Sarantos, who has written over 2000 songs in his career thus far, has undergone several personal challenges with his father passing away a few years ago after a long hard-fought battle with lung cancer, dealing with personal health issues like asthma and allergies which affected his singing style and just going through life’s ups and downs. That’s why Sarantos’ main motivation to make music is to raise money to help health organizations. In fact 33% of any music related sales have always gone straight to charity. Recently we spoke to Sarantos in an exclusive interview, about his music, influences and work ethic.
- How long have you been in the music business and how did you get started in the first place?
Sarantos: I’ve been wanting to do it my entire life but I actually just got started officially in January 2014
- Who were your first musical influences that you can remember?
Sarantos: Probably Michael Jackson, Def Leppard and Survivor
- Which artists are you currently listening to? And is there anyone of these that you’d like to collaborate with?
Sarantos: I listen to just about anything I can get my hands on. Anything that is in top 40, anything on the radio, indie and pretty much anything in the rock or pop genre.
I’d love to collaborate with almost anybody. Specifically, I think it’d be really cool to do something with Taylor Swift, Katie Perry, Bruno Mars or Justin Timberlake.
- Have you suffered any ‘resistance’ from within the industry, and if so how have you handled that, and how do you handle criticism and naysayers in general?
Sarantos: I think there will always be critics. It seems like some people love what I do and a few people (although thankfully not many) for some reason or another don’t like something. I always try to stay positive. One of the things that I really pride myself on doing is that I always take criticism constructively. I listen to it and I try to see if it makes sense. I’m always trying to evolve and grow as an artist so I never take anything personally. If the suggestion is great, I will go with that and incorporate it into what I do.
- What are your thoughts on visual media and Youtube? Do you use it more as a marketing tool or as an extended creative dimension of each song?
Sarantos: I think visual media is very important. It helps add to the song in a very unique way. I try to make a video for every single song and I always emphasize a cool story. I think it’s very important as most music videos out there really are kind of mindless in my opinion and don’t have much of a point.
- Which do you ultimately prefer? Entertaining a live audience or creating songs in a studio setting?
Sarantos: I love both aspects and they’re both different. However, I think a live audience and the thrill that gives you is unmatched by any other scenario.
- When you perform live do you have your own backing band or do you perform as a solo act?
Sarantos: If I could perform by myself, I would probably do 1 million times more concerts. It is very difficult when you’re a solo artist as nobody just wants to see you singing up there with the music playing from a CD. A band is the way to go and unfortunately that makes things a lot more difficult for people like me.
8. You have many songs charting highly on Internet radio stations, How do you achieve that popularity as an indie artist?
Sarantos: Other than working hard every single day, I can’t really pinpoint something specific. I think it just takes a lot of work and trying to do marketing in any place that you can, although cheaply and effectively are hard to come by.
- Which ingredient do you think makes you special and unique as a performing artist?
Sarantos: I think my background makes me very unique. I think the fact that I write a fiction fantasy book and chapter to each song every month makes me unique as I don’t ever recall anybody doing this. Additionally, putting out a new song and music video every single month is something that I like to say is very challenging and I’m one of the few to do something like this consistently. My sound is definitely original as it combines 80s rock with today’s modern pop rock music. Plus, I’m from Chicago!
- If you were forced to choose only one, which emotion, more than any other drives you to be a part of this tough business. Is it joy, anger, desire, passion or pride and why?
Sarantos: The one word I would choose is create. The one emotion I would choose is passion.
- Which aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process excites you most and which aspect discourages you most?
Sarantos: Making music excites me, not having marketing dollars depresses me.
- Tell us something about your latest release, “Easy To Believe”?
Sarantos: This music video is a first for me, because I release a new music video every single month and because the story is the key, I am always looking to try new things. Of course, given that I am an indie artist, I have budget constraints that are very real. Nevertheless, I want to give my fans something to watch and enjoy for a few minutes each month. I want them to look forward to the quote, the type of video, wonder whether I will be in this one or not, and obviously to think about the story and all the various ways it can be interpreted. Hopefully they enjoy this video with its love story and appreciate the few subtle humorous references.
- How do you achieve your sound? Do you work from a private recording environment or do you use a commercial sound studio?
Sarantos: I work in my family room which is not a sound studio at all. So it’s definitely authentic and original!
- The best piece of advice in this business you actually followed so far, and one you didn’t follow, but now know for sure that you should have?
Sarantos: Don’t take anything personally! I think you definitely have to keep this in mind anytime you’re creating anything, whether it’s a song, a movie or a piece of art. Two people look at the same thing and have very different opinions of it. It’s just a part of life.
- You release one song and one video each month. How difficult is it to keep up the constant creativity and from where do you get your inspiration?
Sarantos: It is definitely challenging. It seemed much easier when I first started but the most difficult part is coordinating all the moving parts. By far, the most challenging aspect is the music video. The music is definitely easier for me and the lyrics are probably the easiest.
- Do you consider Internet and all the social media websites, as fundamental to your ongoing career, and indie music in general, or do you think it has only produced a mass of mediocre “copy-and-paste” artists, who flood the web, making it difficult for real talent to emerge?
Sarantos: I think the Internet and social media websites are going crazy right now. There’s so much content out there and anybody can send that out there. It does make it very difficult to distinguish yourself in the sea of information.
- You change genres and styles on almost each recording. If someone has never heard your music, how would you describe your overall sound and style?
Sarantos: In my first CD, I did try almost every genre. Now in my second CD, I think my rock pop style has emerged. It’s absolutely a fusion of 80s rock combined with modern pop and rock music.
- I read somewhere that you said people would truly understand where you’re coming from, once you decide to tell them what you do besides just playing music. How about deciding to tell us today?
Sarantos: Nice try! I would really love to but it would really affect my work at this point. Hopefully, if I make it, I would have absolutely no problem revealing to the world what I really do. It really will put things in a whole new light.
- As you work your way through your career, which more than any other fires-up your imagination – A Grammy award, Platinum music sales or any other tangible milestone?
Sarantos: Honestly, just knowing that someone listened to my song and sent me an email or posted something on social media means more than anything to me. Of course, all artists want to be recognized for their work and it would be very humbling to even be nominated for a Grammy let alone win one or have a platinum album. I try not to have a tangible milestone as I don’t want to be disappointed. I’m honestly not doing this for the money. It would be nice to have a platinum album and it would be nice to win some awards because that would validate your art in a way to others, but not to me. I know then I’d be able to raise a lot more money for charity that I’m currently doing, but it’s not about the milestones. It’s all about the music. It’s all about the fans. The reason I let the fans download all my music for free is because I just want to share it throughout the world. I would rather people actually listen to my song than not.
- What is the ONE thing you are NOT willing or prepared to do EVER, in your quest to achieve your career goals?
Sarantos: Sacrifice my sense of ethics or voluntarily hurt someone.