Focus Your Audio - 10 Questions Music Interview
Hailing from Vancouver, Focus Your Audio is the wildly talented duo made up of Bobby McAloney and Sarah McArthur. Incorporating the best elements of folk, Americana and rock and roll, Sarah’s rich and passionate vocal performance is perfectly supported by Bobby's stellar musicianship. Their undeniable chemistry is heard and felt throughout their songs. The duo has released a self-title EP that is getting rave reviews.
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
Sarah - I grew up in a very musical family. Both of my parents are singer songwriters and with my three siblings we were a family band for years. I don't remember a time when music wasn't the expression of our household. We didn't have a lot growing up, but we had each other and one guitar that never stopped playing. My earliest memories are singing with my mom on stage when I was eight years old. From there I spent most of my early years singing at various churches, festivals and youth events with my family.
Bobby - I've always enjoyed music and played it through school, but the moment I knew I wanted to be a musician was seeing Canadian band Big Sugar for the first time. Watching front man Gordie Johnson play his double neck Gibson just blew me away. After that concert I knew that I wanted to become a musician.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
So let's set the stage..... we're at the Hardrock Café in Seattle as a guest for a 'Jammin' Challenge'. I'm (Sarah) talking away to the host of the night and leisurely say "I quite like you, but I don't know who you are!" No idea why I ever said that.... genuinely he was doing such an incredible job I wanted him to know how much I appreciated his hosting but quite possibly should have left the last part out. So he looks at me and smiles, me totally blank expression. He grabs the microphone and pulls me in front of the packed audience of artists, judges, and people just trying to enjoy their food and recaps what I had said. "She doesn't know who I am! Let's see if she knows after this" and then proceeds to sing to me "I'm gonna pop some tags, only got twenty dollars in my pocket" (the chorus of Thrift Shop by Macklemore). People were yelling from the audience at this point that I was from Canada so to give me a break!! Wanz was a hilariously good sport and I, well, I might just stop at compliments and leave my curiosity for Google!!
What has been the high point of your music path?
We had the incredible experience of recording our self-titled debut EP at the iconic Warehouse Studio in Vancouver, BC last summer. Honestly, that place, those walls makes its own music. Owned by Bryan Adams, with the likes of R.E.M to Metallica recording there was an experience that left us changed as artists. Being able to record on George Martin's Neve console onto 2" tape was mind blowing. At one point we looked at each other in disbelief with stunned expressions of what's happening!! I (Sarah) remember standing in the live room singing, the acoustics hit the walls and filled that space with such richness. What was coming back to me seemed so much more than what I gave.
We have had the opportunity to open for Canadian Juno award nominated musician Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar at the Ironwood Stage in Calgary, AB. As well as having one of our songs Masquerade added to the Netflix sensation, The Normal People, Spotify's playlist reaching over 55,000 streams in 5 days. We have had the opportunity to tour with Top 100 Billboard Folk artist, Tobias The Owl from Seattle, WA.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
Our collaboration is one of a call and answer. Because we're partners music happens whenever regular life is happening; cooking food, sitting outside drinking coffee, on the sofa between hockey periods!! Quite typically Bobby will be jamming on his guitar and I'll yell from another room, I like that! Or Bobby will send me a voice memo with a new idea. Usually that will be at least a verse and chorus which I take and start to create a vocal melody with. Sometimes I will sing this melody as long as it takes for the song to tell me what it wants to say. I'll usually write the lyrics from the emotion that the instrumentation and melody speaks to me with. I often have no idea what I am going to write about, no preconceived ideas, I just wait and listen. We sit together once I have the melody & lyrics to decide if we both love the vibe and direction.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
The biggest hurdle for indie artists today is getting their music heard by a larger audience. This sounds strange in a time when the streaming world is so wonderfully accessible and social platforms have such weight to them. But it's easy to get swallowed up in a saturated market with little overall gain. Making sure that you're actively pursuing streaming playlists, build your brand and partner with the right companies that support indie artists is paramount for growth and always producing great tunes... without that the rest means nothing.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
We would love to share with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club! Their musicianship and songwriting is next level. They're a band that leaves us inspired and always wanting more.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
Our rehearsals are usually us sitting on the sofa in our living room, Bobby with his guitar, me with a cup of green tea, our dog sleeping between us and just playing some tunes. So basically this is our everyday! We usually run through songs and stop here an there when we have ideas. When we're preparing for a live show we'll do exactly what we would be doing in front of the audience.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
It's interesting, songwriting. There's songs that sit on the shoreline only being played on the guitar & hummed with a melody for years, waiting till we're ready to tattoo them with words. Most of the music we make comes quite quickly & with ease in the writing process for both of us. When it takes time we'll just sit with it and wait till it settles, till it calls us from the shore ready to be marked.
Writing our newest single Shades was our first song written and the only song that was re-written. The first version wasn't right, there was this pressure to make it something that wasn't authentically us. So I sat with it and then went back and re-wrote the lyrics without the little voices saying it should be this or that. It became the anthem of ownership for change in our lives and the song that people connected with the most from our live shows.
What's coming up in the future?
On the heels of our June 19, 2020 single release Shades, we're heading back into the studio here in Vancouver to record more music with producer/musician Mike Young. We're looking forward to releasing our next single later this summer. Presently we still have a summer tour booked to northern BC & Alberta but are uncertain if we'll have to postpone due to the pandemic. We have some exciting announcements in the coming weeks so stay connected on our social platforms for our news!!
Tell us where fans can access your music?
You can access our music on all streaming platforms, as well as our videos, photography and upcoming shows/announcements through our website at . Stay connected with us on Instagram. Listen on Spotify.