Sara Hartman is just full of surprises. This frizzy haired and funny 20-year-old with a huge voice had never left New York, but a year ago, she jumped on a plane by herself to Berlin, Germany in order to pursue a dream of making music.
“I had just finished reading Patti Smith’s book, Just Kids,” she recalls. “That really helped me while I was getting my bearings. To me, Berlin is like New York when it still had that raw young energy in the seventies. The streets might be dirty, but people are making art everywhere. That’s so intoxicating to me. Berlin is very welcoming for creative people. When you have a center like that, great things are inevitable. Being away from home is very hard, but the energy is beautiful.”
The story starts a long way from Berlin though. She might’ve been raised in Sag Harbor, but her upbringing couldn’t be farther apart from the usual depiction of The Hamptons in movies, television, and magazines. The Hartman family stood out among the few “year-round” natives. Dad designs and builds pools for the area’s residents, while mom creates visual art. In similar fashion, dad turned Sara on to the likes of Goldfinger, as mom introduced her to Radiohead and The Talking Heads.
“Life is weird,” she smiles. “That’s a major characteristic of my childhood. My mom always encouraged my siblings and me to make things out of nothing. Meanwhile, my dad showed me a really diligent work ethic. I feel like I’ve got both of those sides in what I do—the head and the heart.”
She took that mindset into the studio to create something different.
“We found this blend of electronic aspects and acoustic instruments,” she says. “It’s real, but it has some teeth. You can call it pop music, but there’s a message and substance. The words are like a piece of my skin. The past year was insane. I’ve only been able to process it through writing. It’s near and dear to my soul.”
“I left my family, my home, and everything I knew, and that was fucking terrifying,” she admits. “The song speaks to that. It’s about giving in to something you know is there. I was inspired by the movie Spirited Away where a ghost guide leads this girl around. That’s the image. If I have this big ghost monster to lead me around this weird time, I’ll end up where I’m supposed to be. You have faith everything will turn out okay.”