Musician Sedona may come from sunny LA, but since 2014, she’s called New York home. When asked if she would move back to the West Coast, she shakes her head pensively. “My life is here for now,” she says. The words ‘for now’ hang in the air. Places that carry sentimentality are no foreign concept to Sedona, whose stage name was chosen after the desert city in Arizona. It’s a place “said to have very spiritual and healing energy in the rock and earth around it,” she explains. “So, I want my music to be a source of healing for people.” She hesitates a little before continuing: “In a personal relation, it’s the only place I’ve ever been with both of my parents.”
Nostalgia runs deep for Sedona, and she carries it with her via her obsession with vintage decor, clothes, and, of course, music. Inspired by “things that make [her] remember a past time,” Sedona’s wardrobe is comprised of a mix of Hello Kitty, butterflies, ring pops as jewelry, and hints of mesh and lace. Her music is just as varied; it’s a blend of catchy pop melodies and layered instrumentals inspired by 70s rock and 80s pop.
Sedona has been comfortable performing since childhood. “I used to sing in the choir at temple until my Bat Mitzvah, then I stopped going,” she laughs. “But I have always liked to make people laugh and make people happy.” Still, she didn’t intend to pursue music as career. It wasn’t until her senior thesis assignment at The New School that Sedona really considered the possibility of becoming a singer. “I was always really shy about my voice and never thought it was good enough…so I was basically always finding excuses to hide away this part of myself,” she says. For her senior project, she decided to combine her areas of study, music and culture & media, and create a music video for a song she had just completed: “Call Me Up.”
The music video/thesis project, which was funded by the university and various private investors, turned out to be a huge production. “It became bigger than I had envisioned because everyone I told the concept to, whether it was in regards to the script or the song itself, eagerly hopped on board,” she says. “My best friend and roommate Katelin Collier is an interior designer, so she built an entire grocery store in this warehouse. Everyone involved was a friend or a friend of a friend, from the art direction to the DP and producer. My friend Amanda Adam flew in from LA and brought her entire vintage collection Zig Zag Goods.” Recounting the shoot, Sedona beams. “Those are the people I’m working on stuff with now. I found my people.”
Soon after the video was released, she started receiving asks to collaborate. Collaboration is huge for Sedona, who values friendships and personal relationships above everything else. “The greatest music projects all come from having a group of people who are friends first and creative collaborators after,” she says. Starting off solo, it took Sedona a while to navigate the music scene before seeking like-minded friends to join her in the songwriting and performance process. Now, with a full girl band and many collaborators by her side, she feels confident about the future. And those old insecurities? Sedona counters them: “I know there’s a group of people making the music with me who love it and love me and that’s all I could want at the end of the day.”
In fact, it’s this sense of community that inspired her latest hit, “Same Sky.” The song, a vibey throwback, is both a musing on isolation and loneliness and a remedy for it. “A way to deal with loneliness is to remember that wherever I am, someone I love is under the same sky,” she says. “That togetherness comforts me. It’s also about modern love and loss and how we all just want to feel a connection at the end of the day.” It’s the most human thing.
When asked about the specifics of her lyrics for both “Call Me Up” and “Same Sky” Sedona confirms that both are, indeed, written as love songs. “It’s therapeutic to sing about things that have hurt you, and love is my biggest wound. Something about love makes you want to sing about it. Whether happy or sad,” she says. But above all, these songs should be read as a call for self-love.
The video for “Same Sky,” which will be released in January, is the second part of her first EP, Home Before Dawn, an audiovisual album out next summer. The music video was shot in the desert outside Joshua Tree California by a tight-knit team comprised of Sedona’s closest friends. Out in the desert, where she came from, she was closer to home than she’d been in a while (and just a few hours away from Sedona, Arizona). I ask if she thought about going there again. She shook her head no: “I haven’t been back since. It’s an emotional place to revisit so I’m not sure right now is the best time. I’m not ready yet, but one day I will be.”
All Photos by Leona Johnson