Tag: Sarah P (Page 1 of 4)

2020 End Of Year Review

“It’s such a strange day, in such a lonely way” sang NEW ORDER on ‘Truth’ in 1981.

The coronavirus crisis of 2020 put the entire live music industry into limbo as concerts were postponed and tours rescheduled.

The situation was affecting everyone with several musicians like Bernard Sumner, Andy McCluskey, John Taylor and Sarah Nixey publicly stating that they had contracted the virus. Even when all pupils returned to schools in the Autumn, there was a ban on indoor singing in English classrooms. It was an indication that out of all professional fields, the arts was going suffer the most.

To make up for the absence of live shows, online streamed events become popular. Two of the best live online gigs were by Swedish veterans LUSTANS LAKEJER from the KB in Malmö and Sinomatic techno-rockers STOLEN with Lockdown Live From Chengdu. Not strictly a lockdown show but available for all to view on SVT was a magnificent live presentation of KITE at the Royal Opera House in Stockholm recorded in late 2019 combining synthesizers, orchestra and choir, proving again why Nicklas Stenemo and Christian Berg are the best electronic duo in Europe.

Concluding his ‘Songs: From the Lemon Tree’ series, Bon Harris of NITZER EBB presented a wonderful set of four electonic cover versions including songs made famous by Joan Armatrading, Connie Francis and Diana Ross. Meanwhile among independent musicians, Dubliner CIRCUIT3 led the way with an innovative multi-camera effected approach to his home studio presentation and Karin My performed al fresco in a forest near Gothenburg.

Taking the initiative, ERASURE did a delightful virtual album launch party for their new album ‘The Neon’ on Facebook with Vince Clarke in New York and Andy Bell in London, talking about everything from shopping to classic synthpop tunes.

Demonstrating a possible new model for the future, Midge Ure launched his subscription based ‘Backstage Lockdown Club’ which included intimate live performances and specials guests like Glenn Gregory and Howard Jones.

Other streamed forms of entertainment came via podcasts and among the best was ‘The Album Years’ presented by Steven Wilson and Tim Bowness. Their knowledgeable and forthright views on selected years in music were both informative and amusing. It was interesting to note that at the end of the 1976 episode, the pair nominated ‘Oxygène’ by Jean-Michael Jarre as the most important album of that year while for 1979, it was ‘The Pleasure Principle’ by Gary Numan.

Many artists who had scheduled releases in 2020 went through with them, although in some cases, there were the inevitable delays to physical product. But a few notable acts couldn’t help but abuse the situation, notably a certain combo from Basildon.

There were already “quality control issues” with the lavish ‘MODE’ 18 CD boxed set, but there was uproar even among the most hardcore Devotees with the ‘Spirits In The Forest’ release. The cardboard packaging was reported to be flimsy and prone to dents, while there was continuity errors galore as Dave Gahan rather cluelessly and selfishly wore different coloured outfits over the two nights in Berlin that the live footage was filmed under the direction of Anton Corbijn.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, there was an Anton Corbijn official illustrated history of DEPECHE MODE entitled ‘DM AC’ in the form of a coffee table photo book published by Taschen which retailed at €750; even though it was signed by Messrs Gahan, Gore and Fletcher, the price tag was a mightily steep. The increasingly ironic words of “The grabbing hands grab all they can…” from ‘Everything Counts’ were not lost on people, who are people, after all!

But Andy Fletcher did provide the most amusing and spot-on quote of the year; during DEPECHE MODE’s acceptance speech into that dinosaur institution The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, when Dave Gahan remarked to his bandmates that “I dunno what the hell I would have been doing if I didn’t find music to be quite honest…”, the banana eating handclapper dryly retorted “YOU’D HAVE BEEN STILL STEALING CARS DAVE!”

There were lots of great albums released in 2020 and Berlin appeared to be at the creative centre of them.

There was ‘LP II’ from LINEA ASPERA who made a welcome return after eight years in hiatus and  the playful debut by ULTRAFLEX, a collaborative offering from Berlin-based Nordic artists SPECIAL-K and FARAO which was “an ode to exercise, loaded with sex metaphors badly disguised as sports descriptions” .

The DDR born Jennifer Touch told her story with ‘Behind The Wall’ and resident New Yorker DISCOVERY ZONE was on ‘Remote Control’, while Lithuania’s top pop singer Alanas Chosnau made ‘Children of Nature’, his first album in English with Mark Reeder, who himself has lived in the former walled city since 1978; their collected experiences from both sides of the Iron Curtain made for a great record with the political statement of ‘Heavy Rainfall’ being one of the best songs of 2020.

Synth-builder and artist Finlay Shakespeare presented the superb angst ridden long player ‘Solemnities’ with its opener ‘Occupation’ tackling the social injustice of unemployment. A most frightening future was captured in musical form by New York-resident Zachery Allan Starkey who saw his home become a ‘Fear City’, while WRANGLER got themselves into ‘A Situation’.

SPARKS discussed ‘The Existential Threat’ and ‘One For The Ages’ while pleading ‘Please Don’t F*ck Up My World’ on their eclectic 25th album ‘A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip’, just as NIGHT CLUB reflected what many were thinking on ‘Die Die Lullaby’ with ‘Miss Negativity’ looking to ‘Die In The Disco’ while riding the ‘Misery Go Round’.

ASSEMBLAGE 23 chose to ‘Mourn’ with one of its highlights ‘Confession’ illustrating what DEPECHE MODE could still be capable of, if they could still be bothered.

But it was not all doom and gloom musically in 2020. With the title ‘Pop Gossip’, INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP did not need to do much explaining about the ethos of their second album and drum ‘n’ synth girl GEORGIA was happily ‘Seeking Thrills’.

Veterans returned and 34 years after their debut ‘Windows’, WHITE DOOR teamed up with the comparative youngster Johan Baeckström for ‘The Great Awakening’, while CODE made a surprise return with their second album ‘Ghost Ship’ after an absence 25 years.

‘The Secret Lives’ of German duo Zeus B Held and Mani Neumeier illustrated that septuagenarians just want to have fun. Along with Gina Kikoine, Zeus B Held was also awarded with Der Holger Czukay Preis für Popmusik der Stadt Köln in recognition of their pioneering work as GINA X PERFORMANCE whose ‘No GDM’ was a staple at The Blitz Club in Rusty Egan’s DJ sets.

Incidentally, Rusty Egan announced that Zaine Griff would be joining him with Numan cohorts Chris Payne and David Brooks in a live presentation of VISAGE material, although the announced dates were postponed, pending rescheduling for 2021.

Swiss trailblazers YELLO were on ‘Point’ and continuing their occasional creative collaboration with Chinese songstress Fifi Rong, while one time YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA collaborator Hideki Matsutake returned as LOGIC SYSTEM and released a new long player ‘Technasma’, his project’s first for 18 years.

It was four decades since John Foxx’s ‘Metamatic’ and Gary Numan’s ‘Telekon’, with the man born Gary Webb publishing ‘(R)evolution’, a new autobiography to supersede 1997’s ‘Praying To The Aliens’. Meanwhile, the former Dennis Leigh teamed up with former ULTRAVOX guitarist Robin Simon plus his regular Maths collaborators Benge and Hannah Peel for the blistering art rock statement of ‘Howl’ as well as finally issuing his book of short stories ‘The Quiet Man’.

2020 saw a lot of 40th anniversaries for a number of key albums including ‘Vienna’ by ULTRAVOX, ‘Travelogue’ by THE HUMAN LEAGUE and ‘Closer’ by JOY DIVISION.

Back in 1980, it was not unusual for bands to release two albums in a calendar year as OMD did with their self-titled debut and ‘Organisation’, or JAPAN did with ‘Quiet Life’ and ‘Gentlemen Take Polaroids’.

It appeared to be a tradition that BLANCMANGE were adopting as Neil Arthur delivered the acclaimed ‘Mindset’ and an enjoyable outtakes collection ‘Waiting Room (Volume 1)’.

PET SHOP BOYS and CERRONE proved they still liked to dance to disco because they don’t like rock, but the year’s biggest surprise came with THE SMASHING PUMPKINS whose single ‘Cyr’ crossed the templates of classic DEPECHE MODE with DURAN DURAN.

Interestingly, Gary Daly of CHINA CRISIS and Michael Rother of NEU! used sketches recorded many moons ago to inspire their 2020 solo creations, proving that if something is a good idea, it will still make sense years later. Veteran Tonmeister Gareth Jones released his debut solo album ‘ELECTROGENETIC’ having first come to prominence as the studio engineer on ‘Metamatic’ back in 1980, but Jah Wobble was as prolific as ever, issuing his ninth album in four years, as well as a run of download singles over lockdown.

ANI GLASS had her debut long player ‘Mirores’ shortlisted for Welsh Music Prize and OMD remixed her song ‘Ynys Araul’ along the way, while SARAH P. was ‘Plotting Revolutions’. NINA and a returning ANNIE vied to be the Queen Of Synthwave with their respective albums ‘Synthian’ and ‘Dark Hearts’, although Canadian synth songstress DANA JEAN PHOENIX presented her most complete and consistent body of work yet in ‘Megawave’, a joint album with POWERNERD.

RADIO WOLF & PARALLELS contributed to the soundtrack of the film ‘Proximity’ released on Lakeshore Records and from the same label, KID MOXIE made her first contribution to the movie world with the score to ‘Not To Be Unpleasant, But We Need To Have A Serious Talk’ that also featured a stark cover of ALPHAVILLE’s ‘Big In Japan’. Meanwhile gothwavers VANDAL MOON made their most electronic album yet in ‘Black Kiss’ and POLYCHROME got in on the kissing act too with their new single ‘Starts With A Kiss’.

It would be fair to say in recent times that the most interesting and best realised electronic pop has come from outside of the UK; the likes of TWICE A MAN and COSAQUITOS EN GLOBO explored the darker side of life, although TRAIN TO SPAIN used the dancefloor as their mode of expression, 808 DOT POP developed on the robopop of parent band METROLAND and ZIMBRU preferred disco art pop.

In Scandinavia, there was the welcome return of UNIFY SEPARATE (formally US) and HILTIPOP aka Magnus Johansson of ALISON who finally released some music in his own right; once he started, he didn’t stop with 9 releases and counting in 2020! APOPTYGMA BERZERK released ‘Nein Danke!’, their self-proclaimed return to “New Wave Synthpop” and out of that set-up sprang the very promising PISTON DAMP.

Within the PAGE camp, Eddie Bengtsson continued his Numan fixation on the ‘Under Mitt Skinn’ EP although his musical partner Marina Schiptjenko teamed up with LUSTANS LAKEJER bassist Julian Brandt to ride the Synth Riviera for a delightful second helping of their electro crooner concept cheekily titled ‘For Beautiful People Only’.

Over in Germany, U96 teamed up Wolfgang Flür while RENARD, the solo vehicle of Markus Reinhardt from WOLFSHEIM teamed with Marian Gold of ALPHAVILLE and Sarah Blackwood of DUBSTAR. DUBSTAR themselves released a striking corona crisis statement entitled ‘Hygiene Strip’ which saw reconfigured duo reunited with producer Stephen Hague. Meanwhile another poignant song on the topic ‘Small World’ came from SNS SENSATION, the new project by Sebastian Muravchik of HEARTBREAK. In lockdown, TINY MAGNETIC PETS recorded an entire album which they called ‘Blue Wave’.

Of course, 2020 was not full of joy, even without the pandemic, as the music world sadly lost Florian Schneider, Gabi Delgado-Lopez, Chris Huggett, Andrew Weatherall, Matthew Seligman, Dave Greenfield, Rupert Hine, Tom Wolgers, Harold Budd and Ennio Morricone.

An introspective tone was reflected the music of female fronted acts such as and ZANIAS, PURITY RING, WE ARE REPLICA, KALEIDA, LASTLINGS, NEW SPELL, WITCH OF THE VALE, REIN, BLACK NAIL CABARET, GLÜME, GEISTE THE FRIXION, FEMMEPOP and SCINTII. However, countering this, the optimism of RIDER, ROXI DRIVE and NEW RO presented a much brighter, hopeful take on life and the future.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK celebrated 10 years as a platform and affirming the site’s intuition about synth talent in anticipation of them achieving greater things, SOFTWAVE opened for OMD on the Scandinavia leg of their ‘Souvenir’ tour. The Danish duo became the sixth act which the site had written about to have become part of a tradition that has included VILLA NAH, MIRRORS, VILE ELECTRODES, METROLAND and TINY MAGNETIC PETS.

On a more cheerful note, S.P.O.C.K beamed down to Slimelight in London before lockdown for their first British live performance in 17 years. Meanwhile on the same night, LAU NAU and VILE ELECTRODES did modular sets at Cecil Sharp House, the spiritual home of English traditional music.

At that event, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK took delight in curating a DJ set comprising of John Cage’s 4’33” in variations by DEPECHE MODE, GOLDFRAPP, ERASURE, NEW ORDER and THE NORMAL from Mute’s Stumm433 boxed set. This defiant act of silence even caused a curious Jonathan Barnbrook to raise an eyebrow, this from the man who designed the artwork with the white square on David Bowie’s ‘The Next Day’ 😉

The final live event that ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK attended before the March lockdown was an informative lecture at Queen Mary University in London presented by noted cultural scholar Dr Uwe Schütte, in support of his book ‘KRAFTWERK Future Music From Germany’.

Also attending was Rusty Egan who held court at the reception afterwards by having a debate with another musician about the state of UK synth music. He then loudly beckoned ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK over and mentioned how the site was only interested acts that scored “9 out of 10” before admitting that a number of acts he supported only scored “6 out of 10”, with his reasoning being that if acts aren’t supported, then there will be no synth acts existing at all. After a decade in existence, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK remains proud that it is still extremely selective.

In 2020, the notion of reviews being needed to achieve a promotional profile underwent an existential crisis among media platforms. With streaming now being the main method of music consumption, why would anyone want to read a blog for an opinion about an album when they can just hit ‘play’ and hear the thing for themselves on Spotify, Amazon, Tidal or Bandcamp?

The sound of classic synthpop does live on happily in today’s mainstream via singles by THE WEEKND, DUA LIPA and even STEPS! In that respect, the trailblazing kings and queens of Synth Britannia from four decades ago did their job rather well.

From SUGABABES mashing-up ‘Are Friends Electric?’ for ‘Freak Like Me’ in 2002 to ‘Blinding Lights’ borrowing a bit of A-HA in 2020, the sound of synth is still strong.

It is up to any potential successors to live up to that high standard of Synth Britannia, which was as much down to the quality of the songwriting, as much as it was to do with the sound of the synthesizer. It is a fact that many overlook and if aspiring musicians could pay more attention to the song, instead of making the synthesizer the excuse for the song, then classic electronic pop music may still be around for a little longer and continue to evolve.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK Contributor Listings of 2020

PAUL BODDY

Best Album: LOGIC SYSTEM Technasma
Best Song: NEW ORDER Be A Rebel
Best Gig / Live Stream: NICOLAS GODIN at London Rough Trade
Best Video: POLLY SCATTERGOOD Snowburden
Most Promising New Act: RUE OBERKAMPF


IAN FERGUSON

Best Album: ASSEMBLAGE 23 Mourn
Best Song: DUBSTAR I Can See You Outside
Best Gig / Live Stream: WITCH OF THE VALE online Unplugged Live for SAY Women
Best Video: STEVEN WILSON Personal Shopper
Most Promising New Act: LASTLINGS


SIMON HELM

Best Album: LINEA ASPERA LPII
Best Song: PAGE Blutest Du?
Best Gig / Live Stream: LAU NAU + VILE ELECTRODES at Cecil Sharp House
Best Video: STRIKKLAND Dance Like A God
Most Promising New Act: INDEPENDENT STATE


CHI MING LAI

Best Album: LINEA ASPERA LPII
Best Song: ALANAS CHOSNAU & MARK REEDER Heavy Rainfall
Best Gig / Live Stream: LUSTANS LAKEJER online at Malmö KB
Best Video: ULTRAFLEX Olympic Sweat
Most Promising New Act: LASTLINGS


MONIKA IZABELA TRIGWELL

Best Album: ERASURE The Neon
Best Song: DUBSTAR Hygiene Strip
Best Gig / Live Stream: IŻOL Koncert online at Ziemi Rybnickiej
Best Video: PET SHOP BOYS Monkey Business
Most Promising New Act: MENTRIX


Text by Chi Ming Lai
21st December 2020

SARAH P. on Plotting Revolutions

On her 2017 debut album, Greek songstress and mental health advocate SARAH P. asked ‘Who Am I’.

But three years on during one of the strangest periods in modern history, SARAH P. is ‘Plotting Revolutions’ on her second long player. Attempting to intelligently address challenging topics without losing her humour and positivity, this body of work is also a paean to well-being during the most uncertain of times.

Combining electronic elements with more acoustic instruments, ‘Plotting Revolutions’ explores new sonic territory for SARAH P. while she herself experiments with different modes of vocal expression. Holding a mirror to society in a spirited mission to wake up those who might be sleeping, with an afflicted passion and concern for the future, ‘Plotting Revolutions’ is a call to action from the heart and the head.

SARAH P. spoke from her home in Athens about human nature and how her evolving quest for shelter, health, and happiness in life.

Even before the current crisis, we were living in strange times. Had there been a particular moment which triggered your train of thought?

For years, I’ve been talking about the historic times we live in. We’re thrown challenges the one after the other and are often caught feeling numb in the light of (yet) another crisis we’re faced with. I’ve always been inspired by current events. Even when I’m writing about a personal experience, I’m trying to reflect on my surroundings. I’m hypersensitive – there has never been a point in my life where I chose to live in a bubble and ignore what’s happening in the world.

Naturally, that’s become a drive – motivation to write music that speaks about problems we’re facing within our societies, but also calls out to every human on this planet to lead more conscious lives and generally, do better.

I want my songs to be part of an open conversation – if that happens, I’m pleased.

What sort of revolution are you hoping for?

A revolution for positive change. I hope for better days. I long for them. In the year 2020, we shouldn’t have to discuss how the eradication of racism is long overdue and mandatory for the general good of our societies.

There shouldn’t be people arguing that systemic racism is “not a thing”, or that fast-capitalism and economy-driven administrations and institutions offer a viable solution to our deep-rooted problems. The socio-economic gaps within our societies are vast, thus marginalizing more and more people, leaving only a few with power in their hands.

If you asked me the same question when I started writing the record, I’d talk to you about our need for balance and peace. While this is still relevant (obviously!), inequality has been deeply ingrained in our societies, that, in a perverted way, it’s even celebrated. What we observe every single day through TV and social media – the rise of shameless violence, the inhuman reaction to it by key political figures, and the general public being torn between sentiments of apathy and anger are signs of our times.

We can’t go forward without an actual revolution. Let’s channel our anger towards getting informed, supporting incredible activists, and causes for positive change.

Let’s vote for politicians who stand for and defend the democratic values and are capable of handling all those challenges that come with the incredibly unstable times we live in. In the following years, we’ll probably have to focus on what went wrong in the past decade and try to fix it.

Moving forward we need visionaries to lead us towards change and meaningful progress. That’s the type of revolution I’m hoping for – the one that brings capable leaders to the foreground and lifts them, to help them carry out their difficult job.

‘Plotting Revolutions’ is more organic that your previous work, how has the creative process been for you by using different colours? Did you have any particular artist references?

The starting point will always be minimal synths and loops for me.

However, going to the studio and working together with my long-time collaborator and friend George Priniotakis, there’s a tendency of wanting to “warm-up” the atmosphere and add organic flourishes and riffs to my songs – make them more accessible, less obscure and introverted.

That’s mainly achieved by surrounding the vocals with organic instruments and often using vintage rack effects. We double up my beats with a drum kit and percussions. For this record, I even used a baglamas – a tiny lute-like instrument that’s been used very often in Greek music, specifically in rebetiko…

The key is listening to the lyrics – they’re always centered and meant to be heard. As I’m maturing as an artist, I tend to look back to the first pieces of music that moved me, resonated with me and my life at the time. There are some prolific Greek artists and composers – like Manos Hadjidakis and particularly his record ‘Reflections’, recorded by the NEW YORK ROCK & ROLL ENSEMBLE, that have influenced the way I write.

Lyrics are a focal point in Greek music – that’s how I’m handling my writing too, now more proudly than ever. It’s all about vulnerability. That’s plentiful, with the use of organic instruments – without disregarding the power of a good synth, of course.

Did it take longer to record using a less technological approach? What challenges did you face?

Recording the album didn’t take as long – I’ve adopted this style since my debut ‘Who Am I’, so work’s flowing while at the studio. What happened was that by the end of the recordings, I realized that I needed to take my distance from the material.

While at the studio, finishing up the record, I wrote my ‘Maenads’ EP, recorded it, filmed music videos, and released it. There were some internal changes at the time within the team I’m working with, which I guess affected me more than I expected. It was important for me to find the right partners who would understand and appreciate my music for what it is and not for what it could be.

Many people in the industry have tried to change me, based on how I look and sound. Sometimes, I tried to fit in the boxes some put out for me, but in the end, I was unhappy. And what’s the point of making and releasing music, if it makes you unhappy?

That’s why ‘Plotting Revolutions’ is being released three years later. It’s the first time I’m taking so long – I’m usually very impulsive with my releases. There’s something about this record that’s making me feel uncomfortable but in a good way. It’s rawer than previous work I’ve released – it’s more out there. It doesn’t beat around the bush. It represents who I strive to be in my everyday life, too.

Had your return to Athens after living for several years in Berlin been influential in the making of this album?

I wrote and finished the majority of this record while still living in Berlin, so not really – but I can see how moving back will affect my writing in the future.

So what would ‘Athena’ be referring to?

‘Athena’ is about my love and hate relationship with Athens. I left Athens when it started feeling unsafe for me. The year before leaving for Berlin was extremely traumatizing. Ever since, whenever I visited, I felt strained. I didn’t go out as much – I didn’t meet up with a lot of people. You’ll probably hear similar stories by many Athenians – feeling trapped, wanting to break away. It’s a tough city.

The video we filmed with The Méta Project serves as reclaiming my city, in a way. Which is something I anyway did during my pregnancy – walking around the city and running errands, going to work, following the most mundane routine helped me come out of my shell and see Athens for what it is – a vibrant city full of paradoxes and character, with its good and bad sides. There’s no heaven on earth; nowhere’s perfect. Humans are not perfect. Weirdly, this very thought has a calming effect.

‘Laying Low’ starts by saying we are “fighting with the past”?

Aren’t we? Aren’t we stuck? We’re too busy trying to make things as they were, instead of turning our focus towards the future. That said, ‘Laying Low’ is about accepting that sometimes we need to take our time to move forward. ’Laying Low’ is this one song that’s coming on the screen when a movie hero’s doubting themselves and they need a confidence boost – usually offered by their best friend.

There’s nothing wrong with having a low. I’ve been advocating for mental health for so many years, preaching we must accept that “it’s ok to not be ok”. Which is absolutely true, but, if I’m honest, truly hard to practice… Life doesn’t stop and it often gets too much, which makes it hard to take a day off.

Yet, it’s essential to try to make time for ourselves. I sing “there’re monsters in the cave, yourself you need to save”; often the “monsters” come out when we isolate ourselves. I know it’s hard to seek out for help – also because of unapproachable resources. Another point for the revolution – create and endorse accessible support systems within our societies. Helplines – while important, are not enough. We have to write it down on the agenda.

Is ‘She’ autobiographical or observational?

It’s both. A good thing about the internet and speaking about mental health on there is that I got to connect with people who shared with me their journey, as I shared mine. When darkness is approaching, there’s very little one can do. But also because it’s happened too often throughout your life, we’ve managed to come up with coping mechanisms that can save us from entering the vicious circle of despair. That’s who “she” is.

‘The Poem Of A Clear Consciousness’ mixes acoustic and synthesizer textures as well as you adopting a more playful demeanour than on some of your other work? Was there anything you had overcome?

Maybe my demureness. I started writing this song after having an endearing encounter on my way back home in Berlin. I saw this baby fox and we made eye contact. The cub seemed scared – probably looking for his / her mother, but it was also exceptionally calm, given the situation it had found itself. Something in the cub’s look made me think of the human vanity – all those things we’re going after, irrespective of the harm we may cause to other people, animals, and ultimately the planet.

How I also sing on ‘The Truth’: “there’s a faith, there’s one belief – that the human is master of them all, that the people can conquer them all”. This incredible superiority complex and greed have led us to a dead-end. But we don’t even dare to take responsibility for all those things we’ve done wrong; it’s always someone else’s fault. I know I’m painting a bleak image, but to be fair, there’s nothing great about the world right now. Positive change can happen if we take matters to our hands and work towards it.

You let yourself go vocally on ‘Bits & Bytes’, is that about society’s over-reliance on technology?

Absolutely. I let myself go, protesting the picture-perfect lives the majority of humanity (us) lives online! How do we unwind, when our phones have become our extension? We have forgotten how to be on our own, by ourselves. When do we pause?

We can’t even sign in and out without announcing it to our “followers”. There’s pressure for everyone to comment on everything – give statements. Everything has become about quantity, metrics. That’s another sign of our times – claiming those five minutes of fame, trying to make them six, seven, eight…

We’re consumed by our digital encounters, notifications, and our online likability. These antics have a horrific effect on our mental health – a topic I’m invested in and exploring on ‘Bits & Bytes’.

‘An End Or The End’, that is quite a profound statement which can be taken on many levels?

“Opportunist allies can’t always win the bet” – I’ll leave it there. Food for thought for every person who’s exercising their voting rights. Especially in Europe (and I’m looking at the UK, as well), we’ve experienced first-hand the strain and unrest that comes with conservatism and austerity. My main concern is what kind of world will the future generations inherit from us – the reality my daughter and her peers are going to face. I’ll never get tired saying that it’s on us to make a U-turn and drive forward instead of taking backward steps.

‘The Truth’ mentions “there are soldiers passing” and “a half salute”…

“There are soldiers passing [away] – there are kids that make emotions fold” – this part of the song refers to senseless violence caused by war.

Throughout the song, I’m touching on war crimes, violence, greed.

‘The Truth’ is about calling things as they are, laying out facts, and inviting those who stand at the opposite side to join “us” in trying to make things better. Then they can give “us” a “half salute”– a signal for recognizing the cause and joining the fight, “as long as [they] admit it – [they] tell us where [they] keep it” – where they keep their heart.

To be honest, under different circumstances, I’d never break down my lyrics. However, I understand that at this point, these parts having been singled out can be misleading to what I’m standing for. I wrote this song three years ago – things have escalated since then; even more harm is done. Having witnessed what’s happened over the past three years, I may say I don’t have any unrealistic expectations anymore. But hope’s not lost and at some point, things have to get better; for that to happen, we’ll eventually have to come together.

‘Beauty Queen’ is almost psychedelic and will surprise people…

I hope pleasantly 🙂

It’s my most organic track to date. I’d like to experiment more with this vintage sound in the future. It comes very naturally to me, having been raised by parents who appreciate the 60s and 70s, musically.

‘We Won’ is a gentle solemn closer that brings in a string section, how did that come together? Is this a song you would have been able to make 5 years ago?

From the moment I wrote ‘We Won’, I knew I wanted / needed strings to complete and “lift” the production. In a way, ‘We Won’ is the older sibling of ‘Berlin During Winter’ from my debut ‘Who Am I’. The two songs share a similar mood and atmosphere. Which was intended.

You see, from the ‘Free’ EP to ‘Plotting Revolutions’, there’s linear evolution meant to depict different moments in one’s life – from childhood and teenage years to adulthood. ‘Plotting Revolutions’ is adulthood – adult worries, routine and different kind of expectations and hopes. In that sense, as an intuitive writer, I’m unsure if I was able to write this song five years ago.

‘We Won’ is not only the closer of the record but also of a bigger music project that started with my debut EP. Now that I shared the story I wished to tell, for once, I don’t know what will follow musically – I’m yet to discover my music future.

You have described ‘Plotting Revolutions’ as your most mature work yet, do you have any particular favourite moments on this record?

Definitely experimenting with new instruments and sounds, as well as taking my time with releasing this material.

Has your perspective on your art changed since becoming a parent? What are your hopes and fears for the future?

To be honest, I haven’t created art as much as I thought I would during my pregnancy and these few months since my baby was born. I wrote some poetry, recorded a couple of songs in collaboration with other artists, but that’s it.

If anything, my perspective on life and the world has changed. Some fears I already had about where we’re headed have been magnified – thinking of the world my daughter and other people’s children will walk. There’s a momentum to demand justice and change right now, due to current tragic circumstances – “circumstances” nowhere to be new.

It was about time to (broadly) start calling out racial inequality, discrimination, and violence – it was about time to (broadly) start fighting for the most vulnerable within our societies. I hope it’s not a relevant trend that’s going to pass. It’s Pride month – look how the trans community has been continuously taunted and killed. Look at the killings of young BLM activist and artist Oluwatoyin Salau and 75-year-old AARP volunteer Victoria Sims in what looks a whole lot like a case of sex/gender-based violence.

Yes, media are mostly US-driven, but violence and bigotry are omnipresent, everywhere. There’s so much brutality in the world – a certain “I’ve got nothing to lose” mentality that’s turning human into a monster. Our children deserve better. We deserve better. I want to believe we’re better than that. Change won’t come without a fight. And we should realize that this is everyone’s fight to fight – every single person’s battle.

No matter if one chooses the activism route, protesting, petitioning, creating art – or keeps having conversations with the people in their lives and educating themselves on how to be and do better, we all have to exercise our voting rights and opt for the general good that is stabilizing the world. Move forward; no more going backward. No more.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to SARAH P.

Special thanks also to Robert Helbig at Hellbig Music

‘Plotting Revolutions’ is released by EraseRestart Records via the usual digital outlets

http://sarahpofficial.com/

https://www.facebook.com/sarahpofficial/

https://twitter.com/sarahpofficial

https://www.instagram.com/sarahpofficial/

https://sarahpofficial.bandcamp.com/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Georgina Staikou
22nd June 2020

SARAH P. Maenads

There’s a group of female artists out there, who are doing it for the girls and SARAH P. is certainly one of them.

Sarah Anna Psalti-Helbig started her love affair with music, while studying drama, by fronting the critically acclaimed Greek act KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS for four years.

Looking for more opportunities, she moved to Berlin where her solo career took off with a bang around the release of a rather mature and deep LP ‘Who Am I’.

This winter sees her returning Greek goddess style with a five song EP borrowing its name from Greek mythology. ‘Maenads’ are female followers of Dionysus, the god of theatre, fertility and wine and SARAH P. feels united with her Hellenic heritage and describes the release as a true representation of herself.

“This record is the link between my previous work and what’s coming” she said, “Free symbolised my rebirth as an artist, Who Am I helped me discover different music paths and Maenads is representing 100% me, both musically and as an individual. I’m not big on classifying my music in genres, because I believe that this process is taking away from the magic of listening. I think that Maenads is way more accessible than my previous work, yet mysterious and uncommon.”

Indeed the opening ‘Sappho’s Leap’ borrows from traditional Greek poetry, and acts as a prelude to breathy ‘Mneme’, with whispered words and sparse guitar, seeing SARAH P. creating an amalgamation between KATE BUSH and BJÖRK vocally, while the musicality of this track hovers between dream pop and alternative, all wrapped in an unlaboured and carefree lullaby; a lullaby where the voice vixen channels her inner Robert Smith.

The need to rely on oneself is expressed in the foxy ‘Lotus Eaters’, which tunefully continues the echoes of THE CURE meeting THE PIXIES; the voice is edgy and sweet with an undertone of seduction. We mustn’t sleep, we must open our minds and make the change.

“We can’t undo our history, but we can learn from it and shape our future” is the message relayed in ‘Cybele’s Dream’, which is a serious tale of SARAH P.’s own heritage told by her ancestors.

The artist calls for a greater consideration of the burning issue of refugees over an easy listening piece, reminiscent of TEARS FOR FEARS.

The closing eponymous track changes the tempo and direction, appearing to be more of a dance tune, celebrating the beauty and fun of Athens, MARNIE style.

More accessible than her previous provisions? Perhaps. Different? Hell, yes! One thing is for certain; SARAH P. is ever evolving and is on the right track, creating genre of her own and refusing to be categorised and labelled. The creation of music is a fluid process and no boundaries are required.


‘Maenads’ is released by EraseRestart Records via the usual digital outlets at http://smarturl.it/sarahpmaenads

http://sarahpofficial.com/

https://www.facebook.com/sarahpofficial/

https://twitter.com/sarahpofficial

https://www.instagram.com/sarahpofficial/

https://www.amour-records.com/sarah-p

https://open.spotify.com/album/5iaaDv6Oydcr40h7GKPzrQ


Text by Monika Izabela Trigwell
Photos by George Geranios
14th December 2018

SARAH P. Mneme

SARAH P. has been described as “an electropop goddess” and the video to her new single ‘Mneme’ more than reinforces that very image.

It is inspired by the three original ancient Greek muses, Aoide (the muse of voice and song), Melete (the muse of thought and meditation) and Mneme (the muse of memory).

The exquisite video filmed by George Geranios and conceived by SARAH P. herself sees the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne  come together as the inspiration for poetic and musical creation.

Starring the Berlin-based songstress as Mneme, the visual accompaniment also features dancer Clio ‘Lil Cli’ Arvaniti as Aoide and actress Dora Pantazopoulou as Melete; the key themes explored are playfulness and sisterhood in commemoration of more carefree times, all under the glorious Athenian sun.

Meanwhile, the ‘Mneme’ song itself is laced with a wispy angelic quality, afflicted but endearing as both atmospheric guitars and synthesized strings linger.

With the muse giving her name to the word meaning “the ability to retain memory” and also a retrograde irregular moon orbiting Jupiter, Mneme in its plural context also represents “units of knowledge gained by repetition”.

‘Mneme’ is the first single from the new SARAH P. EP ‘Maenads’ and her first new material since the acclaimed 2017 debut long player ‘Who Am I’, the CD of which was released by Amour Records earlier this year.


‘Mneme’ is from the upcoming EP ‘Maenads’ released on 14th December 2018 by EraseRestart Records

http://sarahpofficial.com/

https://www.facebook.com/sarahpofficial/

https://twitter.com/sarahpofficial

https://www.instagram.com/sarahpofficial/

https://sarahpofficial.bandcamp.com/

https://www.amour-records.com/sarah-p


Text by Chi Ming Lai with thanks to Robert Helbig
Photos by George Geranios
1st November 2018

SARAH P. Millennial Girl

‘Millennial Girl’ by SARAH P. is a musical commentary on societies’ obsession with perfection and the perception that others’ lives seem so much more accomplished.

More guitar assisted and faster paced than her more dreamy but afflicted offerings, ‘Millennial Girl’ does capture a spacey vibe despite the use of more live sounding elements. With a hint of sarcasm, the Greek songstess sings “So I strive, I strive, I strive for perfection every time – But see no purpose – And I buy, I buy, I buy hip, cool stuff I see online – To scratch the surface”

Filmed on location near Athens by George Geranios, he of Undo Records fame and now establishing his new Amour Records imprint, Sarah’s hair and make-up on a brand new visual accompaniment was by none other than Sophie Sarigiannidou of MARSHEAUX in the ultimate Hellectro connection. Meanwhile, the colour touching of the video was undertaken by Norman Treffkorn.

SARAH P. said on her Facebook: “This video – an odyssey in itself, was filmed earlier this summer, but was supposed to come out last year ?

The song is obviously sarcastic – I chose to pick on my fellow millennial girls (w/o excluding myself), because I know that they can take a joke ❣

Girls (of all ages) have always been told how to do things: how to do our hair, what to wear, how to lose weight, how to look pretty. Superficial worries have been passed on from generation to generation, only to keep us busy for a lifetime trying to get what we don’t have. I couldn’t be more proud and grateful for all the women worldwide who are challenging this narrative and breaking all these stupid, outdated stereotypes. To all the ladies here and everywhere – YOU ARE PERFECTION, just the way you are! I’m really excited to share with you my upcoming records and projects, inspired by female empowerment in the past, in the present and in the future. The Who Am I era is closing – the Maenads era is about to begin!”


‘Millennial Girl’ is from the digital album ‘Who Am I’ released by EraseRestart Records, available direct from https://sarahpofficial.bandcamp.com/

The CD of ‘Who Am I’ is released by Amour Records, available direct from https://www.amour-records.com/product-page/sarah-p-who-am-i-cover

http://sarahpofficial.com/

https://www.facebook.com/sarahpofficial/

https://twitter.com/sarahpofficial

https://www.instagram.com/sarahpofficial/

https://www.amour-records.com/sarah-p


Text by Chi Ming Lai with thanks to Robert Helbig
Photo by George Geranios
10th September 2017

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