INTERVIEW: Sahara Beck releases new EP 'Queen of Hearts'
In 2019 she’s already won the Regional Award at the Queensland Music Awards, the Carol Lloyd Award at the Queensland Music Festival and placed third in the Vanda & Young international songwriting competition and today Sahara Beck caps off a remarkable 2019 with the release of her new EP Queen of Hearts. Alongside the three singles released this year - the rollicking, guitar pop of ‘I Haven’t Done A Thing Today’, the synthpop, New Wave riffing ‘Don’t Overthink It’ and rocky ‘Here We Go Again’ - the EP features two new tracks. The title track is a standout, with it’s driving beat, multi-layered vocals and punchy vocals bringing a smoky 1980s dancefloor vibe to mind, while the beautiful piano ballad ‘21st Century’ is the perfect wind down to close the album. Beck’s talent is remarkable and she is consistently proving she is one of the future superstars of the Australian music scene - immerse yourself now.
We recently chatted with Sahara to find out everything about Queen of Hearts and her upcoming tour.
How are things with you on not only release day but at the dawn of tour?
Good! We're just getting the music video together for ‘Queen of Hearts’ at the moment and just organising a bunch of stuff and hoping it all ends up like we are planning.
And how's that looking? Can you give us any insight into how the music video will turn out?
We've got actually a couple of videos for it. One of them is going to be a choreographed dancing one and the other one will be a very tricky colourful one with me in it - well, a few versions of me in it.
I like the sound of that.
It's a bit confusing to explain, but I don't want to give it all away!
I want to talk to you more about the title track ‘Queen of Hearts’. It's like this body swelling power purr of a song with some really killer guitar hooks. Can you talk me through the inspiration or the story of that track?
So for that song it was actually was by complete coincidence. I was in LA working on the record, on a few songs, some that made it some that didn't. But my housemate from Brisbane happened to be in LA at the same time. And we were talking about the guys that we’d spent a lot of time with, whether we should have or not, and someone in particular that she was seeing at the time in America. We were saying how there’s just so many times that we've been with people where they just play around with your heart. We were sitting there going ‘Why do we keep doing that? We end up being the ones who get hurt, we end up being the one who feels too much.’ She was kind of at the end of it, like pretty upset that this guy had been messing her around. I said to her ‘At least we can do that, at least we can keep opening ourselves up and being vulnerable even though we're so afraid.’ There's some sort of power that we have that other people don't have because we're not afraid to keep being vulnerable.
It does go without saying that your songs are incredibly raw and very personal. Which one on the EP do you feel was the most difficult to write? The process of the idea, of the emotion and then writing it and producing it is quite a lengthy process. How do you feel after you've then shared it with the world? Is it therapeutic to get it out there?
I'm really excited to have it all out. I've already started working on all the next stuff. I think the main thing that I'm excited about having it all out is I don't have to hold onto those songs for much longer and I can completely give myself into the next thing. But I think the one that took the longest would've probably been ‘I Haven't Done A Thing Today’ which is silly because it's so simple. I wrote that with my brother and then I went with two other people and kind of played around with it in America actually like a year and a half after it was written, and we finished it off there. In the end we didn't even end up changing anything but it's always important to try everything all out.
With ‘21st Century’ you've got this raw and slow building piano and strings and it’s touching there on the picture that we’re facing. This overall dumbfounded inaction that we've got going on with this momentous climate emergency. What are your feelings about that it's a powerful song, but it's hopeful in a weird way?
I wrote the song from the perspective of there not being any hope left, which isn’t very good. I was reading this article at the beginning of the year that explained to me in a way that I could understand it that very soon everything's going to be irreversible and out of our hands. So we need to act now. I was thinking about how I have all these keep cups for example and I had just gone to the coffee shop and forgot to bring my keep cup. So I just went ‘Ahh it's okay, I’ll just use the take-away cup.’ And I was just sitting there and I was really terrified. I thought ‘Oh my god we do this every day. I should write a song from the perspective of once everything has gone to shit and then you're kind of looking back and going oh all of those times I did this, all those times I did that.’ It's in the chorus “you could've done literally anything but you were too busy living'“ because everyone thinks that their time is so important and so valuable and for me to go ‘Oh I will just go home and get my cup quickly’ it probably would've taken another 5 minutes, but it's my egotistical human side being ‘oh I'm already here. I may as well get the trash cup.’ So I wrote it from the perspective of looking back at everything that we’d all done and gone ‘well we didn't do everything we all could and now everything's going to die.’
Your lyrics often contrast with the music which can be either a heavy rock feel with something quite hopeful or something quite dark with a beautiful piano on it. Is that intentional and how does that resonate with you?
Yeah it was all pretty intentional for ‘Don't Overthink it’, ‘Queen of Hearts’ and ‘Here We Go Again’. ‘I Haven't Done A Thing Today’ and ‘21st Century’, they just ended up the way they needed to end up. But with the first two songs on the record, I really wanted to try and see if I could write music like that and I really enjoyed it.
That's cool. Well you are a song writer. I know you wrote your first song at age 12. Can you remember what it was?
Actually that was about the planet as well. It was called ‘Won't Let This Die’ and it was about a boy and a girl grabbing each other's hands and flying around the universe and talking about saving the earth I think.
That's pretty beautiful. Like I maybe like you could put it out as a B-side one day?
Actually, I do have a record that I released when I was 13 with all those songs on it. I think that’s on the internet somewhere surely.
If it’s not on the internet, you can give it to a pub and give it away at a raffle?
Yeah, that's it!
That's a definite prize. Can I ask you on Queen of Hearts do you have a favourite track?
My favourite track was always ‘Don't Overthink It’, but ‘Queen of Hearts’ has become my favourite song now. I just love performing it and it just means the most to me at the moment I suppose.
I imagine performing it live has got to be quite good because it is an anthem. It's like gather the troops, gather the girls.
That's awesome. That and ‘21st Century’ are the only songs on the record that people haven't heard. I’m just interested to see what the response is to those because you never really hear it the way that other people hear it.
It's going to be a good one. With the new fans, they’re going to be picking up and hearing you on the radio. How would you describe your sound to them?
This record's sound is very passionate, art pop.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received in this industry?
I've received a lot of good advice because I make a lot of mistakes! One of them was to just keep creating and not be worried about what everyone else is doing, about comparing yourself to other people because if you keep doing what you're doing, then you'll create your own lane it will be strong and no one will question it anymore. It will make sense eventually. I think the best advice that I've gotten has all been about focusing and not doubting yourself too much, even though we all obviously do that. You know, being nice to everyone. Be nice to everyone and focus. Be nice to yourself.
Lastly, with the tour coming up, what are your favourite songs to play live?
We've been doing a version of ‘We Are The Champions’ by Queen, which is really fun to do live. I’m really loving playing ‘Don't Overthink It’, ‘Queen Of Hearts’ and ‘Here We Go Again’ live and we've got a new cover as well that we're chucking in instead of the Queen one for this upcoming tour by Lizzo. So, that's going to be really fun.
It's going to be quite the high energy, quite nostalgia show as well. I like that.
Yeah, I think it's going to be a lot of dancing and loud singing!
Queen Of Hearts Tour
Tickets on sale now here
7 October – Caloundra Music Festival, Caloundra
18 October – The Foundry, Brisbane
31 October – The Workers Club, Melbourne
1 November - Sooki Lounge, Belgrave
2 November – The Lost Lands, Werribee
7 November – The Vanguard, Sydney
8 November - The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle