Dara Sisterhen has been invading our consciousness of late with her incredible new single “Sets Me Free”, which was inspired by a visit her home town in North Carolina. Her talent has led to comparisons Joni Mitchell, and not without reason: her vocals are breathtaking and her writing style is constantly evolving and pushing boundaries. We caught up with Dara to find out what she’s all about.
YA Mag: Dara Sisterhen is a pretty singular name. I’m imagining that you were brought up on a commune out in the woods somewhere. Is this an accurate assumption?!
Dara Sisterhen: Is it that obvious? No but really, I’m from a small southern town called Denver in North Carolina. It’s super small. I did go to the Carolina mountains a lot growing up though. So you’re close!
YA: Rather than sounding overtly commercial, your singing voice has a quality that harkens back to a different time (we mean this as a compliment). Which decade or era of music do you find you most tap into or relate to when it comes to composing and singing music?
DS: I’d definitely say the 50’s and 60’s. I love british invasion rock and roll but I am also extremely influenced by classic country music and 60’s and 70’s folk.
YA: You’ve said that you wrote your new single “Sets Me Free” was about coming home to North Carolina after traveling for a long period of time and finding it unfamiliar. Can you talk a bit more about that?
DS: I went home for a whole entire summer, which was the longest period of time I had been home in quite a great while. I just felt like my friends and I were on completely different planets and home didn’t feel like it used to when I was a kid. I just felt really out of place and detached. I wrote the song out of angst.
YA: Where have you been traveling to? Was there anywhere on your travels that felt natural to you to the extent that you felt like you could live there?
DS: I mostly travel just in America. Nashville is probably my favorite place. It’s so creative and has a small town yet big city feel. I never really get bored there. I also went to Paris in 2013 and that was truly amazing. I could definitely live there. I’m excited to explore Europe even more.
YA: You have an EP coming out in August called “Boom”. What’s the next step in your musical career once that comes out?
DS: I’m planning on taking a trip out to NYC. Not sure all the details. I’m also currently in the process of setting up a tour. I’ll let you know the deats once we get it sorted out!
YA: Which artists do you like to listen to just for fun?
DS: I love Beach House, The Strokes, Jack White, Justice, Miles Kane, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, and The Everly Brothers. The list goes on.
YA: We know you’re a keen reader in your spare time, and at YA Mag we are all keen readers too. What book have you read, so far, that you would say has changed your life or outlook?
DS: I’d definitely say Ignore Everybody by Hugh MacLeod. Every time I get mentally stuck creatively, I read that book. It really helps me as an artist.
YA: Who do you most admire amongst the people that surround you?
DS: I admire my parents and my brother. They are the most amazing and supportive people. It’s pretty incredible how much they’ve done for me.
YA: You seem like a pretty thoughtful person. What kind of person do you most aspire to be?
DS: I want to be inspiring. And happy.
YA: Where and when can I catch you live?
DS: Once I get those tour dates, I will definitely let you know. They’ll be on my website too for those who are reading.
YA: Which five songs are playing on your iPod right now?
DS: 1. I’m Only Sleeping by The Beatles
2. Stuck On the Puzzle by Alex Turner
3. Take It or Leave It by The Strokes
4. She Belongs To Me by Bob Dylan
5. Play the Fool by Rival Sons