In the bedroom with Sarah Kang

For many of us, the bedroom is a place of respite, inspiration, and comfort. It’s also a place where dreams are first made, which rings resoundingly true for Korean-American singer-songwriter, Sarah Kang. From a hideaway where she sang in secret as a teenager to the recording set-up she has today, the bedroom has continued to be Sarah’s playground for her music-making journey. 

We first chanced upon one of Sarah’s popular tunes, Summer is for Falling in Love, two years ago, before the launch of Repose. Since then, we’ve celebrated many more launches with her music — Cozy set the perfect backdrop for Provenance, while Time Traveling, reminiscent of tender mornings with its gentle guitar chords, accompanied the launch of Fields of Gold.

When it came to launching Sunday Loungewear, we knew it was finally time to learn more about the person behind the songs we had come to love. With the help of Singapore-based photographer, Juliana Tan, we also embarked on our first long-distance photoshoot — Sarah in New York, and us in Singapore!  Below, Sarah shares more about working and making music — all in the magic of her bedroom.

Sarah, how have you kept the bedroom a place of productivity and creation, but also a place to unwind and relax in?

I think this is still a challenge for me sometimes! The temptation to just lie in bed all day is real, but I prevent my bedroom from becoming a space where I feel pressured to be productive by remembering to be kind to myself and rest whenever I need to.

Being able to unwind and relax allows me to be creative, not out of stress or obligation, but out of health and inspiration. 

Some of Sarah's favourite ways to unwind include reading a book, watching TV, and enjoying a cup of green tea.

We’re guessing you are team work-from-home?

I’m a homebody at heart, so I love working from home. Most of my ideas come to me when I’m alone, and I enjoy having the privacy and quietness of being at home when I’m recording music. 

Of course, there are challenges when it comes to collaborating with other artists and producers. There is a certain kind of magic that happens when you’re physically with others creating and throwing ideas around. Thankfully, some of that is still possible through Zoom meetings, and I’m grateful that I’m able to work from home throughout the pandemic. 

A sneak peek at Sarah's working corner, featuring her trusty microphone and drawings from her niece.

"Summer is for Falling in Love" was written during the pandemic. How did that come about?

I was feeling pretty holed up during the thick of quarantine in 2020, and wished I could travel somewhere. Reminiscing on the summer of 2017, when my husband and I visited Jeju Island in South Korea, I thought of the first line of the song: We could drive along an ocean reflecting the sun.

Fun fact: the cover art for Summer is for Falling in Love is actually of an image of Sarah and her husband taken at Jeju Island. Image c/o Sarah

I thought of all the ways summer can feel romantic, freeing, but also fleeting. And I was inspired to write something that answered this longing I had for past summers before the pandemic happened, but with a classic and timeless appeal to it.

The hook and melody came to me first, and I wrote the rest of the song with my acoustic guitar in a couple of hours. My producer friend, EyeLoveBrandon, layered the song with a chill beat, and that’s how the song was born! Summer is for Falling in Love definitely holds a special place in my heart, and I’m grateful that so many listeners have felt a connection to it!  

What about a favourite lyric you’ve worked on recently?

I have a song releasing soon and I have a favourite line from it: I know it’s faded/ But turn back the pages/ Was it really all better/ Or is it how I remember /

I think a lot about nostalgia and memories, and I have been reflecting on why I have this longing for childhood and the past. Are things truly better in the past, or do I just remember it that way because it’s hard to face the present sometimes? This line acts as a reminder and challenge to myself to not view the past with rose-tinted glasses, and to be more present in my current circumstances and relationships. 

Is that something you’re bringing forward to the new year too?

Definitely. I lost a good friend to an accident last August, and processing her death was a sobering reminder that time is limited, and life is truly not within our control. 

But there are things I can control, like choosing to love those around me, or prioritising relationships and quality time over things with little lasting value, like money or reputation. 

How else are you setting intentions for the new year?

I have some very practical new year’s resolutions, like exercising more, but I like to enter the new year with a list of hopes. Thinking of intentions as hopes instead of goals helps me remember that things are often out of my control, so I don’t have to blame myself if I end up not accomplishing something. This helps me value process over results too. 

I also hope to continue making music with genuineness and intentionality, to invest in relationships and friendships — even when it’s inconvenient or comes at a cost to myself — to be kind to myself when I make mistakes, and to be more giving of my time, energy, and resources. 

Now playing: 'Places We Won't Walk' by Bruno Major — Sarah's favourite song to unwind to.

Follow Sarah Kang on Instagram and Spotify as she works on her first full-length album release this year.

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