Interview with Sacha Mullin
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
My family is largely musically inclined, and I was particularly encouraged by my mother and grandmother. I used to fantasize as a kid that I was writing little soundtracks to imaginary movies, and I found the piano and my electric keyboard a way to tell stories with sound.
I think a lot about other paths in this life, and I’ve worn many hats on sidequests, like pastry chef, book appraiser, press relations writer, reality talent show lackey… In daydreams, I would love to have pursued becoming a mental health counselor, or a research scientist. Or maybe that person who gets to feed hippos whole watermelons. I love hippos.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I seem to collect far too many cookbooks, and a lot of my life revolves around trying to make the most of my far-too-small apartment kitchen. Various cooking methods, tastings, judgments, all of that—it seems to overlap a lot in the same mental space as making music and other art, so I sometimes have a hard time separating the processes, actually. Sometimes you cook from the hip, sometimes it’s exact, some things come out better than others, but you always try your best.
How long have you been making music?
It depends when you pick the “real” starting point, but I think I wrote my first real song at 6 years old? When I was a teenager, I did demonstration recordings for a couple Japanese jingle houses, and then I went to an arts high school, a music college, sang backing vocals and was in a few bands, and I released my actual debut album in 2013.
Where are you based and how did that influence your music?
I’ve been in Chicago since about 2011, and if I’m pressed to think about the city for influence, I think it probably both anchors me with Midwestern grounding, while also encouraging me to think about music at a global scale.
Tell me about your most memorable shows, if you haven’t played live what is your vision for a live show?
For some reason, the first thing that came to mind was a performance I was a part of in high school. It was playing as part of a conch shell orchestra for composer Phillip Blackburn at the Science Museum of Minnesota, and there was a piece in the program that had to do with strong magnets. I wasn’t thinking and put the magnets in my pocket when that piece was done, which was the same pocket as my iPod, so…that ended well.
Focusing on my solo performances, the most recent gig I did was for my record release, where I sang through my whole record with very few pauses. I remember laughing mid-way wondering why I wrote songs that required so much breath support, but I’ll be damned, I did it! (laughs)
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Cafe Mustache in Chicago is like my home, and it feels so supportive. I love intimate spaces. It’s been years, but I’d love to play the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis again, this time for myself, rather than as a supporting musician. The dream, I suppose, is to tour my music abroad.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
On a whim, let me say Dead Rider and Joni Mitchell. Why not!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into making music and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
I may end up coming across as shilling for Microsoft Office at this point, but everyone needs to have a personal database going. Get into spreadsheets. Learn to love Excel. And more importantly, learn to love yourself. That’s something I wish I had realized sooner, accepting that I was enough. Still working on that, honestly.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
“Margaret” was the first time I felt bold enough to chronicle loss. I’m very proud of the song, both musically and in its honesty.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
The most gratifying song to sing is probably “Arranging Flowers”. It feels a bit like I’ve run a marathon! The most requested is still probably “Crow”. I actually tried to retire that one at a show once, and someone in the audience responded with “oh no you don’t!”. (laughs)
What is your creative process, and what inspires you to write your music?
I try to capture and record abstract song ideas in my phone that come to mind, often out of nowhere, or I’ll start meditating on a few chords and see what comes to mind. I’m most inspired from conversations with people, and working through darknesses in this life.
Do you have messages that you like to get across in your music? If so, please tell me about them.
A lot of my work is autobiographical, and I suppose can feel a bit heavy, but songs are a space where I can hold myself accountable to words and reflections. I always hope that by sharing what I’m feeling, that someone out there can feel solidarity. No one is truly alone.
Do you have any new singles, videos, or albums out that you would like to tell me and your fans about?
Yes! My newest album Casino Wilderness Period is out now, and the single “Arranging Flowers” has a nifty music video, and a limited physical 7” single with a beautiful Alexz Johnson song as a b-side. This album is the most excited I’ve ever been about my recorded work, and I hope you love it too!
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Truly, my upcoming plans are to take a nap, with a spotlight on hitting the snooze button too many times. Musically though, I have a few things I’m hoping to do, but allow me to be vague for the time being, and support me on my journey for more sleep.
How can your fans best keep up to date with you, any socials you want people to check out?
Unintentionally, I can be a bit reclusive, which …isn’t the best for promoting a product, I’m aware! However, I tend to monitor and post on my Instagram the most, so follow me there at sachamullin, please and thank you!