INTERVIEW: Sawyer Fredericks chats new record “Hide Your Ghost”!
For my last interview from the 2017 year of incredible music in Boston, I spoke with Sawyer Fredericks at his show last week at our newest music venue in Boston, City Winery. With his new record coming out with in the next few months, I spoke with Fredericks about the process in depth. It’s the first time he has written all of the songs on his own as well as producing the record on his own as well. As an independent artist, the new record is sure to show the real Sawyer as we talked about in our interview.
In addition to speaking about the new record, Fredericks really opened up about his time and experience on the Voice, even the fact that he originally said no to doing the show! Enjoy our chat below and definitely pick up “Hide Your Ghost” when it hits shelves sometime this Spring!
From looking at social media, I believe your next album is finished?
It is finished, it’s just not out yet. We’re planning on a release date to be sometime during early Spring.
And it’s the first time you’ve produced the whole thing?
Yeah it’s one of the reasons I’m very excited about the album. It’s called “Hide Your Ghost” and I’ve written and produced all of the songs on it. It’s great!
Maybe how is that? I know you’ve been playing music your whole life but I’m sure that first album is something where they wanted you to write with other people or they wanted certain people to be producing it. How is it now, you’re still young but you’ve been making music for so long?
It’s one of the reasons why I actually like this album a lot because I feel it’s the first album that’s really showing who I am as an artist. One of the reasons is because also when I was on The Voice, I’m singing covers so people don’t really understand that I’m a singer songwriter…I write music. So it’s very cool to be able to share stuff that is completely me. And also with the “Good Storm” album, I was doing co-writing with it and I wasn’t producing or anything so things got changed and it wasn’t exactly the way I envisioned it. This album, this is how it’s supposed to be!
And maybe when did you start working on this album? The first album did only just come out in 2016 so it hasn’t been too long. When did you start the writing and/or recording for this record?
Well, one of the songs actually I wrote when I was fourteen years old but I was re-doing it. Most of the other songs I wrote in like the past year or two.
And is it still different every time for you or do you think you’ve fallen into a pretty steady rhythm when it comes to like writing your music? Like the way you approach each song?
Yeah I mean some of them I actually started writing when I was on The Voice. I was putting into a lot of them my anger and the tension that I was feeling into the songs but I didn’t finish them until a while after The Voice. Other songs, I’d sit down, start writing and finish it then.
I like that you look back on those songs.
There are a lot of songs that I don’t finish and I have to go back to. When you’re in that place and you’re writing, you’re like ‘this is great’ then sometimes you lose that and you’re like ‘alright I have to put this aside until I’m back’. Till I’m back in that actual place or I’m not going to write the lyrics that I want.
Exactly! Then I know from looking at it online, you had the Pledge Music campaign for this record. Rewards of what people could have from supporting the record. I know in recent times, crowd funding is something that a lot of artists are doing with fans getting something in return. Like house shows, maybe a really cool experience you’ve had from that so far if you’ve started fulfilling the rewards yet?
I haven’t really started doing the rewards yet. I’ve just been preparing it but I’ve started doing the Polaroid thing where we’re taking pictures while we’re on the road. That’s something interesting but nothing fully yet. We’re setting up house concerts. I know we’ve booked like six already, it’s good. It will be entertaining. Some of the house concerts that we’ve sold so far are going to be solo so it will be interesting.
I know you probably have done that a lot before, playing the solo shows, is that something you still do pretty often? I mean obviously you did it on The Voice but now that you’re a steadily touring act.
No I actually do a solo set basically in all my performances just because I want to be able to show that side of my music. Because some of my songs, I don’t want all of the instruments around. I want it to just be my guitar and vocals.
A lot of acts do it solo now, like big guys with loops but it’s a little less scary when they have that back up.
Yeah, I do like drumming on my guitar. It adds a little more than just the guitar it gives it a little more support and dynamics.
Then just from speaking to several former Voice and Idol contestants, I know it’s a little bit of a hard journey while it may look shiny and easy.
It’s definitely difficult.
It’s not an easy journey! But maybe something that you do take from that experience that you’re grateful for, maybe something you wish you had done differently?
There was definitely a lot of hard things that I had to do on the show and a lot of stuff I had to overcome. But most of it, I just thought of it as a great learning experience and it prepared me for a lot of things that I’m having to deal with now. I’m an introvert but the show kind of brought me out of my shell. Interviews were horrible for me in the beginning. I’ve gotten better at those over the years but the thirty second interview thing that they do in the beginning, that’s forty minutes long and I had to do that twice because I messed up in the first forty minutes, they didn’t get anything from me. Because they put you on like a pedestal, blast you with lights and put a camera on your face and then they’re like, go for it! Me being only fifteen, it was very stressful. That was literally the hardest part for me though and once I got past that, I was fine.
But my favorite part was just being around all these musicians and everyone is like super friendly there and supportive. It’s just a big family. There were a lot of amazing experiences. Like I met John Fogherty who was one of my idols when I was younger. Listened to his music when I was growing up and I got to sing with that guy. It was awesome.
I definitely saw that video when I was checking out some clips on Youtube.
Yeah it’s incredible. There’s so many things I’ve learned from The Voice and taken from it. It’s not really just one thing where I’m like that is what I’ve learned. Because it’s helped me with a lot of things and it’s also made some things more difficult and hard to struggle with but mostly, it’s just helped me grow as an artist.
Like I mentioned before, I have interviewed other winners of these shows and one was Kris Allen. In his initial interview when he was auditioning they said he was too modest, they thought he was too introverted and were like we’re going to give you another chance but he’s the same way. He’s very modest and quiet.
Yeah! I didn’t audition for The Voice, they scouted me. They found farmers market performances of me on Youtube and invited me to New York City to do the callback audition which is after the open call. I actually wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it. Because I didn’t really believe in the competition of music and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a part of that. Also, I wasn’t sure if they were looking for my kind of music because on that show, they don’t really have a lot of singer songwriter styles and I wasn’t sure if it was what they were looking for. We said no but then one of the producers of the show called us up and was like telling us it will really be okay and everyone’s super nice here. It’s not going to be a horrible experience and me and my mom just had a really good vibe from her and we decided to try it out.
And it worked out! Success stories are different. Last time I interviewed Kris, it was right after the series finale aired, so they invited all the winners back and they were like “you were barely on it!” and he was like “Well I don’t know if you know who Carrie Underwood or Kelly Clarkson are” but he was like, I’m not like them. He was like I’m playing to one hundred and fifty people and that’s not their normal. I interview other bands too but I know that it’s a different persona they make of you when you do one of these shows because you’re out on this national stage when you’re not maybe comfortable with that.
It’s also, like what you were just saying, he’s not like a Kelly Clarkson. It’s not like when you win these shows, you become a super star and you’re famous and you’re selling out big shows. It’s not like that. Also because there’s a whole bunch of things that come with the show, people think that’s it’s just another kid who’s won a reality television show. There’s that whole aspect. Like I’m a folk singer and I’m a singer songwriter so a lot of people that would be interested in my music, they don’t like The Voice They’re like, who’s this kid? We don’t really want him at our folk concert because he’s been on this reality television show. He obviously can’t be this folk singer. It’s just a funny thing so it also can be bad for you. I had to work very, very hard after the show. It’s not like I’m set. I’m also independent now and have done this whole album.
Which is incredible of you. I’m sure it hinders you, I’m sure people don’t give you a chance because of it.
It’s just funny to me. We’ve been trying to get into the Farm Aid shows and it’s difficult to be a part of that. I live on a farm so it’s funny to me. Do you realize I live on a farm and I’ve grown up on a farm? Anyway, there’s a lot of things that can make it hard but there’s also a lot of things. It makes it easier to get into some venues and it’s a really big deal to them. Like oh this person won The Voice! Wow! And that can help a lot. Also, putting The Voice name on things, that draws an audience but it also can push away an audience as well. So there’s kind of a weird balance but it’s alright.
But it’s been nice to just have it be listed as Sawyer Fredericks. It’s like, this is me. I’m not just a winner of The Voice. This is my music!
And now that’s going to be seen! With this new record being purely you and no other people are trying to tell you what to do.
That’s the main reason why I’m excited about this new record. Because this is me. If you don’t like it, you don’t like my music!
Then to maybe end it off, this record is finished but no set release date yet. You’ve been on this tour. Is that just kind of the focus right now, is having this record out or goal for these next few months?
I mean basically. I’m going to be performing more but I don’t really keep track of a lot of this stuff. So you kind of have to just go to my websites.
You’re young! You shouldn’t have to be super aware. You’re not like some long time veteran, you’re a teenager that just happens to tour and have some fans that are probably your mom’s age that are rocking out in the best of ways.
Exactly! So like I know when there’s a show, a week ahead. And I’m like alright, that’s good.