Interview with Christine Sako

LGBTQIA+ icon and singer-songwriter Christine Sako knew she wanted to be a star after hearing Avril Lavigne’s ‘Complicated’ in 2002. Born and raised in Minneapolis, MN, Christine drove solo cross-country to San Diego, CA in 2012 with just her guitar and a 25 key MIDI controller. No stranger to the industry, Christine had an opportunity in 2009 to tour with indie-pop band Now, Now. After two years of opening for bands such as Paramore and Paper Route, she decided to head down her own solo venture.

Introduce yourself (yourselves) and your hidden talent!

Hey! My name is Christine Sako and I am an indie-pop solo artist from Minneapolis, MN who has been wobbling about in San Diego, CA for the last 9 years. I took piano lessons as a wee- one, but didn’t really get into songwriting until I was 14 when I first started playing guitar (thanks Avril Lavigne for the inspo!). I started off very folksy acoustic verging on brooding (think Avril turned Elliott Smith). In my early 20s I took a pause from the solo efforts and played
bass/keys/guitar touring with a band and had the opportunity to play amazing venues in Europe as well as the US (even opened for Paramore!). After that ended I moved out to California and with the new atmosphere came a new musical style when I started recording music again. Since then I’ve continually been pushing toward a more synth-based pop style while still trying to maintain those same heart-wrenching vibes you get from acoustic folk songwriting. Hidden talent wise – I can do a wicked Mickey Mouse impression. I don’t really know what that says about me or what someone might now think my singing voice sounds like, but I’ll own it.

What’s your writing process like? Do you write the music or lyrics first?

About 50% of the songs I write start in the shower. There’s something about that literal and metaphoric cleansing that really opens up space for me to be able to put into words (and melody) what’s on my mind. I’ll admit these songwriting showers are a bit longer…but I’ll rush out and pen everything down as soon as I’m halfway dry. Then I’ll usually sit down with my guitar and figure out if they key I wrote it in makes sense, and then figure out the rest of the
melody with guitar. The other 50% of the songs I write come from sitting down with either a guitar or at the piano and just coming up with a little melody and singing along to it til something meaningful sticks. I got a new weighted keyboard during the heart of the pandemic which really allowed me to open up my songwriting from a stylistic standpoint. My non-shower songwriting is almost always linear – first fumbling with a melody and then lyrics for the verse and then the prechours (if it fits), chorus, and bridge are usually written with melody and lyrics simultaneously
since at that point I usually have a good feel for where I want the song to go.

What would be your dream support gig? Bonus points for place/venue.

Opening for Tegan and Sara would probably be my moonshot act to open for. I’ve looked up to them and been a fan for ages, both with their songwriting arc and their presence in the community. Going from garage band punks with a dream to tour out of a van to selling out stadiums and acquiring a massive following that extends beyond their original niche is reallysomething to marvel at. I also think being proud members of the LGBTQIA+ community from the get-go and never waning from that as they grew really shows a lot about their integrity as artists and how you don’t always have to sacrifice parts of yourself in order to become more mainstream. Even though playing a sold-out stadium overseas with T & S would be awesome – I think it would be even more meaningful to play First Ave in Minneapolis (where I’m from) – just to have a whole full circle musical moment.

Give our listeners some music recommendations that we should check out!

Oof I could probably play this game for days. My go-to sultry acoustic artist is Kevin Garrett – his acoustic guitar riffs are brilliant and the way his voice melts into them is pure butter. I’m a pretty big alt/indie fan so Yoke Lore, Twin Shadow, Sorcha Richardson, Geographer, etc. are all some lower energy bands that I always can vibe with. Higher energy wise – Red Hearse (one of Jack Antanoff’s side projects) completely dominated my Spotify Year in 2020, and they somehow manage to create the perfect energy with all of their songs. On the R & B/Pop side, Dominic Fike and Remi Wolf continually make songs that are so entirely fun and engaging and Cautious Clay and Appleby are both slow-vibe silk dreams that I could listen to for days.

Tell MoggBlog viewers about your latest release! What’s the inspiration behind that?

Every once in a while I’ll come to a place where if I don’t write a song about what I’m feeling, I will explode. “Coda” is a manifestation of all my little tiny inside feelings pulling at me until I was able to create a gateway of lyrics and melody and provide them with an escape route from my body. There was a situation in my life that I really thought had the door closed and locked that randomly resurfaced and really just threw my entire life and psyche off track. It was like reliving a story where you know the ending is going to be sad and painful but you put yourself through it
anyway – partly because you’re delusionally optimistic and partly because you’re so desperate to feel even just the 2% good that comes with all the bad. I wrote the song from a mental space of hindsight, wishing the other person who had dragged me back into this pseudo-relationship would just have left the door shut from the first time around. Since I felt I didn’t have the strength to have avoided the whole kerfuffle again, the only thing left I could do was to ask (beg, really) to have just left well enough alone. My mom used to tell me the songs I wrote were too depressing, so one songwriting trick I’ve been trying out lately is to sneak not so uplifting topics and stories into upbeat melodies. I think it worked, because even though “Coda” is writhing with desperation and heartbreak, apparently she thinks it’s “fun”!

You can find Christine Sako on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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