Sawyer Fredericks Takes Soulful Sound on Hide Your Ghost Tour
Nov 02, 2017 04:00PM ● Published by Nicole Gould
Growing up in central New York State, Sawyer Fredericks started his music career at an open mic night when he was 12 years old, leading him to perform at local farmers’ markets and iconic New York venues.
Ready to take his career to the next level, Fredericks auditioned for season eight of the popular reality talent show, NBC’s The Voice in 2015. Almost immediately after he belted out the first lyric to “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow,” he had a three-chair turnaround from Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, and Pharrell Williams. It wasn’t a surprise that Fredericks even convinced country sensation, Blake Shelton, to turn his chair, giving the 16-year-old a tough decision.
In the end, Fredericks chose Williams. With his quiet persona and being the youngest contestant that season, Fredericks certainly raised the bar, ultimately capturing the season eight title of The Voice.
After his win, Fredericks signed a contract with Republic Records, releasing a self-titled EP and a full album, A Good Storm, in 2016. Learning to spread his wings, the singer/songwriter has taken to his songwriting artistry by not only writing, but producing his entire sophomore album, Hide Your Ghost.
“I’m very proud of this album and I tried to make sure it was completely me. There’s not a song on there that I’m not happy with. I’ve completely written and produced all of the songs on the album, which allowed me to have freedom while writing it.” – Sawyer Fredericks
Although young, this 18-year-old has taken the music industry by storm with his unique vocals and emotional storytelling.
Don’t miss Sawyer Fredericks on Saturday, November 11th, 1 p.m. at Rams Head On Stage as part of his Hide Your Ghost Tour. Tickets are $20.
Growing up on a farm, how would you say that experience helped in developing yourself as a musician? At what age did you start taking music seriously to the point where you knew this was something you wanted to pursue?
It gave me a lot of freedom and kept me grounded through most of my life. You’re surrounded by beautiful things, so it’s a great place to grow up. I did my first open mic when I was 12 years old and I started performing at farmers’ markets after that. It wasn’t a career thought, it was more of something that I enjoyed and people enjoyed my music, so I kept playing.
Back in 2015 you auditioned for The Voice, ultimately capturing the season eight title. What was that experience like, being the youngest contestant at 16 years old? What led you to choosing team Pharrell?
It was a crazy experience. Going into it, I thought of it as a learning experience and it was my first time being around other musicians, which was my favorite part about it. It was definitely stressful and hard for me to work on the interviews since I was introverted. Going to Los Angeles from the farm was a big shock to me. I enjoyed most of it and I would do it again.
I chose team Pharrell because I watched a little bit of the season before and I felt like he gave the artists a lot of freedom and really let them stay true to themselves.
While you had multiple performances on the show, which performance would you say was the most memorable or had the most impact? Why?
The most memorable moment was when I sang “Shine On” by May Erlewine, mostly because that’s a song I’ve known for a really long time, it was in my mom’s selection of music, and it was also being able to perform a song that’s not completely mainstream. I had to push pretty hard to get it, but they allowed me to sing that song.
Looking back from the start of the show up ’til present day, how would you say you’ve developed as a musician?
I’ve grown a lot just because I lived more, so my lyrics and songs have gotten a little deeper and more relatable. Performing wise, I’ve been touring and that’s been super awesome. I’ve become more comfortable on stage and working with my new band; we’ve all become more comfortable on stage together.
Tell me a little more about your debut album, A Good Storm, and what it was like co-writing for the album.
After the show, they had me go out to Los Angeles and do the co-writing stuff, and basically, I was a little confused that I was doing co-writing, since I write all my music and had enough to put into an album, but they wanted to work with other artists to get other styles, so I did that.
It was definitely a different experience for me because it was odd sharing something very personal like my writing with someone else, so I wasn’t sure how it would work, but I think we were able to get some nice songs out of it. It was cool working with other people and seeing how other people write.
How does your newest offering, Hide Your Ghost, differ from your previous album? Where did the inspiration for the story behind the album develop? Do you have a particular song on the album that you’d say you resonate with most or has special meaning to you?
I’m very proud of this album and I tried to make sure it was completely me. There’s not a song on there that I’m not happy with. I’ve completely written and produced all of the songs on the album, which allowed me to have freedom while writing it.
There are songs that I hope people will have a connection with, but one I have that most people won’t would be “Angels Skin.” It’s inspired by having sleep paralysis. I’ve had it many times throughout my life. It’s where you wake up and can’t move. Your body is paralyzed, but your mind is awake. It normally comes with hallucinations and a sense of an intruder in the room. I’ve had that my whole life. It doesn’t happen every night, but it happens quite often.
While you co-wrote for your debut album, you are taking a different route with your sophomore album by both writing and producing it. Why have you decided to take this approach? What does your writing process entail?
I decided to do this because when I’m writing and producing the album and the songs, there’s no alterations when I wrote the song or when I perform it solo. When we add more music to it, it’s not going to change the story or feeling, it’s adding to it and making it better.
My song writing process is that I’ll pick up my guitar, find a chord I like, and start humming. Then, I start to ad lib nonsense lyrics, kind of words, but not really. Once I get a melody I like, I’ll start thinking of the story that I want to go with it. I’ll kind of put myself in this scenario I thought of and figure out what emotion this person is feeling and really try to convey that in the song and lyrics. Once you figure out the scenario and story your song is about, it’s how you want to tell the story.
What advice would you give to young, striving artists, like yourself?
For people that are scared of performing I would say to do it and try to not to think of what other people are thinking of your music. Put on a performance that you’re happy with and make sure that the only one you should be able to disappoint when you’re singing is yourself. That way it’s basically just like you’re singling alone.