[Q&A] Sarah Barrios Ties Up Loose Ends with ‘Letters I Never Sent’

Photo Credit: Sam Fisher (@samueldfisher)

By Alissa Arunarsirakul // July 23, 2020

There’s something so remarkable Sarah Barrios, and it’s about time we share that with you. The Connecticut native started her music career writing songs for other artists, but now she’s stepping into her own as our favorite rising pop artists. To introduce herself to you, Barrios has unveiled her bittersweet debut EP, Letters I Never Sent, which we’ll certainly be having on repeat for a while.

On Letters I Never Sent, Sarah Barrios reflected,

“Sometimes, no matter how well a conversation goes or a relationship ends, we find ourselves thinking about all the things we left unsaid. I am a storyteller at heart, and I had so many moments and words, pain and guilt left hanging in the balance. I felt like I really needed to share this story and how it reshaped my view of the world and how I interact with it.”

To celebrate the release of her new music, we recently chatted with Sarah Barrios about creativity, regrets, and of course, Letters I Never Sent

HH: It’s crazy to think that you only made your debut earlier this year… How has your life changed since then? 

SB: You know, I didn’t even realize that was earlier this year! I think quarantine has made it feel like longer, haha! My life has definitely become busier, but I’m really grateful for that. I’m so happy to be able to do something that I love and create art that I’m passionate about with a lot of incredible people. Not to mention, I’ve met so many new people online through the songs and to hear their stories and struggles has been really special.

HH: Before you started releasing music, where would you channel your creativity? 

SB: Usually in writing for others! It’s always fun to bring someone else’s feelings and vision to life, kind of like a book to film adaptation, it gives me a chance to paint words into a picture.

HH: How does it feel to finally have your debut EP out in the world?!

SB: It’s so crazy to think about. I’ve dreamed of doing something like this since I was little, so to see it come to life is really exciting. I’ve had these songs with me for a while now, it’s just been me and my feelings, but now that others are hearing them and resonating with them I feel less alone in those emotions.

HH: Whether it’s the infectious bass lines in “I Didn’t Mean To” or the enchanting pianos in “Mourn the Living,” Letters I Never Sent is undeniably filled with sonic gems. How do you arrive upon such pleasant soundscapes? 

SB: I definitely knew certain things I wanted in each song, like guitars and harmonies in “I Didn’t Mean To” or piano for “Mourn The Living,” but none of these songs would have come together in the way that they did without collaboration. Both the co-writers and the producers on the EP really helped me bring my feelings into the instrumentation as well as the lyrics. I wanted the song as a whole to create that 360 emotional (haha) experience that I feel when reading books and they knew exactly how to execute that, specifically my executive producer Hampus Lindvall. That man is a musical genius and he always seems to understand exactly where I want a song to go without me even having to say it. It’s pretty cool.

HH: Like you said, “Sometimes, no matter how well a conversation goes or a relationship ends, we find ourselves thinking about all the things we left unsaid.” What’s something you wish you could’ve said when you were given the chance? 

SB: Honestly, I think I’ve said all I could with these songs. The overarching feeling was that I realized I made a mistake and wanted so badly to fix it. I couldn’t stand the idea that I’d hurt someone I’d cared for out of selfishness. These songs were born shortly after and I think, by being as honest as I could with them, they’ve helped bring me the closure that I needed to move forward.

HH: How is it different writing songs for other artists compared to your own songwriting?

SB: Writing other songs for others is a lot of fun because I get to step into someone else’s shoes and try to help create a world around their feelings. It’s like writing a book for me, whereas when I’m writing for myself, it’s a lot more like personal therapy, where I have to really look deeply inward to understand what I’m feeling and why. I always have the option of avoiding those emotions, but I really try to be as honest as possible in the hopes that maybe it will help someone else.

HH: If you could collaborate with anyone in the music industry, who would you pick? 

SB: Ugh, I have such a long list: Harry Styles, Hayley Williams, Stevie Nicks, Ed Sheeran, Jon Bellion… I could go on forever. All of these have had such an impact, both on my life and how I approach making music. Hayley Williams has been an inspiration for me since I was a kid, so that one would probably be a big “oh my god is this really happening” moment.

HH: What are your three hidden hits? 

SB: This is such a tough question; I feel like I find a new one every week, haha. I think my three right now would be “Daze Inn” by Carlie Hanson, “Sofia” by Clairo, and “California Friends” by The Regrettes. All of these songs make me feel specific emotions and take me to different moments in time, which is really incredible. 

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