With her new project, Under Violet, Sara Bischoff specializes in what she calls “adult lullabies.” The dreamy tunes pair her breathy vocals with rootsy instrumentation for a sweet, soothing new sound.
This endeavor is the 36-year-old musician’s third locally: She previously performed in folk-rock band Heavy Deeds and acid country act Web of Sunsets.
When those bands split up, Bischoff started Under Violet to bring to life the growing backlog of songs that she’d never recorded.
Bischoff’s lyrics are deeply personal, like listening to a writer’s journal sung aloud, and most circle around themes of friendship, life changes, and evolution.
“I try to stay away from things being just about me and one other person,” she says. “I’m always trying to do that with my lyrics: push it a little bit outside of self. I’m trying to connect my experience to the experience that my friend had, and then a story that I read. I think that’s why people can connect with it a little bit easier. It’s not just about a narrow situation. It’s about a collective experience, something that we’re all feeling.”
Given the collaborative nature of her previous bands, becoming the sole decision-maker in Under Violet wasn’t easy at first. “I was so used to a diplomatic, egalitarian process. Everything was a group decision. With Under Violet, everyone was looking more to me to lead, and that was something new to me,” she says. “I had to get more intentional about what I was trying to do with this project.”
Bischoff relied on a traditional band structure with Jeremy Ylvisaker on guitar, Chris Bierden on bass, and Mike Gunvalson on drums. Her co-producer, keys player, and fellow vocalist Alex Proctor also pulled in local talent like Dave Simonett (guitar), Erik Koskinen (guitar), and Frankie Lee (vocals). Though Bischoff mapped out the songs and the lyrics, each musician wrote their own parts for the songs.
Under Violet released their self-titled debut in August and are already hard at work on a follow-up.
A naturally private, soft-spoken person, Bischoff has grown to feel less vulnerable now that she’s performed these personal songs live a few times, and feedback from listeners about how they’ve found comfort and healing in the songs has also bolstered her confidence.
“I think people appreciate when you are being vulnerable and not posturing in your lyrics,” she says. “People feel it when you are sharing something that’s outside your comfort zone.”