Jazz singer, songwriter, and performer Sage Bava's five-song EP 'Falling In' released this week (November 15), introduces audiences to a vibrant and interesting new talent. Tracks like "Manchild," "Deep Blue," and "Imperfect Melody" showcase her sophisticated, soulful original sound and complement renditions of timeless classics "Misty" and "Someone To Watch Over Me." These tracks and arrangements were crafted by Bava between Valencia, Spain, and her hometown of Rochester, NY, featuring an ensemble of talented musicians.
Jazz has always held a special place in Sage's heart. She hails from a unique background, having grown up on an animal rescue alongside her father, who had the privilege of playing piano for legendary figures like Buddy Rich and Paul Winter. Even as a young talent, Sage was already making her mark, starring in plays and collaborating with guitar icon Les Paul, all by the tender age of 13. While navigating a multifaceted childhood that included stints as a child actor and competitive tap dancer, she encountered her fair share of challenges. In her early teens, Sage grappled with depression and derealization, facing exploitative music producers more interested in her appearance than nurturing her undeniable talent. It was a dark chapter in her life, one that would ultimately set the stage for the profound highs and lows that have shaped her into the remarkable person and artist she is today.
Sage's journey has taken her across the globe, from acting in London to solo adventures throughout Europe with just her backpack, guitar, and an unyielding spirit of adventure. Her return to the States brought her to the vibrant hub of New York City, but when the pandemic hit, she found herself back on her family's farm. Soon after, she embarked on a transformative journey to Costa Rica to teach yoga. This time proved to be a deep awakening for her, a period of profound reconnection with nature and her own inner voice. Her spirituality flourished as she learned from wise teachers and shamans. Driven by her true passion, Sage decided to pursue her music once more. She applied for Berklee Valencia's one-year master's program in production, received a scholarship, and made the bold move to Spain. But Sage Bava isn't just about the music. She's a unique talent currently studying the psychology of spirituality at Columbia and occasionally working as a journalist.
Now, she is ready to share her captivating story, remarkable voice, and boundless talents with the world. Look for an album from Sage set to be distributed by AWAL in 2024 that promises to be a profound artistic statement. Multiple major U.S. festival appearances are already confirmed with much more to come. Meanwhile, we share this Q&A from Sage Bava with you, and we welcome you to listen to Falling In.
Where do the songs on this EP come from?
Sage Bava: The songs on this amalgamation are all about love and the discovery of. These songs encompass everything, from the pure wonder to the pure past life kind of mystery that is love. It's also about the heartbreak that comes with love, specifically when you lose yourself to the other in a way that takes your own voice away. Then there's the breaking of love, which is the process of losing yourself in the other. The only way to regain yourself is to destroy that thing that you both created. So, the whole project takes you through these different iterations of love. At the end of the day, it's really about knowing yourself. The songs include one called "Deep Blue," which is about meeting someone that feels like they are you—a fragment of you from some other time and place and space that you're now meeting. Within that meeting, there's this wholeness that you experience. Then there are two of my favorite old songs that were written before 1930, which is wild. I added them because I wanted to give the project a very timeless feel.
What are the old songs?
Bava: "Someone to Watch Over Me," which was so cool to dive into recently because I've always loved that song. I've been singing it since I was 13 or 14 years old. I always took the song at face value. I looked at Gershwin's gorgeous, perfect lyrics, but I took it to be about this girl praying to whoever about having some man show up to take care of me. As of late, the song has transformed before my very eyes and means calling upon your guides, calling upon your protectors, calling upon this higher source of creativity and power that watches over you. I did a little video on the land that I grew up on in upstate New York, and it was a beautiful moment. There's this bench on the top of this hill that has become this beautiful space of meditation and seeing for me. And so shooting this video there and saying someone to watch over me was a really full circle moment in my own becoming that was really beautiful. The other song that's old is "Misty" by Erroll Garner. I've always just loved that song. I hear that opening and know that your soul is about to be filled and nourished. I just think it's such a beautiful song, and it's a feeling that I know deeply well, and Erroll encapsulates it wonderfully in its harmony.
What is the feeling?
Bava: It's misty, love, lust—the meeting of two souls that creates chemical friction, leaving one in a space of clouds, sometimes in a space of mist. I love the fact that Erroll wrote that song when he was literally on a plane in the clouds. To me, it's one of the most perfect songs ever written. So I hope I do it justice.
Let's go back to the "Someone to Watch Over Me" video for a second. Why is there a scene in there where you're naked?
Bava: [Laughter] Well, I think it's interesting, the idea and the art behind feeling and being naked. Something that I'm really trying to tap into and allow myself to really surrender to is being my authentic naked self, letting that very vulnerable light shine.
So, is it something you've always been comfortable with, or are you getting more so?
Bava: I wouldn't say I'm comfortable with it. It's a challenge that I think is deeply important for anyone who is really interested and invested in their own becoming, which I think everyone should be. Because I think at the core of everyone, there's a really beautiful source light that is deeply calm, is deeply peaceful, and is healing and cleansing to all. Nature cleanses itself. Nature grows, nature heals itself. And we are nature. We have the capability to do that. And the more connected to our source light we are, the faster we can do that for ourselves and then for others. So to me, this nakedness is just stripping away all of the constructs around that source light shine.
Would you ever do a show naked?
Bava: Sure, just for fun, and I think for art.
What's the craziest show you ever did?
Bava: When "craziest" is mentioned, it brings me back to when I was 17, backpacking all over Europe by myself with just my guitar. I did a lot of crazy shows in spaces like churches, in the backs of bars, on big stages randomly. The wedding that I was asked to play at. I have a lot of crazy stories of playing in front of people. I didn't speak one word of their language, and it all just kind of happened very spontaneously. And I definitely have a protector over me because some of these situations were very bizarre, and I should not have been so lucky to be as unscarred as I am. If only I had listened to that protector a bit more, I think I would've helped myself out.
So who do you think your protector is?
Bava: I don't know. I think that's the beauty of it. I think there are many; it's just the awareness of there are many. I think it's just the awareness of seeing them everywhere. I think everyone and everything are your greatest teacher because it's merely reflecting back to you what you need to see, what you need to integrate, and what you need to change and rid yourself of to get closer and closer to that source of truth. So I think everyone is your protector, everyone is your teacher if you see that fast in them. Sometimes teachers can do the most harm, and they're gonna show you parts of yourself and parts of the world that are really messed up. But there's a great lesson in that.
Give me an example of one of those lessons and how that manifests in your music.
Bava: I think something really beautiful that I've been experiencing right now and really stepping into is this trusting of my own voice. I was raised on an animal rescue farm and was taught as a number one priority to be empathetic and to be kind and generous with my love and with my energy. It was a beautiful way to grow up. But I had to learn that empathy does not mean being a house for other people's demons. You're actually hurting them, and you're hurting yourself if you allow yourself to be that person. I've had so many experiences of losing my voice to people, becoming for them, and not staying true to my own inner voice and therefore foregoing myself. Something that is deeply important to me and I want to do in the world is helping people, especially young women, in their process of learning their voice and staying true to their voice. There are so many stories I can tell you about that, but I think the lesson is much more important than the details.
What's the lesson you want to give to young women, having gone through the industry yourself?
Bava: Listen to your voice. It's very easy to think people know better. It's very easy to think that you are young and naive and you don't know the world, or you should listen to all of these people telling you what to do and who to be and how to act. Even if they're not telling you in words, they're making you feel a certain way. But I urge you to really stay true to your gut. Don't numb that. Let it be powerful and let it be potent. Some people don't know what to do with young women who will stand up for themself. And when you speak your truth, sometimes people are going to throw a tantrum. Sometimes people are going to try and control you and your mind, but the sooner that you can realize that that's just them and their own work that they need to do on themselves, and you stay true to you, you're going to have a much easier and quicker road. It isn’t easy but I believe it’s the only way, l’m still leaning this. There are many paths to get anywhere. My path was kind of here, there, and everywhere because I had to learn these lessons, and I had many different instances of having to learn them. So if you just stay on that path and not have to learn the lesson a million times over, it'll be a much smoother and faster ride.
Do you feel like you're ready for success now?
Bava: I think I'm ready for success. I think I'm ready for me to be living in my most vibrant and potent self. I've always loved music so much. I want it to be my life. I want always to be able to create and create with incredible people and have that be in my life, and be able to make things that serve this mission of bringing this feeling of connection to nature, which to me is just a connection to truth and self. It’s so deeply healing and that's what I want to do with the music I make. I think it's very important and very needed, so yes.
Who, for you, are those artists that best express longing and loneliness?
Bava: Melody Gardot is one of my favorite artists. She, to me, is only part human [laughter] and is part of something much more powerful. Her story is fascinating, and her surrender into her power without the need to reach for it. She just purely sits in it more so than anyone that I can think of. Perhaps also Norah Jones and Adele.
What's your version of heaven right now?
Bava: Heaven is simple. Heaven is nature. We are nature. When we separate ourselves from it, we are harming ourselves. I believe spirit is an animal. I believe spirit is the tree. When we allow ourselves to become one with it, that's heaven. I've just been reveling in my gratitude for my family and the space they live in, which is a beautiful farm where we get fresh vegetables that I can cook into nourishing vegan meals and just be so peaceful and accept myself and accept my journey. Because we must accept to be able to be truly present. I am in a very good space. I don't think it's going away because it's a choice that you mentally make. No matter what externally, you can be there internally.
What's your best vegan meal?
Bava: I really love making Spanakopita or anything with puff pastry, phyllo dough. I love making huge salads from the incredible vegetables that we grow. Vegetables are the best. I love kale.
So who would be at your vegan dinner party?
Bava: I love to host. I love to create a space; Bava actually means creating a space and also means a spiritual center, which is kind of what I hope to become as far as just becoming so connected to my own nature that it just radiates and allows others to do the same. But as far as a dinner party, I would love to have Hermann Hesse. I know he is long dead, but I would love to spend 20 minutes asking this man how he knew so much about spirit and humanity. There’s so many musicians – Judy Garland, Amy Winehouse, Lena Horne, Peggy Lee. I would love to have a lot of musicians like Baby Rose, who's this incredible R&B singer, and John Legend, who I've been in love with since I was 12. Hozier. He is an entity from beyond. Kendrick Lamar, my favorite rapper. Annie Tracy, who's a dear friend of mine from many years ago, who is now just taking over the world with her powerful voice and her powerful message. I always got to have my mom and dad there. And who else? Oprah. Gal Gadot. I love how she speaks. She speaks in a very philosophical way, which I feel like is how I like to converse with people.
And now you're going to Columbia?
Bava: Yes, I have been very called to do a deeper dive on psychology and spirituality. This has led me to want to study it, write about it, sing about it and just be in an era of growth with it. I'm writing a book called Universal Language, co-writing with Steve Baltin, an author and journalist. For the past several months, we've been doing interviews together with incredible artists. It just naturally happened that we both love to talk about consciousness, music, and spirit, asking artists about their connection to their creative process within connecting to that. Many incredible stories were told, and the idea of curating it all into something that people can read and be inspired by, and therefore connect more deeply to the music and more deeply to themselves, was just so obvious. So we're working on writing this book.
What was your favorite interview during that process so far?
Bava: Definitely impossible to pick a favorite. Having Herbie Hancock call me on the phone was pretty amazing. Getting to ask him what jazz was, and him saying, “it's spirit, baby,” was a moment that will ring in my ears for many years. Asking Mr. Hancock about his creative process and learning how important spirituality and Buddhism and ritual are was just affirmative to knowing that creation and spirit go in tandem. 99.9% of the artists that we talked to resonated deeply with that. The ones that didn't, to me, just re-said it but in a different way. So I loved hearing from Baby Rose how important service is in her creation. Rick Rubin's "The Creative Act" where he talks about how art is all a service to God. This thought of trying to create from a place of product and a place of Frankenstein-ing these ideas together, to me, was super soul-crushing and was the reason for many years why I had a hard time creating because I had lost my own spirit. So within knowing it's vital to be connected to spirit in order to create, it makes it so much more important to protect your spirit. It makes it so much more important to be present with it because if that is a source of creation, you better have that be your priority.
How did you end up doing journalism? How has it influenced your music, getting to talk to all these musicians?
Bava: As much as I don't believe everything happens for a reason, I do believe that things show up when the student is ready. For me, the process of this past year has been connecting and learning my voice, becoming, and trusting it. My favorite thing to do is talk about spirit and music, asking artists about the process and their artistry is the most fun thing ever. When I started being a fly on the wall and getting to ask questions with some of my favorite artists, I realized how much I love it because it's truly my favorite thing, just to have deep conversations about life, love, and the abyss. It’s been really beautiful to talk to artists about the importance of learning and knowing their voice while I'm affirming this in myself. It’s just been this really bizarre reflection onto all of these things that are happening for me internally.
Has there been one or two interviews where you feel like it's reflected most in you?
Bava: Moby was fascinating and really hit me hard because he's a fellow vegan, but more so a fellow nature animal lover and activist. He said something that really shook me: we are nature, and when we sever ourselves from it, we harm ourselves. I realized how much I did that, not even when we're talking about nature, meaning animals and nature, meaning environment, but nature meaning our truths about ourselves. When we sever that, sometimes we think we're doing it for someone's benefit, sometimes we think we are helping them. But I believe at the end of the day, anything that harms you is in the karmic forces that happen after. It's not what you're supposed to do. Everyone is supposed to stay with their truth. And severing yourself in that will come and bite you in the ass. Hearing Moby talk about that just brought me closer to my sense of self and also brought me closer to things that I love. Like I've always loved animals, but it just deepened it more.
Why do you think you did sever yourself from that?
Bava: Because people asked me to, and I didn't know better. When I was young, 13, 14, 15, there were several producers that I worked with musically who asked me to be for them. By that, I mean they had an idea of what they wanted in their life, space, and creative process. They saw me as a malleable being that they could mold into being that for them. Raised with empathy, I thought I was supposed to do that as an act of kindness and caring, forsaking my own voice and sense of self to become, musically and otherwise, what they desired. It was deeply damaging and confusing. When that period ended, I was in a state of deep confusion. Until I learned these things and eradicated that from my soul, I finally regained clarity and my voice. There were times—three, four months—where it was painful to speak. It felt like something was clenching my throat, and I couldn't speak because my spirit was so suppressed that the mere act of speaking my truth, which is my voice, was a painful experience. I now see it as a gift, as my favorite author mentioned before, the gift of suffering. How can you know something if you don't experience it deeply? How can you have a mission in the world if you don't know it deeply? So, within knowing something deeply, you must experience it deeply, and then you can bring it forward. If everyone looked at their life that way, we'd be more at peace and joyful. Spiritual leaders are usually blissed out, and I don't trust a spiritual leader that's not, because that is the truth they're living in.
What do you want people to take from your EP when they hear it?
Bava: I want it to wash over you and make you feel. Through that feeling, you'll connect more with yourself and your sense of self, and everything is love. Most of these songs could represent different forms of love—romantic love, man's construct love, self-love. I hope it provides people with a peaceful and beautiful space to feel love and have some peace.
Sage Bava’s EP 'Falling In' is out now on all DSPs. Listen at https://fanlink.to/sagebava
Follow Sage Bava on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sagebava/