Sara Bareilles reflects on taking risks and meeting the President


Chances are, if you turned on your radio in the year 2008, you've heard Sara Bareilles's smash single "Love Song." It was the type of song that you couldn't escape, but why would you want to? Sara's music is adorned with depth, heart and sensitivity. Her song "Gravity" hit at odds with almost everyone that heard it, her soprano vocals and soothing sentiment could tear you apart within the first 15 seconds of the song.

[jump] Her first major album, Little Voice, gave us a look into a girl seeking independence and enduring the difficulties of record company control. Now, a little over three years later, Kaleidoscope Heart has been released. With the single "King of Anything," women and men can place their interpretation of the song on their own tongue, and point it toward anyone who thinks they must know best.

Ms. Bareilles is renowned for her provoking and electrifying performances; with a voice as big as the auditorium she entertains -- it's no wonder that this modest woman has proved that "Love Song" wasn't all that she had in her.

Gimme Noise had a chance to speak with Sara Bareilles before her stop at the Pantages Theater tonight.

What exactly is "King of Anything" about? I know "Love Song" had many rumors about a butting-of-heads with your label... Is "King of Anything" related to this?

It was after I started sharing my new music with some inner circle people; I got feedback for the first time and realized that I was super sensitive I guess still... So some of the feedback was super positive, and some of it was constructive criticism. I think I wasn't as prepared to receive it as I thought I was, so I got all pissed off.

For me it's more of a professional commentary, but I think a few people kind of took it on all sorts of levels. Which is something I happen to love about music, I think you can interpret it in all sorts of ways, and that's awesome. I think it makes every song have all kinds of different levels. I love that. So when people feel like they have a relationship with someone they need to tell to kiss-off, or co-workers relationships, stuff like that.

A lot of your music is definitely from the heart, and it's all very personal. How do you feel about your diary being broadcast for the world to hear?

I don't have any issues with that, whatsoever. I feel like those are my stories, and that is what I have to contribute. I have a belief, that the more personal the better. The deeper you dig and the more willing you are to be vulnerable and to share what is really personal, is to bare the chaos. People really want to connect; I don't really have any desire to just kind of stay on the surface, I think that it's really easy to do that, and not particularly rewarding for me. So I think that in a way, the songs that I've had the best feedback from fans in the past are always the songs that are the most difficult for me to share. But people are connecting with them the most; like with the songs, "Gravity" or "Between the Lines."

On this record, the songs that really pulled my heart are the songs that people can humanly gravitate towards, and those are not the most exciting places in my life, they were pretty dark moments. But I'm glad that they can kind of give solace to someone.

What do you feel that Kaleidoscope Heart offers differently from Little Voice?

I think the biggest thing for me was really embracing taking some risks, both from a writing perspective and also from a production standpoint. I really tried to push my boundaries, and I just had a great time. I didn't go in as fearful as I was the first time around. I wasn't experiencing everything for the first time so it wasn't quite as scary, and I got to really relax and enjoy it. And that was a really cool part of the whole process as well. I tried to make it interesting and different, and I'm really, really proud with what we ended up with.

In September of 2009 you had the honor of playing at the G-20 Summit for the First Ladies. What was that like?

That was soooo amazing, and very surreal; it was a total eye-opening experience for me. I had never really been familiar with politics, and even in terms of going to political events, I've never really been highly involved in that. It was just incredible, and very inspiring, and actually very human. It made me feel very human, which is very interesting for me, because I am so far removed from it. I used to think it was just like a bunch of robots running the world, and they're very personal, and very human. So it's very interesting to see that. The First Lady, it was an absolute pleasure to get the opportunity to meet her, and we had brunch and she is just really a lovely human being, she's very, very gracious and of course very intelligent.

Did you get to meet the President?

Not at the G-20, but we went back to the White House for another event, and I got the meet the President there. He knows how to work a room, he is very charismatic, it was very cool.

You know you've reached a whole new high when you're at the White House. I know you quite often do cover songs, and you do them remarkably well. How do you choose which songs to cover?

When I choose a cover song, it's got to be a song that speaks to me on whatever level as a fan first, and a song that I love to listen to. So that sort of creates intrigue of, 'Okay, how can I sort of remake this into something else?' And then from there it's kind of, I like to try and push the boundaries, I don't want to just sing the song the way it's been done forever. I mean that's what I love about the original inclination of it -- so I want to see if I can kind of mess it up a bit, and so usually I try to do some sort of reinvention quality to it. Like try and change the time signature, or just the overall feel of the song. It's really fun as an artist to sort of play with other people's material, to me it's really exciting and really rewarding.

SARA BAREILLES plays with Holly Conlan and the Cary Brothers tonight, TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 2, at the PANTAGES THEATRE. All ages. $26.50. 7:30 p.m.