photo by Jordan Taylor Robbins

The Musician Spotlight Series shines a light on up-and-coming bands and solo acts creating heartfelt and original work across genres, giving them an opportunity to talk about their music, their collaborators, and why they do what they do.

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Sarah Jickling

“Sarah Jickling is a Vancouver-based musician, performer and mental-health advocate. Her first solo album, 2017’s When I Get Better, is a marriage of shimmering pop melodies with candid lyrics about her recovery from bipolar disorder. Her new album The Family Curse (out on November 8th, 2019) is an exploration of intergenerational trauma and mental illness within families. Jickling’s music approaches the darkest subject matter with frank honesty and a keen ear for beauty, sincerity, and hope. In 2019 Jickling is continuing as a touring performer with the BC Schizophrenia Society’s Reach Out Psychosis program and has been selected as an artist-in-residence by UBC’s Wingspan Disability Arts program. She has been widely featured on television, podcasts, blogs, and at live events performing and speaking about her experiences with mental illness, and earned top spots at competitions like CiTR’s Shindig!, Seattle’s EMP Soundoff, 102.7 The PEAK Performance Project, and Canada’s Walk of Fame Music Mentorship Program”.

When did you know you wanted to be a musician?
I always wanted to be a poet when I was little, but my parents convinced me that wasn’t a real job. They put me in classical piano, though, so by the time I met my best friend, when I was 16, I was a poet who could play piano. She was the one that wanted to start a band, and it was her dream to become a musician. But when we started performing, I felt so comfortable onstage that I didn’t want to do anything else.

Are you trained? How did you develop your skills?
I took piano lessons from when I was 5 to when I was 17. I went to music school for composition, but university and bipolar disorder don’t mix well. I was never trained in singing. I thought I was a bad singer. It’s only in the past year that I’ve started taking voice lessons and moving away from piano. I’ve never been a very technical musician, but performing emotionally comes naturally to me. My vocal lessons have shown me that I have a lot to learn and are opening up new possibilities for me.

Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
I started writing songs when I was 16. At the time, I was listening to Lily Allen, Kate Nash, and Regina Spektor. They showed me that you could be strange and shy and funny, but still make pop music. These days, I listen to a lot of Beyoncé and Ariana Grande, but I still aspire to write with pure authenticity and honesty like Lily Allen, sharing every little detail with the listener. I couldn’t listen to her new album without crying.

How would you describe your sound?
I make happy, sad, honest pop music. I write music for people who like to listen to the lyrics.

What’s your favourite tune in your repertoire and why?
I like performing “Villain,” because I get to show a part of my personality that I haven’t really put onstage before. It feels powerful. The more that I perform my new songs, the more that I find little things that I like about all of them. Some days, I love performing the happy, bouncy ones. Other days, I like to be incredibly dramatic. My favourite song is always going to be the one I enjoy performing the most, because that’s my favourite part about being a musician.

What can audiences expect from one of your live shows?
I tend to overshare and laugh a lot onstage. Some people have cool, sexy alter-egos for their stage performances, but I’m just me. I’m there to share and connect with people, not to try to impress anyone. Because of the content of my songs, I get a lot of people that come up to me after shows and tell me about some of their darkest moments. I feel lucky that people trust me that much.

Where can we find your music?
You can find my music wherever you normally stream songs. If you want to support me and purchase a song, you can go to and everything I’ve released is there. Including my new album, The Family Curse, when it comes out on November 8th.