Photo Credit: Malia Jay
When you want something done right, you often have to do it yourself. That was the mentality Sarah Barrios had after she went from writing songs to being the one to give them a voice, “I just got to a place where I wanted to hear a song made specifically for me,” adding, “I had all these stories, feelings and ideas in my head that I couldn’t give life to and couldn’t find a song that fully grasped the entirety of them so I thought, why not try doing it myself?”
Today, doing it herself has landed her on some of the biggest lineups out there. From Lollapalooza to bisexual movie plots, we covered it all and then some in this back and forth exchange.
Kendra: Do you think having that background as a songwriter for others has given you a heads up moving forward with your career?
Sarah Barrios: 1000%, it was the best decision I made because it gave me the opportunity to write in a lot of different styles and genres and sing in different ways. I was able to hone in on all the things I did and didn’t like or want for my music. I think it also taught me how to collaborate with others in a room and learn the best way to articulate what I needed to my co-writers and producers.
Kendra: This year you dropped an EP, ‘Conversations With Myself’, and a cascade of singles followed. I want to talk about your current single but I have to shout out “Help.” I loved it within seconds. So. Good. Why do you think that with all this talk about mental health and self-care, people are still hesitant to reach out for a helping hand?
Sarah Barrios: Ahhh thank you so much! I’m so glad it resonated with you! I think there are a lot of factors and it can be really scary taking all those thoughts you’ve had in your mind and putting them out into the world. That makes it real. I know that unfortunately, getting mental health help costs money or insurance that a lot of people just don’t have as well.
I can only really speak from my perspective, so for me, I was just scared of the what if’s. What if I get a therapist and they’re mean, what if I ask for help and get diagnosed with something that makes me seem crazy, what if I feel guilty for saying what I feel, what if I can’t afford it, what if I need medication and I can’t afford it, what if they can’t help me, etc. I felt like, if I asked for help then that meant I was weak and couldn’t take care of myself but in reality, there’s so much strength in recognizing that, I’ve done a great job but I might need someone else to help me move further.
Kendra: A lot of your recent releases were part of your You Ask, I Write fan request series. How did that come about and is there more to come from that?
Sarah Barrios: I love writing music and with TikTok being such a fast-moving platform, I wanted to find ways to learn more about my followers and connect with them. So I started this series where they comment on a concept or a feeling or an experience they’ve had and I pick one and write a short song based on that comment. It’s been a lot of fun and honestly really eye-opening reading the things that people are going through and all of the comments that are so similar. There are most definitely more songs to come in this series.
Kendra: Now let’s talk about “Thank God You Introduced Me To Your Sister.” What I loved about the vibe of this song is that it reminded me of a classic ‘90s/early ‘00s teen movie soundtrack. So, it got me thinking…what teen movie do you feel would’ve benefitted the most from having the main character be bisexual?
Sarah Barrios: Oh wow this is a great question!!! ‘Mean Girls’ would’ve been wild with Regina being bisexual. I always thought the ongoing theme of Janice once being friends with Regina and then being “obsessed” with her was a little curious. In my head, I imagined that Janice and Regina were friends turned lovers at one point but then Janice fell too hard and Regina got male attention and popularity so they fell apart, leaving Janice hating Regina and Regina playing it off like it never happened. It’s a long shot but that would’ve been a fun storyline.
Kendra: On top of all the music you have going on, you also have been booked on some of the biggest festivals out there. Playing Lollapalooza is always going to be an honor, but how was it playing to a crowd of concertgoers who hadn’t had live music in more than a year? Was the energy different?
Sarah Barrios: It was incredible. Lollapalooza had a lot of firsts for me. It was my first time at a festival ever, first time playing a festival, first show in four years, first time playing the songs, and my first time with a band so I was super overwhelmed.
I released all of my music during quarantine so I hadn’t been able to meet anyone or play anything live. I honestly wasn’t expecting to have a crowd or have anyone know who I was but Lolla showed up and showed out. Everyone’s energy was crazy and people were singing along to all of the songs. This year has been tough on everyone, including myself, but everyone was so happy and ready to dance and cry and laugh with strangers. It was an emotional experience.
Kendra: You have new music out now, some more fests lined up, but what else can we expect from you as we head into the fall?
Sarah Barrios: I’m going on my first tour with Christian French in September and October!! Myself and the band are so stoked to play some unreleased songs and just meet people it’s going to be so much fun. The fans have been begging for merch for a while now so I’ve been working on getting that out to them, along with some new music, vlog content, behind the scenes of shows and music videos, and some book-themed content as well! Fall is my favorite time of year so I want to deliver as much as I can to people during that time!