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Interview: Sarah and the Swinging Richards
(Published: May 07, 2020)

Florida-based Sarah and the Swinging Richards is a thrillingly eclectic collective featuring vocalist Sarah Reagan; drummer/keyboardist Kevin Reagan; bass guitarist Pablo Balata; and guitarist Patrick Sullins. They just released a stellar new LP, Rollercoaster, that unites various genres like jazz, Americana, and '90s alternative rock.

Q: Being a professional musician is a difficult path in life to take.
What made you decide to embark on that journey?

A: Kevin: I didn't because I knew it was a difficult path to take.
So, I decided to find a different way to make income and just let
music be a love and hobby, and not a source of income.

Pablo: Honestly, man, being a musician, I don't feel like you
pick. I think it picks you, but even then, only one year that I've
quit my job to just play music, I still have to do other things to pay
my bills.

Patrick: Music offers me a better way to communicate.

Sarah: I didn't decide to embark on that journey. I've sang
and played music for the majority of my life, but no one has ever
pushed me to do this, like Patrick. And we've been friends for
almost 20 years, so I guess he really believes it.

Q: What are the personal challenges you have gone through as a
musician, and how did you overcome them?

A: Kevin: Tempo (AKA, getting on a horse), being too fancy,
and learning how to compliment the music and not overshadow it.
Meeting Pablo and getting older and more mature as a musician
helped me. But I still haven't really overcome any of them.

Pablo: Where can I start? I mean, studying alone is hard
enough, and literally the return you're going to get out of studying
is not necessarily remunerating. And the only way to overcome is to forget what society tells you to do and do what the music tells
you to do.

Patrick: Um, finding the right people to play music with.

Sarah: I have a very big personality, but I was never
comfortable letting my voice go to certain ranges. So, I hid a little
bit in that, even taking vocal lessons in college. But, with the help,
support and encouragement from these 3 guys, I finally found a
pocket to let it all go and just have a good time with, instead of
being afraid of making a vocal mistake.

Q: In terms of musical style, where do you see Sarah and the
Swinging Richards fitting? It can be more than one.

A: Kevin: I would say a fusion of all our backgrounds and
musical influences. It's bluegrass, jazz, bosa-nova, folk, classic
rock, gospel, jam band, and blues, with a little bit of old-time
country mixed in.

Pablo: I feel like it's R&B, but at the same time, it's
everything. Rhythm, blues, harmony, melody. Isn't that what music
is? No denomination.

Patrick: I would like for us to fit exactly where it feels good
for you.

Sarah: I've never really thought about us fitting in any type of
musical category. And, honestly, I think that's the beauty of it. We
just do what feels right at the time, and sometimes it just brings us
some really wonderful songs.

Q: What was the first slice of music that ignited your imagination?

A: Kevin: Learning to play "Happiness Runs in a Circular
Motion" on the ukele in 1 st grade.

Pablo: Ok, so, about 8 years old, in Brazil, I would have to
listen to the radio, and wait all day to hear 1 song. Then my cousin
got a little piano and I figured out how to play that song, and it
was absolute freedom. And from then on, I could play what I
wanted. And that was it, I was hooked.

Patrick: Seeing War live downtown Orlando, when I was very
young.

Sarah: Def Leppard, "Pour Some Sugar On Me." I was
obsessed with that song, at about 5. Then, "What's Up" by 4 Non-
Blondes really molded and shaped me to want to sing and be a
musician.

Q: Tell me your artistic influences and how they affected you.
What did you learn from them?

A: Kevin: Artistic influences as a drummer, at an early age, were
all of my parents' classic rock albums, which were Neil Peart, John
Bonham, etc. As I got older and really learned to play the drums, I
gravitated to Dave Grohl's style, because Nirvana was one of the
only CD's I had. I later gravitated towards Carter Beauford and
that jazz, back-beat style. Piano-wise, just listening to Elton John,
Billy Joel, Ray Charles. And as far as newer people, Ben Folds.

Pablo: My artistic influences are basically natural. I mean, we,
where I come from, where I grew up, we're all very rhythmic,
musical, cultural. It's just like second nature.

Patrick: Well, it started with Purple Haze, it met Rhiannon,
and remains with Gimme Three Steps. Those are the first 3 songs
I ever learned on guitar.

Sarah: Ha! Well, I grew up in the early 90's and was really in
to the angst, female music. Alanis, Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, Ani
DiFranco. The list goes on. Those were big influences on the way
I started writing and singing. I've also been greatly affected by
Bonnie Raitt (she's a goddess, in my opinion).

Q: Can you describe how you have evolved creatively throughout
the years?

A: Kevin: Learning to be less creative and complimenting who I'm
playing with or what style that's being played.

Pablo: Yeah, I've gotten old(er). I think I've evolved more on
trusting my instincts than before.

Patrick: Most likely, not. But I do feel, at times, I can feel a
greater vibration that is connectable.

Sarah: Well, I think when you've been fortunate enough to
have been able to play music with people for the majority of your
life, you're going to change creatively. You grow, you mature, you
have different life experiences. And sometimes, you use nature as
your muse. So, all of those factors have changed the ways that I
write and create.

Q: Do you feel being a musician is a job or a hobby? Or both.
Please explain.

A: Kevin: I would say a hobby. It doesn't make ends meet, so
therefore it's not a job. And, if I had to do it to make ends meet, I
don't know that I'd have the same love I have for it now.

Pablo: Being a musician, it's a duty. Like I said, I didn't pick,
you just have to do it. And you're not going to make money off of
it. At least not substantial money. I mean, you just do it, because
you love it.

Patrick: Honestly, I don't have any hobbies.

Sarah: It's definitely a hobby. Trust me, if I felt like this was a
job, I probably wouldn't have the love for it like I do.
Q: Are there any artists you dream of collaborating with? Which
ones and why?

A: Kevin: Mainly guitar players. Stevie, Jimi. Why? I can't play a
lick of guitar, but I'd love to collaborate with them.

Pablo: I think the best thing musicians have, is generosity. I
want to collaborate with everybody and I would like to be
collaborated with everybody.

Patrick: David Byrne.

Sarah: Not really. I enjoy being able to listen to so many
different talented artists, without feeling like I have to live up to
any expectation.

Q: How did the band form?

A: Kevin: I met Sarah, the singer. I was immediately drawn to her
talent and her unique singing style. She introduced me to her long-
time friend, Pat. We immediately hit it off as friends and
musicians. The band didn't completely form until Pablo came into
the mix. He brought a trained musical ear, into a simplistic,
southern trio.

Pablo: I knew Sarah was a good singer around town and I'm a
guitar player, but I guess there's a demand on bass, so I offered
myself.

Patrick: Still forming.

Sarah: Honestly, I have no clue. Just a lot of really good
personal connections that led to something much bigger and
deeper than we anticipated.

Q: How does the songwriting work in the group?

A: Kevin: We tend to jam, come up with a beat, and write the
lyrics to it.

Pablo: Sarah tells us what to do and I try come up with a bass
line for it.

Patrick: Funny you should ask. We approach Sarah with our
musical ideas. After Sarah has listened to our musical ideas, we
then wait.

Sarah: I think they've said it all.

Q: The sound quality of the LP is crisp, top-notch. Where was it
recorded? What do you think the studio it was recorded in added
to the album?

A: Kevin: It was recorded out of Phat Planet Studios, in
Orlando, FL. They bought into our style or what we were doing
and seemed to really have an interest in making what we do sound
better.

Pablo: Central Florida, cause, that's where it's at. Well,
obviously in a studio, you will have a much more professional
sound against than just doing a live gig or a home recording,
because you have an engineer working with you. And that makes
all the magic.

Patrick: I think we could not have asked for a more receptive
atmosphere. Very nice studio. Looking forward to recording the
next album with them.

Sarah: I felt at home from the moment I stepped into the
studio. We spent so much time there and ate so much good
food...and that's a really big deal for me! Being a lead vocalist and
not having any backup singers, it was a huge help to have Aaron
give me so many good ideas on what I could do to make the songs
sound more full, vocally. I hope we get the chance to record there
again. #PhatPlanetStudios

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