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Interview: Ethan Sak

Ethan Sak is a 17-year old song writer, musician and recording artist from Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Ethan’s talents drew the attention of Grammy award-winning songwriter/producer Gary Baker who signed then 14 year old Ethan to a publishing deal. Ethan and I sat for the following interview before his performance at Urban Artifact in Cincinnati, Ohio this past Sunday.

Aaron Paschal:Hi Ethan, thank you for taking time to do this interview with CincyMusic. I’d like to start by talking about your childhood. You got into music at a very early age: are there any musicians in your family?

Ethan Sak: It’s funny, no one in my family is really musically inclined but I was put into piano lessons when I was five years old. When I turned ten I thought about quitting like so many kids at that age do but I didn’t. I began taking vocal lessons because I was always singing in the car. My first vocal coach was horrible but then I met Harvey Thompson Jr. who is a fantastic keyboard player and wasn’t even a teacher at the time but took an interest in me and decided to work with me. From there I fell in love with the piano and then really got into songwriting so at about the age of thirteen I was like, “you know what? I really love this music thing!” 

I wanted to get more serious about it and began to really focus in on writing songs.  I like pop music and pop music sales so that’s where I directed my attention. I learned the in’s and out’s of songwriting and I eventually developed my own style. I also got singing lessons and I feel that my voice has really blossomed over the past year. I had only been writing songs for about a year but when I turned 14 I blessed and was signed to a songwriting deal. I only had about 20 songs in my catalog at the time but the publisher saw something in me. 

AP:That’s pretty amazing and reflects a blend of natural talent and a strong work ethic. Can you walk us through your songwriting process?

ES:It depends on the type of song. If it’s a pop track I may start with the music and then add the lyrics to it. While if I’m writing something deeper or more personal I’ll start with the lyrics and then add the melody. At the same time they do go hand in hand so if I think of a lyric I hear the melody that goes with it as well. 

AP: Your first single titled “Make My Heart Go” is out now. Did you write that song and if so what was that process like?

ES: Yes I did write it. I wasn’t really pairing it with any experience that I went through so it was a song for me to really just delve into my writing skills. I paid close attention to the structure of the lyrics which is why I feel like it turned out so well; that attention to detail. I’m very proud of this song. 

AP: Do you have an EP or full album coming out soon?

ES: I do, we are hoping to have the EP out sometime in April or May. We’ve been working very hard on it and I’m excited to get it out there!

AP: Have you written songs for any other artists yet?

ES: Not yet. But once I get more traction I feel that I have a catalog of over 130 songs and not all of them will be songs that will necessarily work for me but I feel they’d be perfect for other artists to record.

AP:If you’re headlining a tour and can put together a lineup with the artists of your choice what would that show look like? “You can include past, present and up and coming artists.”

ES: Wow! That’s a tough one. A group that’s rising pretty fast that I’d love to have is Honne. They are a fantastic group with an electric kind of pop, jazzy feel to them that’s really cool.  I’d love to tour with the big dogs like Ed Sheeran, Billy Eilish and if I could choose someone from the past I’d have to say Queen just so I could experience them live! If I could turn back time and got a chance to meet Freddy Mercury I would love to pick his brain.