For Dara Sisterhen, age has never been anything but a number. An immensely talented singer-songwriter with a fresh new voice, she began working with acclaimed producer Dave Cobb when she was just 14 years old. At 18 years old, Sisterhen re-teamed with Cobb (the Svengali behind award-winning albums from Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson) to create one of the best EPs in recent memory.
Sisterhen grew up in the four-stoplight town of Denver, North Carolina. Growing up on a healthy diet of Motown and Jazz, she got her rock and roll education through bands like The Strokes and Arctic Monkeys, but eventually branched out into to the classics.
“My guitar teacher actually got me into the Beatles,” says the affable Southerner. “It wasn’t until I was learning ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ on guitar that I went, “Woah, what is this?’” Soon she was devouring albums by Patsy Cline, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. “I would watch the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions and then go discover everyone.”
In 2010, she landed a role on the young adult show Victorious (with Victoria Justice and Ariana Grande), which led to pilots with Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network and a part on Disney’s Dog With A Blog. But you should never mistake Sisterhen for a manufactured pop star or Disney princess. She has more in common with Kacey Musgraves, First Aid Kit and Laura Marling than she does with Miley Cyrus.
“People will find out on their own that I’m not part of that machine,” she says, sagely. “I’m not too worried about it. But I’m proud of the acting I’ve done, and I’m looking forward to doing different kinds of roles.”
Shortly after moving to LA, Dara met Cobb where he invited her to come to his studio and record her debut album, which ultimately ended up being unreleased. “I had a switch in management, and by the time they were going to do anything with it, I had kind of moved on from it.”
A few years later, Sisterhen was ready to try again. “I called him up and I was like, ‘Hey, I have some new material and want to make an EP from it.’ She flew to his Nashville studio for the sessions that would produce Boom. They worked fast, recording the bulk of it in one week. Sisterhen and Cobb put a Beatle-esque spin on the production, building richly layered instrumental tracks and piling on the reverb.
Now 20, Sisterhen’s future includes more music and more touring – she’s already toured twice on the east coast in 2015. She is currently writing for her upcoming record and is anxious to get on the road again.
If her next album is anywhere near as good as her EP, you can expect to be hearing about Sisterhen for a long time to come.
Written by Evan Schlansky, American Songwriter