Originally Published in Inside Psychology, Spring 2014
From undergraduate psychology research assistant to singer-songwriter, Class of 2011 Gaucho Sarah LaForge has had an eventful few years. Sarah worked in the laboratories of Professor David Sherman and Professor Jim Blascovich during her days at UCSB and is now the lead singer of the popular alt-folk band Lucy and La Mer. What connects the two? Sarah’s lifelong dedication to psychology and music. Inside Psychology caught up with Ms. LaForge for the following interview.
IP. Why did you choose to become a Psych major at UCSB?
SL: Growing up, it wasn't uncommon for Psychology Today to be the only magazine on our coffee table. My father had his own private practice as a Cognitive-Behavioral Therapist, and I always enjoyed learning about the bizarre ways our mind works. So when I went to Spring Insight at UCSB, I went straight to the Psych Info table. They explained how research is a huge part of their program and told me about the different types of labs available. It was different than the other UC campuses—they really took the time to show me around and ask about what I wanted to study specifically. Also, the department building was right by the beach. So not having windows in the psych department lab was not so bad.
IP: What were the most important and valuable skills you learned during your psychology experience at UCSB?
SL: I can't tell you how many times a minor detail in research felt like the end of the world to me. Something as simple as missing one of my data samples was such a gigantic setback when I was a first or second year. But you learn the ropes, and the grad students are an incredible resource. The most important thing I learned was how to ask questions. You can't do it all on your own and there are so many great people on the psych staff to help you along!
IP: As a singer, songwriter, and leader of Lucy and La Mer, how has your psych degree helped, and in what ways?
SL: There's a surprising amount of research within the music business. Finding your audience is just like finding your sample group—age, location, interests, disinterests, are all important when creating marketing strategies. You're always hypothesizing about how your group will react and asking questions as you plan.
IP: What are your future plans, career wise?
SL: I would love to work as a music therapist in the future. I've been looking at different graduate programs lately and it's really exciting to see how the field is growing. I'd love to study how the mind and music interact.
IP: What are your hobbies, avocations, things you do for fun?
SL: Aside from my own band, I also love collaborating with other musicians. I just performed as a back-up singer for Moby, which was an incredible experience. I've also worked on film projects and been cast in various music videos. I've been invited to speak at UCLA for the Music Business Program. It's a unique community with countless opportunities to create. I never thought I'd be living in Los Angeles, but I've tried to continue doing the things that I loved in Santa Barbara here as well, such as hiking, picnics on the beach, busking downtown. It's definitely not as beautiful as Santa Barbara, but it has its own charm.
IP: How can people learn more about your music?
SL: We just released our first single “Just Friends” on iTunes with an incredible music video (full of familiar UCSB faces). We love seeing new faces at shows and hearing from folks on our social media pages. You can find out what we're up to on www.ListenToLucy.com, or just type our name into google and see what we've been up to.