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Meet Sarah Lessire of Ions & Eras

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Lessire.

Sarah, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My parents told me I was singing before I was speaking. I haven’t really stopped singing since… my father introduced me to Jazz and my mother was a big hard rock head. So, when it came time for me to have my teenage rebellion, I took up classical singing.

I ended up studying opera at the Conservatory of Brussels, Belgium (where I’m from) and all was well for a minute. And then, as everyone around me had predicted, I got tired of being told what to do. I quit when I was 22, decided I wanted to write my own music, create something authentic and move to the States.

It was far from a straight line, but eventually, it all happened. I’ve moved a lot in the last 5 years. I’ve lived in San Francisco, the Peruvian jungle, Berlin, New Orleans, Oakland and finally moved to LA in May of 2017.
And although, all this bouncing around and instability has made it difficult to develop music projects with other people (as I would leave a city within weeks of being done recording a project and not get to play it live much), it has been tremendously beneficial in the way that it demanded that I zoom inward and hone in on the aesthetic that I wanted to bring forth, stripped from any influence that a long-lasting music partnership could have had on it.

My moving to LA feels different. I know I’m here to stay. Last summer, I put together a band of incredible musicians to work on the music I’ve been writing in the last 18 months. Ions & Eras is a Chamber Neosoul project with a unique sound and I’m very happy with the way it came together and keeps evolving.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The most difficult part about this whole operation is that the music I write is pretty difficult to play. It takes a certain kind of musician, someone who’s an avid learner, great improviser, who is classically minded (that’s the “chamber” part) and down to put in the work. That means someone who’s really good. And in LA, someone who’s really good is also very busy. I think our bassist is in like, 15 bands.

So that can create a lot of scheduling headaches.

The second most difficult thing would be the gigging culture in LA. Between “pay-to-play” schemes, mandatory minimum ticket sales and the thousands of bands willing to play for close to no money, it’s difficult to take a project off the ground without losing money in the process. But hey, I get it. This is an expensive city and everybody’s gotta pay rent.

The third is always the same story: piercing through the noise of social media overwhelm, and get my music in the ears of the people who will want to hear it.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Ions & Eras story. Tell us more about the business.
I’m Ions & Eras’ bandleader, composer and vocalist. Outside of writing, rehearsing and performance, I take on promotion, booking, managing and you know, a myriad of small things that need to happen and that take up too much time.

I also write music under my own name and I have a couple really exciting collaborations with composers that are taking shape and will soon see the light of day.

I’m happy with the way different aspects of my story, and various influences are starting to cohabit within my compositions. It hasn’t always been easy to reconcile my Bach crushing, counterpoint-obsessed mind with my passion for modern jazz harmony, my deep love for odd meters and groove changes, my bilingual emotional process, and the fact that hip-hop is just really, really cool. But it’s starting to happen, so that feels good!

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Oh! Deep question. I like it. I don’t know that I relate to the concept of “luck” because it is so relative and subjective. But I’ve had a pretty intense life, with its share of hardship and beauty.

I wasn’t raised with my butt in a tulip (it’s a French expression, but I’m sure you get the picture). There was a lot of fighting at home and things never felt safe. I left when I was 16, lost my mother 2 months later and had to quit school for a while so I could work and pay my rent. I spent a lot of time alone, trying to deal with grief.

I’ve also been blessed to meet and get to know incredible people. My parents, despite their flaws, were as loving as they could be given who they are and passed their inexhaustible passion and relentless curiosity onto me. I’ve had incredible teachers who believed in me and taught me the importance of unwavering self-discipline. And friends, so many along the way, who poured pure gold in the cracks of my heart.

I ended up abiding by 2 main truths from these circumstances:
1) Music is my life raft. When everything seemingly falls apart, I can always sit down and write.
2) Life could end anytime. Be there for each other. Care for each other. Take heart. Even if you can’t see it right now, all of it is precious.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Tyler Pharo, Puppe, Azad Photography, Michel Dennis

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