Sara Chodak is Vassal. She is a 18 year old Philadelphia-based songwriter who is driven by emotion and the world around her. She is an eclectic mix of grungy punk, traditional folk, and rebellious rock. She ties her music together with just an acoustic guitar and raw lyrics. The stories woven throughout her songs derive from inspiration from the people she sees, the places she’s been, and the all of the unembellished emotions she has felt. Sara was invited to the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance Conference (NERFA) in 2016, and was honored to be one of the first to receive the Grassy Hill Youth Scholarship. She was then invited to play at the 56th annual Philadelphia Folk Festival as apart of NERFA presents Young Folk. Sara was also accepted into the Philadelphia Folksong Society Artist Co-op in 2019 and performed at the Spring Gulch Folk Festival in May 2019.
Along with folk festivals, Sara has made her way around the scene, playing at venues such as the Trocadero, The Barbary, Connies Ric Rac, and Steel City Coffeehouse.
For Sara, every day is a new adventure with her guitar. In 2019, she went on her biggest one yet and released her debut EP, ‘Matter.’ It shares six songs of anger, sorrow, triumph, and constant revelations that she is discovering and writing about more and more each day. Sara played these songs for two years, even traveling along the coast and playing in venues across Boston, New York City, New Jersey, and of course Philadelphia. Along the way, she continued to write, somehow putting even more angst and grit into her songs. This new compilation of songs will form her debut album, Make Me the Queen. It is set to release in early summer, and Sara plans to make it bigger and better than ever. It is the true showcase of what Vassal is truly about.
In 2020, she released a short story, along with original poetry, in a book called Mass Murder. In Mass Murder, the reader is taken through not only the story of a Vassal in battle, but through poems, they are shown the mind of the Vassal. The battle takes place in a time of the birth of technology, the crumbling of the feudal system, and the splitting of two sides. It is a time that blends the past and the present, showing how history can sometimes never change. The Vassal is a fighter, and when he loses the Lord that watched over him, his own fight begins. It’s a fight that will crawl into your soul and have you question where you place yourself and which truth you decide to follow. The mind of the Vassal is a perfect map into the confusion the Vassal is trying to figure out, and how the world he was brought into can so easily tear him down. It’s the twists and the turns of his personal experiences that go hand in hand with our time. Mass murder is an intense exploration of why things are the way they are. It hands over the pieces to the downfall of our society, and only you can complete the puzzle.
As Sara would describe it, Make me the Queen is the sidekick to Mass Murder. It is the voice of the Vassal's battle, and Sara hopes that everyone can see a little bit of themselves in the Vassal. From her own experience, she created the character as a way to visualize her struggle of being stuck in the 9-5 system, a life of using her time in the most mundane ways just so she can survive. Slowly coming out of childhood and into adulthood, Sara saw this struggle far too much. Not just for herself, but for all of the people she met who had been trapped for 40 years, and the people who felt they had no other choice but to fall into that same cycle themselves for the next 50 years. This is where 'Mass Murder' was born. The title of the book is named after a song that will be on the debut album. With the line 'I'm not into Mass Murder if I'm not getting paid for it,' that song was the beginning of this story for Sara.
Until Make Me the Queen is released, Sara has released Nuclear Worms, the first single off the debut. Grungy, raw, dirty, and angsty - It is the perfect start for Vassal's first album. It cycles through all of the fear and worries that one can burden themselves with in this world, and focuses on how overwhelming it can be just to survive. The song is out on all platforms, including Bandcamp and Soundcloud. You can also find Mass Murder, the book, on Amazon or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy.