An Interview With Sierra Hull

Read our interview with award winning singer mandolinist Sierra Hull

 

Interview with Sierra Hull

September 2017

 

By Rob Dickens

 

RD: Hi Sierra. Congratulations on your three further IBMA nominations this year. It must be a great honour for you particularly to get another nomination for Mandolin Player of the Year as there are so many wonderful players around?

SH: It’s certainly an honor to be included in such a list as all those guys are some of my favorite players. Every year I’m surprised to still hear my name called.

 

Your win in that category last year was the first for a female mandolinist? Is that right?

Correct. It’s really a wonderful thing to feel like I can represent women in the category. There are lots of young female mandolin players that I’ve met along the way and my hope is to be of inspiration to them.

 

You are a ‘young veteran’ of the business by now. I read that your first appearance at the Opry was at the age of ten and your first record contract was inked just three years later. How has it been to go through your formative years in the spotlight

Thankfully any spotlight I had in those years was still a relatively small one in comparison to the Taylor Swift or Britney Spears’ of the world. My parents always kept me grounded and made sure I always remembered that it was important to work hard to be the best I could be – as a person first, then musician. There have been moments along the way where it’s be interesting to find to find my way, but I imagine everyone feels that regardless of circumstances.

 

Let’s talk about your new album Weighted Mind which is only your third, and the first release for five years. That’s quite a gap. Were you deliberately waiting to develop the right set of songs or is it more a case of being in demand with many other projects and collaborations?

Most importantly I was waiting for the timing to feel right. I began working on the project in between that 5 year gap and recorded 6 tracks (self producing). Somewhere along the way I started getting too much input from others and had to take a break from it all. I’ve since learned it can be a dangerous thing to show too much of your work, too soon. It’s easy to lose track of your own creative direction, especially when you are trying to be vulnerable with your music. I eventually brought Bela Fleck on board to produce and then it was just a matter of working around our busy schedules to make the whole project come together.

 

I love the album cover. It is awash with imagery, detail and colour. How did that come about and how does it fit as a representation of the songs within?

Thank you! Gina Binkley did an amazing job on the art for the album. Because this is such a different kind of album from what I had previously done, I wanted the cover to strongly represent that.The goal was to have it feel like a painting and hold some sort of symbolism to the stories and songs on the album. When I decided to call the album Weighted Mind, I thought it would be cool to have different smaller elements making up a larger picture. Gina then came back with me of the idea of pulling my own Weighted Mind along a dirt road. The cover definitely has received a lot of wonderful feedback.

 

Weighted Mind sees you writing or co-writing eleven of the twelve songs. Was that a conscious decision to develop your own song-writing with the new collection?

Not really. I think I just reached a point in my performing and singing where I was feeling dissatisfied with the message of what I was saying. I wanted to say something that felt truer somehow. I’ve always loved writing, but the need to get some things out really drove the writing this time around.

 

The songs are more to the fore here, stripped back and less relying on instrumental prowess. Is that a fair assessment?

Absolutely. That was the direction that Bela Fleck really steered me in. He felt that by keeping the songs so sparse you’d really be able to hear the songs and words in a more captivating way. I think he was right.

 

One of your IBMA nominations is for Recorded Event of the Year based on your contribution to “Gotta Get a Message To You” on Bobby Osborne’s latest release. How did that collaboration come about?

Alison Brown, the wonderful banjoist and producer for the album, hired me to play on the project. Bobby has been a hero of mine since I was 9 years old and saw him and his brother Sonny play near my hometown. So naturally I was so thrilled to be a part! I think it turned out to be an awesome album.

 

I saw you a few years back at Music City Roots with the great Mac Wiseman. It must have been a thrill to share the stage with such a legendary figure?

Mac is another one of those guys that is such a legend and has so many amazing stories to tell. Spending time with him here and there and sharing the stage has been very special and something I’ll never forget.

 

I am looking forward to seeing you at The Festy Experience. What sort of stage/band collaboration can we expect to see there?

Well, you never know! The Festy always has a great lineup which encourages collaborations. I’ll have Ethan Jodziewicz, the bassists from the Weighted Mind album performing with me. Beyond that, who knows!? 🙂

 

Thanks so much for your time!

My pleasure!

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Sierra Hull is performing at The Festy Experience

Check out her album

 

 

Read our interview with award winning singer mandolinist Sierra Hull

 

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Author: Rob Dickens

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