pics of my recent adventuring can be found here
Sarah Troy, originally from Bragg Creek, had moved on to graduate from Berklee College of Music and now lives in Nashville fully delving into the music industry. Writing her own music, playing piano, and of course singing/songwriting, Sarah brings a full range of emotions to her music – a true artist. Over the past 5 years, she has been busy touring and promoting her most recent album in cities including: Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, New York, Boston, Gibsons, Canmore, Edmonton and Lethbridge.
The songs that you are listening to on the Stone Willow website are two of my favorites:
“Turned Around” Anoesis album: Turned Around
“Teach Me How to Love” SIXbySIX album: Teach Me How To Love
I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know artist Sarah Troy Clark and delving into the life of this young, beautiful and talented young artist.
Stone Willow Spring Shows:
On another note, you can find me, Nicole of Stone Willow at the 2016 Spring Calyx Art Show on Sunday April 24th from 10:00-4:00 at the Crescent Heights Community Centre in Calgary for their bi-annual juried art show and sale. This is a great show with lots of wall art work and a little bit of everything else you would be looking for from a local handmade artisan. Artists are there in person to discuss their artwork and creative process.
Dates are yet to be determined, but I am also intending on being at the Millarville Farmer’s Markets this season bi-weekly 🙂
Hope to see you there! Happy Spring!