By Rebecca Silverstein
Sara Bareilles has come a long way since we first heard her anti-love song "Love Song." Not only did she release her sophomore album, "Kaleidoscopic Heart," last year, but she's also joined the judges' table on this season of NBC's "The Sing-Off." Keep clicking as we catch up with Sara and chat about getting Jonah Hill to direct her music video, giving constructive criticism on "The Sing-Off," and more.
Wonderwall: Congrats on the success of your album "Kaleidoscopic Heart." What's your favorite song on the album to perform?
Sara Bareilles: That's tough. "King of Anything" is pretty fun for me because it's a big audience participation moment in the show, and those are my favorite moments. But in terms of a more intimate moment, "Bluebird" is actually one of my favorites to perform. I really love that song, and it's really fun to get to sing it because I haven't sung it very many times.
WW: Jonah Hill directed the music video for the album's third single, "Gonna Get Over You." How did that come about?
SB: We have a lot of mutual friends, and I've known Jonah for a long time. He had expressed that he was excited about getting into music videos, and I definitely volunteered to be his guinea pig. It just, it worked out, and it's one of my favorite videos I've ever done. It was so fun to make. Jonah's brilliant. He brings a lot of just fun, animated energy to set. It was a lot of fun. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
WW: It was your first time dancing in a music video. Was that nerve-wracking?
SB: There were moments that were nerve-wracking. It was just sort of fast-paced. Like, I wasn't uncomfortable doing the moves, but it was a lot to learn in a short amount of time, so there were times where I was just thinking about it, and I wish I had one more day under my belt to just really get the moves into my body.
WW: We saw you were involved with Tone Skincare's Backstage Pass this summer and went through your photo album on Facebook. Did you ever end up driving the tour bus?
SB: I don't know if I ended up driving this bus, but my dad has a logging business on the side up in Eureka, Calif. I grew up driving heavy machinery, so driving a tour bus would be, like, no big deal.
WW: Wow, we never knew that about you! What else don't we know?
SB: There's probably a lot that people don't know about me. I auditioned for "The Mickey Mouse Club," and I didn't make it. That's another thing.
WW: You're currently a judge on "The Sing-Off." How are you liking it?
SB: It's been great. It's been an amazing learning experience for me. The world of television is brand new to me, so I feel like I was getting a crash course in how to be on TV. But it was really exciting. It's a totally new frontier for me, and the level of talent that they got for the show was just amazing. These groups blew me away, so I really felt like I was a part of something that was really special. And I love the other judges. I love getting to work with Ben [Folds] and Shawn [Stockman], and Nick [Lachey] is such a great person as well, so it was really a lot of good vibes on the set. People genuinely really like each other, so that's always fun to go to work then.
WW: Is it difficult for you to give constructive criticism?
SB: Constructive criticism is not as tricky as when you can't find something positive to say. But luckily on the show, I don't feel like I have that problem too much, where you're racing to figure out anything positive. I've been the recipient of [constructive criticism] from music directors and producers my entire career, and so you can see how effective it can be when someone delivers the message in the right way. Then, of course, it's just going to make you better. So I think that's the easier part. It's harder when you can't find something great to say.
WW: Between "The Sing-Off" and touring, you're always on the road. What do you bring with you to make you feel at home?
SB: I always bring my journal with me. I'm somebody who still keeps a diary. I don't have a lot of material things that I bring with me to make me feel like home. It's more about the people around me. My bandmates and my crew are some of my very best friends, so it sounds really cliche, but really they do make the road feel like home. I don't have a lot of my possessions that I carry with me, other than my journal, which I don't leave home without. I have about 10 journals over my lifetime.
WW: What do you do to wind down when you have time off?
SB: Exercise is a big thing for me. It's a wonderful de-stresser, kind of gets me in touch with feeling grounded, and feeling like I'm in my body and I'm not being too cerebral or overthinking things. And I love getting outside into nature, taking a hike or taking a run in the park or on the beach or something. That's all really, really important. Yoga class is always good, too. It's usually some sort of physical exercise that makes me feel de-stressed.
WW: You've performed for Michelle Obama a number of times. What was that like?
SB: It's amazing! It's a huge honor to have been invited in the first place. I could not have been more excited about being welcomed into the first family's favor. That was very exciting. It's definitely surreal to be in a political environment. The security is insane. There's a lot of very intense energy happening, but I will tell the stories to my grandkids. I'm just so, so excited that that's something that I've gotten to experience.
WW: Did you guys get a chance to sit down and chat?
SB: We had lunch when I did the G-20 Summit. We had lunch with all of the first ladies and the first man of all of the countries that are invited to that summit, and I sat next to the first lady. We had wonderful conversations. I mean, we're at a table of 10 women, and it's interesting to see how some of these political figures' spouses connect with each other, what they talk about. There are sometimes language barriers where everyone has an interpreter. It's really fascinating to see how it all kind of comes down.
WW: Thanksgiving is coming up. What are your plans? Do you have any special holiday traditions?
SB: It's really mostly about everyone making time to come together. I have a lot of friends who have the golf tournament or the football game or some sort of family tradition in that way. We really just eat a lot, and [I] see them all day long, for like three days, which I love. That will make me go home anytime. So I'm going to go up to the Bay Area, and spend time with family and see my grandpa that I haven't seen in a while, and we're going to have Thanksgiving at his house this year.
WW: Since 2011 is wrapping up, what New Year's resolutions do you think you'll make for 2012?
SB: I usually have to meditate on that for a little while and see what comes up for me. I think making time for myself is going to be an important one, but I don't know exactly how to implement that yet. Last year, I did "no buying anything" for the first six months of the year. So I didn't buy any clothes or any makeup or any personal items. It was actually really good for me; it got me out of the consumer mode. I made it through six months and then I had to go on tour, so I had to buy clothes for tour. I sort of fell off the wagon.
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