For a long time, Sarah Jaffe wished for a break from touring. The artist, songwriter, and producer likes performing, but it’s far from her favorite part of the job.
During past tours, she longed to be back home in the studio, where she says she feels most comfortable honing her craft. But, right before the world shut down in March, Jaffe and her band were in the midst of a tour, supporting her latest EP, SMUT, that stirred new feelings in the artist.
“The irony of it all is that I had been saying for a while, ‘touring is not my cup of tea.’ All of a sudden, I go on this tour and we have an amazing time, I love the band we’re out with, and finally, after over a decade of doing it, it was a tour that I felt good on,” she says. “I had another tour coming up, and now it’s been moved to August 2021, which seems like it might as well be a decade from now.”
Jaffe, like so many other musicians, has been largely unable to connect with fans face-to-face since March. She did a livestream performance and tried out the drive-in concert format, but she says it wasn’t the same. Instead, she has spent the majority of the year focusing on production, including her project with longtime bandmate Roberto Sanchez called Golden Aquarians. To her own surprise, she’s been missing the stage.
So, on November 21, Jaffe will play a one-off show in her hometown at the Granada Theater.
“I’m very excited. Honestly, I mean playing online was great because it was a show, but I really missed the interaction,” she says. “Also, just eating my words–years of being like, ‘I don’t want to tour anymore,’ and now I’m just like, ‘please, anything but this!’”
It will, of course, not look anything like normal. Mike Schoder, the Granada’s owner, did not respond to requests for comment. But the venue reopened earlier this fall with a new floor plan that allows for social distancing and a maximum capacity of about 250, a quarter of the venue’s normal capacity. Tickets are sold by two-, four-, and six-top tables with no standing room. Of course, Dallas County health officials have advised against doing anything inside with the current level of community spread, considering the risk of exposure to aerosolized coronavirus. Each table will be spaced at least six feet apart, and audience members must wear a mask whenever they are not eating or drinking.
She will be one of the venue’s first acts since its reopening. The musician, whose sound has evolved to a more introspective and electro-inspired pop beat in recent years, says she’s still finding her place in the music world. She and Sanchez came up with the idea for Golden Aquarians while on tour, hoping that the project would allow them to expand upon their shared love for production.
When Jaffe came home from the tour to a shut-down New York City, everything was paused.
“Our brains weren’t in the creative gear, they were more in survival mode. I think a lot of creative people are on that level right now,” she says. “How can you even access that part of your brain right now when we’re all just coming out of our caves after being in panic mode? And that wait still isn’t over.”
After a few months of sending ideas back and forth in isolation, the duo came out with their first single, “High Enough,” in September. The synth-y song speaks to the frustration and longing that we’ve all been feeling during the pandemic: “Some days we put up a front/Do it just to survive/I really wanna see the other side.”
Still, there’s an undercurrent of hope as the chorus promises, “I know we’ll make it out alive.”
Jaffe herself has a hard time seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. She’s been working on new music, but she’s not sure when the next album will drop or when the next tour will be booked.
“I don’t think it’s realistic to move by anything but day by day or week by week circumstances,” she says.
For the moment, she has plenty of projects cooking–and a concert in her hometown to look forward to.
“This will be the first time I played for a crowd, a small one but nonetheless…I’m cautious, but I’m excited. I’m coming to town to to do something else, and flying into Dallas, and I’m excited to be a part of the show,” says Jaffe. “It’s been six months, it’s been half a year, so I’m looking forward to it, but overall, I mean, it’s weird, awful times.”
You can catch Sarah Jaffe’s show at The Granada on November 21 at 8 p.m. Find tickets here.