When I was a kid, I worked my shit out by skulking down to the basement in my parents’ house and banging away for hours at the piano we inherited from my grandfather. Every so often I could sense a presence come down the stairs behind me and just settle in while I perambulated across the keyboard. Eventually people started talking – they said I had something special. I didn’t care and I wouldn’t have known any different if they hadn’t said anything. But it took me another ten years to figure out how to begin to capture that essence onto a recording.
Seattle, Washington-based Sage Redman figured it out though – she figured out how to do it at sixteen. From within a boarding school. She sounds a lot older, but I am not sure what that means; I think I knew a lot more, felt a lot more, understood and saw a lot more when I was her age – before the dregs of life overwhelmed me, like it does so many of us. So if you didn’t know she is still half a decade from twenty, you probably wouldn’t guess it. Maybe it is the open-hearted, unfiltered nature that makes her sound so wizened. Maybe it’s that she cites Benjamin Britten and Daft Punk as influences in the same breath. At fifteen she opened for Martha Wainwright to critical acclaim.
All this to say – I never thought I would be one of those writers about music that made the distinction about an artist’s capabilities via their age. I sure resented it when I was a kid. So I apologize to Sage for being that guy. But kid, the future will be yours if you can hack the rigors of the road ahead, because you are amazing. And don’t let them beetles ever get you down.
Here is what Ms. Redman had to say between homework assignments when pressed with MusicZeitgeist.com’s notoriously incisive queries:
I’m 16 and when I first sat down to write a chord progression on my old moss green chipped upright piano four years ago, music composition engulfed my life. I live in Seattle but go to boarding school outside of Boston. I can’t really talk you through who I am, because I’m only just starting, but I think that my songs do the question more justice than any explanation I can write here. Music fills a silence, on stage and everyday. I won’t tell you a funny narrative in the middle of my set because I can’t think of one. So be ready for the next song.
I have many memories of how music has influenced me. There is no anecdote or formula of how it all happened, just bits and pieces of things that lead to other things that lead to the next things. It’s really just a beginning. Last I remember it was Elvis Presley, then The Beatles, then Coldplay, then Sigur Ros, then Radiohead and here I find myself in somewhat of a new wave stage. My attempts at the Thom Yorke side of life amuse me and I don’t hide the fact that I draw influence from 80’s cheesed up hits, Spacehog’s bass lines and choral music. I got the first four descending notes of a new melody from a Britten Magnificat I’m pretty sure….
The first time I heard Hound Dog, it was blaring from the old phonograph in my best friends living room, late at night, humming the melody that would forever be the base of my early musical knowledge. I didn’t know it at the time but it felt like 1956. Better yet was waking up still humming it and realizing that Presley and I shared the same birthday. As a six year old, how could I not come back for more? I have been influenced by different sounds in different eras: listening to Joe Jackson’s Look Sharp! all the way through and picking Is She Really Going Out With Him as my cover in my first show; spending half my summer inside KEXP radio station; and studying Pink Floyd’s The Wall in seventh grade. We’re talking Edith Piaf to Daft Punk.
Growing up in Seattle has no doubt had an affect on my musical roots and point of view. Pearl Jam’s Ten was practically on a constant repeat for the first years of my life, and I had a childhood obsession with the album paintings on the walls of Tower Records. I’ve opened at the Triple Door, Chop Suey, and other local venues in Seattle; places I’d drive by and only imagine playing growing up.
MZ: Until When?
From 6 to 16, from 16 on to forever.
Music is a water in which you don’t need to surface for air. I’m in and I’m staying.
Find out more at: http://www.myspace.com/sageredman
Sage Redman’s album “It Is What It Is” is available at CDBaby and most major digital distribution outlets (Amazon, iTunes etc.)
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