What is your name?
Sarah, but my artist name is “North” I had a conversation a while ago with a friend that moved down to London around the same time as me, over why he had completely lost his accent and I still had mine, his answer ‘Well Sarah, some of us move down south and integrate, others, like yourself, move down and become professional Northerners… and “North” was born, so there you are!
What is your genre of music?
Rock & blues
Give us a little bio about you.
“I’m from the North” is the fitting phrase often used by singer/songwriter ‘North’, “where there’s no such thing as bad weather – only inappropriate clothing!” Now living in London, this fearless 29-year-old songstress is using the battles she has fought and won, including the infamous BMU scandal that rocked the UK music industry in 2018, as fuel to fire the likely success of her first EP. With influences that include Christina Aguilera and P!nk, North remarks “I love the whole strong, feisty and fearlessness thing they portray…they preach acceptance and fight for the underdog so I guess that resonates”. She draws further inspiration from the likes of Slash, Nirvana, Elton John and Etta James which should be an indication of the wide-ranging sound you can expect to hear from North both on her EP and in her live performances. Her powerful vocals are reminiscent of Christina Aguilera but with the soul of Janis Joplin, drawing you in while also making you aware that nothing will break her down. It’s quite the thing to experience. North is currently preparing for a UK-tour to promote the release of her EP due out in February 2020 with London-based record label Dreamscope Records and a follow up EP due out in the spring.
What made you go into music?
It was something that was a part of me before I even knew it. I felt it but couldn’t verbalise it or explain it. Music literally moves me, it affects my mood and headspace, it’s my safe place. My grandma was a trained opera singer and released an album. The first instrument I ever learnt to play anything on was my Grandad’s Banjolele. On the other side of my family, my Hungarian Grandad played the accordion. I initially wanted to go into medicine and began studying towards it at college, but after getting sick and being hospitalised for two weeks I had to drop out of my college course and restart the year. I went off to Turkey and worked my first season out there, and one night while slightly intoxicated grabbed the mic off the DJ and started singing along, my boss asked me to start singing to close the club and I came back to the UK and applied for Leeds College of Music! Ultimately as either using music as my own personal therapy or an AA meeting!
Are you a signed?
I am signed with an independent record label here in London called Dreamscope Records.
You set to release your new single ‘Breaking Me Down’, tell us more about the single.
Well it’s been a long time coming. I actually wrote it back in 2012 during what was an awful year for me personally. It seemed like so many bad things happened all in a short space of time and it was either write about it or drown my sorrows in a pint. I’d actually started to record this song when I signed with Band Management Universal (BMU) here in London in 2015, until it came to light that their whole operation was a scam – The ‘worst scam in over 20 years’ was the line used by the BBC and the Musician’s Union…it ended up being a very soul destroying time. I was getting a lot of people messaging me as a result and one of them was a video message from Dreamscope (my current label) and I’m so glad they did. They’ve been so patient in building me up again and teaching me about the music industry. It’s been such a great experience working with them. The team breathed new life into the song. They say everything happens for a reason! They brought in Robert Venable (Kelly Clarkson, Megadeath) to mix and master the song and the EP and I’m just so excited to share it with everyone.
What is the meaning behind ‘Breaking Me Down’?
Life. It was a scream at life to give me a damn break! To be honest there wasn’t any one event, more an accumulation. Life just kept throwing punches and with each one I got a little more lost and tried a little harder to fight it until I couldn’t. But out of the ashes the phoenix must rise. It’s about being pushed to your absolute limits, a war cry if you will, we all fall but it’s how we get up again that matters. I generally have three go to methods of coping – beer, songwriting and therapy, in no particular order but songwriting is admittedly the cheapest, beer the most fun, don’t tell my therapist about the second one!
Describe the track in two words.
Fuck You. (If we need to we can use a more PC option: ‘Go Listen!’ )
What was the writing process like?
I only started songwriting seriously when I moved to London in 2010. I had this really helpful (hear my sarcasm) gremlin on my shoulder telling me that I couldn’t do it and wasn’t good enough and the fear ruled over me. Enter Dan, my co-writer and one of my best friends, he has this innate ability to calm me down, and make me listen to rational thought – it’s a rare, yet useful talent. I play a little guitar but I’m by no means a guitarist, so I would come up with the basic outline of the song and the lyrics and I’d hand it over to Dan and put the pro on guitar duties and then we’d bounce it between the two of us until we got it down.
What was the recording process like?
I love that Dreamscope works with local musicians who are emerging musicians in their own right. I think we brought in some of the best musicians in London, in my opinion. They took the initial recordings that Dan and I made and re-tracked nearly everything to give it new life. Then we sent the sessions to Nashville where Robert is so that he could do his thing! The recording process is done more remotely that I would’ve ever imagined but it’s great.
Who did you work with on the Single?
I got to work with my best friend Dan, he’s been through the rough and smooth with me. It was the biggest honour. My team at my label produced the project and we brought in Robert Venable (Kelly Clarkson, Megadeath) to mix and master it
STREAM IT HERE!
Will we see an EP or Album this year?
This is the first single from my first EP dropping on the 28th of February. Then later this year I’ll be releasing another EP – lots of music coming up!
Do you have any shows coming up?
I have been performing around London again and it’s been absolutely incredible to have that time to be connected with the audience, one fan even turned up to my last gig with her hair dyed in my honour, possibly the craziest thing anyone has ever done for me. We are currently preparing my summer and autumn schedule now and we will release the dates on social media in the coming months.
If so where will you be heading?
I wish I could say world tour but I’m still earning my stripes to get on that front! So we will focus on the south of England but I also can’t wait to go back to the motherland and hit up cities like my hometown, York and other cities up north like Manchester.
What else can we expect in Early 2020?
I will have a follow up EP in the autumn. Until then I’ll be performing loads, hopefully some collaborations along the way. It’s going to be exciting!
Do you have any collaborations coming up with any upcoming artists?
Nothing planned, but I’m always open for a good collab.
Would you be up for collaborations if other musicians wanted one with you? And who would they have to contact?
I’m always up for working with other artists, especially if it’s an interesting crossover collab, it helps to push you out of your comfort zone, and there’s always something new to learn, every day’s a school day! There’s something exciting about being able to bounce ideas with fellow musicians
Do you play any instruments?
I taught myself to play guitar when I started studying music, so that I could write without needing to rely on others. I certainly wouldn’t call myself a guitarist, but if Slash is free I’m down for becoming his student.
Who are your influences?
People like P!nk and Christina Aguilera have always inspired me. They are such strong women. But I’m also inspired by Elton John, Stormzy, Slash, Nirvana, Etta James…I just like people with really strong personalities, I think.
How do you get inspiration to write songs?
Songwriting is cheaper than therapy! Beer always helps loosen me up. My anxiety sometimes makes me overthink things, which makes simple tasks difficult to focus on, having a few beers helps relax me enough and then it just flows. I struggle to write when I’m in the midst of something, but once I’ve had the time to step back then it finds its way out.
Where do you see yourself now in 5 Years?
I hope I’ll be touring the world, and making my mark on the industry, getting to rub shoulders with some of my heros! But most of all I want to be successful and influential enough to take care of my family and close friends for life and also be able to help other people that have had their battles with mental health and homelessness.
When you’re not doing music, what do you do?
Love a good social with friends, but I’m also on a mission to rediscover my abs so the gym, which is actually a great way of keeping on top of my nervous energy and out of mischief
What was the song you listened to most that influenced you to go more in to the music scene?
I can’t name one song, but Guns N Roses – Appetite For Destruction blew my mind the first time I heard it. I never get tired of it, so many hidden gems
What’s the best advice you have ever been given?
Nothing is permanent, all things pass
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians not about the industry and just as an artist?
Don’t give up. Such a cliché I know but it just is not something that’s going to happen over night. That’s just how it appears sometimes. Figure out yourself – who you are and what you stand for. And don’t give your trust too freely.
What quote or saying do you always stick by?
I can’t have too much blood in my alcohol stream
Where in your hometown is a must go to visit?
I can’t pick one; there are 365 pubs within the roman walls, that’s one reason for everyday of the year!
Your coming off tour;
1/ Where do you go first? Pub, guilt free beer, the voice doesn’t need to be rested anymore!
2/ Who do you see first? My babies (The Shar Pei’s – always super happy to see me and never give me cheek haha)
3/What do you eat first? Take me to the curry house!!
When you are at a gig, what are 5 things you cannot forget?
Hot water, honey, the band, post gig pint what little dignity I have left!