In Conversation with… Sarah Close!

I sat down with Sarah Close backstage before her sold-out show at The Deaf Institute in Manchester (in a room which smelt of Domino’s) and talked to her about Mario Kart, boat analogies and her rise to stardom...

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'Caught Up' EP artwork

A lot of people don’t know how long you’ve been around but it’s actually been seven years since your first upload to YouTube, what was it that made you take that path into music? 

Mainly the area I grew up in: the Isle of Wight is incredibly cut off, not so much socially but in terms of the music industry – there was no way for me to get in. I’d have to travel to London to meet managers & labels and it’s just such a long and difficult journey. So I was like, ‘how can I be a singer or be in the music industry if I can’t get to these places?’. I started my YouTube channel as a way of getting my music out to people that I can’t reach physically.

 

Would you say that it’s easier to build a fanbase in this way than the traditional route into music?

Well obviously both routes are great, whether you’re starting from scratch with management or with covers, but I think that different people are on different paths for different reasons and this is mine. You have to look at it from a business point of view and be like ‘does this work for me and my image?’, but for me I don’t regret starting on YouTube and I love the YouTube family. It’s all about what you want to do as an artist.

 

Do you think that doing covers helped bring listeners into what you liked and would eventually release? 

I think so. I hope so! I tried to keep to a single genre so that when I released my own music people would see the links between the two, so I think it helps – or that was what I intended.

 

Would you say it’s easier to rework a song for a cover or to write your own from scratch? Which comes more naturally?

Oh wow, that’s a tough one because writing my own music is definitely more natural because I know what I want the feelings of the people listening to be but I love working on covers – you heard what I’m doing as a cover in the soundcheck!

[she’s referring to her mash up of Charlie Puth’s ‘We Don’t Talk Anymore’, Katy Perry’s ‘Teenage Dream’ and Rihanna’s ‘Only Girl in The World’]

 

I had been wondering what you were going to do with covers now that you weren’t on YouTube, and that answered it! The mash-up sounded amazing!

Thank you! I knew that I’m not going to upload any more covers onto YouTube anymore, I have stopped that but I’ll always try and whack them into a set and try and do something good with them.

 

What made it feel like the right time to step away from YouTube?

A combination of a few things: I was getting to the point where I wasn’t enjoying it anymore, I started it to make music and I wasn’t doing that. I felt like if I didn’t stop this year then I never would. Also I needed to feel like I was growing and progressing, I wanted to be seen as an artist not a YouTuber with original songs. Hopefully that is working.

 

Is that why your channel is now being used to promote what you’re doing away from YouTube? I know your new single ‘Only You’ was revealed in ‘Singing Your Questions’.

A hundred percent, yeah! I don’t want a VEVO channel, I don’t want to lose or take away what I’ve spent seven years doing and making. That’s not what I’m about, I’d like people to see the progression I’ve made from covers to original music. I have no problem with people going back and watching all my old work and going into my past.

 

When you first heard the EP and ‘Call Me Out’ (the debut single) played as a finished product, what was that like?

I cried, I won’t lie! When I first heard all of them mastered I got to ‘Maestro’ and just flat out cried because everything sounded so good! I was just like ‘finally’ because I’ve worked so hard for this keeping it under wraps for so long and I was just so proud and they sounded so awesome, like ‘that’s MY song’!

 

How scary was it being on stage as you for the first time, away from the camera and the piano?

I was in complete denial, like ‘this is mad, I don’t know what’s going on’. I don’t think it hit me until a week later, I came off stage and was just still buzzing wanting to do it again but after a week it just sort of dawned on me what I’d done and everything.

 

To go from that, to playing BST in Hyde Park on the same day as Justin Bieber, did that feel real?

I mean, it was just amazing. It was such a sunny day, my first ever festival, I walked on stage to a massive crowd – bigger than I’d ever expected – and it was just lovely! We had a great time after as well, I spent a lot of time with the band and saw Justin Bieber and had some food, it was just so nice.

 

You’re now signed to Parlophone Records, which is a pretty major label, does this mean an album is coming soon? 

I don’t know about soon, but there’s definitely an album on the way. It’s on the horizon, but it’s a while off: we’re on a boat is sailing slowly at like five knots an hour towards it.

 

How was it seeing all of the promo stuff around London with your face on it? 

Nuts! I was skateboarding around Shoreditch the other day and saw a poster for my Heaven show in a hostel and me and friend went in and took photos with it and its just mad, but a really nice feeling.

 

What’s next in the short term? 

Some new music, some new merch and maybe some more dates for live gigs – maybe some dates outside the UK, we’ll have to see. I’m getting back in the studio to do more songs and finish some more songs and get ready for next year.

 

We tend to finish interviews with asking about what music you’re playing on the tour bus, so what is the Sarah Close band rinsing? 

We haven’t been playing music too much, we’ve got Mario Kart though! We play some SZA and Post Malone – love them. But yeah, there’s not a lot of music really, it’s just playing Mario Kart, we’re having a really serious tournament!

 

Who’s winning at the moment? 

Me! Everyone keeps calling me Her Royal Highness! I’m a good player, I’m pretty savage on Mario Kart. I don’t ever feel bad for beating people, take your winnings and run with it!

 

The ‘Caught Up’ EP is out now!

SarahClose1 on YouTube

sarahclose.co.uk