Buy a Record, Make a Difference 27: Sara Kim

Buy a Record, Make a Difference is a new series we have created to help local musicians generate income during COVID-19. It is based on the principle that we should support and reward the hard work local artists have already put into recordings, as it is an immensely difficult undertaking to be creating new material under current circumstances. There is currently a lot of emphasis on livestreaming and innovation in our industry, and while those things absolutely have their place, we think it’s also important to boost projects that have already been completed.

In each post, we’ll ask a local artist a series of the same questions, give them the opportunity to talk about recordings they’re proud of, and ask them to talk about other local musicians whose work they admire. It’s our hope that you’ll take the time to listen to & purchase the work of local artists, or at the very least share their work with others.


1. Who are you?

My name is Sara – I was born in Korea (my Korean name is also Sara but pronounced more like ‘Sah-Rah’.) I grew up in Vancouver, B.C. and studied jazz at Capilano University. For the past few years, I have been singing, writing, and performing music in Vancouver.

2. Describe your music as best you can.

As a singer, I think I always try to explore my voice and use it in a diverse way. I was first drawn to jazz after hearing Ella Fitzgerald’s scatting, and fell in love with improvising. Therefore, I like improvising and use different “colors” of the voice. More recently, I am in awe of traditional P’ansori singers and traditional Korean music. There is a “wave” in every sound they make and I find it very beautiful and raw. Most importantly, I always wish to sound honest and natural, and I try to do that in my music too.

I‘ve been making music mostly with two groups. One is my Watermill Project (물레방아 프로젝트) that explores traditional Korean music and folk songs in a jazz quartet. From this project, a duo was formed between Mili Hong (the drummer of the band; she’s an incredible drummer and a dear friend of mine) and I, and we’ve been having fun exploring traditional Korean art form called P’ansori together. Lastly, I write and sing in Omianan, a collective group that plays original music and tends to end up going anywhere and everywhere.

3. What’s your latest recording (or a recording you’d like to promote)? Where can people get it?

We haven’t done a proper recording/album from the Watermill Project yet. But, you can check out some of the music here.

Omianan put out a demo/EP in 2019, and you can check it out here

4. Is there another local musician whose work you’d like to give a shout out to? 

Honestly, there are so many wonderful music and musicians out there, but since it’s the summer and that reminds me of the Jazz Festival season, I want to say Waxwing (Peggy Lee, Tony Wilson, Jon Bentley) who I heard for the very first time two years ago at the Roundhouse. It was truly coincidental and I am so glad that I was there at that place at that time. You can check them out here