The Mojave is a desolate dreamscape, a vista of mind-bending scenery that seems to transform with every sand-swept step. There’s something exquisitely wild about it, tinged with a hint of danger. On the surface it can appear sparse—even foreboding—but a deeper examination proves it teaming with all the tragedy and transcendence of life. The same can be said for the music of longtime desert denizen AC Sapphire.
It has the same surreal qualities, the same sense of constant metamorphosis, the same expansiveness and emotional evocation, the same sense of wonder and revelation, and the same wild and perilous spirit. Her cosmic sound blends disparate elements into an ethereal folk rock while her strong voice shakes listeners awake as she spins her passionate, dust-blasted tales. All these qualities can be heard on her upcoming EPs, Omni Present, due out February 28, and Desert Car, slated for release later this spring.
Sapphire’s life began in Eastern Pennsylvania where her household overflowed with eight home-schooled children. When she was 14, she was given a singing part in a Shakespeare production. “I had no idea I was even able to sing and then I found my purpose,” she explains. “My father, an antique dealer, had this really beat up guitar with one string. I would just play that one string and pretend I was shredding. Eventually, my dad helped me ad the other five. I started writing songs right away. By the time I was 17 I was gigging.”
Sapphire soon teamed up with two of her siblings to form Sisters3, finding regional success. Then her younger sister quit the group. For AC, it was devastating. She needed a change and knew just where to find it. For years, she had been selling pizza at music festivals around the country. “I worked for a company of outsiders, artists, and travelers,” she explains. “Every year after working at Coachella I would spend two weeks in Joshua Tree. I was entranced by the desert. I wanted to live there.” She followed that Siren’s song west to her new home. “I really feel like I came into my own there,” she says. “It was a sense that I was doing what I wanted with my life. The desert changed me. There’s mental clarity because you can see everything. There’s room. There’s space.”
This freedom and awe influenced songs like Omni Present's “Desert Stars,” about the death of a friend and mourning the inability to share the marvels of the sandy wilds, and “Rock and Roll Van,” a more lighthearted fantasy about escaping the 110-degree heat via musical road trip. A different California landscape inspired Desert Car's “Stick and Poke Tattoo,” a story of one of Sapphire’s real body decorations set against the backdrop of a brief affair with an Irish blacksmith and the crashing waves of the Big Sur coastline. “The Thrift Store Song” features Particle Kid and details what Sapphire describes as the best feeling in the world, “going to the thrift store and finding something that fits you perfectly.”
Despite her affinity for the arid expanse, Sapphire eventually decided to move on. These days she can be found in Portland, Oregon where she has put together a new band while also singing harmony and recording with Kyle Craft. She is preparing for a national tour in support of Omni Present.
Sapphire feels strongly about championing women in the music industry. She has volunteered as a vocal coach for the Portland Rock & Roll Camp for Girls and plans to raise money for the organization throughout her tour.