11 Questions with… Jayne Sachs

Some time ago songwriter Jayne Sachs agreed to answer our 11 Questions for this column! We appreciate Jayne taking the time out of her busy schedule to respond to these questions about songwriting, music making and performing. In 2015, she was a Daytonian of the Week!

Singer/Songwriter Jayne Sachs has been crafting songs in the Dayton Music Scene and beyond for several years. Jayne is currently a songwriter at Matt Lindsey Music in Nashville. She is an award winning songwriter with two first place wins in the prestigious John Lennon Songwriting Contest in the country and pop music categories, a rare occurrence. She is also a top winner in The UK Songwriting Contest and the International Acoustic Music Awards in the country category, we could go on and list the extensive recognition for her songwriting skills and techniques but that is not what this column is about. Our purpose here is to learn about songwriting and music directly from Jayne. However, I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to thank her because Jayne has also been very kind with her time agreeing to speak to Dr. J’s classes about music and songwriting.

  1. What can you share with us about when and how you started writing your latest music?

For the last eight years I have been writing songs for pitching in the Nashville country market. Before this, I was in the indie/alt pop genre as an artist and performer.

When my dad on his death bed (sorry, I always go dark!) asked me about my future in music he asked what publishers do and if I could “get one”. I was pretty sure I couldn’t just “get one” but didn’t know enough about what they do and how I could actually ever get signed by one. I knew that publishers were located in all the music cities, with Nashville being the closest.

After my dad died, I received a letter that he had written to me while he was still alive. He told me how proud he was of my music journey and if I should ever decide to not continue, I should be happy with what I’ve done. Since I had no intention of slowing down I thought back to our conversation about publishers and decided to understand that side of the industry. One thing lead to another and I learned the country genre inside and out and actually ended up getting signed by a long time Nashville publisher. I write daily and turn songs into him for pitching. I wish I could tell my dad.

2. You worked closely with several musicians throughout your career, what led to your collaborations?

The musicians I’ve worked with the most and the longest are my band mates Steve VanEtten, Scott Shiverdecker and Kelly Morelock. I worked with Kelly prior to that with a different line up as well. What lead to that collaboration originally was my need for a live band, but also musicians who could take the songs and help arrange them in cool ways. Each one of these players is an expert on his instrument. Without them the songs would have remained acoustic based, but these guys put muscle behind my singer songwriter diddies.

3. Rain is a personal favorite, so I am curious about it. The song seems different to me from some of your other songs and music. What were you trying to capture with that song?

I wrote “Rain” about the music industry. But it’s a song that can be interpreted in any way that resonates with the listener. I guess I was feeling that the rain I was hoping for would wash the dirt of trying to get signed off of me so I could just feel free.

4. Rain also seems to address some ideas about expressing oneself. If that is correct, did you intend to address that theme?Is there a theme that you find yourself working with in your songs?

If that is your interpretation, then I meant to address it! I am all for the meaning of a song being how the listener takes it, except for my Nashville songs which can’t leave anything up for interpretation. Stuff is very literal in that market. But the theme of Rain for me is breaking out and washing shit off of myself and feeling carefree. I’ve always wanted to dance naked in an alley.. who wouldn’t?! Well maybe not in the bitter winter.. but even…

5. How did Rain come together musically for you?

Rain is on a cd called Velveteen Girl. It was the only project I recorded with musicians other than my mates. I was working with a producer in Nashville, Lij Shaw, and he brought in his friends who do a lot of studio work. My band was on a break at that time as Scott and Steve already had kids and needed some time with their families. I’m proud of that cd and then my band emulated the songs so well once we got back together for live shows.

6. Where do you often derive inspiration to make music?

My songs as an artist tend to be dark and somewhat personal, whether they sound more ballad or more up tempo, sad or sarcastic. The song may not be about me specifically, but there is always an emotional bed that the song is lying on that I can relate to completely… the emotion. So to answer your question, the inspiration is the emotion. I may have just heard something that made me tear up, or laugh or feel empathy… and then if that feeling sticks around longer than a minute I may grab my guitar and try to dance with that feeling a bit. Listening to other’s songs that resonate with me is always inspiring. When I hear something I really love, my favorite thing to do is grab my own guitar and write.

7. How would you describe the music that you typically create? How has that process evolved or changed over time (especially as you think about your journey across your various projects such as your earlier music compared to the music you are making now)?

 Writing for the Nashville market is what I’m concentrating on now but my journey in music started around age 18 at OSU when I started playing out a bit. As soon as I started writing original songs, I always wrote to perform them and then to record them and then to play them for an audience. I left music for a long while to have a normal career, even though I picked TV (a story in itself), but brought music back into my life in my 30’s. That is when I really got serious about writing and finding my true voice as an artist. That’s when I started playing live with a band and my career grew beautiful and crazy fun wings! This continued for years and years until I started writing for Nashville, a total shift in focus.

Learning how to write for the masses was like getting a PhD in neurosurgery. I dove into it with a fierce need to understand It and it’s been no different than learning a very specific skill.. or maybe brainwashing.. not sure! I feel I am a better writer now in general because I understand crafting for marketability purposes, but the trade off is not having the carefree heart as I did as an artist just writing for my project. I struggle to keep “me” in my writing now, but too much of “me” limits the chance of an artist wanting to record it. I’m writing for other artists now who are looking to record songs that resonate with them… and those artists are choosing songs that their audience will like… and those songs are being dissected by their label and team to figure out which ones could become singles and possibly a  #1 on radio. So when I sit down to write now, I am trying to write a hit. And I’m still trying to keep a bit of me in it so I can still somehow relate to the emotion in the song.. but writing it in a way that will appeal to the masses. It’s f’n hard!! It’s the hardest writing I’ve ever attempted. 

8. What is next for you musically? How would you describe your thoughts at this point for your next project?

I’m not sure what is next. I’m neck deep in Nashville. If I drown, I drown… but I’m a fairly resilient human who can dog paddle like an expert dog paddler! I’m extremely goal oriented and the goal is to get a major artist to cut one of my songs. I’m getting closer. Garth Brooks put a vocal on one of my co-written songs but then he ultimately passed on it. I heard that he sent it to another artist who he thought it might be better suited for. But we didn’t hear anything else on it. Ugh!! We were all holding our breaths on that one!

9. What is your favorite song to perform? What makes it a current favorite in your performances?

Oh let me see… a favorite? That’s hard to pick. I have a song I wrote for the Nashville market called “Somewhere” which I love to perform. I wrote it two years ago. It happened to win The John Lennon Songwriting Contest in the country category which was pretty darn validating.

10. What is one message you would hope that listeners find in the unique nature of your latest music?

Since my latest music is not for myself as an artist, I would say I hope listeners would still hear “me” in there as I struggle to keep that heart beating while writing in a completely different way.

11. As a musician, how did you adapt to the challenges of the Coronavirus? Is that changing for your now as music events are opening up again?

Since Covid, I’ve been co-writing via Zoom instead of being in a physical room with people in Nashville. I was traveling to music city every three weeks or so but I haven’t been back since the beginning of Covid. During the last year, I’ve done a few sets live via Facebook, so that is new territory for me. I miss the stage greatly. It’s where I honestly feel at home. Now that things are opening up, I hope to do a few shows every now and then.

You can follow Jayne Sachs on various social media including:

We want to extend our sincere gratitude to Jayne Sachs for answering our questions and continuing to make some really excellent music! Click on the links throughout the article to visit Jayne’s social media or to listen to various songs that were discussed! If any musicians or artists would like to participate in future ’11 Questions’ columns, please feel free to email us at drjytaa@gmail.com. All photos and images courtesy of Jayne Sachs.

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