>Chatting with someone like Sarah Slean can be very intimidating. She is a successful recording artist, she writes books of poetry as well as produces shows of her own art. On top of all that she is finishing her studies in Music and Philosophy of U of T. Add in her reputation as one of Canada’s most entertaining and thought provoking performers, like I said: intimidating.

Turns out that nothing could be further from the truth. Sarah Slean is a breath of fresh air after some not so pleasant “celeb” encounters during Juno weekend. She is smart, funny and endearing. Not to the mention probably one of the most beautiful Canadians to ever grace a piano.

It was cool Calgary afternoon when Sarah and I met in the respectful business centre nestled in the Sandman Hotel. The seats were comfy, the conversation flowed, laughs were had and no numbers were exchanged. Turns out is nothing to be intimidated about, she is just like every other girl I’ve ever met.

It’s the day of your sold out show. What do you do to prepare?
I make sure I have sleep and a proper meal and I warm up. No real rocket science.

Is there a certain question that you are sick of answering?
No, because I consider it my little personal challenge to come up with a different answer every time. You know “what are you influences”? I try to think up some new ones.

Do you have any plans for the day you graduate (sometime next year)?
It might involve a flute of Champaign.

I went to Boston Pizza, will you be doing something big.
I absolutely will because this is a long time coming. I started in 1997 and I left it for 6 or 7 years. It’s important for sure.

You are obviously on the road a lot. Are there things you miss about home?
Traveling is total art. I’ve been doing it long enough to sort of figure out things that you really need to have. You need to know where a really really good grocery store in case there are a lot of sketchy restaurants around. You know, you go to the Deli counter and get a nice salad and your laughing. Also, I love the hand sanitizer.

Are there TV shows that you miss when you are on the road?
I can’t stand television. I don’t have cable.
(my heart breaks silently)
I don’t think I have ever had cable. I think that is how I can manage time. I find when I’m in hotels and I turn it in it like mesmerizes me.

You sing, write books of poetry and you also do Art. How do you manage all that you are doing?
Having a broken television is right up there. That’s a good plan of attack! Also, I try to spread them all out. I don’t tackle one task at a time. I do them all instinctively. Plus I’m a Gemini, so I can’t say I’m going to devote this three weeks to making this book happen because then I’ll get bored of it.

What sort of music are you listening to?
I have a large CD collection at home that I treasure. Because that is when I want to listen to music I’m usually home, I’ll pick one out and put it in the CD player “in the old days”. I have a nano that I have recently cleared out and put all the symphonies of Beethoven (for her school work) and I made myself listen to Beethoven. That way I burned that auditory information into my brain.

Also, when I’m out I don’t usually have my earphones in because I find, maybe this makes me weird (I decide not to mention what makes me weird), my whole sense of balance and security and physical space is completely perturbed by having noise in my ear. I feel sorta unsafe or cut off from reality.

Do you have any guilty pleasure music?
I love Les Miserable when I was a kid. It was a little embarrassing. And sometimes there are some Top 40 hits that are really good.

Like Avril?
No not Avril. More like R&B stuff that I end up liking. I never buy it but if it’s on I’ll listen to it.

Is there a reality show that you would like to be on?
Absolutely no. In capital letters NO.

Sarah, not even the Amazing Race?
I think I watched that show once and the premise is intriguing. But from what I can tell from being in the hotel the majority of reality television is the bottom of the barrel.

During the summer of 2001 you played a small part in reality show Murder in Small Town X. What was that experience like?
It was really fun to be in that part of America. It was creepy, it was also amazing to see the guts of television program. Very spooky town but they didn’t kick out a lot of residents. It was partially already a ghost town.

Did you know who the murderer on the show was?
No, I didn’t know.

Do your fans ever embarrass themselves?
I have the utmost respect for my fans. Some of them have sent me books that they thought I would be interested in and it turns out I really really enjoyed them. I consider it a two-way thing. I don’t want to make myself this isolated thing that people project this fantasy onto. Or pretend that you are whoever to fulfill this weird little niche. That is why I continue to perform because I feel such respect for my audience and I feel it returned. I can see that in the things they send me. They give me CDS and someone in Vancouver gave me a really great bottle of wine. And I got cupcakes too.

Have you ever met any celebrities that have really excited you?
I was very excited to meet and know for sometime, speak with and trade music with Michael Ondaatje. I’ve met Atom Egoyan a couple of times. I’ve met Leonard Cohen. I’m not really daunted by anybody but I was really flustered. I got to meet Jonie Mitchell. It wasn’t like I was nervous, I was just really overcome with their presence.

And you were nominated for two Geminis. And future plans to continue acting?
The Black Widow experience I did I found it really challenging and difficult. Acting is such a different art than anything I do. I was hesitant to approach it and part of the process is to take yourself out and put yourself over there and put someone else in. That was hard for me because so much of what I do as an artist who I am. I found it really hard. I would do it again if it was the right part?

Maybe Cosette? Epoinine?
Oh I loved Eponin!

Are you a typical university student?
I just don’t have time. I’m sometimes upset that I missed out on the University experience. The whole experience for me is the learning, the going to class and hearing the experts impart their knowledge.

Are you classmates ever starstruck? “Oh look it’s Sarah Slean!!”
There is a little bit of that. They are really respectful.

Your music has been on shows like Felicity and Dawson’s Creek. What was that like?
It’s neat, it was kinda surreal to hear it on television.

Do you remember the first time you heard yourself on the radio?
I was in a car and Sweet Ones came on and it was odd. It’s like hearing your own voice in the other room, it doesn’t make sense.
Once, a contestant sung it on Canadian Idol and I looked on Y
outube and I was like “Woah”, I’ve arrived!

What do you think of shows like Canadian and American Idol?
I understand the appeal of talent shows for sure. It’s so nerve wracking when you see someone triumph or crumble because we are addicted to that as a human race.

I think the outcomes are equivalent to the energy put in. You will have a burst of fame and then you’ll be forgotten artiscally. You might go on to have a lovely family and have a very fulfilling job. But as an artist, I don’t think those people think they are artists. They will sell a million records and that’s pretty much it. Good for them but that’s not really my mandate.

Thank you!
It was very fun!

Mike Morrison