Q&A with Sara Bareilles

By Marjorie Yan

Daily Bruin, U. California-Los Angeles via UWIRE

In about two weeks, singer and NBC’s “The Sing-Off” judge Sara Bareilles will be at the Hollywood Palladium, finishing up her “Kaleidoscope Heart” tour with one of its last shows.

Bareilles, a UCLA alumna, spoke with the Daily Bruin’s Marjorie Yan about her time as an undergraduate, her musical writing process and what it’s like being a judge on “The Sing-Off.”

Daily Bruin: What was your music life like on campus as a student?

Sara Bareilles: I was in Awaken A Capella and we did Spring Sing, but I also did (Spring Sing) independently. I think I auditioned for Spring Sing (during my freshman year) and I didn’t get in so I was part of Company, which is the group who does the skits in between the shows. I think that was about the majority of my singing on campus. I didn’t have any instruments with me or anything, but I remember that I would sneak into the music rooms in Schoenberg, and I would play for hours.

DB: How would you say your life has changed since you’ve gained fame?

SB: The journey has been slowly unfolding. I never felt like there was an overnight change in my life. … I’m very proud that the fundamentals of my life haven’t changed. My friends are the same, they treat me the same and my family is the same. My job is amazing and I’m very blessed and … I’ve put in my time. My life has changed and it’s grown into something I’m really inspired by and I’m hoping it will continue to do so.

DB: What is your musical writing process like?

SB: Usually I’m alone, and I like writing at my house. I live in (Los Angeles). I’m usually by myself and I write on piano for a majority of my songs. The music comes first and the lyrics come second. Every song comes from different places from an autobiographical standpoint. I put my life stories into these songs.

DB: You said your song “Uncharted” holds a special place in your heart. Why is that?

SB: “Uncharted” for me was sort of the song that got me through my writer’s block as I was getting ready for my second record. For quite some time, I just had a hard time finishing ideas and I was really worried about putting together something I’d be proud of. (“Uncharted”) was the song that broke the barrier and everything kind of opened up after that song was written.

DB: Are you putting out a new album anytime soon?

SB: I’m currently working on a new EP with Ben Folds.

DB: Ben Folds is also a judge on “The Sing-Off” with you. What is working with him like?

SB: It’s great. He’s been one of my music heroes for as long as I can remember. It’s amazing to kind of get to know somebody in that capacity and he’s super, super smart and really has this totally different way of approaching recording and just being part of the industry. He’s really punk rock and he’s really inspiring to me in that way.

DB: How did you become a judge on “The Sing-Off”? So far, what’s it like?

SB: They approached my management company and they asked if I was available or interested in being a judge and I just said, “Yes. Of course.” So far it’s been great. I mean TV is a very different medium for me.

I’m used to live performance so it’s tricky to feel like everything you do is permanent on camera but it’s been awesome. I’ve learned so much from doing a show and it’s opened up a lot of doors for me. It’s really expanded my experience.

DB: Who would you say are some of your musical inspirations?

SB: I have a lot of different people. Growing up I listened to a lot of Billy Joel and Elton John.

Ben Folds is a big person for me, Fiona Apple, all of these are piano players. Then, I got into Radiohead, Bob Marley, Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell. They’re all over the place.

DB: What is your favorite part about being a judge?

SB: Just being able to see these awesome performances. These people are so good. My jaw is on the floor half the time and I’m amazed at what they always have to bring.

DB: Tell me a little about your headlining show in December.

SB: Yeah, that’s at the Hollywood Palladium on Dec. 9 and we will have (Joshua) Radin on. It will be one of the final … shows we play for the “Kaleidoscope Heart” album. It’s going to be bittersweet, because we’ll be hanging up our instruments for awhile.

DB: What’s one thing you’d say you miss most about being a student at UCLA?

SB: (There are) so many things. I mean, being on that campus is very nostalgic. I go back and I always know memories will start rushing back. I miss the cranberry muffins at Kerckhoff a lot, too. I don’t know if they still have those.

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