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Interview with Singer/Songwriter
Sally Barris

6th February 2002


Ray Grundy
Sally Barris

Can you tell us a little about where you grew up and how you first became interested in music!

I grew up in Minnesota, which is way up north…..where it's always cold. My father was a musician, he played steel guitar in a country band and he taught me to play Ukulele when I was 5 years old, so I used to accompany him. He used to listen to a lot of Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Marty Robbins and Emmylou Harris and that's what really got me into it. We always had country music in the house.

How long have you been writing your own songs?

Well, for a long time now. The first thing I did out of high school was I joined a Bluegrass band and I started to write songs when I was in that band. Then shortly after that I moved to Nashville, so I've been in it for a while.

Do you find most of your songs come from personal experiences?

Definitely! Yes.

How did the decision come about to record your first album, "Reluctant Daughter."

After I had been in Nashville a couple of years and I had written a lot of songs for other people, I decided I wanted to go out and play on my own too. So I kind of do a mixture of both, I have a publishing deal where I write for other people,…….I've written songs for Kathy Mattea, Lee Ann Womack and Billy Gilman…….but I also write for myself, so I decided to put out my own album and it's been doing really well

As you just said, you've had your songs cut by Country artists like, Lee Ann Womack, Kathy Mattea, Billy Gilman and I know you've also written for Kate McKenzie among others, but listening to the CD, I was surprised to find very little country content on there?

I'm more of an acoustic artist than country, so I wanted to do the songs my way. When my songs have been recorded by others, they have made the songs sound country themselves, for the radio.

When I reviewed the album, I said that on first play, I was unsure what to make of it, but that was probably because I was expecting a more country orientated album! On further plays though, the album really grew on me. What has been the general reaction from the country music media?

They really like it. Especially the songs "Reluctant Daughter" and "Standing Still," although I really haven't marketed it to the country stations in the U.S, more to the 'Roots' and 'Americana' stations. In Nashville they have been playing "Never Wrong" a lot. You never really know what people are going to like. You just put out what you do and everybody picks their thing.

Some of Country music's finest session musician's are playing on the album, Sam Bush, Viktor Krauss, Pat Buchanan. Kenny Malone. It must have been a real boost to get them on there!

Yes, well the crazy thing is, everybody lives in Nashville, so anytime I do a session, I work with all those people all the time, because they are there and accessible. I work with Pat Buchanan on a regular basis, whenever I do demo's.

I mentioned Kathy Mattea before and you wrote two songs (All Night Café and Reluctant Daughter) on the album with her husband John Vezner. How did that came about?

Well ironically…….this is kind of a crazy story but ……Kathy Mattea used to live in the upstairs apartment of my publishing company, 'Wrensong Publishing' and John Vezner used to write there, which is how they met……….. she had car problems!! (Laughs) So John used to come and visit a lot when I started writing there, so I'd run into him all the time. Kathy is really the one who heard my music, really loved it and encouraged John and I to get together and once we did, we really hit it off, so we've been writing together ever since.

I like the song "All Night Café," is there a story behind that one?

Yes, it's a true story! (Laughs) It's a conversation. It was one of those days were we had a writing appointment together and he started playing that beautiful music and I just started writing down the words. So it was kind of a magical co-write, where it just sort of fell together.

Is your next album going to be the same eclectic mix of styles or will there be more of a country feel to it this time?

Well, it's going to be more of a Bluegrass/Folk record this time. I've written about half of it and I think I've got some inspiration for it from coming over here, to write the second half. I'm really picky about the songs that I choose for records, so I'll wait until I am happy that I have 10 or 11 songs, that I really feel strongly about and then I'll record it.

Another song I like on the album is the Dixieland/Jazz influenced, "Weatherman." Can you tell us about that one.

(Laughs) Well, I really don't know where that song came from, it really is a mystery. I wrote it after I did some shows in New York. A lot of it is to do with my childhood, growing up in Minnesota. The weather channel is something you watch all the time, we get a lot of snow there.

Do you have a personal favourite on the album?

I would say "Reluctant Daughter" and "Standing Still" are my two favourites. They're kind of the most Folky/Old timey kind of songs and that's where I'm really going to go for my next record.

You've just done your first two gigs over here. What has the audience reaction been like?

It's been great, just overwhelming! I'm selling a lot of CD's and people are really enjoying it. The thing is, I sound different in person than on the record, because there's just me and the guitar and I think it has a more intimate impact if you know what I mean. I think people are responding to that and it's something I want to capture on my next record, keep it more simple, focus more on the guitar and vocal. I feel very encouraged, that's for sure.

Sally, it's been great talking to you, thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing more of your music in the future.

I appreciate it, thanks a lot!

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