A little over a year ago, a talented young singer/songwriter from Sag Harbor named Sara Hartman packed up her guitar and headed to Berlin in pursuit of a dream. In one short year, Hartman has made a huge splash in the European music world, doing several concert tours (including one with British hitmaker Ellie Goulding) and recording a great EP, Satellite, released on Capitol Records. While Sara is missing the Hamptons summer this year, she’s got plenty of excitement in her life right now.
You were good before, but there’s noticeable growth in terms of songwriting chops on your EP. How did you learn so much so fast?
The whole world was moving pretty fast for me at the time! The move to Berlin was the best of times and the worst of times for me. I put it all into the music.
Has there been something about being away from home, and maybe in a strange, new place, that you feel has changed your songwriting? Is it liberating to be a “stranger in a strange land?”
I’ve learned a little bit about life leaving home. Like doing laundry regularly if you want clean socks and how to make yourself soup when you are sick because your mom is halfway around the world. Kidding! But anyway, I went through a whole bunch of feelings during that time and I hope that I captured those feelings in these songs. Berlin is an incredibly inspiring city as well! There’s a reason so many artists live in or visit this city—there’s something in the air. The excitement of it definitely helps a bit with homesickness.
You’ve been doing a lot of performing. How has that experience changed the way you work on songs? Do you test out new material live before taking it into the studio?
Playing live is so much fun! It’s the reason you write music, to share it. However, I’m a weirdo writer and really need brain space to make things! On the road this brain space is sometimes hard to find. But I always make sure to keep a little notebook with me to jot down ideas. I have been connecting the dots from these notebooks with the time I have back in Berlin between tours. But it’s only a matter of time before I bring it to the band. I’m very excitable when it comes to new songs!
Germany and the rest of mainland Europe are often thought of by the English-speaking world as a sort of pop music wasteland (unless you’re a fan of ABBA). What kind of scene have you found over there? As a melodic pop songwriter with a great voice, do you feel like there’s more fan support there than there is over here right now?
I feel like I have stumbled into a music wonderland! I thought the same thing when I first got to Germany, but there is really, really cool stuff going on in music in Europe! I got to see a lot of countries during the Ellie Goulding tour this winter and I played for some of the warmest and most excited audiences. There’s a deep respect for music and the people who make it in Europe. I’m feeling the love here in Germany, but recently when I came to the states for the X Ambassadors tour there was also an outpouring of support. I can’t wait to play more in the States.
You’re no doubt aware of the fact that at least one pop act before you—namely, the Beatles—first found success in Germany. They even cut a few sides in German as a tribute to their German fans. Do you have any plans to sing auf Deutsch? Have you picked up any German over there?
I’ve picked up a few things in the past year! I understand a lot more German than I can speak but Berlin is extremely international. You can speak English here and not be completely lost. But buying spices at the supermarket is certainly a challenge! I don’t have any plans to do any songs auf Deutsch but now you’ve put that idea in my head!
When are you going to come back to the Hamptons to give a concert?
I can promise I will be back soon! I really hope to make it back within the year. It’s always strange to think of the season back home and to be so far away. My heart is still back home in the Hamptons for the summer.
Watch Hartman’s “Satellite” music video below.