DFW Music News

Sarah Jaffe Talks Her New EP, That Disc's Cover Songs, and What To Expect From Her Next LP

Earlier this week, Sarah Jaffe released The Way Sound Leaves a Room, a new EP/DVD release that features footage from her Wyly Theater performance from back in February, as well as eight never-before-released songs from the popular area singer-songwriter.

The eight songs are particularly interesting: They include two covers (Cold War Kids' "Louder Than Ever" and Drake & The-Dream's "Shut It Down"), an alternate take of her ever-popular "Clementine" song, and five home-recorded demos of songs Jaffe's been slowly adding to her set over the past year or so. 

Interestingly enough, just as Jaffe released this new collection, she was already working on her next one. All week long, she's been in Oak Cliff with John Congleton, recording material for her upcoming, sophomore full-length album.

With all this going on, we figured it high time to catch up with Jaffe and ask her about her cover song choices, her decision to release so many demo songs on her new release and what, if anything, these new songs can tell us about her next LP. Jaffe's kind enough to field our queries after the jump.

First of all, where'd you come up with these covers? It's been known that you were going to be releasing these at-home recordings on this EP, as well as the DVD pairing. But the covers are a bit of a surprise. What was the thought process there? How'd they come to be?
There's a licensing company that had asked me to do "Louder Than Ever." They specifically asked me to cover Cold War Kids and "Louder Than Ever." So I went in and recorded with McKenzie [Smith] and [Eric] Pulido of Midlake and recorded that in Denton and kind of put my own spin on it with their help and their genius behind it. And then I was just working with Matt Pence to do an alternative version of "Clementine," a version that [pianist] Scott [Danbom] and I had done before just to break things up a bit. And we were working with him and I just always loved the song "Shut It Down." I may have covered it in Austin once, but then, yeah, I recorded it.

I know you're a big hip-hop fan, so that one kind of makes sense.
Yeah, for sure. And I just have always loved that song. The melody is killer. I just thought, "I really want to cover this song." So I kind of had it in my head to do it. And then Scott and I figured out what key would work, and we brought in Fiona Brice, Paul [Alexander] of Midlake's wife. She's a string arranger and she's absolutely brilliant. And we brought in John Grant and Eric Pulido, and they all sing backup. I guess we just kind of put my spin on that record, too.

I noticed that, aside from the covers and the alternate version of "Clementine," the rest of these songs are marker in their titles as demos on the album. Is that because you're going to be re-visiting these? Are they really still in-progress songs?
There's a few that I'm gonna re-visit. I'll of course re-visit and revise "A Sucker For Your Marketing" and "When You Rest." My main endeavor was to kind of present a progression that I've been working on. And things are all still int heir very early stages. And I do mean very early. A lot of it is just off-the-cuff. We just decided that we should put the word "demo" on there so people wouldn't be like, "Hey, what's the deal?"

Like a safety net of sorts?
Yeah, almost kind of like a safety net. Like, just, "Hey, this is a demo version, so take it what it is as I'm working on new stuff." It's mostly for the people that know my material, although I don't think it's not gonna matter if someone comes along and hears it regardless of whether they're familiar with my previous work.

How do these songs compare with what you've got going with John Congleton? I know you're in the studio with him this week, working on the next LP. Is this EP essentially the bridge between Suburban Nature and wherever you end up on the next one?
You know, I'm not even thinking about my previous records. I'm literally working with where I'm at right now. I'm not thinking about what Suburban Nature was or is. I'm just working on what sounds good to me right now. And, of course, anything with Congleton is gonna be great. I mean, he's just a genius.

You've definitely been adding electronic elements to your live show of late. Is that gonna make an appearance on the new record, do you think?
Oh yeah. For sure. There's gonna be some quirky, kind of electronic stuff that will be added for sure.

Any overall direction you can tease us with for the new disc?
I'm gonna really keep this one under wraps and play with the element of surprise. I mean, it's probably too early to tell at this point, but I'm really excited about it. Beyond, I'm gonna keep my yapper shut.

Sarah Jaffe performs Thursday, October 6, at Dan's Silverleaf in Denton

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Pete Freedman
Contact: Pete Freedman

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