The women of Warped: Gardening, Not Architecture
(With the Vans Warped Tour returning to St. Petersburg’s Vinoy Park on Friday, for the second year in a row, we’re spending this week getting to know some of the women on punk’s most pop-friendly summer tour. Today: Sarah Saturday’s one-woman band project Gardening, Not Architecture.)
Home base: Los Angeles
Her sound: In mastermind Sarah Saturday’s words, “soundtracky stuff” — lightly electronic indie pop with a warm, atmospheric vibe.
Most recent album: The First LP, 2009
You’ll dig her if you also like: Death Cab For Cutie, The Album Leaf, Broken Social Scene, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Imogen Heap.
Her story: Being friends with Kevin Lyman has its perks. For one thing, Sarah Saturday gets to ride from show to show on the Warped Tour founder’s bus. And Lyman participates in the daily workshops she leads about succeeding as an indie artist.
Beyond that, though, Saturday is pretty much on her own.
“I’m homeless and couchsurfing between tours,” said Saturday, who lived in St. Petersburg until age 6. “The plan is to try to just stay on the road as much as possible the next couple of years.”
But don’t feel too bad for Saturday. Her solo indie-electronic-folk project, Gardening, Not Architecture, is slowly building a fan base thanks to Saturday’s tireless D.I.Y. demeanor and behind-the-scenes savvy.
“Things have worked out for me since I’ve committed to this,” she said. “What I’m trying to do is live out the natural organic life path of a band, the way I think it should go. I’m not going to prematurely jump into a label deal, I’m not going to prematurely do anything weird. I’m going to let it organically develop.”
Before creating Gardening, Not Architecture, Saturday sang in a pop-punk band that went nowhere. “I wasn’t doing it 100 percent honestly,” she said. “I was trying to be famous.” She got a job with the Warped Tour, where she spent two years working in production for Lyman, and was on the verge of calling her musical career a bust.
“I was like, 'I’m not an artist, I’m an entrepreneur, because my band failed, and I wasn’t meant to be a musician,’” she said. “That wasn’t the case. I just wasn’t meant to be in that band.”
Originally conceived as an intimate, lo-fi studio project, Gardening, Not Architecture gained attention when Saturday released her first EP online in 2007. She decided to bring the project to life with a few wobbly shows in L.A., and sold handmade, hand-numbered and hand-decorated copies of the EP wherever possible. In 2008, she she self-booked a Gardening, Not Architecture tour on the West Coast — 19 shows in 20 days — and has been gaining confidence in her live show ever since.
Now she’s actually performing on the same Warped Tour stage she used to help book. It’s been an education, Saturday said, since she’s used to performing in small clubs with a laptop and a homemade wall of LED lights. On Warped, “it’s just me and an iPod” and a few props, she said. “I’m relying on my sweet rock stances and hoping it’s interesting,” she laughed.
In addition to performing, at every Warped Tour stop, Saturday leads a workshop for Earn It Yourself (E.I.Y.) a nonprofit movement she started as a way to help struggling musicians learn the ins and outs of booking tours, self-promotion and more. Lyman always sits in, and other bands and tour employees occasionally stop by. (If you’re interested in participating in an Earn It Yourself workshop, click here to RSVP.)
As her career continues to blossom, Saturday will let her own E.I.Y. philosophy guide her. Even if it means living out of a storage building and P.O. box for the next couple of years.
“I’ve always stayed aligned with what my values are for this project, and I’ve always tried to maintain my integrity about it and be really honest with myself,” she said. “As long as I’ve stayed honest about it, everything just works out.”
-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*. Photo: Justin Sullivan.