Interview – Sarah Tolle

Vancouver, BC-based singer-songwriter Sarah Tolle has unveiled her new single, “Fight For You”.

A piano-driven electronic pop ballad, the song’s standout feature is its deeply heartfelt vocals.

“For me, the song is sung by a caregiver — someone in a support role,” Tolle says.

“Fight For You” begins with one rolling, harmonious word: You. It’s the word that provided an entry point to the song Tolle wanted to write, but that she then got stuck on. So, she asked her mom for help.

“In order to write this song, I actually ended up asking my mom to write down what came to mind when she listened to the instrumental track,” says Tolle. “She’s not a songwriter by trade or anything, but there’s a richness of experience in working with my mom, who has dealt with more life than I have. Being able to paint some pictures with her words gave the lyrics more depth.”

As someone with lots of life experience usually knows, life is rarely tidy.

“The caregiver in the song is supporting a loved one who’s living with mental illness — and they’re not perfect by any means,” Tolle said. “They express unconditional love and encouragement, but also signs of confusion, disbelief, and exasperation.

“I wanted this portrayal to feel real, and real is not always neat and pretty.”

Check out “Fight For You” below, and find out more about Sarah via our mini-interview.

Care to introduce yourself to our readers?

I’m a singer-songwriter, actress, and screenwriter—and I work in a Content Director role with a digital media company. I just started releasing music in 2021.

Actually, when I started recording songs in 2021, I didn’t even plan on being a singer. I thought I didn’t have the voice for it, so I was thinking I’d hire a singer to perform the songs I’d written. But Ovi, the producer I was working with, told me that it sounded good when I sang in the demo tracks. I’m proof that anyone can do it—but it really helps to have someone in your corner rooting for you in those moments when you don’t believe in yourself.

Tell us about the making of Fight For You. What started the writing of the song?

This song started with a catchy piano riff. I kept coming back to this riff for weeks, maybe months, playing it every once in a while to see if it inspired anything. Eventually, some words started coming out.

A lot of my songs happen like that—I generally just get into the act of playing or singing and see what comes out. Sometimes I like it, sometimes I don’t. Usually it doesn’t make much sense, and it’s more driven by an overall feeling of the sound rather than a specific idea or goal.

Your mother helped with the song? How?

Yeah, my mom helped with this one! I had gotten to the point where I liked the structure and melody of the song, but the theme was still pretty foggy.

So, I sent a recording to my mom where I was playing piano and singing nonsense words, and I asked her what sort of ideas and images came up for her when she listened. She texted back some great imagery and poetic descriptions of relationships and how they are affected by mental health.

I used some of my mom’s ideas and phrases to help form the theme and lyrics of the song. For example, the opening question of the song, “Where is the place you go, where you swear, you believe, you must wander all alone?”—that was based on a phrase my mom sent over.

What’s it like growing up on a farm with a musical family in Wisconsin? When did you move to Vancouver?

My upbringing was very happy. We did a lot of yard work and 4-H and mucking out animal stalls and stuff, and we had a lot of time to spend amusing ourselves outdoors. I’m very grateful for the way my parents encouraged me and my siblings to play outside, get dirty, experiment, and do things for ourselves.

My parents encouraged us to pursue musical hobbies if we wanted to, so my siblings and I all got exposure to music in some way—by learning an instrument, singing in the school choir, etc. We were really lucky to have great music programs in our public schools when I was in school, so I got a lot of exposure that way, too.

I’ve always liked making music and writing songs, but it’s always been more of a private endeavor. I wouldn’t have said, “I’m going to grow up and be a singer!”…but hey, life is full of surprises.

Canadian Beats is all about Canadian music, so who are your current favourite Canadian bands/ artists?

There’s an artist based in Vancouver, Nat Jay—I really like her songs. So catchy!

Most of the music I listen to is from other indie artists who I’m supporting or collaborating with. Eddie Lam is a great, supportive voice in the Vancouver music scene and talented multi-instrumentalist. I also LOVE LOVE LOVE bluegrass music—I am learning banjo—so I love local players like Leah Barley and my banjo instructor Devon Wells (plays with Wildwood Fire).

Of course, there are a few big names that I love—The Weekend, Sarah McLachlan—but I probably spent the most time listening to a Canadian artist who has yet to go public: my roommate Pete, who practices guitar in our small city apartment a lot! We both love to do improv jams with our other “amateur” musician friends in our living room. Usually, our songs come out as very long, loud, obscene jokes, but every once in a while we happen to be recording, and we get something really good! Pete’s still playing around with the idea of releasing music, but I’ll keep on him. 😉

Connect with Sarah Tolle:
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