Interview with Sarah Bettens


Sarah BettensAE: What do you feel like you’ve been able to explore musically that maybe you couldn’t or just weren’t doing before recording solo?
I think it was a little bit, um without sounding too egocentric about this K’s Choice was more of a band band. And when I made my solo record and I started talking to my producer about what I wanted to do, and I remember him telling me: “This record is going to be all about you. I’m going to record your voice the best way I can. And anything we put on that record that’s not your voice is going to be in function of your voice and in function of the melody.” It was just more focused that way. And I think when we made K’s Choice recordsnot that I didn’t get the respect that I deserved, because that’s never been a complaintit was just not focused that way. We would focus on what we wanted to sound like, a real band. We wanted to sound live, we wanted to sound spontaneous. We had different goals. And I think this record that way is just a little more focused.

And also, for me, knowing that this was going to be a solo record, I focused on that part more lyrically also, knowing that this is really mine not half my brother’s and half mine. It’s really my songs and this is the first solo album. And when people listen to this record I want them to get a sense of who I am, where I am in my life and what matters to me. So, without really giving it that much thought while I was writing, I think just subconsciously I was aware of that. And I wanted to dig a little deeper, and really let what’s deep inside come out from this record.

Musically it’s very comparable to K’s Choice you know, I always wrote half of the songs for K’s Choice, I play guitarĂ¢ I wrote all the songs for this record. I write all year long. I never set aside a time to write, and I still write in the same way. So nothing’s changed that much. Just the overall focus of it and the way of recording, knowing that this was going to be all the way mine

AE: The focus is all on you, so the responsibility is all on you. But you also get all of the credit.

Yeah, that’s something that I really loved about it. It’s the combination of the added responsibility which is exciting and a little scary and the freedom at the same time. I don’t have to make that phone call to Belgium every time to make sure that we agree or make a compromise, even though I will work with my brother again for sure, and we always loved working together. And we were always very close on what we wanted, so it’s not like K’s Choice records were compromise records. When I want to go one way and he wants to go the other way we still have to find a solution. When you’re alone that solution would be different than when you’re meeting halfway. I love the idea that this is really me, that I’m responsible when it fails and I get the credit when it works. I like that a lot about this project.

AE: It sounds like from what I’ve read that you had a really peaceful partnership with your brother, that things were easy. That’s lucky.
Oh, yes. I’m so lucky with that. Nothing has been as easy as working with my brother. He’s very sweet, he’s very easygoing and extremely talented. We have such a huge, deep love and respect for each other, and we have so much fun together. Any band issues were always with someone else”a third, fourth or fifth person. Between the two of us we were pretty much always on the same page.

We had a little two-week tour in South Africa about a month ago. The K’s Choice compilation record came out there a little later than everywhere else and we got the opportunity to go play. So in the middle of our solo projects we’re like, all right, let’s go do it. Why not? The chance to be able to go. We’d been doing things separately and it was so refreshing to play with him again, and it was so easy, comfortable and fun. We talked about what we were going to do next and, of course, we came to no conclusions at all. But we know for sure that at some point we’re going to want to do something together again.

AE: That’s great. And in the meantime do you think you’ll ever play with Woodface”do a show where you’re doing your solo work together? Or do you think of it more as a K’s Choice reunion when you guys work together?
You know what? I have no idea. Because that’s what a lot of our conversations were about, and we couldn’t come to a conclusion. So many things have changed, people in the band that have moved on to different things. Not that everyone couldn’t come back together, but it wouldn’t be the same. At this point I just can’t say whether if it did come all back together again that that is really the optimal way for us to do it. It’s really hard to say. The only thing we know is that he and I will end up doing something together again. We just won’t be able to help it, that’s what we’re going to want to do. But in what capacity, when and how”that’s all up in the air.

AE: How many years apart are you two?
He’s two and a half years older.

AE: It sounds like you guys grew up always being close?
When we were kids we fought a lot, like all brothers and sisters do. But from early teenage years on we were good friends and hung out with the same people. I dated his friends and he dated my friends and we always kind of hung out with the same posse. We ended up going to the same parties and at some point started singing together at home and getting the guitars out. So we’ve been great friends for a long time.

AE: Can you tell me about the Yellow Umbrella tour you both did recently?
It’s a tour to raise awareness for cervical cancer, and the girl Christine Baze who organized the tour is a survivor. It’s kind of been her goal for the last couple of years since she beat cancer to let women know that there are questions you can ask your doctor, there are tests that not everyone gets that maybe you should get. And just kind of spreading the word. Be smart with your body, take good care of your body. Cervical cancer is detectable and there are ways to beat it. It’s just been her mission and she’s attached the tour to it. And last year we did it with K’s Choice for four weeks, which was really, really fun.

This year I opened for Duncan Sheik, and David Poe is on the tour too and Christine so it’s four bands. And it’s great, because Christine became an instant friend last year, and I was very happy that I was able to do it again this year. I feel like it’s really being part of something bigger than myself. You know, bigger than my record or my music or whatever. So I felt really good about being able to do that again. It’s her goal to keep doing the tour and hopefully make it grow more and more and more, so that at some point everyone will know about it. It’s her goal to get to a point where cervical cancer is no longer an issue.

AE: How did you first find out about the tour? Did they approach you?
Yeah, she approached my management and told them “I’m a K’s Choice fan. This is something I want to do. I want to tour September/October.” He called her back right away and said that’s exactly the time we want to tour with K’s Choice. He talked to me about it. We were all for it right away, and then we just started working on it, trying to make it happen, put together the tour and stuff. Once we started doing it, it felt really right. It felt really good. So I’m hoping that it’s something that I’m going to be able to do more. Maybe not next year but just something that I’m always going to be able to be part of.

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