A few weeks back, we had the opportunity to look at Sarantos, an artist who really ha been doing it all. His music is a great passion for him, and it led him to write his book, Not Where I Wanna Be, which chronicles his experience in a different way.
Today, we’re bringing you a different experience too. We don’t often get to talk to writers about much more beyond their books, but Sarantos gave us a cool look behind the curtain, and let us enter his impressive world.
Tellest: You have such an obvious passion for music. What brought that about in you?
Sarantos: Music was always encouraged when I was growing up. My family routinely listen to music and we all sang and danced. I think that is where it began.
T: Upon first stumbling upon you, it might seem like you’re over-the-top – there couldn’t possibly be anyone as humble or generous as you! And yet, there you are. You’re charitable with your work and your time, and you just genuinely seem like a nice guy. When everyone else seems to be cynical, or has an ulterior motive, how do you find the strength to be so – in a word – good?
S: I think if I ever “make it” and people realize what I do for a living every day, the generosity and charity emphasis will make more sense. At this point, I cannot reveal what my day job is to the world but at some point I hope to.
Honestly, it is not something that I think about. It is just the way I am. I think it has a lot to do with my parents and how they brought me up. Money never mattered to them and these basic principles, ethics and moral standards they instilled in me from the beginning took hold. This is not to say that I am perfect. I keep telling everyone, I’ve made more mistakes than everyone I know. All I can try to do is be myself, become a better person each and every day. It takes a lot of hard work and it’s definitely not easy. My dad was the most humble person I know and I always wanted to be like him. I don’t know what happens to celebrities that become famous actors or musicians! I can’t ever imagine being cruel to others and not treating them like human beings. We are all one and the same.
T: What would you say was the biggest challenge to beginning this journey?
S: The biggest challenge was probably actually getting started. Since I have wanted to do this my whole entire life, it seems like either I or other people I tried to do something with always had an excuse why should not pursue it. Finally getting started was difficult but once I got started slowly the ball got rolling. Over the last year or two I have grown more committed and put more effort into it each and every day. I am now proud to admit that I am doing this and it is not something I’m hiding.
T: With so many fans and supporters, have you ever considered crowdfunding your material at all? It would seem like that kind of process would fit in with your message pretty well.
S: I did and I kind of agree with you. Before I really had any followers and when I first started, I tried a kickstarter campaign. It didn’t really go anywhere at all even though I thought it would appeal to a lot of people. So I kind of moved on without crowdfunding.
T: Your music is so eclectic. Is there a specific genre or decade that you prefer to pull from, or is it however the mood strikes you?
S: I absolutely think I was influenced by the 80s as well as modern rock and pop music. That is the best mixture I can think of to describe my music. Additionally, I think it is a lot of fun to try to do other genres and that is why I have tried to do a country song, dance song, rap song etc. Why not try everything? I think fans tend to get bored by listening to the same style of music of their favorite artists over time so I want to keep my music and my singing style fresh and innovative. I experiment. I’m willing to try almost anything!
T: What kind of programs do you use to achieve that very specific Sarantos sound?
S: There’s a program on the Mac called Logic Pro that is the main program that I use.
T: After you’re done with your portion of the music, you utilize professional musicians to give your songs an authentic feel, right? How did you come across those other musicians?
S: Mostly trial and error. Sadly, it took a long time and working with a lot of people all over the world to finally get a group that I consistently feel pretty good about nowadays. And yes, it cost way too much. It was a major bummer to pay someone to lay down a session as you instruct and put it out in a digital file and pay them for something that did not sound professional in the end. But with perseverance and continuing to try many different musicians (without being mean or insulting to the ones that didn’t produce a good end product), I got there eventually. I think it will always be an evolving process as people move on, drop out, give up their careers etc. I know I have a pretty good feeling now but I am still always experimenting, trying new people and open to ideas. I think that’s my strength and I will always do that. Artists grow stagnant when they think they’ve made it. Your sound should keep evolving and changing with time, experience and as the world ages along with you and advances in technology come into play. I wish listeners could experience it in lossless technology as it sounds so much cooler with HD audio. My intent is to give out wav files with my next CD and hopefully people will listen to them on a good sound system as opposed to a cell phone. All it takes is a good headphone or speakers on your computer and the difference is amazing. The average listener though doesn’t care as much and most can’t pick out all the different instruments and mixes but for those that can, it is a whole different world. I do feel this is the future of music. HD video is so much better, right? The same does hold true for HD audio.
By the way, doing the same process with finalizing a band. Unfortunately, that has been an even bigger nightmare but hopefully I’ll get that sorted out too so I can do more live performances. I’m not going anywhere and I’m not in a rush!
T: You’ve got to be so busy with your music. What made you decide to add a book to the mix as well?
S: To me, it has always been about the lyrics. I think the lyrics have the most emphasis to me, and then the music. So it was just a natural transition to want to do a book. The book is very refreshing and a cool experience. I am not limited with what words I can use, how I can use them, or the style. I thought fiction/fantasy was a cool genre because I am always fascinated by storytelling, make-believe and pretend scenarios. This is probably the kid in me still bursting with eager anticipation. Am I the only one who wanted to be Luke Skywalker or Indiana Jones?? I think no.
As it came together, I figured why not tell my story version and combine the song each month into each chapter. I don’t think anyone has ever done anything like this and hopefully it will appeal to the fans. I couldn’t even guess at what book-readers will think about the idea. I hope it stands alone as a well-respected book and when they know the back story, they find the mixture with my music career fascinating. Almost like a combination of fiction/fantasy and biography at the same time. My fans are getting glimpses into my personality, real world everywhere in this book, my social media posts and my songs. I don’t know of any other artist who is this real with their fans. I don’t have a marketing agency or label coordinating my brand or image. Just me. And it’s real. If you see me in person or on the street, I will look the same. I will speak and sing like I do in my videos, songs and book. I don’t need any prep for interviews because this is not my alter-ego or a different persona. It is really me. I am real. I am vulnerable. I am a human being just like the rest of the everyday people on this planet.
T: When you determined you were ready to write this book, how did you plan out the story? Was each chapter based on one of your songs, or was there a full outline that you knew you wanted to adhere to?
S: The story gets thought out each and every month. I never have any idea what direction it is going in or what the overall plot is. Basically, whatever the song is that month, then the idea is born and the story unfolds. Again, it is very radical and not an approach I think most writers use.
T: You mention that it is thought out each and every month – so that means we can expect a follow-up, right?
T: You’re a solo artist, but do you have any dream vocal collaborations you’d like to try out?
S: There are so many I couldn’t possibly name them all but I am open to working with almost anyone in any aspect – books, movies, music, theater etc.
It would be really cool to do a song with Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, or Bruno Mars.
T: If there was anyone who wanted to follow in your footsteps, what would you tell them?
S: Be realistic. Keep your day job but go for it!
T: Thank you so much for your time – it was great to talk to you!
S: You too! I appreciate your time.
I’m very grateful to Sarantos for the opportunity to get this interview out there. As can be expected, he’s a busy man with a lot on his plate, so this was a wonderful experience. Check out Not Where I Wanna Be on Amazon, and should you be interested in his music and his story (you should!), this is his website.
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