Last weekend, she had a gig in London, next weekend, she will perform in Hastings. After her debut single ‘Let Me Introduce Myself’, the Brighton-based singer-songwriter is looking forward to releasing her very first EP on the 7th of July. Soulful lyrics mixed with an incredibly powerful sound scenery, Sabrina Gunston surely is among the upcoming talents in Brighton’s local music scene. We met her for a little interview and here is what she told us about herself, her music and her excitement about her first EP launch party!
Living in Hove, the 20-year-old works at a cafe as a barista, making coffee, preparing sandwiches and talking to customers. It is this everyday exchange that allows her to gather new stories and to get inspiration for her music and as soon as she gets back from home in the evening, there is only place for her to be.
“I have a special music room in my house. The room is all white because it kind of helps my mind to stay clear. Sitting down, I just have to play a few chords and I suddenly get into this emotion and I just start writing. A whole song structure can come out of just one word”, she tells us with excitement.
Singing and writing songs, that’s what she has done pretty much all her life. Having really discovered her passion for music in Secondary School, Sabrina took singing classes for a year to learn different techniques and basics before starting to write her own lyrics and music at the age of thirteen. Her voice, the sounds of the piano and a producing software for her computer. That’s all she needed to record her own songs.
Having put out her music on Soundcloud, the singer got contacted by people asking her to write lyrics for them or to allow them to remix one of her tracks. But putting her music online for others to see it wasn’t easy for her at first.
“Subconsciously you worry about what people will think when they listen to it. Battling with that in your head isn’t easy. But that’s how my producer found me. He came along and wanted to remix one of my songs. At the beginning, it was a soppy ballad and he turned it into this really strong sounding drum and bass song”, Sabrina tells us about how she met her current producer.
Having been introduced to electronic sounds by one of the producers she worked with beforehand, the singer is more than happy to have found a producer who understands what sound she is looking for and who can help her make her music sound so unique. When they get together in the studio, they usually manage to come up with a song within a day. “We’re so creative together!”, Sabrina says.
But on the basis, it is her piano melodies, lyrics and, above all, her incredible voice! When we ask her at what moment she has discovered that she had such an amazing voice, she gives us this modest answer.
“I don’t actually remember a point in my journey where I said to myself ‘Ah, my voice is quite ok’. I have never had that point, I just carried on. Even now, when people say to me ‘Your voice is really nice’, I just think ‘Really?’. I can’t believe that people actually enjoy listening to me and it’s quite an overwhelming feeling and I am still not quite used to it”, the songwriter admits.
When playing a gig, the singer still gets a bit nervous, but in a positive way. “Every time I go on stage I get like a little adrenaline buzz. But it works in my favor because it makes me give it all and everything”, she describes. When it comes to her stage performances, the young woman has got big dreams.
“The dream would be going into the arena and singing in front of 50,000 people and everyone singing your songs back. That must be so emotional! I think I would cry on stage!”, says the singer who would love to go touring around the world one day.
Although she hasn’t had an audience singing her lyrics back to her yet, she recently had a very special gig experience as she tells us: “I had a gig in London last Sunday and that was pretty incredible because the people there were actually listening to every single note rather than chatting to each other. When I saw people starting to move and to really get into it, that was just great!”
“Starting to move and getting into it” is indeed a good way to describe the effect her incredibly powerful songs have on people who listen to them. A mysterious sound scenery created by a mix of drums, keys, bass, vocal effects, synthesizers, and pad sounds, and combined with her soulful lyrics and velvety voice, that’s what her music is like.
In her music, Sabrina has been influenced by other Future Soul and Electropop singers such as Nao and Banks, but also by big stars such as Joni Mitchell, Ella Fitzgerald, or Nina Simone, who she admires for their image as strong powerful women.
“I like the thought of being a powerful and confident woman rather than being shy and timid. I quite like the aspect of ‘This is me and I am not gonna let this happen!”, she states. “In my songs, what I am trying to say is ‘just be yourself and be true to yourself’ rather than letting anyone try and change you or interfere with who you want to be like.”
For the young woman, it is beyond question to become one of those artists who totally change just to please their record label and produce number one hits. “As an artist, you see a lot of what’s happening behind closed doors in the music industry, and a few artists change to become part of what their label wants them to be like. I feel like it is important to say ‘This is me and if you don’t like me, then I will go and find someone else’. As a musician, your sound and your songs are what people judge you by. By staying true to myself I think that people will understand the real me.”
So far, Sabrina hasn’t been confronted with this situation yet as she is still waiting for a record label to sign her in. Nevertheless, she has a big and important event in her music career coming up next month, the release of her first EP called ‘777’ and very own EP launch party!
“It’s really stressful as I am putting it up all by myself, but it is super exciting! This is my chance now to shine. My chance to show people what I have been doing behind closed doors. I can’t wait! At the moment, I am mainly supporting other artists when I do gigs. I have only had two headline gigs so far and that’s nothing. I want people to come to hear my songs and to watch me perform”, the singer says with her voice full of enthusiasm.
Featuring seven tracks, her EP will contain four of her already established songs as well as three new ones, including “High”. It is this song that Sabrina has chosen to produce her first real music video, another debut for the singer looking to be discovered.
The EP will officially be released the 7th of July, hence the decision to call it ‘777’. “There are seven songs, it’s gonna be released on the 7th of July and in 2017 and apparently, seven is the heaven number. If 666 is the devil, I suppose 777 is the angels”, Sabrina jokes.
Her EP launch party will take place the 6th of July at The Hope&Ruin. Tickets are on sale here or can be purchased at the door.