Sabiine is a twenty-four-year-old singer-songwriter based in Atlanta who just released her EP ‘Dragonfruit’. We had an opportunity to chat to Sabiine about her music and I am so happy that finally, we are able to share it with you.
The opening song on the EP has a very powerful message ‘Future looking bright again’. We believe that after 2020 that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons we deserve more positivity. And after listening to ‘Dragonfuit’ on repeat I have to admit that I am feeling happier. It is hard to believe that it is the same person singing all the songs. Sabiine brings a unique blend of talent that deserves to be heard at arenas.
The quality of the production is sick and is much better than most of the stuff you hear on the radio!
While reading the answers to the questions I was so intrigued that there is so much more to Sabiine. She knows what she is doing and where she is going. Here we go… introducing one and only Sabiine.
Looks like 2020 has been an extremely productive year for you. You started with an EP and now you’re ending the year with another EP. How did you manage that?
Thanks! I get nervous about interviews and it’s so easy to get down on myself and feel like I’m not doing enough. It’s really nice to start with a question about how productive I’ve been! I’ve been fortunate to have some amazing people in my life who’ve encouraged me to pursue a career in music. 2020 was the first time I really committed to the idea that I could be a recording artist and gave myself the space to go for it. I would say the key for me was making a plan and then just sticking through with the process. That sounds simple, but it’s really easy to get sidetracked. Finding other people to work with is very important as well.
This year has been especially crazy for everyone, but one thing it gave me was a lot of time in the house in March and April. That’s actually when I started laying out the melodies for ‘Water’ and revisited ‘Still Miss You’ which was an acoustic song I had sitting in my ideas box. One thing that’s helped me is finding other creative people to work with who are similarly motivated. When things started to calm down a little, I connected with Tyler Gunz, my producer, and we started working together on this new EP. I figured why not release another EP this year if I could?
Tell us more about the EP and how did you select the songs for the EP?
t’s a good question, just because I have a lot of songs I’d like to record and new song ideas are always popping up. In terms of planning, you really do have to pick a song and commit to it if you want to get anything done. For ‘Hotline’ and ‘Water’, both of those are new songs that I wrote this spring and summer and I was just very excited about both and there was no way I was ever going to leave them off this EP.
‘Still Miss You’ was a little older. I’ve played it live and for friends before but I’ve never recorded it. When Tyler and I started working together I wanted to bring him something fairly well-formed just to see how we’d work together. Little did I know how great that would go and how strong that partnership would be. I was really impressed not just with his production skills but also he had very creative and useful suggestions about the tempo of certain lyrics and other suggestions that made the song better.
I loved the way it turned out, so much so that we released it early as a teaser for this EP. For ‘Laces You Tied’, that’s a really old song that I actually wrote in high school. There’s a very basic version of it posted on Soundcloud from years ago. I’ve been pretty interested in early 90’s chill rock like Mazzy Star or Cowboy Junkies and I wanted to pick one of the songs that I could put that kind of a sparse chill vibe to. Laces had always been a bit more direct, almost a march beat to it, but it lent itself well to slowing it down. Plus I love the somewhat inscrutable lyrics.
Your latest single ‘Hotline’ was inspired by a friend who would call you for advice and never listened. Does your friend know the song is about him/her? How did you manage to get out of that situation of always being the one to give advice?
HAHA NO. I would assume they aren’t even aware of my EP release and that’s okay. We had a falling out and agreed not to be friends anymore. It was a silly situation. You know, for interviews and to peak people’s interest you need to have a story and it’s a true story that this person pissed me off and I felt like a hotline and that’s where we got the inspiration for the song lyrics, but honestly, there are no hard feelings and I wish the friend the best. I hope they like the track. (Note to editor: if this were an in-person interview I would wink here).
How would you describe your sound?
I think I’d call my sound eclectic pop. I strive to make music that’s accessible and catchy, but it’s also a bit quirky and the lyrics give you something to think about. I’ve been told my voice has a lot of interesting nuances and that the note progressions I choose are a little unpredictable. Not to make comparisons of myself to truly great artists like Vampire Weekend, Little Dragon, or Alt-J, but I would say if you like those artists there’s a pretty good chance you might like my stuff as well. Definitely, a challenge I’ve faced is figuring out which genre box to check when pitching music online. Songs like Hotline or Secrets have almost a hip hop/R&B vibe to them, whereas a song like Laces is almost Alt-Country. I just try to write good music and figure the genre stuff will figure itself out eventually.
Let’s break down each of the songs. What does it mean to you? What’s the story behind each song?
‘Water’ was inspired when I challenged myself to write a love song. I always feel so silly trying to write love songs even though I am a hopeless romantic. My writing process is sort of a blur, but as much as I can describe it I decided to use the metaphor of water to describe how the feeling of love can make you feel like you’re floating, but can also feel like it’s drowning you. The tone of the song is melancholy yet buoyant (pun intended) and that’s how I’ve experienced love in my own life, exuberantly uplifting, but also almost drown you with its intensity. I guess the Island are those moments of connection and communication that feel like the safety within this ocean of feeling.
So ‘Hotline’ is really a collaboration between Tyler and me. The true story is we were working on ‘Water’ and hadn’t found the bridge yet and we were getting a little frustrated and burnt out. As a break, we just decided to lay down some beats. Totally unstructured, just to shake some of that frustration off and before you know it we were like, hey most of this is ridiculous, but there’s some good stuff in here.
The next session I told Tyler the “feeling like a hotline” story and we both thought that was funny so we started just with the lyric hotline over and over again, which was … a really terrible song, but the Hotline lyric fit. For some reason, I’m really good on a deadline and my manager had been on me about getting the EP wrapped up, so
I just tried to come up with some words that I associate with phones and hotlines and then looked for ways to find lyrics that matched that to my irritation about that relationship. An example would be the lyric “I know you’re in a dead zone, but you won’t let it die”. That comes from me finding the word dead zone which is a really powerful word and looking for a way to connect it to my feelings about this specific situation.
Anytime I’m feeling a lot of strong emotions around a situation, that’s an opportunity to channel that stuff into songwriting.SABIINE
Still Miss You
I wrote ‘Still Miss You’ a few years ago when my boyfriend at the time was deployed overseas. I hated being alone and had so much uncertainty about the future. I don’t even think I was aware of how significant the song was to my circumstances at the time, I was just messing around with my guitar and some lyrics. Later on, I realized this song basically expressed a year’s worth of journal entries. It’s very possible to love someone completely but still also know that things aren’t working out. That’s what this song is about.
Laces You Tied
‘Laces You Tied’ was actually the first song I wrote. Ever. I think I was a junior in high school and I fucking hated my family. I was not an angsty teen I just had an incredibly dysfunctional family life. I used to want to run away like every day. But I had no money and only a child-size bicycle so after family feuds, I would daydream about skipping town/planing my escape or something dumb like that, but usually end up just eating some liquorice and listening to music till I fell asleep in my room. It was a very weird and frustrating childhood.
I wrote that song because a schoolmate’s dad, who is a successful entertainment lawyer, said he thought I had talent. My home life was the only major source of stress at that time so I created ‘Laces You Tied’, it’s about being patient and knowing I could get out of there eventually. The song is pretty mellow sounding even though that’s not at all how I felt, perhaps it’s happy sounding cause I was thinking about growing up and leaving there someday.
Where do ideas for songs come from? Tell us more about your creative process.
I think most of my song ideas come from my interactions with people and my relationships. I feel like my head is spinning with feelings and thoughts a lot of the time, like too many thoughts and feelings to wrap my brain around and make sense of, maybe that’s just a part of being a creative person. Trying to find a rhyme, trying to find a melody never really works out for me. When I do that my rhymes sound predictable and my melodies sound like jingle. When I let myself write without being so conscious, everything seems to pour out of me, but usually in metaphors. I’m more intentional now than I used to be, but there have been times when I listened to my song later, and was like “whoa I had no idea I was writing about that!” Secrets is a really good example of that.
Do you remember the moment you decided to become a singer-songwriter?
I mean I’m pretty sure we all decided to be pop stars at age 6 singing into our hairbrush handles. For me though, I remember being freakin’ moved by music as a kid, like I would be incredibly emotionally attached to songs. I would listen over and over to songs and I’d get euphoric about music. I remember when I heard ‘Clair de Lune’ as a child, I would listen and imitate it on my keyboard until I eventually learned the song. Like it wasn’t a choice, I was OCD about it. I had to do it until I got it right.
The physical playing of instruments unlocked something in me and I was in the zone, and very obsessed with my instruments as a kid.SABIINE
But life went on and I got busy and I went to school and naturally got distracted by boys and all that. The entertainment lawyer dad who said I had talent really flattered me, and I dabbled with songwriting throughout high school and into college, never giving it serious attention though. As a senior in college at SCAD studying graphic design and advertising I was miserable and broke. I left school without even finishing and moved back to Atlanta and I was freaking out about what I had done. I was lucky in that I met a few key people who lent me studio space or encouraged my songwriting or asked me to play at their event, so I just thought if I’m not going to take a chance on myself now when exactly would be a good time to make that happen?
I decided to get serious about music and commit to it and see where it takes me. It was hard just figuring out the next right step with the music, but over the last 2 years of doing it full time, I’ve developed a groove and an amazing network of people I work with. The music business can be hard, but I haven’t regretted the decision.
Over the last 2 years of doing music full time, I’ve developed a groove and an amazing network of people I work with.SABIINE
What do you want to achieve with your music?
I would really like to just keep levelling up my own sound. I can’t really compare myself with other artists because I find it hard to even identify my genre or style or whatever, so I just want to keep getting better by my own standards. I like to see the growth I’ve achieved so far, and I’d really like to experience the feeling of having a hit. Both the experience of writing one where you instantly know and also the experience of putting it out there and seeing it take off. Think of the first few bars of a song like Beck’s ‘Loser’ or Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ or even Foster the People’s ‘Pumped up Kicks’, you hear those and you just know. Of course, I want a successful career and not to work a day job, but more than that, I want to feel what it feels like to write something like that.
I’d really like to experience the feeling of having a hit.SABIINE
Do you have a song, that when you hear it, you’d say, “I wish I’d written that”?
All the time. Sometimes I feel so connected with a song melody and it just slaps and I’m like DAMN I wish I wrote this and I could sing it better, too! Someone I could definitely not sing better than is the incomparable Amy Winehouse. Her songs like “Stronger than Me” or “Fuck Me Pumps” are just so indescribably brilliant in the way they capture the female experience, at least as far as this female experiences it. I can’t possibly give enough compliments to Amy Winehouse’s songwriting.
In ‘Water’ you sing ‘the future looking bright again’. What are your plans for 2021?
A full length album.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our audience?
I’d just really like to thank you for featuring me and my work. These were really exceptional questions and I appreciated the opportunity to discuss myself and my work in this way. Similarly, whoever is reading this, I’d like to thank you as well for taking the time to get to know me and learn a little about my music.
Make sure to connect with Sabiine