Music shapes our identities and changes our lives. It brings back our memories and stirs up our emotions. My Song Stories asks music professionals and indie artists questions about the songs in their libraries. Today, Sarah Maria Elvira, who is currently heading up EMPIRE in Europe, shares the artists and songs that have impacted her life and career.
By Kyle Bylin, author of Song Stories
Describe who you are, what you do, and what music you like.
My name is Sarah Maria Elvira and I'm currently heading up EMPIRE in Europe. My musical background has for years mostly been working for companies in the “underground scene.” I'd like to think that I'm a jack of all trades considering that I'm pretty much interested in all aspects of the music industry. My musical taste shifts from noise and experimental to commercial R&B, pop, and everything in between, and my jobs have shifted from being a writer to A&R to music editor and so on. Besides all that, I’m slightly addicted to sushi and have been bringing loads of new customers to Sumo over the past few years. They should start paying me in food for all the free promo.
What song evokes vivid memories from your teenage years?
Definitely all Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys songs. My teenage years are not that long ago, even though it feels like forever. I'd make my own video clip in my completely 70's orange room, sing into a hairbrush in front of my mirror, and then point towards the mirror and be like, "So tell me what you want, what you really really want…”
What song in your library has a personal or deeper meaning?
Lorn - “Acid Rain” brings back some memories. The lyrics and melancholy of the track make me think back about difficult years that I've had back home. There were many struggles growing up, and this track brings me back and reminds me of how bad situations actually always bring something good with them, even if it doesn't always seem like that. I think it's a beautiful track and stunning video, it even won a UK MVA.
What song influenced your taste in music in a significant way?
I wouldn't be able to just name one song that influenced my taste in music. My taste is being influenced by new music every other month, week, and even day. Over the years, there have been many artists that changed the way I look at music, in the past those were artists like DMZ, Mala, Wu-Tang, Aphex Twin's older work, Snoop Dogg, The Neptunes, and the list goes on. I'm currently really intrigued by French artist Kiddy Smile, and then especially the track and video of "Let A Bitch Know.” There is also this artist called CVX aka Rupert Clervaux, who is combining music with literature. The different approaches inspire me very much.
Describe the strongest experience with music you’ve ever had…
Nils Frahm made me cry once. I can get super emotional from good piano plays. This was intense. He can play very emotional pieces and combine it with electronic music. The man is a genius, he even uses toilet brushes on the strings and bags filled with paper to give it an edge.
How would you describe music's role or importance in your life?
Music to me is a way to express myself, and I think it helps people to understand each other much better on another level. Without music I don't know what I would be doing, it's my job and hobby at the same time. It's also a way of learning from one another, so many songs tell a story or have a meaning to them, whether it is a political statement or love song. So I'd say music is pretty much everything to me, as important as bamboo is to a panda.
Kyle Bylin is the author of Song Stories: Music That Shaped Our Identities and Changed Our Lives, a collection of essays about songs that impacted people's lives. Read an excerpt here.