Songwriters Interviews: Sarah Vos, Dead Horses

Interviewed backstage before the Dead Horses show at the Stoughton Opera House in Stoughton, Wisconsin on 2/22/20. Sarah Vos shares some thoughts on songs, songwriter collaborations, and songwriting. Thanks Sarah, you are so fun, and easy to talk to, and I love your songwriting! Sarah is also one of the hardest working musicians I know. Her and her bandmate Daniell Wolff are heading out on a 6 week cross country tour. They have played at Red Rocks and have even opened for The Who in their home state at Alpine Valley. I met Sarah at a songwriting competition at the Roots and Bluegrass Festival back in 2015. She won first place and I came in 3rd. Her other side project band is called Rucksack Revolution with Horseshoes and Hand Grenades Guitarist Adam Grueul.

Intro Whistle Song by Meredith Axelrod Outro Song: Turntable by Dead Horses

I thought this quote by Theodore Roosevelt really fit Sarah's sentiment about how you have to write a bunch of bad songs before you get one good one. You have to be willing to just go for it and put yourself out there.

"It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly...who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at best, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

-Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

"Do one thing that scares you everyday" -Eleanor Roosevelt

J.D. Souther, who long worked with The Eagles, says there are no rules to crafting a great song. Guy Clark said, "sometime you write the song, sometimes the song writes you." Whatever it is, when you have a great song you can feel it in your bones. I say, "use the force, don't force the song."

BELOW: (Dead Horses performing at Red Rocks Amphitheater)

"You know, it's a pretty mysterious thing still, why you start the songs you start, and the specific flavor of them, the nature of them. I don't know about other writers, but, for me, it's still somewhat out of my control. It's not really a logical process." -Gillian Welch

What’s your process?

ANSWER: I’m Anti-process. Don’t do it the same unless it feels right.

What comes first the words or the melody?

ANSWER: It’s different for everybody every time. “repetition is the death of every art”. Don’t get in the way of yourself, don’t be too critical, don’t think about what other people are thinking: that should all just be in the background.

Collaboration helps in having an extra ear. You can co-create or take a song you’ve already written and take it to someone else for feedback.

My song topics are usually things we can all feel the same about. We are connected by the fact that we are all humans and no one life is more important than the other.

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