As a volunteer with The Listening, I contributed several artist interview articles that help promote the local Virginia music community. It’s one of the many projects I’ve enjoyed as a writer in Lynchburg, Virginia. After Sara Edwards performed at the Listening’s “Where It Hurts” event, I met with her to discuss the passion behind her music. Below the article, I wrote for the Talk That Talk blog.

Artist Interview: Sara Edward’s Sound Cuts Through Noise Pollution

Originally published at The Listening’s Talk That Talk

When Sara and I met for this interview at Speakertree, the winter twilight had already faded into darkness. We both ordered something that the barista promised wouldn’t keep us up all night and settled into one of the deep leather couches. The room buzzed with concert preparation, coffee chatter, and the clatter of shoppers sorting through record sleeves.

In the midst of the din, Sara put off her own quiet energy — a distinct sound that cuts through noise pollution.

Danielle: Tell me about everything you have going on. 

Sara: I have my solo project, and I have a band, Dreamcatcher, with my boyfriend Matthew. They’re two completely different projects ⁠ My solo sound is more acoustic, singer-songwriter stuff. 

Dreamcatcher is ambient and experimental ⁠— a blend of electronic and acoustic sounds. 

Also, lately, I’ve been getting into producing. I’m falling in love with the creative freedom that comes from being able to layer tracks and move things around while composing. 

D: What other things that keep you busy?

S: Well, I have a vintage clothing brand that I sell downtown and online on my recently launched Etsy shop, “TimelessVintageUS.” It’s another form of artistic expression for me ⁠— fashion that is. I adore rebelling against fast fashion. I love the idea of clothing that doesn’t go out of style, made with textiles that have withstood the test of time. I’m big on conservation of nature and making the most of our resources.

Lately, I’ve been organizing litter pickups around Lynchburg, through Lynchburg Parks and Recreation.

I also have a photography business which I launched in 2014. 

And I teach violin lessons.

D: Is that everything you’re doing?

S: That’s it. Between all of them, there’s an underlying focus on sustainability and protecting our fragile environment. That’s the passion that ties them all together.

D: Yes, I can see that theme in your projects. How did you end up in Lynchburg?

S: I was born and raised in Lynchburg. I grew up in the public school system⁠. Then, I attended Liberty University. 

It was pretty amazing. I studied the environment, and ecology; the way that everything works together as one. I learned a lot about life while I was there.

D: How did you link up with The Listening?

S: The first time I talked to someone was Nakesha. She reached out to me for the Poverty Speaks event at The Miller Center. I played three of my original songs. That was one of the first times I met people from the organization. It’s been a great community to meet fellow artists.

D: Take me back to when you first started getting serious about the violin.

S: It’s kind of always been there. As a child, I tried everything ⁠— ballet, karate ⁠— but the music is one of the things I always stuck with. I started playing the violin when I was eight. 

D: Eight years old! Whose idea was that, the violin?

S: That was my idea actually. I begged and begged for violin lessons.

D: At eight years old.

S: Yeah! I was a super weird kid. At that age, a lot of kids in the public school learn the Suzuki method. I saw these other kids learning and that’s where it started. 

My mom also had an upright piano in the house. It was horribly out of tune but, still a lot of fun to play. I started banging on that when I was four. My mom loved music. There was always music in my house. It’s always just been there. 

D: When did you realize this was something you wanted to do? When did you get serious about music as a career?

S: When I was sixteen, I was working on writing this song. I thought, “One day, I could be playing my music in front of people” 

When I was about 24, I was in a band that wasn’t working out. I realized I could go solo and do my own thing. That’s when I started really taking it seriously. 

D: You were a part of The Listening’s event Where It Hurts. Tell me a little about your experience.

S: That was actually a super-intimate event. I should have known because of the title of the event, but it was very intense ⁠— in a very magical and uplifting way. My friend, Jiggy M, reached out to me to play for that one. I played two original songs and there were all these people doing open mics. It was heart-wrenching and beautiful. 

Life is hard and it’s good to let it out. Art helps with that.

D: That’s what always impresses me at these events. You see such honest work.

S: It’s scary to do that. Any kind of artist bares their soul. You put your life into the words, the work, the chords. You put them together ⁠— and sharing that with people can be really scary. 

D: If you could make everyone pay attention to one story, what would that be?

S: I think the most important message is that people need to notice the state of the environment. People need to wake up. 

People are very comfortable in their own lives. We live in these little heated boxes and we have all these things we don’t really need. There are people that are starving and our planet is in peril. 

We need to look at sustainable solutions and pay attention to the businesses we support. Consume less. Consume smarter.

D: With that in mind, what is your creative process?

S: A lot of my inspiration comes from nature. My songs, like “Ripples,” come from thinking about how powerful and beautiful nature is. I’ve always felt connected to something bigger than myself when I’m outdoors. 

With Dreamcatcher, an example would be “Swimming in the Sky.” One of the lyrics is “The forest fills my lungs as I breathe in.” As people, we can get so separated from nature that we forget how the forest literally supplies us with breath. It fills our lungs. 

If we didn’t have the trees, we would not be here. If we didn’t have the sun, we would not be here. It’s a fragile balance. 

I want to use my voice to tell others  that.

When I sing that song, it hurts my heart a little bit.. I want people to care because it’s important.

D: That’s really the driving force behind a lot of artists, finding a way to make people listen. Who’s an artist that you’d be flattered to be compared with?

S: I’ve actually gotten two huge compliments in the past. 

The first one was when Matthew and I played as Dreamcatcher at the Be Kind Festival in Concord. A girl came up to us after our set and said, “You sound like Tash Sultana.” I didn’t know who that was so I looked her up. It blew my mind. I don’t think I sound like her ⁠— she’s a powerhouse. This whole wall of sound is from just her, looping herself.

Another person would be Nia Palm. My friend Phineas, said I sound like Nia Palm from Hiatus Kaiyote. I love them ⁠— her voice and her lyricism. She has precision and creativity that you can’t believe. 

Both of them really inspire me. 

D: Well, we’ve talked about a lot. Is there anything else we should cover?

S: Yes! we’re working on an EP for Dreamcatcher. We’re currently recording and we have a few live tracks that we may release prior to that. 

I’m also working on a solo EP. 

D: Where is the best place to follow that release announcement?

S: Instagram is the best place to get updates at @swimminginthesky and @dreamcatcher_the_band. There is a link to my SoundCloud where you can get our music. 

You can find us on Facebook as well.

D: So, that’s the big thing for you right now?

S:  Keep an eye out for us at local shows. I’m currently working on booking out of town, and looking into some festivals for the coming year.