Artist Interview: Dara on being an unconventional pop star

Readers of our site are familiar with the name Dara Sisterhen. She was the young prodigious songwriter discovered by the iconic Dave Cobb at a young age. She burst onto the folk and Americana music scene with a fresh sound a few years ago. Then we didn’t hear from her for a bit, but now she’s back.

After we recently covered her new single “Liar,” we decided to ask a few questions by way of an update interview on Dara’s career and how she’s doing.

Dara’s songwriting career began at the age of 10, learning guitar and writing songs as soon as she learned a few chords. She put together a full album of tracks that were never released, but in the process met the producer Dave Cobb who began introducing her to folks around Nashville. This began an early and promising career in co-writing with other songwriters.

Through her developmental years, Dara listened to rock bands like the Strokes, the Smiths, and the enigmatic David Bowie. But she didn’t grow up on this music. She grew into it as an adult. Acts like Bowie and the Shins, especially, shaped Dara’s vision for performance and ear for a new sound.

Over the past three years, Dara’s been reevaluating her music. While still co-writing, she’s been reshaping her earlier folk and Americana style with a bit more of a pop rock focus. As she puts it, “the Strokes if they were a pop group.” We’ll take it!

For the music Dara is currently writing, she has been working with fellow songwriter Willie Breeding. The two have a process of track writing where they lay out a chord progression, add some lines, and build it out from there. It sounds very organic and even fun (for a non-songwriter like myself). It seems simple, but I’m sure it’s not.

I asked about the specific track “Liar.” Dara explained that the theme of the song is about an ex, but she put the message to a Motown style track. Even though she’s not R&B in her vocal style at all, she felt the groove was right for the song. It was written on guitar in a living room and at first she hated the song. Once co-writer Breeding added the bassline, it gave the song direction.
She told the story of how she never had that kind of experience before of hating a song so much then watching it evolve into a first single for an album.

One of my favorite things we talked about was Dara’s on-stage experience. She mentioned that performing gave her an opportunity to live out a “character” on stage. Although it is a part of her, it represents a “whole other vibe to what I do… dancing and presenting an unconventional pop star.” She explained that the extreme environment of having all those eyes on you brings out a different part of who she is.

Stay tuned for a string of singles releasing over the next few months from Dara. If you’d like to follow her musical journey, you can keep in touch with her on Instagram and Twitter.

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