Sierra Spirit Is A Name You Need To Know

emilytreadgold #12, Features

Sierra Spirit's new song, "Ghost," is the kind of debut you dream of; it perfectly shows off her knack for detailed lyrics, her heavenly voice, and that indescribable feeling that there's so much more to come. We talked to her about the new song, her upcoming EP, and the kind of artist she strives to be.

How did you get started in music and what was the moment you decided to pursue this?

Sierra: I've always loved writing, but Aaron and I started working on this project about a year ago. He just really wanted to get into the producing side of things and took this project on with me because I've always written, and I am self-taught on the guitar and piano. I've always kind of written, and I just never really knew where to start. But then, we holed up for like two weeks and recorded this whole first EP, and that kind of just took off for us.

Tell me specifically about your song "Ghost."

Sierra: "Ghost" is about kind of wasting time in a one-sided relationship and just knowing that you're with someone who knows you so well that you just wish that they didn't. Just kind of the value of feeling like a shell of yourself when you're wasting time in something that you know you should let go of.

I read that you're from Oklahoma. I'm from Texas, and I have this whole thing where I think a lot of really good music comes from either Texas or Oklahoma. How do you feel about being from Oklahoma and representing Oklahoma music?

Sierra: I'm native. So, growing up in Oklahoma, I was within driving distance of both of my tribe's reservations, so I definitely took a lot of inspiration from classic country music growing up. I love that style. I feel like I kind of mirror that and the twangy kind of touch that I have in this EP. There are a lot of great people that have come out of Tulsa, and I'm living in Connecticut now, but I lived in Oklahoma my entire life until I moved up here about four years ago. There's so much good influence that comes out of the Midwestern style of music. I absolutely loved living there, but I just kind of needed a change of pace. I know I can always go home.

What else inspires your writing?

Sierra: When I was learning how to play guitar five years ago, I taught myself by playing through Phoebe Bridgers' 'Stranger in the Alps album.' That album holds a lot of resonance for me, just emotionally. That's how I taught myself how to play. I take a lot of inspiration from Ethel Cain and the Japanese House. A lot of my songs kind of started out as just like streams of consciousness, and after collecting all of these bits and pieces, I feel like it kind of just clicked. I'd always had so much trouble writing until about five or six years ago when suddenly something just clicked. But I definitely say that the artists that I listened to were such a huge and emotional connection for me.

I guess something that I'm always interested in is how you take those inspirations and turn them into something that's originally you.

Sierra: I'd say a lot of it for me is the feeling. The feeling that I get listening to something that I love and then wanting to be able to make people feel that way. Listening to something that makes you feel-- that connects you to a moment in your life. A lot of the songs, all of the songs in the EP, have a lot of meaning for me, but my biggest goal has always been to let people connect to it in whatever capacity they need to heal and to relate.

What keeps you motivated in music? When you wake up in the morning, what do you tell yourself to keep going?

Sierra: Growing up, this was always something that I wanted. And like I said, being indigenous, there wasn't anybody like me that I could look up to who was making music and doing the things that I wanted to do. So, my biggest inspiration for making music is to be that for the next round. There's nothing more that I wanted than to see someone like me doing the things that I want to do that made it seem like it could be a possibility for me. So, a lot of the representation and just doing it for myself and my community in a way is what drives me the most.

I love that. Tell me more about your EP, what we can expect, and what you're excited about.

Sierra: The EP, "Coin Toss," we're kind of rolling it out over the course of this year. I think it's really great. There's a lot of good contrast. There's a lot of good stories there. And that's one thing I'm really proud of in my writing, the storytelling. You can hear where I'm coming from, and it paints a picture, but it also allows anyone to make what they need of it, to connect and to relate. But coming out of this project, there's a lot of good contrast. There are a lot of really punchy songs, some really sad ones, and some really happy ones. I think there's a lot of good contrast and a lot of good sound.

What would be something like a challenge that you faced or something that you didn't expect to be so difficult about your music career?

Sierra: The hardest part, I would say, is just being vulnerable. A lot of my writing in this is centered around the experience of being an indigenous person and the higher rates of mental illness and addiction issues in the native community. So, just growing up and coping with my anxiety and depression, watching people that I love suffer from mental illness and addiction. And it's definitely really scary being vulnerable in that capacity. But that's my story, and that's what I want people to hear.

With this EP, do you want to help change people's perception of mental illness, maybe inspire them to get their own help?

Sierra: I feel like it's just with our generation, especially with native people, where we've decided that we don't just have to kind of suffer through it. A lot of the generation's past, especially in native culture, that's just not what you do. There's this expectation of stoicism sometimes that's set upon you that you kind of just have to brave through it. But one thing is I think even people outside of the community can relate to the fact that there is nothing weak about asking for help. Improving your quality of life in any way is just a benefit. There's no reason to waste your time suffering in a way but also to paint it as something that is really ugly but also really beautiful that I was able to make something of it and to continue to grow and better myself and figure it out.

What would be your best piece of advice for women in the music industry or just young women in general, honestly?

Sierra: Just to be unapologetic in taking up space. Growing up, I was always so conscious of and worried about what other people thought about me, what other people thought about how I looked and acted, and learning and especially coming up with this project. Before this release, I was so terrified and kind of figuring out why I was so terrified. It was like I care so much about what people think, and I care so much about how much space I'm taking up. And that is, I think, the biggest thing that I've learned moving with this project, and just being a person of color, being an indigenous person, is just unapologetically taking up the space that I deserve.

Keep up with Sierra Spirit on Instagram, TikTok, and Spotify.

Emily Treadgold

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