On March 28th, Sarah-Beth launched her single, ‘Make Me Feel Alive’, in The Poor Relation in Cork. This is Sarah-Beth’s second single; her first single ‘Let Me In’ was released in the summer of 2018. Both singles you can find on Spotify, along with an EP.
Without a doubt a name to watch in both the Cork and Irish music scene in general, we caught up with Sarah-Beth briefly ahead of the launch to talk all things music; her inspirations, hopes and plans for the future.
Sarah-Beth describes herself as a singer-songwriter mainly, combing a few different styles; “alternative folk and soul, and electronica, I suppose would be the main ones, so it’s kind of a blend… I always write by the piano, I like being creative and experimenting with different genres.”
Where did the interest in music originate? Did you play instruments as a kid? Did you play music with friends in school? Where did it all begin?
“It definitely came from playing piano, doing that from a young age, and that was always classical music that I had to learn, but it was from playing piano that I started writing my own stuff. I’d spend hours on end writing by the piano, and that gradually increased when I became a teenager. That’s really how it started! I was always in choirs in school and singing with friends; music was always a part of my life.”
Did you always intend on making music you career path, as well as your passion?
“I always had a dream at the back of my head that it (would work out that way), but I thought that would never really come true. I always knew I wanted to be an artist of some sort. Even when I was very young I said I wanted to be an artist when I grow up.”
You draw and do art as well as music, don’t you?
“Yeah, so it was either visual art or music art. I knew it would have to be something creative I’d do.”
Do you or have you ever connected your visual art to your music in some way?
“Definitely! A lot of the time. Even for the last EP, I wrote songs first and then did paintings based on the songs. They were all figures of people; it was to do with beauty and seeing the human as a work of art. I even find that now, when I’m drawing a picture, they kind of inspire each other (my art and my music).”
You’re releasing original music. Did you start off playing covers at gigs like many do, or did you launch straight into performing your originals?
“When I was 15 I realised how much I loved popular music and I loved playing covers of Lady Gaga on piano; just learning and figuring out how to work chord progressions and harmony. I used to do a lot of covers when I was younger but I learned once I started college: if you have a voice, use your own. That was my thing; if something had already been done before, trying to create something new. So I always really wanted to do originals.”
A lot of people say that song writing is like poetry and that it is very personal. Did that aspect of song writing scare you?
“I was always ready to write about personal experiences, but I wasn’t always ready to share it. Like, if someone said to me “oh so you’re writing a new song, will you play it there?” I’d be really nervous because they’re always really personal, and I’ve no problem being open with myself but it was when other people asked to hear them… but step by step I told myself that I just have to let it out there. It was a learning curve, something I just had to get used to over time.”
What music do you listen to? Is it the same music you get inspiration from or would you have separate music that you listen to purely to enjoy?
“I grew up listening to Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Jonny Mitchel, and all the classics… Bruce Springstein! So I always resort back to that. If I’m having a hard day or wanting to relax, any kind of mood I’m in, I go back to what I’ve always been listening to. I’m a creature of habit! I like listening to any kind (of music) because you can feel like you don’t know enough or get too caught up in one genre. It’s always good to branch out. I actually listen to a lot of house music as well, deep house, it’s completely different but I think it seeps into my original music now more than before.”
What’s your favourite thing about music, in general?
“I think that everyone enjoys it in some way. Not everyone likes, for example, football, but I don’t think there is anyone that doesn’t listen to music. It just carries people through life, through hard times and it feels like it’s always there. I just can’t imagine a world without music. It’s just so abstract but everyone can derive some kind of meaning from it, and even if the lyrics are really simple, like Let It Be, people can take it and make it their own, come up with their own meaning.”
You do music in college…
“Yeah, CIT School of Music.”
Do you think doing music in college is essential for anyone hoping to go into music as a career?
“That’s a really difficult question because some of my favourite songs are ones that I wrote when I was 16 or 17 when I didn’t study music in college, and they were so simple, the songs, and if you listen to a lot of commercial music its very simple. But I think as a musician or artist, once you know something you want to dive deeper into it, once you know those three chords you’re like “ok what else is there?”. I think it’s good to nourish yourself, to have a degree in music. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to write or arrange the music for a band if I didn’t study it in college. But simplicity seems to be a huge thing and sometimes if you study music in college you’re more to make it really complex because you associate that with being good, but sometimes less is more. All of my favourite songs are quite simple harmonically, so yeah.”
Your dream collaboration…
“Oh, James Blake.”
Why James Blake?
“I just find him very interesting. He plays piano as well, and there’s a lot of raw emotion. He’s got a very strong artistic vision, I feel. I don’t know, there’s just something very unique about his style. It would be really interesting to work with someone like that.”