The Kaplan Career

Sarah Kaplan (’23)’s recent work releasing her first single and more


Matthew Bian ('23)

As of October, Sarah Kaplan (’23) is a published artist on all platforms.

Isadora Blatt, Graphics Editor

“When I’m feeling down, I just turn on my voice memos and grab a guitar, and I can pretty much write a whole song,” said Sarah Kaplan (‘23). For her debut single, “older,” which came out on all streaming platforms October 27, this was no exception. With its yearning, driving melody and soft and delicate yet piercing vocals, the song’s theme of change is deeply personal to Sarah.

She was surprised by the outpouring of support that she received for her first song, which reached almost 3,000 streams in just a few weeks. “When I did my first post, people seemed super excited and were really giving it attention,” she said. “People that I don’t talk to a lot have been super nice, even coming up to me in person, and it means a lot.”

She began working on “older” in May 2022, putting it together as a compilation of multiple different songwriting sessions. Then, in the summer, she took the opportunity to actually produce the song. “I reached out to a producer, sent him some of my demos, and he agreed to work with me,” she explained. So in June, she went to the studio in Los Angeles and spent a week recording. “We got to the studio at 8:00 a.m. every day and left at, like, 11:00 p.m,” she laughed. “We would eat a lot of fried food, and just play around with instruments. It was like a jungle gym for music.” She had a lot of fun, she said, experimenting with all of the new resources she could access at the recording studio.

Although Sarah works with a team, she writes all of the music herself. “My producer changed one word– at first, it was ‘we’re getting old,’ and he said, ‘you’re 17. You are not old, you are getting older.’” Besides that small contribution, her producer helps with all things software. 

With “older,” her team helped with the other parts of production like playing the drums and the bass. “The week we were in the studio, I tried to learn the drums myself, and I just got worse and worse. It was embarrassing,” she laughed. 

Sarah’s dad, who is also a songwriter, has had a large influence on her work as well. “He was in his own band — the Lost Pilgrims,” she said. Mr. Martin Kaplan’s band was named the best unsigned band in the magazine Billboards in the 90s. “It’s cool to have that to look up to,” Sarah said. “He really understands art, because he took it seriously for around 50 years after college. So I’m really grateful to have him.” 

When Sarah was little, her dad taught her how to play the guitar, and from there she continued by teaching herself. Now, Sarah’s dad sometimes offers his input on her work, for example, suggesting a different chord to use at a certain point in the music. 

Sarah’s twin brother, Aidan Kaplan (‘23), is also pursuing a career in music, as a classical pianist. “Music is really important to my family,” Sarah said.

Aside from her family, a major inspiration for her music is Phoebe Bridgers. “I would say she’s my favorite person on the planet,” she remarked. Many aspects of her work are modeled off of Phoebe Bridger’s style. Sarah explained, “I double my vocals, for example, which she does, and I use the ambient guitars in the back.”

As she’s developed her personal style of music, her main requisite is that it can’t be cheesy. “My producer always makes fun of me, because I have a very, very sensitive cheese-o-meter,” she said. “Like, I’m not a big pop music girl.” Instead, she listens to a lot of sad music, which she attributes her own style to. 

“I write lyrics from my personal experience, and music is a form of medicine to me,” she shared. “So I want my music to be healing, and something that other people can maybe find comfort in.”

For the experiences that influenced “older,” Sarah summarized, “If you’ve ever been confused by a romantic situation, this song is for you.” She opened up that for a period of time around December of last year, she dealt with a lot of miscommunication and feelings of losing herself. “I feel like a lot of female-identifying people relate to that princess story that we get growing up,” she reflected. “So this first huge experience for me was not like that at all, and I was just so confused.” The song is also not only about romantic situations, but also about watching your life go by. “A lot of my closest friends graduated, and it’s hard when they’re not there with you anymore,” she said. These themes are also present in the other songs on her upcoming EP, December.

Sarah is excited to keep recording more of her work and, as always, continue writing. She’s also looking forward to live performances, which she is currently planning. “I have a band already, so the goal is to do a couple of shows, and hopefully get that Bishop’s crowd out there,” she said. Having worked with Matthew Bian (‘23) to shoot photos and Katelyn Wang (‘23) for artwork and graphic design, Sarah wants to continue bringing more members of the community into what she does.

Before the single was released, her best friends Sariah Hossain (‘22), Marianna Pecora (‘22), and Maya Buckley (‘22) were there supporting her along the way. “I sent them demos throughout the whole process, and they saw every single version of all the songs,” she said. “I appreciated them so much.” Hearing that her friends genuinely enjoyed her work was what made her realize that there might actually be something there. 

“I’m so insanely proud of her,” said Sariah. “I remember when she’d play me a verse and chorus of her new songs on FaceTime. I’ve always had so much love for her mind and her music, and I’m just over the moon that the rest of the world gets to see her in this way now too.”