Former Bendite Sara Jackson Holman is golden. Her honey-coated ballads drip with passion and remorse, and her soaring pop tunes mimic Feist's catchy sincerity and Lana Del Rey's penchant for the epic. Add a healthy helping of hip-hop beats and a siren's alto and you've got Jackson-Holman. After moving from Bend to Portland three years ago to pursue music, Jackson-Holman realized that her songs have the ability to break grown men's hearts like flimsy toothpicks, thus, making them the perfect tropes for pivotal scenes (mostly deaths, Jackson-Holman admits) in television dramas. Her songs have since been used in shows including "Castle," (Castle and Beckett...spare our hearts!) "Grey's Anatomy," (Births! Deaths! Tears!) "Bones," (bring me so many tissues!) and "Orange is the New Black" in the always thoughtfully-matched closing credits soundtrack. Excuse us while we open-mouth gawk at our Netflix until the credits end. The Source caught up with Jackson-Holman about pop stars, moving from Bend to Portland and her new EP, River Queen, released earlier this summer.
Source Weekly: What do you think it is about your songs that made them picks for these pivotal moments in television shows?
Sara Jackson-Holman: I definitely was going through the process of grief when I wrote a couple of the songs that have landed the most placements for me of any of my songs. I think there is something in them that is relatable, especially for the scenes of loss or grief for which they have been used. I think songs are great vehicles for feelings, to be able to have that vehicle for expression is really powerful for me on a personal level, and I think the sort of desperation I was feeling in trying to sort through things translated into the songs I was writing at the time.
SW: What is the difference between being a pop icon (Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, etc.) and making pop music?
SJH: I'm not really that interested in being a pop icon, per se. I do LOVE pop music though. I love the structure of it, how the hooks are really great. So many of the songs on the radio are written by people other than those who are performing them, people that write pop songs for a career, and I find those songs and their cleverness very intriguing. So that's the world I'm interested in.
SW: What has it been like moving from Bend to Portland?
SJH: I love Portland, I really do. Nothing beats the springtime here for me, the air's heaviness with the scents of flowers. But I forget, when I drive over the pass, what it feels like to really breathe whenever I come back to Bend. One moment, you're amongst the trees with just slivers of sky above, and the next, it's just enormous.
SW: Tell me a little bit about River Queen and how it differs or is similar to your previous releases? You said that your natural go-to writing style is writing ballads, why is that?
SJH: I'm a sensitive person, and I find ballads to be the most cathartic to write. Ballads aren't even necessarily my favorite to listen to, but I find great comfort in writing them. River Queen is a little more pop than my last records. After two times around in the studio, I have a much better grasp on production, I am learning and getting closer to accomplishing the sound I envision in my music.
8 pm. Sun., Aug. 24.
Volcanic Theatre Pub, 70 SW Century Dr.