Date: December 13, 2007
From: Flagstaff Live
Sacket's Back: Sacket brings Flag an epic alt-pop recording and a new gimmick
By Megan Reid
"Adult alternative" is a complicated genre for a musician to fall into. It implies a musical ambiguity: caught somewhere between the White Stripes and Celine Dion. It takes a certain caliber of artist to successfully walk the thin line between rock and roll 'n' emotional balm.
Sacha Sacket wants to be one of them.
"I grew up with all the garage stuff and that was sort of my first introduction to music," says the L.A. native, whose third CD titled Lovers and Leaders was released this fall. "Alternative music, that sort of thing. Obviously that's a lot darker and more personal … And I love writing a good pop song. I'm always looking for accessibility, but …it has to really come from somewhere I'm not necessarily even comfortable going."
On Lovers and Leaders, Sacket faces this darkness head-on with songs that run the gamut of love and loss. "Maybe You Can Save Me (From You)" is a longing ballad that recalls a Coldplay/Dashboard Confessional hybrid at its most radio-ready, while "Brandon Boyd"—named after the lead singer of Incubus, Sacket's former classmate—is a grim tongue-in-cheek reminiscence on high school social hierarchies. It plays like a concept album of sorts, with songs featuring strings and electronic beats unified by the driving presence of his piano to create a palpable atmosphere in which his songs' moody characters dwell.
It's nothing fans of the genre haven't heard before, but the clear strength of the various parts makes Lovers and Leaders a solid—and enjoyable—alt-pop record.
Though his smooth voice with its falsetto range, the classical training evident in his playing and haunting compositions have earned Sacket comparisons to Elton John, Keane, and Tori Amos, his lyrics can recall the surreal quality of Björk or, as on the album's first single "Judy (For Shame)", the storytelling prowess of classic rockers. Sacket doesn't mind these comparisons: he sees his synthesis of musical styles and genres as evidence that he's carving new territory as an artist.
Being independently signed is also comfortable terrain for Sacket, who counts Radiohead, Feist, Beethoven, and P.J. Harvey among his favorite musicians.
"You hear about all these … artists signing with big labels that are really awful and are just getting worse because they're having trouble making money: it's understandable. But at the same time they're not even letting an artist make any money. So right now it's sort of really interesting to see if I can make it work on my own with my own label and the people that I work with … if we can pull this together."
In addition to touring and recording this year, Sacket also showcased his acting chops in "November Son," a (wait for it …) gay/slasher/B-movie/psychological horror flick, but seems nonplussed about becoming the actor/musician cliché.
"I'm in the midst of Los Angeles; everyone here is an actor," he says straightforwardly. After completing a double major in theater and film in college, Sacket realized music was his calling. "I had been playing piano literally every day since I was 5, and it just never seemed to occur to me that I love piano, and that music might be the thing I should be doing. Acting, you know, its something I feel I love so much … It's just another aspect of my creativity I guess. But I can't draw to save my life, I can't dance. You can't get me on the dance floor—it's just not going to happen."
Though still an emerging artist on the national scene, he has an impressive base of devotees. His MySpace wall, blog comments and fan sites are filled with praise from a motley crew of fans, from gushing 40-year-old Josh Groban lovers, to fellow independent bands, to college co-eds.
"I'm not big enough where I can still make mistakes, and I can still experiment," he said. "But I am big enough where I'm not just starting from scratch and it's not, you know, just like begging people to listen to my stuff. Like, I definitely have an audience and people come to the shows, so it's sort of a really comfortable place."
The big risk Sacket takes with this tour, however, is experimenting for the first time with being part of a band rather than a solo artist. Sacket will appear in Flagstaff on the Dec. 14 as Sacha Sacket and His All Girl Band with three women on guitar, bass and drums to supplement his keyboard and vocals. A male lead singer with female band members is a virtually unheard of concept in the music world, and it may be the shtick Sacket needs to propel his "adult alternative" to a new high. Sacket's goal, he says, was to recreate the "epic" quality he feels the record captures in performance.
"I knew it was something that I sort of was ready to do because I was getting kind of tired of the whole singer/songwriter thing. I don't know, I think I hit a phase where it just felt a little too precious to me. I needed to … rock a little more."
See Sacha Sacket and His All Girl Band at Applesauce Tea House, 213 S. San Francisco, Fri, Dec. 14. There will be a $3 cover and the show will be all ages. For more info, see www.sachasacket.com or call 214-7028.