from the garden

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Happy New Year! If you are not receiving my monthly newsletter, please subscribe today!

2015 was a year of so much professional growth for G,NA. 2016 will (hopefully) be a year of settling and strengthening, reaping the benefits of all the seeds that were sewn last year, and discovering new ways to create, connect, and keep moving forward.

This week I am rolling out a Patreon page in support of new ideas, new songs, new videos, and more creating. Become a Patron for as little as $1 or as much as you want!

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The Making of “Fossils” by Gardening, Not Architecture

Follow along as the third G,NA album becomes a feature-length film over the next few months!

on Instagram via #FossilsFilm

at Film (@FossilsFilm)

and on Facebook via #FossilsFilm

Mark your calendars:

April: begin filming parts one, two, and three

May: finish filming, begin editing / mix album / launch fundraiser online

June: master album / art show and fundraiser gala in Nashville / online “first listen” via Concert Window

July: free album release party and private screening in Nashville

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Happy New Year!

Wait — January’s over? Well, that was fast. I hope your year is off to a great start. Mine certainly is. Here’s what I’ve got cooking with Gardening, Not Architecture. I’d love to hear what you’re working on so far this year!


I recently promised on Facebook that I would unveil the title of the upcoming, third G,NA album in this newsletter. And that is definitely about to happen. But first, what if I told you that the third album isn’t just going to be an album? What if I told you that third album is going to be accompanied by a collection of three short films that altogether make up one feature-length film, which goes by the same name as the album? What if I told you that I already have three Nashville-based directors on-board, along with a film producer — and that we are already having our first production meeting this Sunday? What if I told you that the album release party this spring is going to be held in a movie theater in Nashville?

Well, you don’t have to wonder what if, because it’s happening:

Bookmark the website! It’s going to be a wild ride:


I’ve got an update for you on the independent film I’m scoring, which I started working on last summer! “Superpowerless” is a “coming-of-middle-age” story about a superhero in San Francisco who turns 40, loses his superpowers, and must adjust to life in the real world. I was approached by the director, Duane Anderson, over a year ago about composing the film score and writing a couple of original songs for the soundtrack. This is a dream come true for me, as I have always been a film geek and have dreamed of making music for movies!

As is the case with any independently-funded movie, it has been a slow-but-steady process. And now it has finally moved into post-production! The team has launched a Kickstarter campaign to finish raising the funds — and it’s already a Staff Pick! I’ve donated a bunch of rewards to the campaign, including a special edition version of ten handmade wooden box sets, downloads of the film score, and more. I’ll even put your story in a song on the soundtrack! Watch the trailer and read all about this awesome project HERE.


Meanwhile, the band (Bryan, Jackson, and I) have been hard at work learning the first two songs off the new album, so we can play them live at our next show in Nashville, which is February 21st at the East Room in East Nashville. We got asked to play HR_Lexy’s album release show alongside Yumi and The System — two super cool bands fronted by super cool chicks. It’s going to be a fun night! If you’re in the Nashville area, make sure we’re connected on the G,NA Facebook Page so I can invite you to the event.

I’ll have another update for you very soon. The next few months are going to be an exciting, action-packed adventure. I can’t wait to share them with you!

♥ Sarah


“Enjoy yourself as much as you can, have as many amusements as you can, and remember that what people demand in art nowadays is something very much alive, with strong colour and great intensity. So intensify your own health and strength and life, that’s the best study.”
— Vincent van Gogh

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New Shirts, a Christmas Carol Show, and Day #4 in the Studio!

A few fun things to look forward to as we bring this year to a close:



My friend German of Verdilak recently launched a bad-ass new online merchandise company called Atomkinder. Bands, listen up: it’s an on-demand silkscreening company that makes super cheap, high quality tee shirts for a great price, and splits the profits 50/50 with the band from the get-go. G,NA’s first Atomkinder shirt went up today! $16 for the men’s shirt, $18 for the women’s shirt (before shipping).

Available on the G,NA page at Atomkinder HERE.

Available in the online G,NA merch store HERE. (Or just click “Shop” at the top of the G,NA website.)



I’m so excited that G,NA gets to play the third annual Christmas Carol Show at The Stone Fox in Nashville, alongside 19 other bands. We each cover one Christmas song, and the audience gets booklets with lyrics to sing along. Can you guess which song G,NA is going to cover? Big thanks to East Nashville Underground and No Country For New Nashville for putting on the show and inviting us to play. If you live nearby, check out the Facebook Event page for all the details!



December 5th was my last day in the studio for the third G,NA album — in 2014, haha. What a session it was! It was a cold, rainy night. I got there late because of football and rain traffic, and felt unprepared for the session. It was a great chance to let go of control over the outcome of the night, and just let whatever was going to happen, happen. It never fails that when I just trust, let go, and open my mind and heart, the most unexpected (and awesome) things happen! I don’t know if Logan (engineer / owner of Big Light Studio) was picking up on my “off” energy, or if he just happened to be in a brainstorming mood that night, but pretty much from the first thing we tracked, he was on an IDEA ROLL. Just one awesome idea after another. We ended up doing some of the craziest, most fun, most random experiments with sound that night — and it’s all going to be in one song! I don’t want to give away too much, but while I was sitting there I jotted down what we were doing, and it turned into a sort of poem, which is also weird and totally fits the theme of Day #4 in the studio:

Acoustic through the Leslie
Nord through the amp
Drop the chain
Chain through the bull horn
Amplify the claps
The bell is not what it seems


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#GNALP3 Studio Diary: Day 3

Three days in the studio so far, over the course of six weeks. This is quite the opposite of what I’ve been used to in my recording past! Never before, since I started recording in studios when I was 16, have I spread out the process over so much time and space. I’m so used to the “balls to the wall” approach of holing myself up some place for 10+ hours per day, cramming in as much as I can, knowing that the end is near — that whatever gets done or doesn’t get done by a certain date, regardless of how it sounds, is what I’m going to end up with… forever.

Okay okay, it’s not quite that intense and epic, but this slower pace is such a different experience! Coming back to the songs with fresh ears, getting excited all over again about the sounds and ideas that we recorded, and at the same time hearing where there could be entirely new and different instruments and parts in a song that I wouldn’t have heard a month, two months, six months ago. I’m learning how quickly ideas can change and evolve.

So the third day was all about piano. Logan has this awesome, creaky old Wurlitzer upright piano. You’ll hear the sound of the sustain pedal on the final recordings — it’s that kind of creaky. Lots of character. We tracked parts for three songs, which didn’t take very long. Piano was my first instrument and I feel most comfortable playing it. Plus, it always sounds amazing, no matter how warmed up I am, or whether or not I have calluses on my fingers.

Fun fact: You can hear this piano on the film score for “Listen Up Phillip” which Logan recorded with Keegan DeWitt of Nashville’s Wild Cub!



It wouldn’t be a G,NA recording session without a little synth action. We set up this Yamaha DX7 and got some pretty sweet (and weird) sounds out of it for one of the songs!


Fun fact: The song “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins was recorded almost entirely on a DX7. (These are the kinds of things that only recording engineers know.)

We also tracked the bass for one of the songs, and Logan made me use a pick, much to my chagrin. So of course I had to tell him the story of how and why I learned to play bass with a pick, in my mid-twenties, when I auditioned to be the new bassist for Smashing Pumpkins in Los Angeles. What?! Yes.

With the holidays approaching, I’m thinking we’ll get probably one or two more sessions in the studio before it’s a new year. I’ve got a few demos to finish in that time, and I’d like to write one or two more songs, too. I’m really loving this slow and steady approach. “If it’s urgent, it’s not important. If it’s important, it’s not urgent.”

♥ Sarah

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#GNALP3 Studio Diary: Days 1 + 2

Recording for the third G,NA album has begun!

It’s been a minute since I last updated this blog, but I’ve been keeping up with everyone via the newsletter, which I still manage to send out every month or so. I enjoyed a lazy summer after returning to Nashville from my annual Coachella gig, which had me out west for about nine weeks this year. And it wasn’t really a “lazy” summer, considering that I started composing music for the Superpowerless film score and finished writing and demo-ing a handful of songs for the new album — and finished a couple of books, started taking yoga classes again, and took a couple of trips to visit relatives. But yes, the universe gave me three whole months off this summer to simply be, which was quite the change of pace. G,NA got asked to play a few awesome local shows this summer, too. The Tomato Arts Festival in East Nashville (my ‘hood) asked us to play the main stage in August, and by the time that show rolled around, I was feeling inspired to start thinking about finding a place to record my next album..

I have known since the beginning of 2013 that 2014 is when I’d start recording the third G,NA album. But, for the first time in my life, I did not have the sense of urgency that has often made me rush into things, forcing them to happen in an untimely manner, at an unnatural pace. When this year started, I had no idea when, where, or with whom I would record this album, and it didn’t bother me. I just stayed focused on the songs. I figured that once the songs were there, the studio would fall into place, kind of like that saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” But… what a backwards concept for my brain! I have always lived my life by the opposite idea: If I can just find the perfect teacher, then I will become a ready and willing student. Ah, youthful thinking…

It was at the Tomato Arts Festival show that the universe must have decided it was time for my three-month hiatus to be over; that I was ready to move into the next phase. The universe also decided that day to bring a monsoon to Nashville, causing the festival to have to shut down early — but not until right after G,NA’s set! It was perfect timing. And so was the timing of my asking a friend at that show if he knew of any good studios in town. That’s how I found out about Big Light Studios. The following week, I went over to see the studio and meet the owner/engineer, Logan Matheny.

You know how sometimes you just know? Well, after seeing a handful of other studios in town and feeling okay about them but not having anything click, it took me all of two seconds after walking into Big Light Studios to know that I had found the spot. The next thing I knew, I was scheduling studio time, putting the final touches on the demos, working on drum parts with Bryan, and announcing the plans to record. There was no sense of anxiety about it — not even a second thought! Patience is such an important virtue — one that is continually teaching me new lessons.

Fast forward, to…

October 4th: Day One

It was the first cold, truly autumn-like day of the season. We started with the first song I wrote for this album, on New Year’s Eve two years ago, called “Hunting.” Bryan was on hand to lay down the drum parts, which we did mostly on a real kit, adding a few additional parts using 808 and 909 drum machines. Bryan’s such a solid drummer that it didn’t take very long to get the parts down. It also helps that Logan is a drummer (and a great one at that; check out his band Roman Candle), and he and Bryan can talk drummer-talk while I try to explain my ideas using my hands and my sad excuse for a drummer vocab (“you know, like dun dun DUN”). I have such a deeply-rooted love for the drums — probably because I’m primarily a bassist, and the drums are my counterpart in the rhythm section. It feels very safe being in the studio with two knowledgeable drummers. I am in good hands!

photo 3

After drums, I laid down the bass line for “Hunting,” which I wrote on my Casio DM-100 — a little gem I found on Craigslist this past summer. We got a great sound off that thing in the studio, and if I have my way, I’m going to make sure it’s on every single song on the album.

When I wrote this song nearly two years ago (on New Year’s Eve), I was borrowing my friend’s microKORG. I somehow found this really great sound, and made sure to record a decent-quality track, knowing that in the end I might not (a) be able to recreate the sound in the studio, and/or (b) remember how to play the part. Good thinking, Past Self! We ended up using the original track, which feels like burying a time capsule in the album, to me. It goes along with the album’s motif and title, too.

We spent the rest of the first day in the studio just talking about the song, which included me jumping up randomly saying things like, “I have an idea for a piano line!” Or Logan suggesting adding effects and delays to different instruments and parts. Or Bryan suggesting we add a shaker part. (Shakers always make everything better, by the way.) We left for the day with one a few things left to track (not including vocals, which will all get recorded toward the end).

October 5th: Day Two

The second day started off with breakfast burritos and coffee, which is always a good sign. We got right back into drums for two more songs, both on the full kit, but with a few changes like different snares and cymbals. One of the songs has a dance-y beat that required a tighter, cleaner sound — almost electronic — and the other song has more of a room-y drum sound with lots of cymbals. Needless to say, Logan did a lot of moving of mics and setting levels. He even recorded the drums through a few totally weird set-ups (which shall remain a secret for now), which is going to give us lots of options during mixing. Can I just say, again, how safe I feel in the hands of two great drummers in a recording studio?

photo 4

Next it was my turn. I tracked bass for both songs on a beautiful ’92 American Fender Jazz bass, then guitar for one of the songs on a 1959 Silvertone hollow body — both Logan’s. After that it was keyboard time again, for both songs. I opted to go with some really high-quality samples that Logan had, for the Rhodes parts. I could have spent some time finding another sound on one of the instruments in the studio, but I knew what I wanted and it saved us a lot of time just doing it this way. I busted out the DM-100 again for the other parts.

photo 2

All that was left at the end of the second day for all three songs was real piano, which I am going to record after the piano gets tuned, and vocals. Not bad! I probably won’t get back into the studio until the middle of November. Until then… my idea of heaven:

photo 1 (2)

♥ Sarah

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It’s About Balance

Click image to see the interactive version (via Podio).

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Three G,NA songs + Cheyenne Jackson

An awesome independent film was released via iTunes and VOD today that contains not one… not two… but three G,NA songs!

Rent or buy it on iTunes HERE.

It’s the year of G,NA in film, and I couldn’t be more excited!

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Gardening in the Summer: Shows, Shows, Shows!

Two shows in May, one in June, one slated for July, and another for August! Here’s the next one:

June 19, 2014

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