Date: March/April 2008
From: ValleyLife West Valley Magazine
By Tracy Lorenz
If you know Sacha Sacket, you're either a fan of the type of music about which you can one day brag, "I listened to him before he got huge," or you went to Calabasas High School in the late '90s.
Sacket, 29, has certainly changed from his days as a theater kid at CHS. The Iranian-born singer-songwriter, a self-trained classical pianist, then saw himself as an outcast on the fringes of the privileged cool kids, who happened to include future members of Linkin Park, Hoobastank - and Incubus.
Today, he's a popular indie artist with a large, loyal following of fans who eagerly awaited his third album, Lovers and Leaders (Golden Sphinx Records), which is packed with passionate lyrics and compelling melodies that combine desire, solace and triumph.
During his interview with ValleyLife, Sacket recalled high school, discussed what inspires him (Steinbeck always gets us too, Sacha) and pondered his bright future.
ValleyLife: What was your experience growing up in Calabasas?
Sacha Sacket: Well, I guess you could say I didn't have the traditional Calabasas experience. My dad is from Iran and my mom is from England, so I didn't really have the cultural knowledge that the other kids did. I was sort of an outcast and the piano was the one place I could go to really express myself. In ways though, I know I wouldn't be an artist if I hadn't had that outlet. I wouldn't have been who I am today.
VL: How did you get started as a musician?
SS: I started playing piano at about age 5, but after a few yeaers I stopped playing, like most kids do. My mother played around the house though, and since I knew how to read music, I eventually started teaching myself. It was all trial and error; I didn't really go by the rules and just played what I thought sounded good. So that's how I started with piano. I started singing during musicals I did in high school. During college [USC for film], I decided that maybe music really was my thing.
VL: How would you characterize your music?
SS: In the genre it's rock, but I would say it's probably best defined as adult contemporary, or singer-songwriter with its own flair. In combination with the vocals, piano is really central.
VL: You have all female bandmates. How did you meet them?
SS: All randomly - I cast a net all over L.A. and just auditioned a lot of people. I wanted three girls with a male singer because I had never seen that before and I thought that would be powerful. It came down to these girls being really strong musicians.
VL: You said you got your start singing in high school musicals. Is there anyone at Calabasas High who influenced your career path?
SS: Mr. Gilchrist, my theater teacher, was a real inspiration. He was all about being a creative and there was really little criticsm. I think that's important because there was no judgement. I feel he was aware of the safe haven he created, and it was a space to foster creativity. He was very patient, and I had never had that before.
VL: You also went to high school with artists who are now in very popular bands, such as Brandon Boyd, the lead singer of Incubus. You wrote a song named after him; why did you write it?
SS: It was a hard song to write anda harder song to title. It was originally called "Brandon." And then I decided to include the last name, which was a powerful choice. I didn't know him that well and knew his younger brother better. The song isn't about dissing Brandon Boyd, but it's about the person that nobody could be in high school, the untouchable popular kid. At the time, he was a golden god and more popular than you could imagine. The song is really about no one getting out of high school alive and that experience. The goal of writing the song was about the animalistic nature of survival of the fittest. I felt that name kind of haunted that high school. I didn't want to get too many people angry, but I was trying to be true and honest to my own point of view.
VL: Do you worry what Brandon will think when he hears it?
SS: I don't really worry, even though it's been a controversial song. I've gotten quite a bit of response. This is from my perspective and I felt like we were polar opposites. I think it's really about being truthful to the way I felt.
VL: What inspires you to write music?
SS: Books are what get me going for whateve reason. When I read a compelling book, I want to write music. For this album [Lovers and Leaders], John Steinbeck's East of Eden was that book. Books mirror so much of my life and really get me thinking. As for other bands, Radiohead is for sure an inspiration. Also Tori Amos, Bjork and Beck. All are really great artists.
VL: So does reading a book spur you to write a specific song? What is the songwriting process like?
SS: Well, I almost always am started on melody, and sometimes lyrics force me to write a song, though that's very rare. I take some time just to write songs, as many as I can. 99% of them are not worth it but then you get that one song that's the gem. It's the process of just being creative without being critical and then being able to go bakc and be critical. Criticism can be limiting in the beginning, so it's important just to be creative first.
VL: Do you dabble in other genres of art?
SS: Actually, I just starred in an independent horror film called November Sun. It was a great experience. I definitely love acting and film and I look at that as being on my horizon.
VL: The music business has been in a turmoil of sorts. Is there anything about the industry that you wish you could change?
SS: Everyone is jumping ship right now because you're in this machine and everyone is looking for how to make the most money. It's really the time to be independent. I think the next five years will be interesting and cutting-edge.
VL: Do you have an opinion about downloading and online music?
SS: I think downloading is great! I'm kind of bored with the CD format and there are a million things you can think of to do. It's time to move on from CDs and paper inserts, and there's much more that can be done to get people to buy music and understand an artist better. The people that are fans and are interested in what I do will still follow.
VL: What are your plans for the near future?
SS: The album is out and we're going to be touring and active through L.A. and the West Coast, just getting it out there. It's an exciting time.
To find out more about Sacha Sacket and listen to or buy his music, go to www.sachasacket.com.