Interview: Sarah Barrios’ Debut Single “I Didn’t Mean To” Is a Cool, Catchy, & Confessional Introduction

Sarah Barrios © 2020
CT-born, LA-based singer/songwriter Sarah Barrios emerges as the sparkly new “it” girl in the pop world with her dazzling debut single “I Didn’t Mean To,” a clean and cool confession full of vulnerability and heartfelt intent.

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No one has ever said, “I’m sorry for breaking up with you,” in quite as clever and catchy a way as Sarah Barrios finds in her debut single. The Connecticut singer/songwriter emerges as the sparkly new “it” girl in the pop world – not because she said so, but because we want her to be – with her dazzling debut single “I Didn’t Mean To,” a clean and cool confession full of vulnerability and heartfelt intent.

I Didn't Mean to - Sarah Barrios

I Didn’t Mean To – Sarah Barrios

It’s not that I didn’t want to talk
I’m just scared of the confrontation
It’s not that I wouldn’t risk it all
I just didn’t know how to say it
Ooh, I don’t know how to make it right
Ooh, But it’s keeping me up at night cause

Released April 24, 2020 via Visionary Records / Arista Records, “I Didn’t Mean To” is a sterling introduction dressed to the nines – a real marriage of human feeling and pop polish. Connecticut-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Sarah Barrios introduces herself through a stunning apology that sees her coming to terms with herself and how she ended things.



Sarah Barrios © 2020

Sarah Barrios © 2020

“No one wants to be the bad guy in someone else’s story, but sometimes we are,” Barrios tells Atwood Magazine. “Our mistakes don’t define us, but what we do after them does. I needed to apologize and own up to mine, so that’s what I did.”

It can be easy to write a song that sounds good and “feels” right, but it’s much harder to make music that actually says something. “I Didn’t Mean To” rises to the level, meeting that challenge head-on as Barrios reckons with past mistakes – the skeletons she had been keeping in her closet, the ghosts that tend to haunt only during the quietest moments of night. “I Didn’t Mean To” attempts to free some of those feelings: We can’t turn back time or change how we acted, but we can apologize, acknowledge our faults, and admit that we are not always perfect. Emotion pours out of Barrios in her song’s stirring chorus:

I didn’t mean to leave you lonely
I didn’t mean to break your heart babe
Yeah I took for granted everything you gave
Never my intention just to walk away
I didn’t mean to keep you waiting
I didn’t mean to make you think that
After all this time I never really cared
I know you think I’m lying but
I didn’t mean to



Barrios’ glistening vocals shine over a tastefully minimalist backdrop; she keeps things simple, only employing sounds that amplify her words and the smooth sound of her voice. Focuses listeners’ attention around her singing makes for a mesmerizing experience that lures us in, and holds us tight from the song’s start, all the way through to its finish.

I could write a million words
Apologize for leaving you pieces
But honestly I already tried
And I know you still don’t believe me
Ooh, I don’t know how to make it right
Ooh, But it’s keeping me up at night cause

“This song has been in my heart for three years, FINALLY made its way to my notebook, and now it’s yours,” Barrios shared on the day of her debut’s release. “Writing this song wasn’t easy. Hell, i tried like 20 times and most of those versions sucked. No one wants to be the bad guy in someone else’s story, but sometimes you are. It’s what you do with that realization that’s important. This is the beginning of a story, an introduction on love and heartbreak and the first chapter in understanding what it means to truly be honest with yourself… I hope this song means as much to you as it does to me.”



Sarah Barrios © 2020

Sarah Barrios © 2020



Barrios is humble, unafraid of expressing her true self; she’s passionate, willing to surrender her whole self in song; and she’s expressive, a lyrical poetic and nuanced musician with an extraordinarily catchy, sweet hook on her hands. Get to know pop music’s new girl next door in our interview below, and stream “I Didn’t Mean To,” out now!

No one wants to be the bad guy in someone else’s story, but sometimes we are. Our mistakes don’t define us, but what we do after them does. I needed to apologize and own up to mine, so that’s what I did.

I didn’t mean to leave you lonely
I didn’t mean to break your heart babe
Yeah I took for granted everything you gave
Never my intention just to walk away
I didn’t mean to keep you waiting
I didn’t mean to make you think that
After all this time I never really cared
I know you think I’m lying but
I didn’t mean to

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:: stream/purchase I Didn’t Mean To here ::
Stream: “I Didn’t Mean To” – Sarah Barrios



MEET SARAH BARRIOS

I Didn't Mean to - Sarah Barrios

Atwood Magazine: Hey Sarah, great to connect with you! How did you get into music? Have you always been writing songs?

Sarah Barrios: Hiya! Nice to meet you:) Music was always a very natural part of my childhood. My parents played in bands together and had a deep love for the arts and music, so it was something that constantly surrounded myself and my siblings at all times. As far as writing songs, I didn’t start diving into that until I was about 13. That was the first time I picked up the guitar and found that, if I can string chords together to make a song, I could do it with words. After that, I rarely ever put the thing down and definitely drove my family crazy with all of the off-key singing about thirteen year old romance haha!

How does your childhood growing up in Connecticut play into your music? Do you feel like your hometown has an effect on your artistry?

Sarah Barrios: My family plays a large role in my life so a lot of how music was introduced to me was through them. My dad playing guitar, pasta nights listening to jazz on a CD player, or jam nights when we’d all play together. Music was always something that was a buzzing thread throughout the five of us, so it’s always been something that makes me feel close to them and what I lean on at most times in my life.

I’ve always considered my town to be a small town and I think, as a kid, I really felt like there wasn’t much to do. We had a few Dunkin’s, a Target and a local pizza shop, but that was really it. Looking back, I think it was the limitations of distractions that really forced me to use my imagination as entertainment. I played guitar and wrote songs literally every waking moment, if not for anything other than the fact that it gave me a way to go somewhere, even if it didn’t exist.

Sarah Barrios © 2020

Sarah Barrios © 2020



Are you still based in Connecticut? What is your local music scene like?

Sarah Barrios: I’m not! I moved to LA almost 3 years ago, which is crazy to think about. The music scene in CT was pretty welcoming for the most part. I think it took me a little while to really find my community, but once I did, everything fell into place. They really care about helping young artists who want to persuade music. When I first started “gigging” I had four YouTube videos, won an open mic competition, tried (and failed) at the x-factor and had never really gigged before. So the fact that the CT music scene took me as their own and really helped build that foundations with me is something I’m forever grateful for.

Who are some of your musical inspirations?

Sarah Barrios: I grew up on The Beatles and Fleetwood Mac, so I think I try to bring in some of those musical chords into the songs. Ed Sheeran has always inspired the way I write, both for the rhythmic patterns of the guitar and also in the way he manages to tell a personal story without it getting boring for the listener. I’ve been obsessed with Paramore/Hayley Williams since I was like 13, that’s a phase I never grew out of. I really love how introspective the songs are, how aware they are of others, while also being wildly upbeat. The way she sings them is also inspiring, I mean, I FEEL those songs, whether I can relate or not, it still moves me, and that is something that is extremely inspiring.

What is the significance of debuting with “I Didn’t Mean To”? Why is this song special for you?

Sarah Barrios: I think this song was a nice introduction to who I am as a person, and an artist. It was also the first song I wrote where I really tried to be honest with myself. Writing songs can be very therapeutic, but because I’m the one writing it, it’s also very easy to just casually avoid the things that I don’t want to think or talk about, even if I don’t realize I’m doing it. I had tried to write this song COUNTLESS times, and every version just didn’t feel right. It took 3 hours of sleep and a session with friends to realize it was because I wasn’t actually trying to say anything. I was scared. No one wants to be the bad guy in someone else’s story, but sometimes we are. Our mistakes don’t define us, but what we do after them does. I needed to apologize and own up to mine, so that’s what I did. It was a turning point in the way I view myself and mistakes.

Writing songs can be very therapeutic, but because I’m the one writing it, it’s also very easy to just casually avoid the things that I don’t want to think or talk about.



“I Didn’t Mean To” opens with light guitar and snaps; it’s bright and airy from the start. Why open up this way?

Sarah Barrios: I wanted to start with something that felt like you were taking a deep breath. Like you were thinking and thinking about what you wanted to say. Being honest is a scary thing; I definitely get anxious about it, so I wanted the music to feel just as nervous as the lyrics in the opening verse.

It’s not that I didn’t want to talk; I’m just scared of the confrontation,” you sing in the opening line. What does this mean to you?

Sarah Barrios: I like to think of myself as this spunky, tell it like it is, walls up, hardcore type of person, I think mainly because I read too many books with characters like these haha. But in reality, I avoid confrontation like the plague. The idea of confronting someone, knowing it will upset them, gives me the worst pit in my stomach, so I think I thought that by ignoring it, that it would just disappear into a void. Turns out, it doesn’t, and it actually just hurts people even further by not saying anything at all. I tried to address that here.

The chorus captures a moment of confession and stripped-down truth: “I didn’t mean to leave you lonely; I didn’t mean to break your heart,” you sing. What inspired this line, and how does it capture the song’s essence for you?

Sarah Barrios: It’s just pure honesty. Sometimes you’re so focused on protecting yourself from being hurt, that you end up hurting someone you care for. For me, I didn’t really know I was doing it, but in a way I also did. I had convinced myself that I was avoiding the confrontation because I was concerned for the other person’s well-being, which is partially true, but I think the main reason was that I was just scared and not sure what I wanted. I really didn’t mean to hurt this person, and I felt it was important that they knew that.

Sometimes you’re so focused on protecting yourself from being hurt, that you end up hurting someone you care for.

So much of the character of this song comes from just a little light layering. Can you talk about the production aspect of your music – how easily did this song go from the drawing board to the record?

Sarah Barrios: I like songs that are what I describe as “IKEA Music.” Every time I walk into that store and look at how they set up a room, it just feels fresh. There’s not too much there, but it doesn’t feel empty either. Everything in it has a place and fits within the room. That’s what I want the music to feel like. It’s not crowding your ears with 50 sounds and it’s not leaving you empty with 2, everything has it’s place and fits within the song.

For this song, it went pretty smoothly. Jorgen, Micah and I had worked together to write for others many times, so we all clicked pretty instantly on what the song would sound like. Micah played some dope chords on the guitar and we kind of just went from there.

I like songs that are what I describe as “IKEA Music.” Every time I walk into that store and look at how they set up a room, it just feels fresh.



What is it about your sound that you find so alluring?

Sarah Barrios: I really tried to make sure that lyric, melody and instrumentation all helped to make the songs a 5 sense experience. I’m a big book reader and for me books are all immersive. I am transported to a different place where I can feel, smell, touch, hear and taste everything that’s happening around me. I wanted my music to do the same for the listener. I also think that honesty is important. These songs are the most honest I’ve been with both myself and other people and I think there’s something special about sharing vulnerability.

Obviously it’s an interesting time to be introducing yourself as an artist; how have you been doing during quarantine, and what music are you listening to these days?

Sarah Barrios: Indeed it is! I’ve been surprisingly the busiest I’ve ever been during quarantine, which I’m very grateful for. Just trying to keep myself busy and share music with others as much as possible in the hopes that it can give people an escape during this uncertain time. As for music, I’ve been listening to a lot of songs that make me feel relaxed, lots of Clairo, SALES, some Debussy, a lil Lennon Stella. Songs that help remind me to breathe, I really like those right now.

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:: stream/purchase I Didn’t Mean To here ::
Stream: “I Didn’t Mean To” – Sarah Barrios



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I Didn't Mean to - Sarah Barrios

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Mitch Mosk

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com