Sarah Saturday might be my longest running rock crush—while all of the cliché reasons admittedly apply, more importantly she’s always seemed to remain relevant to me. She’s thoughtful and reflective, without pretension.
Initially our musical star aligned over bratty indie pop-punk. Guilty as charged—and not the least bit remorseful about it—but just as our bleached hair (both hers and mine) began to show roots, so did our taste in music. Styles evolved. We matured. Slamming guitars and songs about getting wasted grew tired. However, I never really let go of the teenage angst—it just morphed into twenties angst… and now thirties. Through it all, Sarah has been adding poetry to melody and capturing a sentiment of the evolving human condition while articulating the complexities of adult relationships. Whether she likes it or not, we’ve grown up together—and after all of the years I still turn to her to sing me to sleep at night.
Fresh out of high school, I wish I could remember how I originally caught wind of her duet-singing punk band, Saving Face—but I can’t. Even though they were were from Madison, Wisconsin, the band layered west coast punk irony between bubblegum lyrics of Cinderella and relationships-gone-bad. Then, out of nowhere, Sarah would kick you in the chest with soul crushing songs like “Fool’s Gold” and “What’s To Come.” “Fool’s Gold” is still one of my all-time favorite songs and has some of the most piercing lyrics I’ve ever heard put to music. I tried to find you a link, but even the internet isn’t that good. I’m sad you can’t hear it.
Somewhere along the way, like all punk bands singing about relationships, Saving Face split up. Sarah continued on; briefly filling the roll of bass guitar in Aimee Echo’s theSTART and then finding herself on the business side of things managing some of best rock tours caravanning across the country. I met Sarah a couple of times while she was on tour with theSTART—I carried merch totes for her in Denver and we survived a blizzard in Ft. Collins. A few years later our paths occasionally crossed while I was working on Warped Tour. I'd like to tell you that I “know” Sarah, but I don’t. Maybe it’s better that way.
Gardening, Not Architecture still rings true to Sarah’s Earn-It-Youself (EIY) disposition. The music is pure, and it’s hers. Undoubtedly she has help, but G,NA is primarily a solo project—written and released by her own two hands. She was always a big influence on me in that regard—I applied a lot of her philosophies to the bands I worked with and without question to my own writing. Hustle. While creative control is unquestionably rewarding, sadly, the sacrifice is sales potential. Her songs were created with no one in mind other than herself, yet they resonate and are adored by those willing to listen. As with all self-produced work, I’ve found that getting people to listen always seems to be the challenge.
Finding the same vein as the early days of Julie Ruin and with nods toward Hope Sandoval, Gardening, Not Architecture’s attention to detail and clean performances set it apart from the crunchy quirkiness eaten up by black-rimmed hipsters. It’s bedroom songs where its talent equals its heart, making it perfect for late nights or subtly finding its way into movies and television. Sarah’s vocals are pristine, the recordings crisp, and the arrangement meticulous. Of the three albums, the most recent, Fossils, is Sarah’s best produced work to date. That’s not to say you should disregard the first two albums, but Fossils feels like musical experience and ability have caught up with ambition—lyrically, she has always been masterful, entangling vulnerability with conviction.
Just the name-phrase “gardening, not architecture” gives you something to think about… I guess that’s why she’s always been one of my favorites. Substance.
Visit www.gardeningnotarchitecture.com and add Sarah to your collection.