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George Sarah Composes His Own Soundtrack for a Change

Published: Thursday, May 10, 2012

Updated: Friday, May 11, 2012 17:05

George Sarah

Floyd Hardwick

George Sarah made a name for himself composing music for television and film, but when he found himself wanting more he got to work. Who Sleep the Sleep of Peace is the result of his labors. A mix of electronic and classical sounds, Sarah’s solo album is complex and heartfelt.

It features appearances by Swayzak (!K7), Angela McCluskey (Wild Colonials), James Fearnley (The Pogues), Monique Powell (Save Ferris), Gingger Shankar, and David J (Bauhaus). It’s an interesting cast of guests that came out to support Sarah, who licensed some of the songs on the album to various film and TV projects.

His work has been featured on the Discovery Network, CSI, and even the Beijing Olympics. His sound can be larger than life as well as painfully intimate. He has appeared in over 40 musical compilations. He even played a musician in an episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” in which his music was used.

Being in control is something Sarah appreciates, as being a composer is all about pleasing a client and conforming to what they have in mind. While it can be seen as a collaboration between the client and Sarah, the former has the final say.

“[When composing] there’s a lot of waiting involved and you’re sort of working for other people,” he said. “You do something that’s very important to you and then you’re waiting for notes. Sometimes you feel as if you’ve done your best and then they come back and tell you to alter it.”

Sarah has been a professional electric composer for 13 years and said he felt like getting back to his musician roots by releasing his own songs and performing them for an audience.

Onstage, Sarah switches between guitar, bass and keyboards while running the show. In Los Angeles, he usually performs with a string quartet but will have a trio with him for the tour.

“It’s something you would see at a classical concert and at the same time it’s something you would see at an electronic music event,” he said. “You’ve got the strings on one side of the stage and then me on the other side with all the electronic gear and beats and everything going on. It’s a fusion of the two.”

Sarah released the album on his own, allowing him to take his time and control his project.

“I’ve been on labels in the past and there’s a bit of compromising that goes on there, everything from the order of the songs to final mixes,” he said. “I didn’t really want to do that. I really felt like I had a clear idea of how the album should flow. Now with iTunes and Amazon, it’s really easy for an independent artist to get their music to the masses. “

The songs are very personal and required plenty of care. “Emo” for instance, is Korean for aunt, and it is just that, a song for his aunt. “Ours” is a song Sarah made about a previous relationship. While the album could be seen as melancholy, it doesn’t weigh down listeners. 

Who Sleep the Sleep of Peaceis actually translated from a Latin phrase and is a prayer recited by priests during a requiem mass.

Sarah said it suited his album as it is “somber but beautiful.” It gives a sense of hope for people who are no longer with you, even if death wasn’t the reason for parting.

“You do things that inspire you and make you wake up every day and say I play music. Being a musician is doing things that make your imagination run wild,” Sarah said.


George Sarah, LostLeaf, May 11, 9 p.m., free

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