Dara Sisterhen
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Dara Sisterhen

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | SELF

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2008
Solo Alternative Americana

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"Songwriting Magazine Review"

Mixing 60s guitar pop and country music doesn’t necessarily sound like the most obvious recipe for success, given their instantly recognisable and oft replicated approaches. Clearly, though, no one told Dara Sisterhen that when she was cooking up the five tracks on Boom.

Opening with Kids, a track that has the same toe-tapping, sing-along quality of early Beatles records and a chorus that recalls That Thing You Do – the ‘hit’ of superb fictional band The Wonders – Sisterhen is quick to demonstrate her knack for a pop melody. The delicate Sets Me Free brings country into the fray in a fashion that will also perk the ears of nu-folkies, while laying a platform for Sisterhen’s wonderful, evocative voice. Forever’s Not So Long and Easy To Fool though are the most obvious country reference points, each possessed of the triumphant approach to heartbreak that’s made Dolly Parton a legend. I Wanna Be Your Girl closes affairs in a rollicking fashion that’ll have you both swinging and beaming.

Like her contemporaries Caitlin Rose and Lydia Loveless, Sisterhen is able to make country that’s both current and classic, and it’s a testament to her songwriting skill that Boom would be happily at home in either the 60s or 00s. By referencing the guitar pop of the British invasion she also brings a freshness that only adds to the timeless quality of her music. Where Boom really succeeds, though, is the sheer quality of its songs, with the potential for hit records felt throughout, and the sense that you’re listening to something special, something that’s both genuine and enthralling.

Verdict: Country could have a new star on its hands - Damien Girling


"American Songwriter"

Influenced by the likes of Hank Williams and Patti Smith, newcomer Dara Sisterhen has announced the release of her EP, Boom. The 5 song EP produced by Dave Cobb (Jamey Johnson, Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell) is set for release on February 10, 2015.


BIRTHDATE: September 27, 1996

HOMETOWN: Denver, North Carolina

CURRENT LOCATION: Nashville, TN / Los Angeles, CA

AMBITIONS: Make music, make art, make a difference. And be able to do so for the rest of my life.

TURN-OFFS: People who claim they’re “artists” purely for the search of fame. That’s really all I can think of.

TURN-ONS: Good rock n roll, a good song, chocolate, general intelligence.

DREAM GIG: A few actually. Royal Albert Hall, Coachella, Glastonbury, and MSG.

FAVORITE LYRIC: That’s really hard. Right now I’d say “Cross-legged on a barstool like nobody sits anymore” from Jason Isbell’s song ‘Elephant’.

CRAZIEST PERSON I KNOW: My brother, Bryce.

SONG I WISH I WROTE: There are literally so many. “Fluorescent Adolescent” of the marvelous Arctic Monkeys. But then, you know, there’s “Blowin’ In the Wind” by Bob Dylan.

5 PEOPLE I’D MOST LIKE TO HAVE DINNER WITH: Whether they’re alive or not; Johnny Cash, Paul McCartney, Elvis, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix.

MY FAVORITE CONCERT EXPERIENCE: Jake Bugg

I WROTE THIS SONG: After going home and experiencing, first hand, the inevitable change time takes on people. - Songspace


"Pen's Eye View"

North Carolina’s Dara Sisterhen may only be 18 years old, but she already has over 400 songs to her credit, having started putting tunes to paper at the ripe old age of 9. While she’s a fresh face on the singer/songwriter scene, her music is old soul – a 60’s influenced Americana mix that she describes as “Patsy Cline meets the early Beatles” – the kind of tunes we’ve really enjoyed getting into here at the PEV offices this past week.
Dara Sisterhenunnamed-1
Sisterhen has a new EP due out next month titled Boom, a 5-song collection that includes her latest single, “Sets Me Free”. We asked Dana to tell us all about this latest effort – she said, “I wrote the songs over a period of years. Some were recent and some were from 2 or 3 years ago…Because of my unconventional life and constant travel, I felt that I lost my sense of attachment to the place that I came from and the people I grew up with. ‘Sets Me Free’ was inspired by my return home last summer. Coming back felt very foreign to me, and it felt like I was experiencing a different type of heartbreak.”

Click to http://www.darasisterhen.com to get into “Sets Me Free” and prepare for the arrival of Boom. Dana is busy preparing a new full-length record for our ready and waiting ears, so do it soon. Check her tour schedule while you’re at it. There’s still so much more to jump into, so read on for all the answers to the XXQs below.

XXQs: Dara Sisterhen

PensEyeView.com (PEV): How would you describe your sound and what makes you stand out from others in your genre?

Dara Sisterhen (DS): I guess in today’s world, it’s considered Americana, but it’s extremely 60’s influenced. I would describe it as Patsy Cline meets the early Beatles. It’s different because it’s a little left of center, you know, it’s not completely alternative and it’s not completely country. I just made something that I would want to hear.

PEV: What kind of music were you into growing up? Do you remember your first concert?

DS: I actually went to my first concert when I was 16. It was The Black Keys. I was holding out for my first concert to be my own but I couldn’t resist. Growing up, I listened to a lot of Motown, Phil Collins, and Sting. I really didn’t pay attention until I hit around 12, 13 years old.

PEV: What was it like trying to break into the music scene when you first started? What was your first show like?

DS: I’ve been playing gigs ever since I started writing songs. Majority of them so far have just been me and my guitar. I’ve played a few as an acoustic set up with a cajon and another guitar. So far, I have to say, I have not had a bad gig yet.

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Dara Sisterhen show?

Dara SisterhenPhotosDS: You can expect to hear some bangin’ songs from my EP, a little bit of running around, some unreleased tunes, and some new tunes as well…if I happen to have written any.

PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage to perform?

DS: I have to pee. Is that politically correct?

PEV: What is the best part about being on stage in front of an audience?

DS: The adrenaline 100%. Feeding off of the fans and seeing how they take to your creation. It’s pretty incredible.

PEV: What is the underlying inspiration for your music?

DS: I just write songs as a form of therapy. I love what I do and hope to give people a place to belong. That’s all really.

PEV: Thinking back to when you first started out, do you ever look back on your career and think about your earlier days and how you’ve arrived where you are today?

Dara Sisterhenunnamed-3DS: All the time. There are really no words to describe it. Feels like a dream.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about you?

DS: I don’t know. I’m not too crazy of a person.

PEV: What happens when you hit a brick wall when writing? What are your methods to get over it?

DS: That is literally the worst thing. And it’s hard to get over. I’ve gone through times where I can’t even look at my guitar. I usually will just pick up some Sylvia Plath or E.E. Cummings. Noodle around on a banjo or something.

PEV: How do you think the industry has changed since you first started out?

DS: I don’t think it’s changed too much other than the fact that MySpace is no longer popular. Streaming is definitely a new thing. I think people in my generation have always been illegally downloading songs. I hate that. It’s a middle finger to the artist. I think I might be one of the few left that buys whole albums.

PEV: What can fans expect from your latest release, Boom? What was the writing process like for this EP?

DS: I wrote the songs over a period of years. Some were recent and some were from 2 or 3 years ago. You can expect to hear something new.

PEV: With all your traveling, is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?

DS: I would love to tour England. I’ve always wanted to go. Seems like a really cool place and I love their music scene.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career?

DS: They’ve been very supportive. They’re excited for me.

PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?

DS: You can find me at the cinema, reading, or at other music shows.

PEV: Name one present and past artist or group that would be your dream collaboration. Why?

DS: Present day, I would say Jake Bugg. I’m dying to do an Everly Brothers duet and maybe write a tune or two. Past, Hank Williams Sr. Love everything about his work.

PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?

DS: Temples. Great band, great sound, great songs. They’re really cool.

PEV: If playing music wasn’t your life (or life’s goal), what would you do for a career?

DS: Fashion design. Which is something I plan to do as well.

PEV: So, what is next for Dara Sisterhen?

DS: Tour, write, tour.

For more information, click to http://www.darasisterhen.com/. - Richie Frieman


"AXS"

In anticipation of the release of her upcoming 5-song EP, Boom, on April 7, Dara Sisterhen is offering AXS the chance to premiere her latest masterpiece. Sisterhen’s acoustic version of “Easy To Fool” is a tantalizing appetizer that will whet your palate to the point of being ravenous for the main course from this astonishingly talented artist. With a decisive nod to the heart-wrenching country classics, Dara is already receiving comparisons to artists of such stature as Dolly Parton and Patsy Cline.

Sisterhen is originally from Denver, North Carolina. Her great-grandfather was an accomplished banjo player and she was a fan of contemporary rock, but, according to her bio, “It wasn’t until I was learning ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ on guitar that I went, ‘Whoa, what is this?’”

By third grade, Dara was already writing her first songs. To date, the artist has amassed a catalog of over 400 originals. “I look back at my early songs and laugh sometimes. You’re a kid, and you don’t really know what you’re doing. But then your vocabulary expands and you get more experiences. It definitely helps you grow. They were cute songs, though.”

The acoustic version of “Easy to Fool” is an intimate track that spotlights Sisterhen’s remarkable ability to croon. The earnest warble in her voice carries a powerful, frayed-edge poignancy that is so affecting, it would make Robert Johnson wonder if he could have asked for even more at those fabled crossroads.

The other four tracks on Dara’s EP display an unmistakable nod toward the 60s and artists such as Buddy Holly and The Beatles with maybe a hint of The Mamas & the Papas. There’s also a healthy splash of good ol’ country twang coloring the songs, as well. All in all, the upcoming offering is such a tour de force that Songwriting Magazine has declared it “genuine and enthralling.”

Boom was produced by Dave Cobb who first started working with Sisterhen when she was 14 years old. Cobb is an acclaimed Nashville producer with a jaw-dropping list of credits ranging from Chris Cornell, The Oak Ridge Boys, and George Jones to Shooter Jennings, Sturgill Simpson, and Lake Street Dive. The EP received it’s curious name because after each song was completed, Dara and Dave would exclaim, “Boom!”

Dara Sisterhen’s Boom will be available on April 7. The 5-song EP features “Kids,” “Sets Me Free,” “Forever’s Not So Long,” “Easy To Fool,” and “I Wanna Be Your Girl.” Until then, enjoy this special acoustic video and keep up with this fast-rising authentic artist by visiting her website, liking her on Facebook and following her on Instagram and Twitter. - Allen Foster


"Groundsounds"

Nashville based musician Dara Sisterhen is nothing but pure passion in motion. She does it all- from acting to songwriting and singing, Dara started performing at an early age and it shows. With a bright future ahead and a new EP on the way, GroundSounds caught up with her for an exclusive interview, we chatted about her latest endeavors, new music and more, check it out below.



For those just discovering Dara Sisterhen, can you tell us a little bit about your upbringing in North Carolina and how you got started with music?

I’m from a really small town called Denver. For the most part, it was a great place to grow up. I never really thought of pursuing music until I was around 8 and I started begging my parents for a guitar. I’ve been singing my whole life but it wasn’t until I started playing and writing my own music that I really didn’t care about anything else.

We are excited for your upcoming Boom EP, can you tell us about working on this project and bringing it to fruition?

Well thank you, I’m excited as well. I’ve been writing for such a long time and I just knew exactly what I wanted to do as an artist and was ready to bring it to life. So I called Dave Cobb up and told him I’ve got a collection of songs I’ve been building up and I’m ready to knock out an EP. We picked the top 6 of all the songs and recorded at Low Country Sound in Nashville for about a week.

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 9.56.27 AMCan you tell us about the creative and writing process for “Sets Me Free?”

During the time I wrote “Sets Me Free”, I was actually having a bit of writer’s block. I went back home to North Carolina for an entire summer, which was something I hadn’t done for about 6 years having been in LA pursuing my acting career. The experience was eye opening and frankly, kinda strange. I was feeling all sorts of emotions and had to let it out and the result was “Sets Me Free”.

What was it about Hank Williams and Patti Smith that helped to influence your music?

They don’t sugar-coat anything. I love that. They have a fearless sense of expression and that is so human to me. Life isn’t filtered and sometimes you just wanna feel angry or sorry for yourself. They’re poetic heroes.

What do you enjoy most about Nashville? Has this city started to influence your sound?

Most definitely. The people are just so crazy talented and I’ve really learned a lot since I’ve been here. I really feel at home. There’s something so small town about it, and yet there’s a lot to do. I always feel productive here.

Can you tell us about working with Grammy nominated producer Dave Cobb?

I met Dave in LA through a guitar teacher when I was 12. I would write a new song and show it to my guitar teacher every lesson and eventually he just said “you have to meet this producer friend of mine”. I kept in touch with Dave over the years and when I was 14, I made a record with him that was never released. I had a switch in management and by the time we were ready to do something with it, I had already creatively moved on. At 17, I called Dave up again and told him I was ready to record an EP with my new material. I flew to Nashville in April 2014 and thus, Boom was born. Dave is amazing. I am a huge fan of everything he does and he knows exactly what I’m trying to do. It’s always a great environment working with him.

What was the inspiration for your track “Forever’s Not So Long?”

I had that song title for a while but never knew what to do with it. One day, it just hit me like a strike of lightning, and I sat down and wrote the song without stopping.

What musicians/bands are you currently listening to?

Mostly Temples, Nick Drake, BRONCHO, Woody Guthrie, Fleet Foxes, Sturgill Simpson, XTC, Crosby Stills Nash & Young and The Raconteurs at the moment.

After the EP release what is next for Dara Sisterhen? What can fans look forward to?

Well, they can look forward to a tour. I’ve got quite a few new songs I’ll be playing live. I’ll also be releasing some b-sides. - Jon Berrien


"NoiseTrade"

Boom EP by Dara Sisterhen -


"Pancakes & Whiskey"

New kid on the block Dara Sisterhen makes her debut as a recording artist with her debut EP, Boom. I’m always a bit skeptical of younger artists who have histories of also acting in the teen scene. However the album overall, though short, is a strong collection of five really enjoyable tunes. Her sound is more of a throwback to those old Americana and roots rock albums of the 50s and 60s. You hear almost an opposite end spectrum sound of The Beatles in “I Wanna Be Your Girl” and “Kids.” You can easily compare the album to contemporary country/folk acts like Puss N Boots.

As a listener, you appreciate how as a new artist still finding her voice, she keeps it simple and plays within her ability, rather than overdoing things trying to make a statement right out the gate. Overall the album is made up of strong melodies and catchy hooks, but its strongest asset is Dara’s hold on her young voice and putting a song together. The album hits the shelves on April 7th but you can get the first single off the album “Sets Me Free” wherever the fuck songs are sold these days. - Tom Shackleford


"No Country For New Nashville"

By now we hope you’ve heard, our live events production wing, No Country Presents, has taken up residence at Lower Broadway’s hippest new restaurant, lounge, retail, and event space, Acme Feed & Seed, where we’ve been bringing you a weekly, FREE, Tuesday night showcase, featuring some of our favorite emerging local and national talent. The curated showcase runs from 7 to 10 p.m. each week, and, so far, has featured everything from folk to funk to rock to indie. For our next installment, on Tuesday, Jan. 20, we’re bringing you an exciting double bill of local folky singer-songwriter Dara Sisterhen and pop singer Femke. Keep reading to find out all about them, and cancel any other plans you might have Tuesday night, because you’re coming to hang with us. Got it?

Dara Sisterhen:

Catching the songwriting bug at a very young age, North Carolina native (and now Nashville transplant) Dara Sisterhen first fell in love with modern indie rock before gravitating towards classic acts like The Beatles and Patsy Cline, who would ultimately have more influence on her style. At only 18, Sisterhen’s sound is mature beyond her years, pairing insightful lyrics with timeless melodies, a quality that immediately grabs you on her fantastic debut EP, Boom. Though she’s a part-time actress, landing roles in programs on both Nickelodeon and Disney, as a songwriter, Dara is the real-deal, and, if her initial output is any indication, is setting herself up to make a major splash in the Nashville scene. Dara’s the youngest performer we’ve ever booked at Acme, and that means her career is just getting started; catch her now, so you can say that you saw her back when. - Philip Obenschain


"No Country For New Nashville: Gig Review"

There’s no better way to describe Dara Sisterhen than skilled beyond years. From the moment the stepped on the stage, the 18 year old Nashville transplant (we’d never have guessed her age if we didn’t already know) commanded the room with a seasoned, relaxed delivery of folk-informed and retro-leaning tunes. Backed by a skilled band (who were also quite young), Dara reinforced the authenticity of her artistry through a sincere and welcoming set, shattering any questions as to her musical legitimacy those familiar with her acting career might have (while she’s appeared on Nickelodeon and Disney, she’s the polar opposite from a Miley Cyrus or a Victoria Justice type). Warm and appreciative, Dara let the music speak for itself, hypnotizing the packed space with her exploration of retro folk and rock funneled through a modern singer-songwriter sensibility. Dara Sisterhorn is an incredible talent, but we knew that going in. Getting to see her at this age and this transitional moment of what is sure to be a long career, though, is what made her Acme outing extra special. - Philip Obenschain


"Kings of A&R"

Dara Sisterhen is bringing Joni Mitchell back for the new generation and using her music to empower young... - Kings of A&R


"MySpace"

Before her teenage years, this Americana singer/songwriter had already decided she wanted to work as a performer.


Some children blossom in children’s theatre, but for Dara Sisterhen, that was the turning point in her professional entertainment career. Within a couple of years, she landed roles on Nickelodeon (Victorious) and Disney (Dog With a Blog). And then she dove into singing.

Four years later, she releases her debut EP (Boom, out February 10) with acclaimed producer Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson) at the helm. Before she could begin her journey into acting and music, though, she had to convince her mom who works in entertainment herself.

We spoke with Sisterhen on children’s theatre, growing up between rural North Carolina and LA and the inspiration for her songwriting.

Hometown: Denver, North Carolina

Current Residence: Nashville and L.A.

You’ve been an actor and now a singer. When did you decide you wanted to work professionally in entertainment?

I was doing a lot of children’s theatre in Charlotte, North Carolina and I remember some kids talking about talent agencies. They were saying that you can get an agent, you can get jobs and get paid for acting. I never thought that existed. When I heard that, I was like, ‘oh my gosh, how perfect can this be?’ That’s when I decided that I wanted to do what I love.

What did your parents think?

It took a lot of convincing. I was around 11 when I told [my mom]. She was like, ‘haha, just be a good, go in school and have fun.’ I’d put [post-it notes] on her computer: ‘please get me an agent.’ It took about a year before I convinced her completely.

You’ve said that your single “Sets Me Free” is inspired by your ‘unconventional life, bumps and travels.’ How do you think your transient life growing up affected you?

I came out to LA when I was 12—there would be times when I would be [away from home] for two years. I went home the summer before last. I was there for months and months and it felt really strange. I felt so detached from everything. It felt like I didn’t have anybody who really understood because I didn’t really talk to anyone who knew what I was gong through.

I’m sure. Do you think that your acting and your music relate to each other?

Definitely. I definitely think that they go hand-in-hand. They’re both forms of entertainment and expression. With acting, you get a script, and as an actor, you put your twist on it and you relate to whatever the writer has given to you. [In] music, the music is something that you have control over. I get to write the song. It’s like my child.

What inspires your songwriting?

I don’t have any formula that I follow. When I’m writing songs, I can write whatever comes from my soul. Sometimes, I’ll be inspired by something that I’ve experienced, heard about or created out of nothing. I write music to help people through their lives because music has helped me so much. I just want to pass that on, the ability to create [music]. - Chris Leo Palermino


"Young Adult Magazine"

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 -


"Dara Sisterhen Discusses Music and Acting"

Dara Sisterhen is a singer, songwriter, and actress who has received attention for her beautiful singing and musical wisdom behind her years. - Veronica


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos