Magazine article Guitar Player

Sarah Aili on Co-Writing & Vulnerability

Magazine article Guitar Player

Sarah Aili on Co-Writing & Vulnerability

Article excerpt

SARAH AILI IS A TRIPLE-THREAT singer, dancer, and actor from Northern California, who hit the theater scene in New York before landing in Nashville to write songs and perform with musicians who share her love for storytelling. But Aili also brought a bit of New York intensity to town, as the restless and prolific artist has multiple projects in development--an album and a play with singer/songwriter Radney Foster, a musical entitled Box of Letters with musician Eric Erdman, an album of children's music, and a role in the Nashville Repertory Theatre's production of Avenue Q.

How does a song typically start for you?

A lot of times, I'll come up with a melody while I'm driving from gig to gig. Road trips are great for coming up with ideas. If I get a thought while in the shower, I'll immediately get out to write it down or record it--although wet hands don't work very well with a cell phone. I also keep a "hook book" filled with inspirations, ideas, lyrics, and so on.

Do you have a specific writing routine?

When co-writing, we will set aside time with the intent of writing something together. I love that structure. But I don't usually do that when I'm solo. When I'm struck with inspiration, I just stop whatever I'm doing, and I write down what I'm feeling. Or I sit down with my guitar, and I start playing to see what sticks. If an emotion leads my inspiration, I'll try to turn that emotion into sound. Also, it's helpful to see the lyrics in front of me, so that I can stay focused on the structure of the song, and let the story unfold. …

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