For those of you in college, it might be scary thinking about what your plans are for what comes afterward. Maybe you want to travel the world before settling down, or maybe you have a job lined up right after you graduate in order to launch your career. For those of us who have already gone through it, we know the equal parts joy and nerves that come with formulating a plan. Sarah Solovay had a plan that not many of us share when she left college—returning to her career as a pop music star.

Solovay grew up with a perfect blend of listening interests to foster the infectious brand of pop she now plays. She recalls listening to seminal artists with her parents in her youth saying, “What comes to mind is Elton John,Jackson Browne, Tom Petty, The Beatles, the Stones.” At the same time, she grew up during the height of the ’90s pop icon boom, listening to the likes of Britney Spears, *NSYNC, and Backstreet Boys (when pressed, she reveals she’s an *NSYNC girl).

While college can be a difficult decision for some, Solovay knew what she was getting into and was more than capable of handling it. She had already toured before her time at Yale University and knew growing up that she wanted to go to school.

“There was never really a moment of deciding, ‘Okay, I am going to college,’” she says, “It was something of a decision that just happened gradually.” While the music industry and an Ivy League school are two wildly different beasts, Solovay says both have helped her grow into a fully formed adult with her own viewpoints and things to say, which are reflected in her music.

A lot of that music was written in Los Angeles, an experience that the New York native described as life altering. She recalls first landing in LA, “I set foot off the plane and I was unclogged. All of these new songs started spilling out of me in these sessions.” The emotion in her voice telling this story is palpable, and her upcoming releases are sure to contain the fruits of those productive days out west.

Solovay has also recorded in New York and Nashville and says that each city has a different feel to it. In the case of New York, Solovay finds that it feels smaller, as much of the music industry’s heart still lies out west and in Nashville. Speaking of Nashville, Solovay speaks lovingly of the city’s dedication to the artistry and craft that goes into songwriting there.

Artistry clearly influenced one of the tracks Solovay already has out in the world, “Rough Draft.” The song itself features a ton of visual arts references in the lyrics, so Solovay knew that the music video had to match. The end result was a team up between herself and artist Xiaonan Sun, who showcases his work on Youtube as ThePortraitArt. How did this collaboration come around? The internet, of course. “I sent him the song and he loved it,” Solovay says on working with Sun. “He came back to me and said ‘I have all these ideas for this music video, would this be something you’d want to work on?’” With how gorgeous the final video is, this was a match that definitely succeeded.

Solovay has positioned herself to continue a rise into the pop music zeitgeist. Combining the musical knowledge from her youth, the many life lessons and maturation into adulthoodthat college brings, and recording across the entire country, there are few more prepared to harness their musical abilities and seize the moment than Solovay. For the rest of us, we’re in for some damn good music.

*A version of this interview first ran in the current print issue of Substream Magazine, on stands now and available through our online store!