Introducing... Sian Sanderson

Singer-songwriter Sian Sanderson is rapidly gaining a strong following thanks to her smooth, empowering vocals combined with a knack for writing a tune that will stay in your head for a week. Very different from her role as energetic frontwoman of Hearts Under Fire, she has now turned to soothing acoustic melodies. TMF had a chat to find out what the solo Sanderson is all about, and what makes her tick...

If I could get you to introduce yourself to The Music Fix...

My name is Sian (pronounced 'Shaun') Sanderson, and I am a five foot bundle of joy from Surrey. It's a pleasure to meet you!

How did you get into music in the first place? Were you always an acoustic singer/songwriter?

According to my Mum, I was singing long before I could talk. Professionally, however, I started playing guitar and got my first band together when I was 12. For our first ever show, we got paid in Ribena. (Little did I know that's as good as it would get, haha!) I fronted an all-girl punk-rock band called Hearts Under Fire for about five years before my vocal chords grew tired of yelling, at which point I decided it was high-time I took the hit and ventured out on my lonesome. These days I play both acoustic and with my kickass band.

If you could duet with anyone (dead or alive- we'll give you the power of resurrection here), who would it be?

Currently, one of my favourite songwriters and musicians is Raphael Saadiq. I think we would turn out some serious jams if you put us in a studio together. I love how he 'does' vintage without being corny or contrived; his sound is perfect. It would also be an honour to sing with D'Angelo, but I imagine I'd get somewhat distracted!

What is your favourite musical memory?

I honestly have to say my fondest musical experience (to date) is the first practice I had with my band, last year. It was just crazy hearing songs that I'd been working on come to life, songs that had previously been recorded with very simple arrangements, or MIDI-sequenced backings. When we first played through 'No Sweeter Love' with the full arrangement, it would have brought a tear to a glass eye! I'm a complete sap!

You're about to board a long-distance flight: where are you going and why? Which one album do you take to listen to on the flight - yup, you're only allowed one.

I'm going to South America! I have no idea why but that's the one place I've always wanted to travel. No family or heritage connection, I just love the feel of it. I'm off to wander round the Inca trail, drink gallons of Columbian coffee and maybe indulge in a little native Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training, ha! I'm taking John Mayer's live album, 'Where The Light Is', because it's everything I love about music in one performance.

Which artists most influence your sound?

The aforementioned John Mayer is of course a big influence; I'm forever trying to emulate his balance of commercially viable music that still retains complete integrity. I take a lot of inspiration from classic soul artists like Ray Charles, Bill Withers, Donny Hathaway and Etta James, but I adore contemporary R'n'B musicians like D'Angelo, Jill Scott, Eric Roberson... I absorb influence from most things I hear; anyone that writes with passion and honesty usually inspires me to do the same.

What is your favourite venue to play?

I've always loved playing Exeter Cavern as they take good care of artists there. The club's got an awesome vibe, no frills or pretence, and everyone that works there is so lovely.

No Sweeter Love by SianSanderson

What does 2012 hold for you?

The band have got a couple of festival slots - Hop Farm has just been announced, which is super exciting! Waiting on a couple more confirmations so fingers crossed for those. Also, a collaboration I worked on will be coming out on Spearhead Records; it's a tune called 'Overthinking' with the incredibly talented producer LSB. Aside from that, the main goal is to spend as much time with the band, writing as much as we can. It's a real blessing to work with such gifted musicians so I'm planning to take full advantage!

Which three words would you use to sum up your music?

Sassy, soulful and authentic.

Catch Sian Sanderson playing at The Troubadour, Earl's Court, London on Wednesday 9th May.

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