Sara Niemietz Superman Interview – October 2022

Sara Niemietz Superman Interview - October 2022

This interview has been edited for clarity and pace. 

On Thursday, October 6th, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sara Niemietz in preparation of her new album Superman, which comes out later this month, on the 28th. We talk about the album, inspirations, and some of her favourite things. 

Jade Dempsey: What is it about Superman?

Sara Niemietz: I wish I had a cooler story, like female empowerment, which is always there. But I’ve just got to say it rhymed really well with the song I was writing. But I mean it is about empowerment and how just your everyday person can really feel like a superhero.

When did you know the name of the album?

We toyed, my collaborator Linda and I, with a couple other songs on there, but we just kept on coming back to Superman. Then after consulting with some legal, to see if we could actually name the album Superman. We just went for it, it felt so right to call the album that.

The first version of “Superman” (song) is a 10 minute long video you uploaded to Youtube. What was the inspiration behind it?

It was the middle of lockdown and I’ve always been pretty obsessed with space, and science, and superheroes, and just anything to do with blasting off to another planet. And especially since we were all locked in our houses at that time, it was really kinda a fun way to transport to another place. I was using a lot green screen at that time, and I just wanted to kinda do something grand, that took me out of being inside the house. At that point it kinda morphed into the “Superman” song at the end of it. And when we were working on the album we kinda looked at some of the songs we’d written, and looked at that original “Superman”, which is the super super long one and decided to re-record it in a shorter way for for the album. But yeah, that ten minute space odyssey gave rise to the album, in a way.

This album was born out of some life changes. Can you touch on what those were and how they shaped the album?

Yeah, well, I mean, without going too into depth. There’s everything from dealing with COVID and relationship changes, so there was just kind of a lot going on at that time. Which I think really gives fertile ground to write from.

Do you find it easier to make the personal stuff literal or more metaphorical?

I find myself being a lot more metaphorical with it. I like that it can be still general enough so people can put their own life experiences in it. Kind of interpret it in a way that speaks to them. Some people do a really great job with that super super, hyper confessional style, but I try to keep it a little bit more general.

The songs have a lot of layered sounds. Does that come in the recording process or do you have it in your head when you start writing?

It’s kinda a blend of both, for this album we, Linda and I, put together some really detailed demos. So going into the studio we had an idea of what the specific base parts were, kinda certain sounds we were looking for, and we gave the other musicians demos and charts before time, so they could really get a sense of what we were looking for. There definitely is a magic in the studio, where we wanted to let people be themselves and if they came up with something, let us know and throw it on there. So we definitely had moments where the piano player would say, “oh, let me grab this accordion” or the drummer would come up with this really cool loop of a suitcase and a drum head, so we had plans going in, but wanted to be open minded to what we might discover.

This album seems to have a more experimental vibe to your others, especially in the vocals. Was that something you had in mind in the beginning or did it come once you started recording?

Yeah, we wanted to take more risks with this. And going into this I wanted to make a more experimental rock based album.

The song “Words” gave me some Radiohead vibes.

Oh, awesome. That song kinda came about in a really different way. I just sat down when I was writing in front of my computer, with my guitar, and just started playing and making really weird sounds. I think my neighbours probably thought “something insane is going on up there.” But I just started singing and saying words that weren’t really words, and I sent it to Linda, and she heard some really cool layers, and sounds with it. Then I went back and listened to the vowel sounds and tried to figure out what word does this sound like. So that was definitely the most experimental. When we went into the studio, we told the musician to have fun with it. We really wanted it to be open and then almost like an acid jam kinda thing.

I do find it amusing that the song with the least amount of words is called “Words.”

(laughs) It’s true. We were looking at it ‘cause originally it was called Primordial Yelling, then we were like, that can’t be the name of a song. What do we call it?! What’s it about, and Linda’s like, “how about Words?” and I was like “yeah that’s it, that’s perfect.”

Primordial Yelling should be the next album.

I think it should, I think it should! We weren’t ready yet, but now I think I’m ready to embrace that.

Of course one of the layers was your co-writer and producer, Linda Taylor’s incredible guitar playing. How’d you two come together?

The last gig that I had, it was like two days before everything locked down in L.A and a that time we really didn’t even know what COVID was. People were kinda starting to talk about it at the club. It was a thing in Asia and Europe but we didn’t know if it was going to come here. But of course by that time it already was. We were wondering what was going to happen so this ended up being the last gig. It was for a Broadway composer, Jason Robert Brown, and I was singing on it, and Linda was playing guitar, and I just loved her playing, and we were able to have some moments during the show where we’d just trade bars. I was just so impressed. I’d seen her on Who’s Line is it Anyways. I grew up watching it and was such a fan. So we met there and kinda over email, discussed, maybe let’s try and write something, and see what happens. We started writing singles and that led to us going, “let’s do a full album”. And Superman was born.

She is one hell of a player.

What blew my mind more (than her guitar playing) was her producing and arranging. She’s really really incredible.

Sara Niemietz (right) and Linda Taylor (left) - Image courtesy of Sara Niemietz
Sara Niemietz (right) and Linda Taylor (left) - Image courtesy of Sara Niemietz

So did you only know Linda from Who’s Line Is It Anyways?

I had also seen her at another show for another artist I went to go see in L.A. and I just thought oh, I think that’s Linda Taylor playing up there. I think I’d added her on Facebook or something, but we hadn’t talked and when she turned up at this gig I was so excited and the whole band ate dinner together, so I kinda got to talk to her a little and she was just so cool.

What was the process between you two when you made the album?

Necessitated by the circumstances, we wrote the entire album remotely, so we would just send files back and forth. I would send her ideas and she would take those ideas and put some of hers on top of that, and then send it back to me, then I’d write some more…We just kept sending files back and forth and we never actually worked in the same place, until we went into the studio.

It’s crazy that now you can make an album and not ever be in same room as each other.

Yeah, it’s amazing, and in the past I had only worked with people directly in front of the person. But I just LOVED the remote process because, you know, I kinda learned she and I are both…I can’t speak for her, but is probably the same in that I’m a pretty big introvert, so I come up with better ideas when I’m not sitting right in front of someone and you feel like you’re on the spot to just produce something. And we are kind of able to take it at our own time and follow any idea in a very organic way. It was so effortless.

I know someone who’s in a band with people in the US, and they just play together over the internet, it’s crazy.

(Laughs) It is, it’s pretty unreal, I have a friend, he’s from Canada actually, from Saskatoon, he’s in a vocal band with six other singers and everyone lives in a different country, there’s one from Sweden, one from France…and they basically just meet up to do concerts, but other than that all rehearsals are just remote.

 When you think about this record, is there any particular memories or stories that jump out at you?

Ah, I just think of countless hours in front of my computer. Just working on ideas and how quickly time went by. I would kinda just look at the clock and think “oh, wow I’ve been here for four hours.” So it kind like a blur of being in front of a computer and smiling and then going into the studio. We went into the studio for five days in the beginning of January, and I remember it being really cool to work with Linda one on one ‘cause we hadn’t done that much and then also to just be in the studio with other musicians after so long was really special…then of course I got COVID at the session, so then I had to quarantine, but just being able to play with other musicians was really special.

The studio band. Courtesy of Sara Niemietz
The studio band. Courtesy of Sara Niemietz

Who are some of your inspirations?

For this one, Brittany Howard was really big inspiration and her work with Alabama Shakes. I love her writing and playing, her energy and vulnerability of that. D’Angelo was another big one, and again Steely Dan. Sister Rosetta Tharpe was another one. Those are a few that come to mind.

Who else are you a fan of? Any new artists?

Andrew Bird I’m a really big fan of, and just kind of his whole trajectory of making weird music that he personally is a fan of then finding there’s an audience. He’s also fellow Chicagoan, so that’s someone I’ve always been a fan of. But I’m a bit of a curmudgeon that lives under a bridge or something. I’ve got my old records and spend so much time listening to artists who are already dead, or quite old.

You’ve been featured on a lot of other peoples work. Is there anyone you’d like to collaborate on one of your songs?

Oh yeah, one of my really good friends from Post Modern Jukebox is a guy named Casey Abrahams. He’s just an amazing writer and musician, multi-instrumentalist, he plays everything. We’ve done a couple singles together and have played live whenever he’s got shows in L.A. He’s definitely someone I’d love to record more with. At one point we even talked about writing a musical…we’ll see if that happens.

Speaking of Post Modern Jukebox. When you perform with them do you, as a singer, get a say in how it’s sung, or is it set beforehand?

It’s pretty cool, it goes differently from singer to singer, but my experience is that I sit down with Scott Bradley who’s kinda the mastermind behind it, and we’ll work on the arrangement together, which I’ve always loved because it lets you have input. It’s not like you just show up and they say “okay stand here, sing this.” You usually get a hand in figuring out the style and the key, so if fits you.

You’ve spent most of you life on stages, be it Broadway or touring. Do you get nervous?

You know it’s funny…When I was younger, like a kid, I was absolutely afraid of nothing…except for rollercoasters. As I get older, I find with performing I’m still not nervous. I do with things that are totally irrelevant, like going up to order a drink at a coffee shop, or something. I’ll just keep repeating my order over and over again, being like “latte, latte, latte.” Then they look at me and say “hi how are you doing?’” and I’m like “LATTE!” So those are more the situations where I find myself getting nervous. But part of performing, that’s the place where I’ve felt most comfortable, it’s kinda my security blanket. Which is probably the reverse of a lot of folks…It’s definitely not like I don’t care, I still want to make it go well, but as soon as I’m there, I feel like I’m home.

Okay, last few questions. Do you have any hobbies?

I do. I read a lot. I’m a massive book worm. So if I’m not on the road or in the studio I’m usually sitting at home reading. Though I just adopted a dog named Auggie, so he and I have been going on adventures now.

Any book recommendations?

Oh my gosh, yes. My first book recommendation is usually The Brothers Karamazov. I’ve been a big Dostoevsky fan for a long time. That’s kinda my go to recommendation.

What was your first concert?

Ooh..first concert went to at four years old, was I went to see B.J. Thomas with my family in Illinois.

Did you enjoy it, and get the whole experience at that age?

I loved it. It’s like something from a movie. He saw me singing in the audience and invited me to come up on stage. So from that moment on my parents would say that every time we went other places I’d ask if I got to go up on that stage too.

You and I had very different experiences. I’m sure Darius Rucker would hate me because mine was Hootie and the Blowfish and I fell asleep.

NOOOO! Oh Hootie was great!

Are there any shows you haven’t been to that are on your bucket list?

Again artist that are much older than me. Tom Waitts is someone I’ve always wanted to see live. I’ve seen recordings of his live stuff and he puts on such a great show, but he really doesn’t tour much anymore. So I’m just going to have to hold my breath and if he goes on tour buy the ticket the minute it goes on sale.

Last question. Superman comes out on the 28th. Do you plan on touring the record?

I really want to. I’m trying to look into different ways to figure it out because I’ve toured with Post Modern Jukebox a lot, and I’ve done tours of my own stuff in Europe. But I’m sure you know, it’s so expensive, so I’m just trying to find a way. Even if I just break even or lose not that much money. It’s just so darn expensive. I’m trying to figure it out, but not quite sure at the moment.

Thank you to Sara. Superman arrives on October 28, 2022. You can hear the first two singles, “Locks” and “I Want You”, right now. You can pre-order the album here.



The Beatles White Album, D’Angelo’s Voodoo. Steely Dan’s Asia. Bill Evans and Jim Hall’s, Undercurrent.


God Only Knows by the Beach Boys.


Tie between The Beatles and Steely Dan.


Play: Radio City Music Hall.

Watch: Any really small hole in the wall. Where you kind of feel you’re in on a secret.


Barton Fink.

City to visit?

Chicago. It’s where I’m from.


Deep dish pizza.

Edited: 2022/10/08 – 7:45pm, 2022/10/26 – 2:28am

2 thoughts on “Sara Niemietz Superman Interview – October 2022”

  1. I’m fascinated by the discussion about Sara’s song. “Words”. A song inspired by a wordless scream must be intense!

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