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Steve Morse and Sarah Spencer

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Sarah Spencer from 2010

Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music?

Well, let’s see... music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My dad's a guitarist/songwriter, my mom's an artist/music lover, so music has always been in my home and all around. I started taking piano lessons when I was six and kept up with them through high school. I'm no amazing pianist, but learning the piano really spring boarded me into songwriting. I started taking classical voice lessons when I was about 13, started performing and really getting serious about writing and recording.


How did you get hooked up with Steve Morse for this new CD?

Steve and my parents were friends, so my dad called him up one day asking for some advice about something industry related, don't even remember what it was, but Steve asked for a demo just to be nice, I suppose! (laughter) And the rest is history!

MSJ: If you weren’t involved in music and writing what do you think you’d be doing?

Probably music and writing. Sorry, that was cheating! I love art just about as much as music, so I'd probably be listening to other people's awesome tunes and painting or making something. I always have to be making something. Right now I'm a graphic design major at FSU.

MSJ: Who would you see as your musical influences?

I always blank out when anyone asks me this! Probably because there are just so many. The composer John Williams is the reason I started writing in the first place. I wanted to score films like him. Celine Dion is my vocal hero. And from there it goes into pop, alt rock, a few random Canadian bands and anything I can sing to! I listen around to anything and everything. These days I'm trying to write more laid back stuff, anything from Bon Iver to Iron and Wine to Ingrid Michaelson.

MSJ: What’s ahead for you?

Good things? I hope? That would be nice! Finishing my degree, writing up a storm, and getting some more music out there. Of course it's very up in the air at this point, but Steve and I would like to work together again.


How would you describe the music on the disc with Steve Morse?

It's hard to pin down, but let's see! Laid-back-musician's-vocal-prog-folk-rock. That's a lot, but the tunes feature Steve's incredible musicianship on all levels - the guitars, the arrangement, the melodies and music, you'll definitely hear Steve's “voice” throughout. Sprinkle some vocals on top with layered, almost classical sounding harmonies/chorus parts and ironic lyrics and you have Angelfire!

MSJ: Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?

Oh gosh, yes! Just about anyone and everyone! David Foster, John Williams, Celine Dion, John Mayer, Ingrid Michaelson... I mean, that's the extremely abbreviated list!


Do you think that illegal downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians? It's been said by the major labels that it's essentially the heart of all the problems they are having in terms of lower sales - would you agree?

It's a very tough issue to crack, and I sometimes feel like I contradict myself about it. It definitely exposes people to music they wouldn't be able to hear otherwise, and I love the idea of having music readily available everywhere. But, at the same time, it's extraordinarily hard to make any kind of living in the arts, even before downloading became an issue. I believe that people should be paid for the work they do, but that love and happiness should be free.

MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?

Well, I never really thought about that before! I guess it doesn't bother me. Why not?

MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?
(laughter) Probably auto tuning software, it's not really a person, but it sure makes for a lot of competition!
MSJ: If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to  hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?

Is there a limit on the number of members? My dad and Steve would have to be there, at the very least, but there would be too many people to fit on the stage!

MSJ: If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the  ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?

Oh man! OK, big list in no particular order, go!: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Bob Dylan, Allison Krauss, Bon Iver, Iron and Wine, Carrie Underwood, Death Cab for Cutie, Wilco, Sarah McLaughlin, Dolly Parton, Imogen Heap, Ingrid Michaelson, the late and great Jeff Buckley, Metric, Passion Pit, Ratatat, Said the Whale, Vampire Weekend, Pixies, The Old 97's... stop me now!

MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?

The invention of satellite radio has seriously hindered my CD purchasing, but I just heard Vetiver + Fruit bats doing "I must be in a good place now,” so I'm definitely buying those discs. Also I always listen to the top 20 stations - major love for top pop.

MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?

Yes! The Dragon Prince series by Melanie Rawn, and the Karavan books by Jennifer Roberson. I can't get enough good fantasy!

MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?

My buddies at school threw an awesome event not that long ago - a jazz/poetry symposium, complete with readings of original and classic material interspersed with musical improv. It was awesome, a thing of beauty.

MSJ: Do you have a musical "guilty pleasure"?

(laughter) I'm proud of my musical tastes! I love me some Taylor Swift! Her music makes me so happy, and it's great to see a talented young girl doing what she loves.

MSJ: If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?

Michelangelo, Stephen Hawking, Anderson Cooper. Hands down.

MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
Thanks for having me! Great questions, and I hope you like the album.
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 4 at
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