Interview with Sarah Bettens

Sara Bettens album ScreamAE: You mentioned your band, K’s Choice. I don’t know if you can even say, but do you feel like when you’re playing shows now that there’s a large percentage that’s K’s Choice fans who are out to see what you’re up to now, or do you think that a lot of your audience now might not have known you from K’s Choice?
Um, in a way, it’s a little like starting over. But also I feel like a lot of people know “Not an Addict” [a 1995 K's Choice single that became an international radio hit] and don’t know K’s Choice. Or know K’s Choice but don’t know that I’m from K’s Choice. So it’s a little bit of a re-education. You know, letting people know that that’s me.

And at the same time just starting over, hoping to find new fans, people who have really never heard of K’s Choice, or never heard “Not an Addict,” and hoping that the music will speak for itself. It’s so hard these days, and not just in Europe. Anyone who makes a new record, no matter what you’ve done before or the shows you’ve done before or the hundreds of records you’ve sold before. It’s kind of like every time you make a record you have to put yourself out there again and you have to work hard again just to make anything happen. It’s been hard work, but really, really fun.

AE: In what ways has it been hard?
Well, I don’t like to dwell on it too much because I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to do what I do for a living for twelve years, and I’ve never really had to get a real job. But like I said, you almost have to start at the bottom each time, and maybe do things that you don’t want to do. You’re away from home a lot, and constantly trying to find your balance, and reinventing how you want to handle it. It’s almost like you never really get into a groove, where you’re fine and comfortable. Of course, I would never, ever want a 9-to-5 job. I really don’t want to, but there’s something”and I’ve talked about this with many people who travel for their work”there’s something appealing about it. Because that’s not something we have. We can’t get into a routine. There’s no time for a routine. You’re home for two weeks and by the time you’ve settled in and unpacked your bags, it’s almost time to plan to leave again. It’s the same thing when you’re on the road, and then you come back home and have to adapt to that situation again. Like I said, I hate complaining, and I don’t want you to think that it is complaining, but if there is a hard part about this it’s definitely that”constantly trying to find your place in all of it.

AE: And it must be tough, too, with children and with a partner. That’s got to be harder, unless they’re able to tour with you.
They’re not, I mean, they’ve been able to come visit once in a while. But that’s definitely an extra challenge, because now I miss being home more now than I used to. And so, as much as I love being on the road, once I’m gone for a couple of weeks, I just want to be home. Then in another couple of weeks I really want to go back on the road. But, I mean, I really do love it. And I’m surrounded by great people. I’m very lucky that way. The people in my band and my management”you know, all those people have really taken good care of me. And all are very good at what they do and love what they do. So it’s been a blessing more than anything else. But, like I said, it’s not always easy.

AE: So you were saying that in some ways, even though you have all of this work that you’ve done before, with each new recording it’s like starting over again?

Yeah, You know, making this solo record, all of a sudden you just kind of have to start over. And for me, the reason why we wanted to do it, why it was exciting to us was that it would give us the new sense of adventure that maybe after four studio albums with K’s Choice we’d been missing a little bit. Maybe at that point, we didn’t get into some kind of routine. With K’s Choice we knew how we were going to do it, how we were going to get together and record the record and the shows we were doing in Europe. It was all kind of feeling like, all right, we’re going to do this again, and we didn’t have the level of excitement that we thought we should about making a new record. And then when my brother and I decided to start over do a solo project and see what happens it kind of gave both of us a sense again that this was new and exciting and such an adventure. And as difficult as it is to kind of start at the bottom again, and play earlier at the festivals that you maybe used to headline, and get paid less money to play, and less people show up at the clubs”all this things are kind of like, all right. It kind of puts your feet back on the ground. But it did give a sense of, wow, this is exciting. This is a lot how it felt in the way beginning. That was kind of thing that we were going for.

AE: Yeah, I can imagine that there would be something really liberating about that. To feel some — I don’t think you can really have any anonymity now — but at least some glimmer of that that you really couldn’t have in K’s Choice. If it’s even possible now, to have a little less recognition now seems like it would be liberating.
Yeah, I know it’s a lot of things at the same time: sobering and liberating and it’s back to reality a little bit. I’ve done a couple of things where I can see myself from above while I’m playing, and I’m thinking, what the hell am I doing here? Gigs that were very tough. But at the same time, it kind of wakes you up a little bit. But that’s always good.

AE: Sure. And I guess I really shouldn’t have said less recognition. It’s more of a chance to have new recognition. You get to sort of create this new identity, even though you have all this history. People are always going to be asking you about K’s Choice, but you do get to reinvent yourself to some degree.
No, that’s true. And I like that. It doesn’t always now come with a ten-year history. I can start over a little bit, so you’re right.

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