The next edition to our RH First Look series is with Sierra Sellers, an upcoming singer/songwriter from Pittsburgh, PA. Sierra’s music blends acoustic textures along with neo-soul and R&B influences to create a smooth lo-fi sound. With a self titled project and a collection of singles out, it’s exciting to see what she has in store. We sat down with her to discuss growing up in Pittsburgh, musical influences, and what we should be on the lookout for in the future. Check out our interview below:
rubyhornet: For any of our readers not familiar, who is Sierra Sellers?
Sierra Sellers: If you were to meet me and spend time with me you would learn I’m very kind, humble and shy. Then when you really get to know me, I’m super goofy. I have a lot love for music and kids. I am really ambitious and have a business mind. I’m still trying to figure out who I am.
rubyhornet: You started singing in the church at a young age. Was there anyone that encouraged you to begin doing this?
Sierra Sellers: No one had to encourage me to sing in church. Singing in church was something I felt compelled to do. It’s not a forced moment, it’s something that naturally happened. Singing for god is an entire different feeling than singing for yourself. It’s hard to explain. But you feel it throughout your entire body and you don’t have to think about it.
rubyhornet: How did the environment at the church, growing up in Sewickley (Pittsburgh), and life in general impact the music you were listening to growing up?
Sierra Sellers: I had a unique upbringing. My mother passed away when I was five. My dad worked late on the weekends to take care of my sister and I. I would spend weekends with either my mom or dads side of the family. I’m half black and half white. One weekend I would spend with my mom’s side which listened to a lot of Neo-soul, R&B, and Hip-hop. Then with my dad’s side we listened to strictly country or Led Zeppelin. The contrast and exposure of genres was interesting. I would go from Johnny Cash to Jodeci in a day.
rubyhornet: You were originally going to attend college on a basketball scholarship. Did you end up going to college or were you fully focused on music at this point?
Sierra Sellers: Growing up in my environment, I knew I wanted to go to college because I wanted to shape my own life. I knew I had to make it through an academic scholarship or through sports. I got a basketball scholarship, but so much time was concentrated on basketball and not music. When it was time to commit for a full ride or the D3 offer, I took the D3 offer. This is because if I quit basketball they couldn’t take away the scholarship. I played for a month and then a quit, telling the coach I spent so much time playing basketball to get to college, and now that I’m here I want to focus on music. I still hoop for fun.
rubyhornet: How does the creative process start for you when working on something new?
Sierra Sellers: I am a Pisces which makes me a dreamer. I typically start with the beat. I close my eyes and a movie plays in my mind while I narrate it. The first idea I have I usually go with. Sometimes it’s just one word and I’ll create a word web around that.
rubyhornet: What does stepping outside the box mean to you?
Sierra Sellers: Challenging myself to try things I’m capable of but that I was afraid to do. Growing up in the church you hear amazing singers with amazing voices that no one can touch. I don’t think I have a voice like that. Sometimes that insecurity holds me back. I like to be in the studio with people that push me in the vocal performance aspect. Song writing for different genres like pop was super interesting and challenging also.
rubyhornet: The percussion on songs like, “Too Good” and “Be Wise” have a traditional Hip-hop influence to my ear. What other factors effect how your music sounds?
Sierra Sellers: I never listened to the radio growing up, so when people say, oh that song came out when I was in middle school or high school, I don’t relate in the same way. I listened to Lauryn Hill, Farside, A Tribe Called Quest, and all these older 90’s artists. I found Prince and Michael Jackson at an older age. I still couldn’t tell you what the number 1 song is right now. I hate when the radio plays the same 5 songs.
rubyhornet: What should fans expect in the near future?
Sierra Sellers: I plan to put out a project. My intention is put it out in the fall. I hate trapping myself by saying what’s next. I don’t like to pressure myself or anyone I work with by doing that. The time and freedom I have right now to build myself is great.