Musical Discoveries: Please tell us a little bit about your background.
Sasha Lazard: As a small child, my mother often took me along on trips to the opera including an eight-hour long Philip Glass opera at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. I performed classical recitals in churches and the living rooms of my parents friends when I was very young, however, growing up in New York City.
I also developed a passion for the downtown club scene and so while training at the San Francisco Conservatory I found myself spending most of my time with instrumentalists who were experimenting with sounds outside of the classical realm. Their sounds appealed to me because they were so far removed from the world of opera and this inspired me to go in the direction that I have been going in ever since.
Who are your favourite artists?
Moby, Josh Groban, Cecelia Bartoli, Mont Serrat Caballe, Portishead. Recently I have been listening to a London based DJ, Seb Fontaine, who is one of the first artists on DJ Paul Okkenfold's new label.
Please elaborate on your musical training and education.
I started training classically, with an operatic coach, I then lived briefly in L.A. and trained with a "pop" coach who worked on different styles with me. He taught me how to vocalize in different ways. Whereas classical coaches work on developing a "round" vocal sound, pop singers employ breathier, more nasal sound.
On The Myth of Red I was able to use both techniques I had learned. On "Awakening" I utilized my pop training by using much lower, more sultry sounding tones but on "Stabat Matter" you'll hear a traditional and pure classical sound.
Your material is actually very varied. What artists to you feel have influenced the sound?
My electronic tastes are influenced by artists like Moby, Talvin Singh, and Wiliam Orbit. Tori Amos, Enya, Kathleen Battle all influence my vocal sound because the have very unique, identifiable voices.
Where do you find the inspiriation?
The inspiration for my music happened organically through experimentation with my musician and DJ friends.
Tell us about the various sequences you go through when writing your music.
When creating the material on The Myth Of Red, the first step was choosing the material. Myself, my producer Frank Fitzpatrick, and Russian vocal coach, Emily Olin would play through hundreds of songs in the classical repertoire. We selected songs that were malleable enough to transition into a pop format.
I would develop a new way to sing these songs by altering the phrasing, the tempo, etc. Frank would then work with other musicians to create the instrumental tracks to house the restructured melodies that I sang. We also worked with well-known musicians Lily Hayden and DJ Spooky, who were kind enough to add their individual styles to certain tracks on the album.
The studio where we recorded the majority of the album was Frank's home studio in Los Angeles, we recorded "Romance" in The Music Box studio in Venice, CA. We spent two years from start to finish with this album, beginning with song selection and ending with the completed album.
It is wonderful to hear an artist sing material like yours in English. Where did the the lyrics come from?
The lyrical content follows a storyline. I was very intrigued by the myth of Innana - a Sumerian goddess who is lured into the underworld by her dark sister, explores that side of herself, and remerges into the light as a more fulfilled and satisfied entity.
Will you stick to classical crossover or venture out wider with the various dance remixes that are being made of tracks from the album?
I'm hoping to create more original songs although many on The Myth of Red are based on established classical works. As far as classical crossover verses dance remixes, I will continue to do both by blending operatic vocals with contemporary rhythms.
I hope to branch out by collaborating with other artists on the next album. Nothing has been confirmed, but there are exciting things being discussed with other artists now.
Tell us about your live performances.
I try to incorporate a great deal of diversity and movement within my live performances. I have been known to perform on stage with a rock band, DJ, dancers, an electric cello and violin, and children's choir. My goal is to create a performance art piece that showcases elements that appeal to all the senses.
Is there any video available?
I do actually have a video, for the song "Ode To Innocence," which has recently been put into rotation on Bravo Canada.
Will there be a tour to promote the album?
We are currently discussing a tour for the fall. I think Lillith Fair was such an incredible opportunity for so many female artists who had very eclectic styles and I'm very interested in creating or participating in a similar line-up in the future. Many of the artists that Musical Discoveries profiles would be perfect for such an event.
Has the rapid rise up the Billboard charts had an influence on your artistic direction?
The activity on the Dance Chart reaffirmed my desire to work with DJs in the dance world. As far as the Classical Crossover Chart, I was thrilled to be on the charts with Sarah Brightman and Charlotte Church--I am a big fan of hers. Landing on that chart was a surprise only in that my music may have been perceived as more edgy and dance-oriented than some of the others on the chart.
We would be interested in your comparison of music by Filippa Giordano, Izzy, Emma Shapplin, Sarah Brightman and Charlotte Church to your own.
I'm only just starting to learn about some of these artists from visiting the Musical Discoveries website, but from what I have heard, I think that there is similarity in the vocal concepts--because I sing operatically--and similar in that they fuse other styles.
How has the internet influenced your musical career and the promotion of your music?
It provides another outlet to reach fans. Through the internet people can not only read about my sound, but immediately sample it as well it gives me the ability to make contact with people with similar musical interests. So far, my website has given me the opportunity to stay in contact with my fans and give them updates on future activity.
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