Sarah-Jane Thomas
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Sarah-Jane Thomas

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


"Royal-T Records, an Interview with the CEO"

“Roll out the red carpet” for the young and ambitious entrepreneur, Sarah with an H Thomas. She is sweet, somewhat shy, and a college student with only a couple months to go before she graduates. Although focused and determined to complete her college career, she’s a busy lady with plenty on her plate. She’s contemplating law school and graduate work in intercultural communications. She also performs at various spots in DC and Virginia. She is working on her first R&B album, wants to establish a nonprofit to provide music programs to kids, and if that’s not enough, she’s the head of her own record label, Royal-T Records.

The idea of a record label came to her when she interned at the Washington Area Lawyers For the Arts. She read books and spoke to lots of people before creating her label, and now Royal-T Records is considering various acts. Simultaneously members that make up Royal-T are all working on their own individual music projects.

Thomas is of Haitian descent and was raised in Virginia. She comes from a family of entrepreneurs who obviously instilled the importance of higher learning. “Entertainment is a very powerful medium,” says Thomas, “[and] combining it with education makes it more powerful.”

She has written many of the lyrics and music for her first album, Saranade, and promises that love will be a recurring theme on the album. Release is expected around Christmas 2003.
- www.riceandpeas.com


"Sarah-Jane Thomas"

You know, I spend many hours trolling the net, looking for new and exciting things, well, one thing I didn't expect,was to come across a beautiful and unique talent, as that of Sarah-Jane Thomas. Sarah's voice totally blew me away, she is definitely headed for the big time, and I hope we are along there with her, when she does it.
not only does Sarah play a multitude of musical instruments, but she also runs and owns a record company called RoyalTRecords. A very very busy girl indeed.

Despite being very busy, Sarah took time out of her hectic schedule to chat with us here at Eclectic Wisdom.
Hi Sarah, good to see you.
From listening to some of your tracks and your listings of influences, I am guessing your style is kind of RnB, what made you choose this style ?
My musical style has changed a lot over the years, but I've always been an R&B-head. I remember when I was really young, about 7 or 8 years old, I wanted to rap. My older brother was a DJ at that time, and I stuck to him like glue. Whatever he liked, I liked. MC Lyte and Public Enemy were my favorites back then. However, in middle school and high school, I started to pick up an appreciation for rock and alternative. I never really gave up R&B, though, and just lately I've been listening to a lot of ol' school, a lot more now than before. R&B of the 60s and 70s really lay the foundation for what you hear today.

Yes, its always good to revitalise ones roots every now and again, no matter what in, be it music, be it life. We must never forget where it all began..

Who are your main influences ?

I have a lot of respect for artists who write their own lyrics; even more for those who create their own beats, too. I do both, and I know how frustrating it can be when you've got the perfect song in your head, and it just won't come out. Those people that seem to pump out flawless songs every time are amazing.

Sade and Stevie Wonder are definitely huge influences to me. Both of them are just so cool in their own, very different ways. What I've learned from them is not to be afraid to take risks. Sade doesn't do complicated runs, but she's still tight. Stevie is the man! He is an original, and now lots of people are trying to imitate his style. I am also heavily influenced by Caribbean music. My parents are from Haiti, and growing up, they used to sing Haitian songs to me and play Haitian records. Even now, I am still learning new songs in Kreyol to perform.

My favorite beatmaker is Timbaland. I'm a huge fan. Not to mention Missy. She's great. When they come together, it's like magic. My all-time favorite artist is Aaliyah. She's a huge influence when it comes to my music. We sound nothing alike, but she was always sweet and didn't let her success corrupt her. When, hopefully, I get to the point of selling millions of records, I want to be the same way. Beyonce is also really talented.

Impeccable taste, I have to say. I love Aaliyah (such a tragic loss), Sade blows me away, and Missy makes me laugh. Good taste Sarah, it comes out in your music too.

Do you write all original material ?

All of my songs are original. I have a sampler, but I don't use it to sample other people's music. Don't get me wrong; I'm not against the practice. I actually wrote my undergraduate thesis on sampling and how it plays a major role in the foundation of hip hop. But for right now, I prefer to make original beats and lyrics.

Excellent, much much better, shows talent. Not that I'm saying cover bands aren't talented, but being able to write is another talent to add.

What got you started in music ? What age...

It's hard to say exactly when I got started in music, but my first memory was when I was about 3 and I got a little toy guitar for my birthday. I remember sitting there and making up some nonsense songs and singing them. My mom taught me a little piano, my dad taught me a little accordion, and my brother taught me about drum machines and turntables. In elementary school, I used to do the talent shows as a singer, dancer, rapper, etc. I'd tell all the other kids that I was about to sign a record deal under the stage name "Li'l S.J.". Of course I was lying, but I sure enough did predict that "Li'l" fad.

I never thought of myself as a real singer until I was about 14, when my chorus teacher gave me my first solo. Solo? The word was almost foreign to me. I had never done one before that time, even with four years of choir experience. It was at that time that my parents told me that I had a nice voice. A little while after that, they signed me up for voice lessons with Ms. Greene, woman that made a huge impact. She really brought me out of my shell. After I started training with her, I became more confident and began to be chosen for the select groups in the school, as well as county- and state-wide select groups.

I took a couple of voice and piano classes in college, but wasn't nearly as active as I had been in high school. At an inte - Eclectic Wisdom


"Without warning, it's the POP QUIZ. (May 2004)"

Washington City Paper's superficially revealing inquiry into the musical mind.

Oh, yes, sisters are doing it for themselves. And nowhere is that trend truer than with SARAH-JANE THOMAS. She creates her own original beats, she writes her own lyrics, she starts her own record label, Royal-T Records. In short, Sarah-Jane is on her way. Listen to her songs here, and you will agree. And you will surely be inclined to acquire Sarah's new album, Saranade, which features the artist's singular Caribbean-flavored R&B sound. Soon, this shall be the sound that's all around.



What equipment do you use and what's your favorite smoke?

SARAH: Right now, I'm going off of a Fostex VF-80 recorder, a Zoom Sampletrak 224 sampler, and Adobe Audition editing equipment. I've also got a Yamaha PSR-something keyboard (looking to upgrade to a Triton), a drum set, an electric guitar, an acoustic guitar, a bass guitar, and a violin. Whew!


What kind of drums do you play and what pets do you own?


SARAH: I'm trying to teach myself some basic drum patterns, mainly R&B and hiphop based, but I'm including some rock. Currently, I don't have a pet, so I might just have to become a third parent to my brother and sister-in-law's dog and cat, once they get them.


What's your favorite D.C. hangout and your favorite automobile?


SARAH: I am a big fan of the karaoke bars! I haven't been back in a while, but that's definitely one of my favorite pastimes for Saturday nights. I really love DaVinci's restaurant in Springfield, and The Meeting Place in D.C.

My dream car is a Mustang....Man, oh, man are those some pretty cars! I've wanted one ever since I was a little girl. But I'm also really craving a motorcycle. I'm planning to one day (hopefully soon) get a Kawasaki Ninja 250R motorcycle.


What's the worst place you've crashed and your worst haircut?


SARAH: This one time at band camp...naw, just kidding. But seriously though, in high school choir the select groups had to go to a retreat every year to "bond." We stayed at this cabin out in the woods, which would have been nice, except me and Mother Nature usually don't get along too well. I hate bugs, and I'm terrified of snakes! I am also not a big fan of having to brush my teeth with bottled water, but then again, it prepared me for the D.C. water crisis!


Worst roommate and best audience?

SARAH: LOL...I'm not going to call her out by name. All I'm going to say is that we got thrown together our first year of college and our personalities clashed.

When I'm on stage, I love audience participation. Any audience that can sing along with me and dance along with me, especially if they know my original songs, is alright with me. :)


Explain your band name and define your sound.

SARAH: I just go by my legal name, Sarah-Jane Thomas. My sound is kinda hard to define, but I like to call it "R&B with a Caribbean twist." You'd find this especially true in my songs "Crush" and "Never Leave the Dance Floor." I don't know who I sound like, but I've heard that I remind some folks of Sade or Truth Hurts or Kelis, who all have very different styles, but hey, so do I!


What clothes do you like to wear onstage and what do you eat on the road?

SARAH: Onstage, I like to dress up a little bit, but still be comfortable. I have this leather jacket that I always used to wear..anybody who knew me in high school or my early college years can attest to that. I'd wear that jacket in summer, winter, spring, and fall. I love that thing. I still pick it up every now and then....I guess it's kinda like a good-luck jacket.

In terms of food, I'm a strict vegetarian. I don't eat any meat whatsoever, not even fish or chicken. I'm not a vegan...I still drink milk and eat stuff with eggs mixed in. You might think that someone like that would be a health-food nut, but I'm the opposite! I love soda, especially Rock Creek Fruit Punch, and I love pizza, but I've cut back on that a whole lot. I also love Quizno's, and I'm so mad that they took their commercial with the singing rats off the air. That was my favorite!


What's the worst stage you've played and your best payday?


SARAH: LOL...The worst stage I've played—I have no clue! I've liked each for different things, and I'm NOT being diplomatic; I'm being dead honest. I liked the coffee houses because they were cozy and I could really connect with the audience there. I liked the clubs because there's something really fun and mysterious about being on a dark stage all by yourself. I love performing outside, especially when it's packed, because people seem to feel a little less restrained, and they are more likely to get up and dance. My best paydays are any day I get paid. :-D


What are your influences and worst equipment experience?


SARAH: My influences include a wide range of artists. I really love Stevie Wonder because he's awesome in every way. Sade has such a smooth, mellow voice. Aaliyah w - Washington City Paper


Discography

Saranade LP
Check www.royaltrecords.net for samples.

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Sarah has picked up several instruments over the years, among them piano, violin, drums, and guitar. Along with these instruments, she has also picked up a variety of musical tastes, her influences ranging from the late Aaliyah to Carlos Santana to Bob Marley to Tori Amos. These different styles all manifest themselves in her music. Sarah occasionally performs with a band.

She is also the Chief Exective Officer of Royal-T Records. The label, based out of the D.C. Metropolitan area, began in late July 2002, received its business license in October of the same year, and now houses several talented acts in the genres of R&B, Gospel, and Rock/Alternative.

In coming years, she plans to continue to develop Royal-T Records, and establish a nonprofit organization. Her first album “Saranade ” is a work in progress. LP and EP versions are now on sale. For more information on Sarah and/or Royal-T Records, check out www.royaltrecords.net.