Interview: Sahara Beck on balancing her personal identity and creativity

Sunday, September 23, 2018

In the thick of BIGSOUND, I met Brisbane-based artist Sahara Beck. We sat down in a quiet cafe with cake and coffee to chat about her new release ‘Here We Go Again’, what inspires her and playing live.

Music is one of those career paths that grow alongside you as a person. You have been doing music since the very young age of thirteen — if you could go back in time, what advice would you give Sahara Beck?

I would've told myself to not be intimidated by other people. I thought when I heard someone better, it meant that I wasn’t good. I had to learn to stick to what I’m doing personally and to believe in myself. Doing music is hard enough already — artists should support and bring each other up instead of being in competition. We always need more music!

I agree — music can just bring such great things to people’s lives. So the more the better! It also has such an amazing ability to create human connection. Can you recall a moment music did this to you?

Creating those connections is why I started. My Mum used to always take me to gigs, and one year we saw The Cat Empire and Harry was singing this massive note in this tent full of thousands of people and when I was looking at him, it felt like nothing else existed. It was the most powerful feeling — it's something you can’t put your finger on and when I looked around, I realised that everyone was feeling that. He was doing something that was obviously so natural to him, but he was changing everyone's mentality for a moment. That’s why I’ve always been really conscious of my live stuff because it needs to make me feel something and not just sound like the record.

On the subject of bringing your music into a live setting, do you prefer them being two separate experiences for the audience?

With the older stuff, there were lots of songs we played that were never recorded. But with the new stuff, I’m actually quite nervous because we’ve never played any of these songs and we’re doing it in a really different way. Also, sometimes I sing differently — maybe lower than in the tracks. But I feel that’s okay if you are still able to convey what the lyrics are about.

Would you say that artists that can change up their sound from recording to live inspire you?

I think it’s something I admire a lot — when people can pull off different ways of playing the same song. It's a skill and a talent and means you understand the song so much. Though, I think I get more inspired by people who sing really well because it sucks when you hear a record and it sounds perfect, but they can’t do it live. When we wrote ‘Here We Go Again’, I realised it was actually so high for me to sing live — But it’ll be okay. I can just sing a couple of notes differently.

Speaking of your new single ‘Here We Go Again’, what would you say was the most challenging part about writing the song? 

The most challenging part about writing it was that it was really personal for me and I think it's just challenging finding a way to describe what it's about without talking about specific situations and pulling people down.

Music is such a personal venture, how important is it that you have your personal identity in your releases? 

I think it’s really important. Music is supposed to relate to other people and if I’m not being honest about how something is making me feel, when someone listens to it, it will come across disingenuous or fake.

It’s clear that your music pulls a lot from your personal experiences. Being a musician, you have that amazing ability to get inspiration from anything. What would you say are your top three sources of inspiration? 

I always have my phone with me and if I’m at a party, I get chatting to people and would want them to tell me their days in detail. People can say poetic things when they’re drunk without realising it. Like the other day, my housemate's boyfriend said: “The love is gone but the desperation continues”. I was like, 'is that from one of your songs?' He said, 'no'. So I asked if I could use it and I ended up typing it into my phone. So talking to drunk people, things that happen to me and mainly just looking at a situation and thinking, 'oh, this could make for a good story'.

Well thank you so much for speaking with me today! It was a really enjoyable chat!  

Thank you for chatting with me!

Written by Roy Gordon (@yorgordon

You can catch Sahara Beck at the below shows:
Friday 2nd November - Oxford Art Factory Gallery Bar, Sydney NSW
Saturday 3rd November - Grace Darling Hotel, Melbourne VIC
Thursday 8th November - Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane QLD

More information is available here