Sara Bareilles Releases New Song 'Armor,' Says John Legend Is a Badass and Chrissy Teigen Has the Best Instagram

Grammy-nominated singer Sara Bareilles wasn't supposed to release her new song until next year, but she felt it was the right time for the world to hear "Armor," a feminist anthem about becoming stronger in the face of opposition and leaning on fellow women for strength. She wanted to get the song out as soon as possible after Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed despite being accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women. 

"To all the dirty looks, the kitty catcalls/To the ones who try and throw us up against the back walls/Let me tell you something you'll understand/Only the little boys tell you they're a big man," Bareilles sings on "Armor," the lead single for her forthcoming album, due out in 2019. "To all my sisters and all our friends/We have to thank them, please/Strength means blessed with an enemy." 

Since her breakout single "Love Song" debuted in 2007, Bareilles has written music for the Broadway play Waitress, played Mary Magdalene in NBC's Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert and changed her focus when it comes to music. When she was starting out, she was experiencing some heartbreak, so she wrote love songs. But she's not that person anymore. While Bareilles doesn't want to alienate anyone with her music or come off as overtly political, she's happy to have the freedom to explore that angle. In fact, she says she couldn't think about making music any other way right now. 

Newsweek sat down with Bareilles to ask her more questions about "Armor," Waitress, Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert and even her favorite places to eat in New York City. Below is a condensed version of the interview. 

What inspired you to write “Armor”?
I actually had just returned from the Women’s March following the election in 2016 and was just processing that experience, which was one of the most unforgettable, beautiful, peaceful, powerful experiences of my life. The seeds of the song were planted then. Over the next year and a half, it morphed into what it is now.

This song is unapologetically political. It’s what I care about right now. It’s what I think about. It’s really important to me to be able to talk about it as an artist.

Sara Bareilles Sara Bareilles, pictured November 9, 2017, in Beverly Hills, California, talked about the focus of her new music. Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Is there a full album coming out soon?
The full album is coming out next year. This song wasn’t meant to come out until then, but after the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, I felt like I couldn’t sit on this song. We switched gears and pushed to have the song come out early. The rest of the year is organizing a mini-tour that we’re hoping to get up on its legs at the beginning half of the year. Then it will be album release.

Are more songs on the album going to revolve around politics?
I think so, although I imagine that if someone heard "Armor," they wouldn’t be like, “Oh my gosh, she’s gone off the deep end,” and I really don’t think that’s where the album lives. I like to think that my mission statement as an artist is to authentically share myself—the good, the bad and the ugly—and this is a big part of what I think about right now, but deeper than that, it’s about processing the world right now.

I don’t think someone would listen to this record and think it’s overtly political. Even if they did, I’m not afraid of that at this moment. My wish is to not alienate anyone. However, my wish as an artist is to feel free to share what’s on my heart.

How do you think you’ve grown as an artist since “Love Song”?
I think I just grew as a person. I wrote “Love Song” when I was 23 years old. A lot has happened in my life personally and professionally since then. I think that the best-case scenario is you watch an artist move through their world and their experiences as a person, and hopefully you see that reflected in their music. I think a lot about being programmed as a pop artist. So while I was making this album, I was aware of, “Do I have enough up-tempo songs? Are there songs that are ready for the radio?” and I had to let some of that go because I would feel really unauthentic and insincere if I were making songs that weren’t talking about what’s really on my heart.

We’re in a time that is really volatile and really uncomfortable, so I want to be able to discuss that and process that in my music, which is what I do with everything. I was dealing with more heartbreak when I was in my 20s, so the songs were a little bit simpler at that time. At this moment, I’m just processing deeper things.

One of the things I really like about you is that you’re a New Yorker.
Oooh! Do I get to call myself that? I’ve only been living here for six years.

Screen Shot 2018-11-06 at 2 Sara Bareilles, pictured on June 14 in New York, released her new song, "Armor," before the 2018 midterm elections. Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for Songwriters Hall Of Fame

If you love it, it’s good enough for me! [Laughs] What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
There’s so many. One of my favorites is Café Habana in Nolita, which is an old staple, but they have the best huevos rancheros. There’s also great Mediterranean food at Mémé on 10th Avenue. During Waitress, we would scour the city for great restaurants that are close to the theater, but there are so many.

What do you love about New York City?
I love how alive the city is! I love how it’s kind of a mess, that it’s confronting, oppressive... When the weather is hard, the city is hard, but I just feel like it’s so human that way. It’s a living, breathing organism that you have to have a relationship with to be here.

So, I love Waitress. I’ve seen it twice. What was it like to play Jenna? Did you plan on taking over the role when Jessie Mueller left or did that develop after?
No. It developed after. I think I was much too intimidated to even consider it.... I wouldn’t have had the bandwidth to consider it, but I wasn’t ready either. And then I got the incredible gift of getting to watch Jessie Mueller bring this character to life for the first time and her masterful interpretation of the material couldn’t have gone any better. It was beautiful. I got so much out of the way it progressed, so when she came to the end of her time on the show, I just felt this person inside me raise her hand.

I just wanted to try. The team was really enthusiastic and so encouraging, and I really had the time of my life. I just felt like I grew so much as a performer and as an artist, and just getting to feel that sense of being a team member, sharing the stage every night, it’s so different than when you’re on the stage as a songwriter. Even though there’s a deep bond with the band, a musical operates completely differently. You just feel like you’re a part of an orchestra, and everybody depends on each other.

It’s more of a like a family vibe, right?
Yeah. You’re just so tight-knit you’re basically living together, and it’s beautiful. Our Waitress crew in New York, in particular, it’s just like a little clubhouse. We live in that theater. We’ve been doing it for almost three years now. It’s incredible.

Along with Waitress, you’ve also worked on Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert with John Legend. What was it like to collaborate with him?
He’s a badass. He is the coolest person I have ever met. He’s completely unstoppable, not nervous at all and has a really sweet, calm, joyful presence. He’s very generous, very loving. Jesus was the perfect role for John. He’s a perfectionist, and he works really hard to be great, and then he’s great. So he’s the easiest person in the world to work with. I’m so inspired by his activism and use of his platform to speak about issues that really matter to him. I think that he’s a really beautiful leader.

Did you meet Chrissy Teigen?
Yes! She brought Luna. This is when she was still pregnant with Miles at the time. They’re so sweet. I think her Instagram account is my favorite Instagram account on the entire platform. I really think she’s hysterical.

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