Currently slated to make her debut at the infamous Yuma Tent (M Bros, Tiga, Peggy Gou) at Coachella in October 2020, Sara Landry is an intoxicating powerhouse, a self-taught producer, audio engineer, and DJ known for her dark and driving atmospheric techno. As a producer, Sara is innovative, meticulous, and uncompromising, creating intense, immersive sonic experiences that elevate and surprise the listener.
Sara Landry is known for producing underground warehouse parties in Austin, Klubhaus, where she regularly plays for 4-plus hour sets. As a DJ, she is an energetic, hypnotic onslaught; an explosive presence and open channel whose sole intent is to help her audiences transcend reality.
Her most recent release comes in the form of her Sacrifice EP on Pleasurekraft’s self-dubbed “Cosmic Techno” imprint Kraftek. The label has taken the techno scene by storm with an array of releases featuring hook-focused, cinematic soundscapes unique to the label’s highly selective catalogue.
As the Kraftek framework fuses form with the content of science fiction, philosophical, and cosmological themes, Landry’s Sacrifice EP fits squarely within the label’s ethos. From the title track’s dramatic narrative structure and hook, to sample from HAL 9000 in 2001 A Space Odyssey in “Silicon Hex”, this is textbook Cosmic Techno in form and content.
2020 was undoubtedly meant to be a special year for Sara Landry, but then the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic took over her life, as it did for most people in the music industry. Still, with music releases on the horizon and a renewed sense of purpose, we recently spoke to Sara to discover what she is all about.
Hi Sara, thanks for taking the time to chat (virtually) with us today. Strange, unexpected days we are living. How are you holding up?
I’m doing well overall, but it varies day by day. I find the more I structure my days, the better I feel, and I’m being more diligent with my meditation practice, which helps. I’m also reaching out to friends and other artists I know to see how they’re doing, and while it’s nice to feel connected, it makes me sad to hear how rough this has been on everyone. For me, I have a lot of really intense emotions that are moving through my energy field. Sometimes I’m happy and things are fine, sometimes I’m deeply depressed and feeling helpless, sometimes I just want to go outside and scream into the night. It really depends on the day.
You’re definitely a young, up-and-coming artists now having to deal with the ramifications of the Coronavirus pandemic. How was your life before the quarantine orders hit and our industry came to a halt? Did you have other jobs? What was a typical day like?
I was mostly doing freelance work and relying on my shows and warehouse parties to pay the bills. I had big plans for the spring, with SXSW rolling into my Kraftek EP rolling into Coachella. It was perfect. I was stoked. I was spending my days working out, producing, and eating tacos. It was great.
How have things changed now?
All of those plans have changed and I’m SUPER frustrated by that. I’ve been told that 2020 is basically a wash and now I have to focus on 2021. A whole year of opportunity, my first year of real momentum and big gigs, cancelled and delayed. It fucking sucks. I’m grieving these losses really intensely. Plus, as an added bonus, I have no idea how I’m going to pay my bills, which is a unique type of fear that I don’t enjoy even a little.
On top of that, THERE’S A PANDEMIC, and my fear for my family and friends and their family is omnipresent. There’s a lot of heavy energy right now, and it is a lot. However,, I’m looking at it as a learning opportunity, and I am using this opportunity to do self work/cement healthy coping mechanisms/make as much music as I can. I’m working very hard to remain centered despite all this turmoil, but it’s hard. I might have to take up running (a truly terrifying thought).
You see a lot of posts talking about artists coming out with a lot of music as a result of what is going on, but many are also deflated, anxious, scared… how do you feel?
I feel a lot of things. Depression, anxiety, fear, existential angst, rage, sadness. I also feel hope, determination, and flashes of inspiration/creativity. Every day I work on shifting those negative emotions to the positive emotions of forgiveness and gratitude, and that helps a lot. I’m also channelling those emotions into music and exercise (with mixed results). Focusing on the good things and being grateful for them helps a lot. Meditation helps a lot. Breathwork helps a lot. But I still wake up in the middle of the night, filled with dread sometimes, so it’s a day by day practice.
What do you feel should happen to help an industry currently on indefinite hold?
Relief of some sort. Restructuring of the revenue from streaming services. Universal Basic Income. A competent federal government that will pass legislation that will actually help people. An easier OBS UX for Mac users (!!!). Drink tickets (just kidding, but not really).
I want to talk about the music you have been working on and what you have coming out for the rest of the year. Can you tell us a little about that?
Yes! So my Kraftek debut Sacrifice is out April 3 (today!), which I’m super excited about. The timing of these tracks coming out now is weird yet perfect, and I am so thrilled for everyone to listen to the EP, as it is my best work. I also have a 5 track EP out in June, but I can’t say much about that project other than that it’s an acid EP.
I’m also going to be doing some self-releasing, and I’m shopping some other work and just in general making as much music as I can. From April through the end of the year, I intend to have something coming out each month, so I’m just working on getting all of those details sorted.
It’s great seeing you release on Kraftek by the way, how did that come about?
I cold DM’d Pleasurekraft before he came to my city. He was familiar with me and my work (as I was pleasantly surprised to hear) and gave me his email. I sent him 2 tracks and he signed them.
I love Kraftek and it has been a goal of mine to release with them, so I’m incredibly grateful to Pleasurekraft for signing and supporting my work.
Obviously we discussed how you usually run a series of warehouse event in Austin. How did that start?
I used to have a residency at an Austin club called Ethics. After it closed, I needed a new home for my parties. Eventually I was like “fuck it” and decided to rent a space and start throwing parties, and thus, Klubhaus was born. Though it seemed daunting at first, it’s pretty straightforward if you’re organized and is now the only thing I’m interested in doing; I’ve fallen completely in love with the process of putting on an event. I love having complete control over a party and creating a unique experience in my scene almost as much as I like playing 4 hour sets and shutting down at 6am. So it works.
How have the events been in recent editions?
Awesome, the parties always sell out. They get pretty crazy. I need a bigger warehouse. I usually finish the night around 140 bpm and it’s fun to stretch my legs and experiment in ways I wouldn’t get to in a shorter club set. I’m very grateful to everyone who attends, as I have a blast every time. Klubhaus is a ton of fun and the warehouse format always brings out the best in me as a DJ.
What is your goal with them?
Keep throwing them and grow the parties into a larger brand. I’ve been getting a lot of requests to bring the party to LA and other cities across the US, so that’s a logical next step for me.
What are the main takeaways you have as an event organizer?
You have to think of everything, and that is a challenge, but it’s super rewarding to see everything come together to create a unique experience. I absolutely love it.
A whole new level of respect for festival organizers. The logistics are daunting.
My Microsoft Excel skills aren’t useless after all.
How do you juggle being a promoter and an artist, and how do the two feed each other in terms of skills, knowledge and the way you operate under each?
In order to get any attention as an artist, you have to be able to promote yourself and your work, so promoting isn’t really a stretch for me. It’s an extension of everything that I create with my music anyway. I’m a big fan of looking at the entire picture; I design sounds in my tracks with the places they’ll be played in in mind, so throwing parties is a lot like that. In terms of skills and operation, I am, by nature, extremely detail-oriented, meticulous, aesthetically consistent, and, unsurprisingly, a neurotic control freak (but in a good way).
So, I love throwing events, as I get to control everything and create the ideal environment for me to DJ in while also creating a welcoming space for people to come enjoy some techno.
Ok enough about music and the industry. Tell us a little about where you were born, and what you were into when younger?
I was born in Marin, but we moved to Boulder when I was 3. I was a competitive swimmer starting at 8 years old, but all I really remember was being super interested in music. I used to steal my mom’s CDs and listen to them after she went to sleep. I used to sing songs in my head during swim practice (which I hated).
I also vividly remember being in the car with my dad before school eating cream cheese danishes while Queen’s Fat Bottomed Girls was playing. My best friend from high school and I became best friends because I started burning her CDs. It was always music for me. I tried to learn Reason 5 when I was 16, but it didn’t stick until I was 21.
What do you like to do when not working on music-related things?
Read, pilates, yoga, magick, sleep, nighttime walks, spend time with friends, eat ramen/pizza/tacos, skincare, somehow find a way to still work on music related things.
What’s your favorite meal?
#1 Original spicy from Ramen Tatsu-ya here in Austin, TX.
Tell us your favorite “hidden spot/gem” in Austin!
So I’m not giving away any smaller underground music spots for fear of drawing too much attention to them (but if you want recommendations, DM me and I’ll happily tell you where to go), so we’re going the food route instead.
Cane Rosso for Neapolitan pizza.
What is something not many people know about you?
I’m almost freakishly fast at jigsaw puzzles. I’ve been doing them since I was little. I love them.