WHEN ESS SEE takes the stage at El-Rocko on Friday, she’ll be playing to a crowd she knows well.
The SCAD graphic design alum just dropped her debut album, Ordinary Woman, on January 13 and is bringing it back through her old stomping grounds.
“Coming back this way, I think, is gonna be really rewarding and really exciting,” she says.
“Savannah will forever be viewed as a place for me that’s full of creative freedom. As an 18-year-old kid I’d only heard such a small sampling of what I knew to be music and then I would spend nights out at the Jinx dancing until like four in the morning, listening to music I didn’t even know existed. And now a lot of that music feeds into the kind of vibes I want to create for people, the energy I want to create for people.”
Ess See, real name Sarah Cobb (get it?), graduated from SCAD in 2006, so Stopover wasn’t around while she was here. She found out about the festival visiting her best friend at the Rock n’ Roll Marathon last year.
“As soon as I heard that, I was like, yeah, I gotta get in on that,” she laughs.
Cobb was born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, and living in a more conservative city only encouraged her creative side.
“Where I grew up, being a creative person was both difficult and really validating,” she says. “When you live in places where that’s not the main thing on people’s minds, there’s not a ton of art going around unless you really look for it. When you’re doing it anyway, it kind of drives you to find those places where you can push it further and further.”
The cultural transition from Little Rock to Savannah was eye-popping enough, so when Cobb got to New York, she realized she would need to stand out even more.
“In New York, being around [creativity] 24/7, you are your own limit,” she says. “The best way to stick out is to try to be yourself the most that you can. If you’re trying anything else that’s too gimmicky or not true to who you are, I feel like people sniff that out pretty quick. Consistently, the things that are most genuine I see people clinging to.”
Cobb never lets herself stray from her own genuine self. In writing Ordinary Woman, she doesn’t get caught up in writing what she thinks people would want to hear.
“I’m still in the phase where I’m finding my voice and I think I do have a little bit of an advantage of being a little bit older,” she muses.
“That gives you more confidence to be like, you know what, I’m gonna do what I want to do. I talk to a lot of musicians that say, ‘I spent so much of my life trying to make things that would sell. In writing all of this, I was like, I’m gonna write things that are important to me, stuff I either obsess about or have anxiety about and then I just kinda channel that into something groovy and poppy that I can sing and dance to and get a release from that. Let’s just dance to this and not worry about it right now.”