In Conversation with Sarah Close

Sarah Close is the lady responsible for some of the most infectious pop melodies 2017 has been fortunate enough to witness. Strolling hand-in-hand with the Internet and her music, Close hit the big time with the help of YouTube and that sweet, sweet voice.

Not many can bloat about their debut single garnering a staggering 3 million streams in just under half a year, albeit Sarah gets full bragging rights with this one.

Signing a record deal, putting out the Caught Up EP and preparing for her first ever headline tour across the UK, Sarah’s calendar for the future is looking fully booked, and luckily as she catches an Uber on her way to tour rehearsals she manages to slot us in to discuss it all.

Growing up in the Isle of Wight – big transition making the move to London?

I wanted to move to London since I was about sixteen, I was always like “Okay, I need to move to London if I want to be in the music industry.” I remember trying very hard to convince my parents to let me drop out of doing my A Levels so I could make the move; they were totally against it being all “You should finish your education, you know, you should do this,” so they kind of forced me [laughs].

I moved to London at eighteen and it was like a scary move! I spent the summer before I moved fretting about it, worrying if I was going to miss home, what was I doing etc. I didn’t know the city or know what it was like, I’m a proper country pumpkin that grew up surrounded by farms but I loved it. My first year there was amazing and my parents encouraged me to enroll into University so I’d make friends and have a social life other than just moving and not knowing anyone and I’m so thankful for that because they were completely right.

What’s the music scene looking like in your home town?

I grew up with my parents playing in bands and it was just a hobby for them, but as a kid I’d often have babysitters because my parents on a Friday/Saturday night would be playing gigs; we also have a music room at home where they’d be rehearsing all the time.

It’s the kind of music scene which involves a lot of pubs, as a kid I’d play in loads of those, we’re also surrounded by water so there’s a few yacht havens where I’d do monthly two hour gigs there.

Of course, we have the Isle of Wight festival as well and up until recently Bestival, so there’s those kinds of things to get involved with. There’s lots of little places where you can be booked and practice as a performer.

What would be your dream festival lineup?

Oh my god. I’d love Rihanna, then Frank Ocean, I’d like SZA on there too. I’d love Dua Lipa, Raye, ALMA, Charli XCX, Katy Perry would be amazing, I’d like to see Katy and Taylor Swift you know? Not like together but on the same lineup [laughs]. I’d probably put Shakira in there…

Your ‘Songs I Wish I Wrote’ playlist ranges from the Spice Girls, Britney Spears, all the way to Joni Mitchell – did you grow up listening to these artists featuring in the playlist?

I definitely did, I mean… that Toxic song by Britney Spears is honestly one of the best songs ever; it was written by Cathy Dennis and, WHAT A SONG. My parents gave me a very rich musical upbringing, I was listening to everyone from Carol King, Shania Twain, Cheryl Crowe to The Strokes, Blink-182, a huge range from rock to pop. The first CD I got was an S Club 7 CD.

If I could listen to one playlist for the rest of my life and I just had to listen to those songs these would be the ones that inspire me with its sounds and lyrics. They’re all my favourite songs for different reasons but that’s like my collection of most impressive songs I’ve ever heard.

I wouldn’t mind listening to Spice Girls for the rest of my life to be honest…

Right? And the thing was that I wasn’t even a huge fan of them as a kid, I was a bigger fan of S Club 7 but as I’ve grown up I’ve come to appreciate them even more.

Your debut single Call Me Out has ranked up over 3M streams already – do these stats urge you to outdo yourself in future releases?

I really try to not think about stats, I’m so happy that Call Me Out has done so well, much better than I first initially thought it was going to! When I’m in the studio if I think the song isn’t honest and authentic to who I am then ultimately I don’t believe in the track anyway.

It’s so hard to think about statistics and I think it’s important not to get lost in it because whenever I’m writing music I always think “What would sixteen-year-old Sarah say?” I used to cry myself to sleep being like “I want to get off this island and be a singer so badly, and I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to do it.” So, I think ‘would that Sarah be proud of me now? Would she want me to be doing this?’ and that’s what I try to keep in mind.

The EP was such a small stepping stone and hopefully now I can start to be a little frog and jump all over the place.

Own record label ‘The Kodiak Club’ – any plans to expand and sign your own artists in the future?

It’s something I really want to do, it’s not something I’m interested in now as I’m focusing on myself and my own music. My hope with the label is to help other artists maybe create their first EP or put their first single out and work with them to do that and work on their social media etc. before they go off to join a bigger label. I don’t want to be a record label who finds people long term and for the rest of their lives but when I started out I needed someone to invest in me and give me a little bit of money, so that’s something I really see happening for The Kodiak Club. It’s something I have big plans for and when I do it I’m going to do it right.

New single Only You – talk us through the backstory of this one?

I wrote Only You back in February before the EP came out and I was feeling a little unmotivated with music, I felt like last year for me wasn’t a good year for writing, I didn’t feel very confident in what I was doing so when I wrote it I didn’t even think about it, and looking back it was probably the song that sparked my inspiration and confidence in my own abilities again.

It’s a song that stems from the feeling of being in a relationship and not wanting to compromise anymore, I think many young adults who are still growing and finding themselves can agree that sometimes you need to step out on your own to know what you like and what you dislike. It’s not a song that’s saying, “you’ve done this wrong!” and “I’ve done this wrong!” rather it’s a song that’s saying, “neither of us are to blame here, it’s simply not working because we’re both not ready for this to be right.”

First ever tour across the UK starts next week – how are you preparing?

We’re in rehearsals this week, and I’m so motivated by challenge and feeling the need to prove that I can do something so I’m excited to learn more about being on stage and performing and talking to a crowd; I’m sure I’m going to be nervous but I also kind of enjoy nerves.

Any essentials to take on the road?

Well, it’s my first ever tour so I’m sure I’m going to find out some essentials. I’m definitely taking a pillow, I know I’ll be in hotels and stuff but oh my god, there’s nothing better than having your own pillow is there? I’ve never watched Game of Thrones before so I’m going get into that [laughs], I’ve downloaded that and got it ready to go. Other than that, probably just my headphones, laptop and mini keyboard to see if I can create anything whilst on the road.

Signing a record deal and releasing a debut EP in the space of half a year – what’s next for Sarah Close?

You never know what is round the corner, but the plan after tour is to spend the next six months in a studio with new songs and music videos coming out. I want to spend the next year touring America, Europe and even bigger shows in the UK.

With singing the record deal there’s now a new focus towards my album and what’s going to be on that, I felt like before I was writing to find myself and to practice, whereas now with the label and their involvement there’s a real feeling of being in a team and working towards something so we’re all building towards an album. My focus is working on what that’s going to be, what voice it’s going to have, the sound of it and all those exciting things. I’m so excited for the future and what it will bring. It’s all going to start happening now.

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