If fledgling singer songwriter of five years ago Sarah Monteith could look at a live performance by Sarah Em in 2016 she probably would not recognise herself.
A few years packed with gigs, songwriting and recording have resulted in her transformation into a confident solo performer who engages with her audience, mixing banter with beats and tunes that can really get a crowd up on the dance floor.
She said: “I’ve been in bands for years. When I decided to go solo I didn’t really know which direction I wanted to go in. When I think of myself a couple of years ago and then look at what I’m doing now, the difference really is like night and day.
“I have a fan base now and friends who come with me to my gigs.”
Oh yes, and she’s changed her name.
“There’s an American singer called Sarah Monteith, but the main reason I decided to change my name was because I used to turn up to gigs and they had spelt it wrong or had the totally wrong name.
“I just shortened it to Em – it’s easy to remember and spell and it’s also quite musical because you could mistake it for the key of E minor.”
Sarah has been playing regularly in Glasgow and Edinburgh, including a gig at the Fringe, and has also secured a residency at Katie’s Bar, in Falkirk, where she hosts an open mic night every Tuesday from 8.30pm.
The Callendar Road bar will be the venue of the launch night for her new single Mirror Reflection on Friday, September 30.
By performing more the singer has also been able to learn a lot of tricks of the trade when it comes to pleasing an audience.
She said: “I’ve done a couple of videos for my songs now, so I can look at my performance and see what works and what doesn’t. I’ve also been watching a lot of other musicians and seeing how they interact with the crowd and engage with the audience.
“I have been really busy gigging, writing songs and recording them and Mirror Reflection is going to be one of the songs on my debut album which I’m currently writing at the minute.
“I’ll probably start recording it next year and hope to have at least ten tracks on it.”
If Sarah’s 2012 solo debut single The End of the Line marked a new beginning in her life, then Mirror Reflection, which will get the music video treatment from renowned local film maker Simon Jake Gillespie, confirms the musical and life route she has chosen for herself will be the one she follows from now on.
“Mirror Reflection is about how your life takes different paths but the only thing that matters is the path you have chosen for yourself and not the path some people may choose for you.
“It’s stripped down and acoustic – just like the album will be. I may put a few extra guitars on it, but I really want the album to reflect how I sound live.
“It’s just me, my guitar and a stomp box to add the beat.”
Always melodic, Sarah is a confirmed dance music fan and often covers clubland classics, distilling the essence of nightclub floor fillers down to just her voice and her guitar.
“I like people to dance to my songs. I don’t want my gigs to be laidback. Although I play acoustic music, the feedback I get from people is that it’s like dance music and I do a lot of dance tune covers.”
To enhance this danceclub vibe, she is toying with the idea of re-introducing a loop pedal into her live work, something she had done in the past.
The device, which is expertly manipulated by the likes of KT Tunstall and Ed Sheeran, allows solo performers to build up layer upon layer of music as they perform.
While the looper may be like having an entire orchestra at the tap of a toe, Sarah is not really a big fan of the gadget.
She said: “I may bring the looper back into my performances because it will help get people up dancing at the gigs. I find loop pedals a bit boring at times though – I watched a couple of people playing live with loopers and it seemed to take them ages to build everything up and get the actual song started.”
Sarah’s live rendition of Mirror Reflection will be the high point of the September 30 gig in Katie’s Bar, but she has recruited three important men her life to share the spotlight of her single launch night – fellow singer songwriters Aaron Smith and Mickey Gerry and electric guitarist Scott Abercrombie.
She said: “Aaron is also in a band called Delphi and we’ve been good friends since he started playing music. Micky has been a friend for years and how he’s a singer songwriter too.
“Scott plays electric guitar over dance music and that is something that complements what I do too. They’re all great performers.”
Sarah is leaving her guitar behind and jetting off to Majorca for some much needed rest and relaxation before her big single launch on September 30.
The music kicks off at Katie’s Bar from 8pm.
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