Sarah Gross delves into her latest single “New Déjà Vu” and the notable moments that led up to the release.

Sarah Gross and I meet in a busy Funk ‘n Waffles less than an hour before her gig, surrounded by crew members and friends alike. We make our way to a quieter location, weaving between instruments and staff members to finally secure a spot in the corner of the Funk ‘n Waffles’ green room. 

Despite all the chaos that comes with pre-show preparation and the release of a new project, Sarah remains unprovoked, focused and eager before heading onstage. Her years of experience in music and performance forced a sense of familiarity in Sarah; Still, her development as a musician was anything but effortless. 

“I used to play little coffee shop gigs. The more I played those the more I realized how much I love playing my music not just covers,” Sarah says. Inspired by her older brother to begin songwriting, Sarah began recording music when she was 16. 

“Last year I actually put out my first EP right before I got to college,” she says. Laughing, she continues, “And then I was like ‘ok people actually like it, so I guess I’ll make more.’” 

The EP she’s referring to, Between Stars (2018), serves as an introductory project that secures the dual singer-songwriter in a place of vocal excellence. Since then, she’s joined Syracuse University’s Main Squeeze A Capella, collaborated with other college artists and released her newest track, “New Déjà Vu.”

“It just kind of spiraled and now we’re here.”

A sophomore at Syracuse University, Sarah incorporates all her learnings — academically and professionally — in her music. As a Sound Recording and Technology major, she continues to work on translating her music for others to understand. “That part has been really awesome, getting to not only work on my music but work on other people’s music. That really makes me better,” Sarah explains. 

She continues, “You never stop learning in music.”

All photos by Erin Gavle

Working with and learning from others’ music are not taken lightly by the “New Déjà Vu” singer. Upon bringing up friends, family and musicians that surround and support Sarah, she completely opens up. “I can’t believe they give me the time of day and care about my music,” she says. 

“It’s not just my music anymore; it’s everyone’s music.”

In addition to her brother and other student-musicians, Sarah credits a few other groundbreaking artists as her inspiration. “I was always really attracted to old ‘70s artists so Carol King was a huge inspiration. Sarah Bareilles is one of my favorite artists, and Elton John.”

From the time Sarah released her EP Between Stars to now, artist development and experimentation are forefront in her single “New Déjà Vu.” Funky and bold beats replace the tranquil melodies that once transpired in her music. Sarah Gross knows her unique worth as an artist and is not debuting quietly.

“I’m becoming a lot more open-minded to a lot of different genres of music. This song is a lot funkier than anything I’ve ever done,” Sarah says. She continues, “Songs can be emotional and they can still be really fun.”

The single performs as an outlet for the singer, aware and slightly anxious of the industry she has inevitably succumbed to. 

“There’s a lot to be said about women in the music production world. There’s not a whole lot of representation. Last year I was like, ‘I’m gonna have to get used to this feeling of people not really seeing me equally.’”

All photos by Erin Gavle

Despite the notoriously ugly side of the music business, she is not letting any doubts bar her from success. “Just taking those feelings and turning them into fuel and turning them into something positive. That’s what the song is about.”

One of the many things keeping Sarah mindful and determined in her musical journey is the all-to-familiar mantra: everything happens for a reason. When looking ahead, Sarah remains open and prepared, but not without making a joke or two. “This could either go really well or really bad.” 

All jokes aside, she remains mindful of the work she and her band contribute to create momentous projects like “New Déjà Vu” and unplugged gigs like the one that begins 20 minutes after our interview. 

“I think hard work does pay off in the end and I’m not really someone that wants to use glitz and glamour. I think something I’ve worked really hard on in my music is it’s very honest. Maybe it’s a little too honest sometimes but it’s very 100 percent real and these are real feelings we deal with on a regular basis,” Sarah says.

“Hopefully, people still appreciate that and will continue to listen.”