My first encounter with Sara wasn’t much different than many of my other clients. About three years ago a message showed up in my inbox asking about recording, so we set a meeting for the next day (I think). I usually ask people come by the studio to see how we jive, and to give them a chance to see the space, ask questions, and decide if they actually want to spend all that time and money dealing with me (as a self-employed small-business owner, I am fond of saying my boss is an asshole).
Sara showed up, all smiles and energy, with her guitar and 2 of the players who would be on the record she was planning to make (a 4 song EP of Christian songs that she’d written). As usual, Sara was her bubbly self, and I took an instant liking to her. The more I learned about her, the more I wanted the gig. She has so many of the qualities I enjoy working with in an artist: passionate, dedicated, and fun to be around. Since she had never been in the studio before, I saw the opportunity to work with a first-time artist (something I really enjoy)- a chance to help her figure out what she wanted from the project and where she wanted to go. Guiding first-time artists through the process allows me to watch their faces as their idea, which starts as just a thought, turns into a record.
Then the plot twist came: almost out of nowhere, Sara told me her teacher was encouraging her to work at another studio, but that Sara didn’t feel that it would be the right mix or energy. I’m never one to poach clients or discourage musicians from pursuing other studio avenues, even if I think we could work together to create a strong project. “Well, see what they have to say and get back to me.”
Sara paused, furrowed her brow, and proclaimed she was canceling the other meeting and that we should set a date to record.
I have to admit I felt proud that she made her decision so quickly. I immediately started to think about how we’d go about tracking, despite the fact that I hadn’t even heard Sara’s music yet.
Shortly after Sara left I thought to myself, “Well, SanFilippo, you’d better not fuck this up.”
Not only did we do the EP, but we’ve done several singles, and now the full-length album the world is waiting for: “Taking me Back.”
I guess I didn’t fuck it up.
Bonus Miscellany of the Tony-And-Sara Variety:
Sara and Tony have both sworn to wear velvet suits to the Grammys (once they are notified of their impossibly-ten-thousand nominations).
Tony once took Sara to Digger’s Pub during tracking to get her a little tipsy to TRY TO SLOW HER DOWN for the difficult vocal timing on the track Goodbye. She sang it WRONG, and we’re not exaggerating here, at least 100 times before and after the tipsiness. No vocal was actually cut that day (but Tony’s inhuman patience was tested –upon hearing, as a percussionist, mind you, trained in all manner of impossible time signatures– the same verse repeated wrongly so many times in a row, explanation after explanation unheeded) as the alcohol (a double shot of Jim Beam) had no affect on her speed, but did succeed in making everything HILARIOUS so that we may or may not be in possession of tapes of many minutes of Sara laughing at things which aren’t even funny, including a story about margaritas in styrofoam cups which she took drunk notes on because she was convinced at the time that it would make a great song; it didn’t.
During the making of this album, a new dream was formed: Noodling during rehearsals, Mike Gardner, keyboard player extraordinaire, often would try to stump everyone with a snippets of 70’s TV theme songs (he knows them all), which revealed all the embarrassing shows everyone watched. They’d compete to be first to know the words or show. They all decided this would be a perfect one night gig–performing cheesy TV theme songs while the sentimental kids of the 70s and 80s sing and weep along. Sara still daydreams about singing Mary Tyler Moore and Facts of Life to the world; sigh, someday.
Tony threatens to abscond with Cody, the beloved Quah Family dog at least once a month. It’s not abduction if the dog WILLINGLY gets in the car. Just saying.
On Saturday, February 4, 2017, during the awkwardfest that was the making of Sara’s PledgeMusic campaign video, Sara learned that she had been pronouncing Tony’s last name wrong for about three years. Upon the discovery, Sara’s first words were, “EPIC FRIEND FAIL,” and “HOW COME YOU DIDN’T TELL ME BEFORE? YOU JUST LET ME SAY IT WRONG FOR THREE YEARS?!” Tony’s response: “I think I did. Now look at this:”