Sarah Hochman aka Essbie. Photo submitted.
Sarah Hochman aka Essbie. Photo submitted.
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Sarah Hochman recently returned to music after taking a long break from it for several years. Under the name Essbie, she has now released several techno/funk songs since January, and she is planning on releasing more during the year. She has a very unique sound that even she finds hard to describe, but includes elements of funk, soul, techno, rap, and rock. To check out her music, go to linktr.ee/essbie

Where are you from originally?

“I grew up in Bristol! I moved to Brisbane, Australia for a year and a half when I was nineteen and now I’m living in Wolcott.”

How did you get into music? 

“I’ve been a musical person since before I can remember! The earliest memory I can recall is being four years old, singing a Lauryn Hill song which I rewrote to be about my preschool. I learned the chords to play along on our out-of-tune piano. Lauryn Hill is maybe an unexpected choice for a toddler, but explains a lot of why I express myself the way I do now! I also loved NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, and Britney Spears as a little kid, like most people, did in the early 2000s. 

When I was eight, I started singing with the Connecticut Children’s Chorus. The next year, I joined my school choir and played french horn in the band. I continued with my choirs and band until I reached high school.

I went to the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts and majored in musical theater. I got more into dance and acting as well as music, and enjoyed creative writing on the side. High school was a huge point of artistic growth for me. I was provided a lot of opportunities that I am incredibly grateful for- three hours of intensive art classes a day, lots of performance opportunities, and masterclasses with artists and industry professionals. 

After high school, I did a year of community college and then moved to Brisbane, Australia to be with my boyfriend at the time. Since I didn’t know many people at the time, I started writing my songs as a new musical outlet. Then, I connected with my pal Ged Rapkins and started doing occasional music gigs around the city. The next year, I studied at the University of Queensland as a drama major and started performing with Brisbane Arts Theatre. 

I came back to Connecticut in 2017 and for a while, I was less involved with music. I went to community college as a communication major and worked two waitressing jobs and as a character performer for a party company. 

As a hobby, I started singing on the app Smule in 2019. I met a global community of singers that collaborate on online projects. Once the pandemic hit, I dove deeper into the online music community, using the apps Voisey and Bandlab. This was the point where I started writing songs again. It has helped me to make sense of an extremely trying time and to fulfill my need to create without the ability to perform live or be in the same space as other creators.

Now, songwriting and recording have become my main focus. I have been working on releases over the past couple of months with producer/good friend TeddyBearAsauraus. We’ve been making the coolest stuff, and I’m so excited about it. I am planning on collaborating for release with other incredible musicians that I have met from these apps as well! Amazingly, I’ve been able to form the relationships that I have with people from all over the world.”

Who are some of your influences?

“Oh, I like so many things! I’m influenced by rap, R&B, neo-soul, musical theater, pop, nerd rock, and indie. 

Some of my biggest inspirations lyrically are Stephen Sondheim, MF DOOM, They Might Be Giants and Amy Winehouse.

 For vocals and musicality, I adore Mac Ayres, Lianne La Havas, Aretha Franklin, and Anderson .Paak.TeddyBearAsaurus is a huge influence for me since we work together so closely. I admire his solo work and his band PiOr, which consists of him and our buddy Jonathan Oris. 

My boyfriend David (goes by the artist name Zayvy Umo) is an incredible vocalist and producer with such a fantastic ear for composition. He constantly amazes me and inspires me on a personal level and artistic level.”

How do you describe your sound? 

“I’m still figuring out my sound! It’s certainly shifted a lot over the past couple of months. I’d say right now, I’m a mixture of neo-soul and electronic pop with occasional rap thrown in for good measure. My lyrical style can be dense at times, almost like prose or spoken word. Above all, I’d say my writing and musicality are aggressively sincere. Even in more pop-centric songs, I have written, everything is grounded in a sense of total honesty.”

What’s your creative process like?

“Usually, the lyrics come first. I write every day. Whatever is on my mind. Sometimes those words find a rhythm and rhyme. From there, I figure out how to structure words into a song format. I start with words and let the ebb and flow and notes and chords be flexible. A lot of times, I’ll send over these ideas to Teddy acapella without telling him what sort of chord progressions or sound I have in mind. He always thinks of the most eclectic ideas and hears things I would never dream up in a million years. He truly influences my sound and I consider him a co-writer on our songs together for sure. In turn, knowing his musical sensibility has affected my style of writing over the past couple of months. I think we work very well together. I’m riding the wave of our collaboration for a while because it’s going well. However, I want to explore producing on my own, just to learn and figure out my truly individual vibe!”

What have been some career highlights for you? 

“I mean, my career is just beginning now. At least my career as a singer-songwriter. Being asked to do a newspaper interview is wild to me. That and my first single coming out a few weeks ago. I never thought this would happen, honestly. I am getting over an intense case of impostor syndrome. I just started taking all of this seriously, and I am excited and scared and hopeful!”

How are you dealing with the pandemic? 

“Making stuff. Making music. Making friends. Making a routine for myself. Committing to self-improvement and reaching out for support when I need it. Reminding myself how fortunate I have been to have this time and space to reflect on my goals and to work towards making them happen. It’s hard to focus when you’re working two waitressing jobs and going to college. Getting laid off and graduating may have been the two best things to happen to me over the past year because they forced me to re-evaluate what I want.”

Can you tell me about the projects you’re working on? 

“Oh wow, there are so many. I have so much music coming out over the next couple of months. My next single ‘Into Something’, which I co-wrote and sang with TeddyBearAsaurus is being released on March 12th. After that, I have my song, ‘Sunday’, coming on March 28th. More is being announced very soon!”

What are your plans for the future? 

“Make things I’m proud of. I would love to release some songs with my boyfriend at some point because I truly admire his artistry. When we write together, the vibe is so different from when I work with anyone else, and I want the world to hear it.

I also want to learn more about home production. I think learning to be more self-sufficient is important, although I love working with others.

I miss performing live. When it’s safe again, I plan on getting back into it!

My ultimate dream is to make music my full-time gig. Whether it’s as a solo artist, part of a band, or even as a writer for other artists, I just want it to be my life.”

Is there anything else you want the public to know? 

“You can find me on Spotify, Apple Music, Youtube Music, Amazon Music, and most other streaming platforms! Search for ‘Essbie. You can find me on Instagram and BandLab under @essbiemusic, and Voisey under @essbie. I’m also open to new connections and making music friends! You can also check out linktr.ee/essbie for links to listen to my music.”

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Mike Cobb is a musician and writer based in Norfolk and has published articles in The NYC Jazz Record, The NY Press, NJ Starz, The Red Hook Star Review, Shindig!, Ugly Things, Ruta 66, Mondo Sonoro, Elmore, The Indypendent, The Lakeville Journal, and more. http://mc-obb.com