Saro is on his knees. His platinum hair shimmers in the blue spotlight as he lifts his eyes to the sky. “I can’t find a way out,” he croons.
Agents of hell and heaven battle behind the light in his eyes. A rainbow mirages over his head, though it might be a trick of the light. A guttural scream erupts from his mouth, ringing through The Troubadour (the iconic Los Angeles music venue) like church bells, leaving the audience stunned.
“Music is a form of therapy for me, so I have to get all the darkest, deepest shit out of me,” Saro says later. “I try to always say it in the darkest way I can as well just to really like ring out all of it.”
Growing up, the young performer (born Evan Windom) loved to sing in the shower. He never felt comfortable singing in front of his family though, careful to keep his dreams close to his chest. He coped with his parents’ rocky divorce by suppressing his emotions as well as his sexuality.
“When I was a teenager, my dad told me that he'd kill me if I was gay,” he shares. “It made me repress a lot for a lot of years and I would have recurring nightmares about him chasing me and trying to kill me and stuff, so that kind of really made me hide who I was and repress my sexuality.”
It wasn’t until college that Saro found his strength and began classical voice lessons. Getting drunk with an old friend kick-started his career as a musician. The two were fooling around when she said, “Oh, my God, you can sing. That’s crazy. Let’s write a song.” They went into a studio, recorded some covers, posted one on SoundCloud, “and it got like a million views and then managers and producers and stuff were hitting me up. And then I was like, ‘Holy shit. This is something that I can actually do.’”
Sharing who you are is a vulnerable and political act, and at 30, Saro has only begun to feel comfortable baring his soul to the world over the last five years.
“It's been a journey of opening up more and being more honest about my sexuality. And this project that I'm working on now is the first time that I’m using male pronouns in my songs.”
What changed? For one, he came out to his dad. “My dad and I are super close now after I came out to him. He was totally chill and he doesn't even remember [threatening] me, to be honest.” These days, Saro just doesn’t “give a fuck anymore. Like, if anyone of my family members has anything, any issue with me or my sexuality or anything I'm doing, I have a zero tolerance policy and I’m just like, ‘If you don’t want me in your life, then fuck you, like, goodbye.’”
Being true to who himself is one reason he’s so captivating to watch onstage. To this day, he pumps himself up before every performance with some words of wisdom from a friend, Orange Is the New Black star Laverne Cox, who over a three-and-a-half hour conversation imparted what Saro has condensed into 10 bullet points that any artist can use.
Some of them include: “Take 30 minutes of quiet meditative time before your performance. Use affirmations like, I am the shit... Sometimes stillness is the move. Once you command the space with your presence, silence and stillness melts brains... Study performances of the greats and borrow techniques from each of them. Think about who you want to emulate and have percentages of each. I wrote mine… Dynamics. Take the audience on a journey, give them a piece of you to keep.”
When we release who we are into the world, we have no idea how far our voice can echo. Saro’s scream rings in the ears of his fans, as well as on Spotify, where his single “Die Alone” evokes the essence of his soul.