Everyone is bound to have one of “those days” every once in a while. The type of day that’s tough to define because they take different forms for different people, and people combat them in different ways. How did Sarah Martin combat one of “those days” herself? She wrote a song about it, and a great one at that.
That song, appropriately titled “Those Days,” comes after a string of success for the Massachusetts native, including her first number one single on She Wolf Radio, “Heartbreak Song,” and her well-received Christmas EP, Holiday with You. After taking time in 2020 to hone her craft, Martin returned with “Those Days” as the calendar flipped to July, delivering a badass, country rocking anthem tailor made for windows down driving, living room dancing, or however the song relates to the listener going through one of the days the song describes. And we’d be remise not to mention that high note at the end of the song as well, which continues to take us back during each listen.
We caught up with Martin about honing her craft, all about “Those Days,” hitting the road again and more!
Pro Country: The last time we talked, you mentioned that you were using 2020 as a year to get better at your craft. What were you able to take away and learn from that exploratory period?
Sarah Martin: I learned so much in 2020, especially about myself. It gave me more confidence to get after my career. Pre-2020, there was a lot of second-guessing myself and a lot of feeling like nothing was ever going to get any better. I realized in 2020 that everything is totally up to me and my mindset. I readjusted my mindset and realized the only thing that would hold me back was me.
PC: After taking that time to hone your craft, what emotions were you feeling as you were preparing to return with your new single, “Those Days”?
SM: I was super excited to release “Those Days.” I actually wrote the song during a song evaluation. I was part of an artist development program in Nashville, and they were doing evals for everyone one day, and I just had the thought in my head and started writing the song down. As soon as I wrote it, I realized it was a great freakin’ song, and I knew it would relate to so many people and so many situations in life. Who hasn’t woken up and had just a crappy day [laughs]. I remember the next day, I went on Facebook and shared it with my Facebook followers on a livestream, and from then until now, there’s been nothing but excitement. There’s a line in the song about having an engagement ring but not getting the wedding band, so that was a bit nerve-wracking because I didn’t want anybody to feel like I was trying to poke at my ex, it was more just something I needed to write about. That was the only part that really made me nervous about the song, but other than that, it’s been all excitement!
PC: “Those Days” features a much more rocking sound than anything you’ve released in the past. Was that something that was done intentionally, or something that happened naturally as the song came together?
SM: That was something that just kind of happened. Before that, I was experimenting with new songwriting techniques, and I was learning that I needed to experiment with my voice more. When I do cover songs, my voice is all over the place, and I love doing songs that push my vocals. I love doing all the high notes and the low notes and everything in between, so that really came out of my soul with intention.
PC: Can you take us in the writing room and talk about the inspiration behind “Those Days”?
SM: I was in my bedroom with my laptop open listening to song evals, and I had had the wedding band line for a while, and I was trying to work that into a song because it was something that I needed to write. I was literally looking down at my left hand, and for a while, there was an indent there. It was just a constant reminder of something that was crappy. 2020 was such a great year for me growth wise. I was really bumming that day about things that had transpired, but I still had a lot to be grateful for. I just said to myself that it was one of “those days,” and then it was just like freakin’ lightning, it just all spewed out of me at once!
PC: “Those Days” seems very much like a “pep talk” if you will, which was quite timely during 2020. How important was that theme in a year like 2020 and considering what you had been going through?
SM: I think it’s very important. I thought I loved myself and accepted myself, but when my world kind of fell apart at the beginning of 2020, I realized that I always depended on someone else. I realized my identity was always in somebody else. 2020 was really a year of empowerment and self-acceptance for me. I read a lot of books on self-help, and the more I read, the more I realized that a lot of times, we hold ourselves back with the mindset that we have of ourselves. I wrote the song for me, but I released the song for everyone else, because once the song was out, I got what I needed from it. Releasing the song was for everyone else to listen to, because it really felt like it had a message that people needed to hear. I think a lot of people don’t realize that a lot of the excuses they make in life are self-made.
PC: You enlisted a new producer, Jason Wyatt, on “Those Days.” What was it like working with Jason and how did he help bring the song to life?
SM: Jason was great! He actually helps run Nashville Artist Development University, an artist development program I was a part of last year. He was great in the studio and encouraged me to push my vocals. That big high note at the end was never originally there, but while we were recording it, he said that he wanted me to let loose and show what I had. I didn’t even really have a voice that day, which is kind of the ironic thing [laughs]. I really let loose and that note pretty much just came out of my soul!
Jason is a genuine person, and it’s great to work with genuine people in Nashville. Sometimes I’m weary of who to work with or who to trust, because at some point, we’ve all trusted someone that let us down, but Jason is a great, genuine, down-to-earth guy and has a genuine desire to help artists, so I was really excited to work with him!
PC: Since its release, you’ve shared several positive responses to “Those Days” on social media. How encouraging has the response been, especially coming within days and weeks of the song’s release?
SM: I love it! With my Muddy Boots album, I feel like I released so many songs at once that it was hard for me to give all of them the promotion that they should have had. I feel like with this song, I’ve really enjoyed the whole release process. Not all of it went smoothly, but because of my growth mindset that I talked about earlier, I was able to enjoy the whole process. I really believed that people would love it from the moment I wrote it, but now that it’s out and I’m getting so much feedback and encouragement, it’s been great! I had a friend from high school tell me that she was dancing in her t-shirt and underwear to it, and I said that’s literally why I released the song, for that kind of reaction [laughs]. That’s the kind of song I want it to be: If you’re having a crap day, that’s what you’re doing; you’re letting loose and using the song as a release. It’s been so encouraging that people are loving the song and sharing it and that is getting radio play!
PC: As someone who performs regularly, what kind of adjustment was the last year-plus like for you? How were you able to stay busy in the midst of limited to no live performances?
SM: 2020 was kind of a beautiful year for me for a lot of reasons. I feel like I was able to adapt to the pandemic. Unfortunately, Broadway and Midtown closed, but I actually did a switch to doing more private shows, which ended up being a lot more lucrative than doing the bar shows. While Broadway was still open, there were a lot of restrictions and there weren’t a lot of tips coming in from what I understand, so I was really able to adapt, make the shift and figure out how to make it work. I think in life that when life throws things at you, you either learn how to sink or learn how to swim [laughs].
PC: Of the things you can control, what are your plans for the rest of the year?
SM: I have more private shows scheduled, and I have a two-month road trip/tour in August and September. I’m also planning to partner up with National Angels, who help foster children through donations and mentorship. They’ve got a lot of satellite chapters around the country, so while I’m playing shows and trying to promote “Those Days” and doing some adventures stuff, I’m going to be stopping at many of the chapters across the country so that I can volunteer while I’m on the road!
PC: Is there anything you’d like to add?
SM: Be honest with yourself and accept and love yourself as you currently are. Make peace with the choices you’ve made in your past and the experiences you’ve had. If necessary, talk to a professional, there is no shame in it and the only person you are letting down by not getting the help you deserve is yourself. Be mindful of how limited mindset and negative self talk are keeping you from the life you want for yourself. You won’t be good at everything you try the first time, so embrace the suck and choose to be grateful for the opportunity to learn and get better at something. You’re not alone in your struggles; everyone has those days, and on those days, crank up the new single and sing it at the top of your lungs!
*”Those Days” is featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!*