Sara Bareilles is quick to refute her pop star status. Telling you that she’s never really felt like she truly fit the mold.
Bareilles, whose debut single, “Love Song” took the airwaves by storm in 2007, told Radio.com there’s always been a push and pull in terms of how the public views her as an artist and how she actually views herself. Explaining that in her mind she’s an “indie singer/songwriter,” who just happens to make pop music. “I think I feel like I relate to that genre [pop music] because I’m a fan and it’s what mostly gets played on the radio at this point,” she said.
But Bareilles soon explains that the “sonic aesthetic” that she’s actually drawn towards is not necessarily where she ends up. She’s hoping in the future that she’ll finally get there.
“I feel like I’m on this journey,” she said about her latest album, The Blessed Unrest (July 16). “That’s what this record is, it’s kind of an expansion and exploration.”
Bareilles’ new album was recorded at a particularly rough time in her personal life but she felt that each of these things (which she prefers not to describe in detail) were reasons to start working on new music. That, along with the fact that it had been awhile since she had put out a proper album—2010’s Kaleidoscope Heart—and she didn’t want fans to forget about her completely.
“What I’ve learned over the years is sometimes the things you’re resisting the most are the things you need the most in order to make progress and have breakthroughs,” she said.
On her fourth album, Bareilles took big steps to expand herself as an artist. For the first time she took on the role of co-producer alongside John O’Mahony. She also embraced the act of collaborating, co-writing the album’s first single, “Brave” with fun.’s Jack Antonoff.
Though she had tried writing songs with other artists in the past, she said this time it felt different. It felt better.
Bareilles was introduced to Antonoff through her friend Sara Quin, one half of twin sister duo Tegan and Sara, after telling her she was looking to do some collaborative work. Quin told her Antonoff was a great guy and if songwriting didn’t work out, the two would most likely become fast friends. Quin was right, the two hit it off after just one breakfast.
“He’s the most incredible human,” she said. “He’s so inspiring, so funny, so dear and sweet and charming and talented.”
The first time they sat down to write together Antonoff played a few tracks that he had been working on, one of them being the instrumental for “Brave.” The two also wrote another song that made the album called “Chasing the Sun” and Bareilles says there are a bunch of other songs that she hopes will be released at some point in the future.
With “Brave,” Bareilles and Antonoff hit a chord. The song has become an anthem for LGBT teens and others who need a little encouragement speaking up. “It’s really amazing to watch this song take on a life of its own,” she said. “I’m so proud of the song itself. So proud of saying those words to people.”
Just like the song, Bareilles was trying to say something with this record, which sums up a really hard year for her. And Bareilles admits if she hadn’t been looking at her life so closely she would have never been able to make an album like The Blessed Unrest.
“I put my money where my mouth was,” she said. “I wrote a song like ‘Brave’ but I was also really choosing to make some choices that felt very brave for myself as well.”
Through this recording process, Bareilles was able to grow as an artist. In the end, Bareilles hopes the chances she took prove that she is more than just another run of the mill pop star.
“Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t,” Bareilles said of trying new things. “But you’ve got to keep going.”