To regularly gig-goers in Liverpool, Sara Wolff is no stranger around these parts. The Norwegian songwriter first came to our attention at the Threshold festival back in 2019.
Tasked with playing after The Tosin Trio who performed one sets of the weekend, it was a change in pace and Wolff and her band were more than up for the challenge, providing a set of warm spatial folk-rock numbers to the appreciative crowd inside 24 Kitchen Street.
Whilst many have rightfully found creative inspiration a struggle during the lockdown period, Wolff has used the last 12 months to her advantage and the end result is her debut EP, When You Left the Room.
Released earlier this month, When You Left the Room is filled with strong folk numbers that slowly drift through the room, providing a glowing ambience.
From opener, Cotton Socks through to the excellent single, Bad Thoughts Compilation, it’s an EP that seeps into the conscious, enticing the listener to go back for more.
We caught up with Sara shortly after the release of When You Left the Room.
Sun 13: Congratulations on your new EP, When You Left The Room. How’s the reception been so far?
Sara Wolff: “Thank you! It’s been great. It is my debut EP so it really feels like a big event to me – it’s so nice to see that people are liking it. It’s always so strange when you put songs into the world – suddenly they’re not your own private thoughts and feelings anymore, but something anyone can listen to and relate to. It’s nice to let go of them finally.”
S13: Can you tell us the idea behind the EP?
SW: “It’s a scrapbook of stories I’ve gathered over the past few years – about weird interactions I’ve had with people, relationships, reflections on my own feelings, the awkward stretch of growing up and coming into yourself more.”
S13: How have you been coping with the lockdown situation?
SW: “Lockdown has been really good for me. I have been so lucky to be on furlough and it’s given me lots of time to write and work on my release. I’ve been going for a lot of walks and taken time to reflect on who I am and what I want to do.”
S13: You’ve got a home studio set up. They must have been a blessing during these times. However, do you find it hard to switch off, or is it a case of constantly thinking about creating?
SW: “I think it’s important to make a bit of structure – it’s hard to get work/life balance when your work is creating and creating is so much fun. In lockdown, I try to split my days up into reading, writing, admin work and recording.
“I try to make sure I do my admin work within the timeframe of a normal work day, and I also honour the weekend as a time of rest and fun, walks and film nights. I’ve really tried to give myself as much space as I can to just sit in my room, listen to music and write. That’s usually when inspiration comes for me – when I’ve got time to myself.”
S13: You’re originally from Bergen, Norway. How long have you been in Liverpool and what drew you to Merseyside?
SW: “I came to Liverpool to study in 2016, so I have almost been here for five years now. After I finished studying I decided to stay as this is where I have my band, collaborators and garden.
“Liverpool is a really musical city and a few of my idols are either from here or has passed through here.”
S13: Who would you consider to be your major influences?
SW: “The main influences for the EP were St. Vincent, Radiohead, Fiona Apple, Rozi Plain and Laura Marling. I like artists and bands who mix genres and create something unexpected. I wanted the record to be intimate but still textural and dynamic.”
S13: We ask a lot of artists this, what’s your take on social media?
SW: “Social media is a great tool to reach people and get to know other creatives, this has been particularly clear over the past year. In many ways the world feels smaller now – lockdown has shown that we can still keep working and collaborating no matter where we are. Me and Adam, the co-producer, engineer and mix-engineer of the EP had to finish the record remotely when lockdown happened in march. I recorded all the vocals in my bedroom under a duvet. It wasn’t what I initially had in mind but it worked.”
S13: Have you got any hobbies outside of music?
SW: “I like to take photos, mostly black and white portraits on film. It’s all on my second Instagram page @sulkphotography.
“I have also taught myself to edit videos – I made my latest music video for my song Hands by myself, with filming help from my housemates.
“I also love my plants and gardening – this year we are sowing vegetables, herbs and flowers in our little back garden. It is a nice reminder that spring is coming, and it is so special to see the seedlings grow bigger every day.”
S13: Name a local artist we should be listening to?
SW: “Furry Hug, Henrio and Nil00 are my favourites at the moment!”
S13: What’s next for you musically?
SW: “Now that my EP is out I am having a bit of time to enjoy what we’ve made. Then I’ll be booking some gigs for the autumn hopefully, and just keep recording. I can’t wait!”
S13: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Any last words?
SW: “Thank you for taking the time to chat with me!”
When You Left The Room is out now. Purchase via Bandcamp.