Prolific Profile: Sarah K [Interview]
Vancouver, BC – We recently had a chance to catch up with rising R&B star Sarah K for our latest Prolific Profile. Her message is one of positivity and true artistic expression that comes from the heart – and we like that. She is also heavily involved in giving back to her community.
Her recent single “All My Life-SICKICK (Dance Remix)” rose to number 7 on the DMDS so we felt it was about time for our readers to get familiar. Introducing Miss Sarah K – check out our chat below.
HipHopCanada: How do you define R&B, and where do you feel you fit into that definition?
Sarah K: For me, R&B music allows artists to lyrically express feelings that are close to their heart. Raw feelings, like triumph, love and pain. Traditionally, Gospel, Blues and Jazz fall under R&B music, but today’s R&B music has more hip-hop and pop influences with heavy insistent beats. In many ways, both genres represent an urban way of life, and way of music.
I suppose having (as some have described it) a deep and soulful tone to my voice, lends itself to R&B, but I love exploring all of my range when making music. When hearing my music, you will know that Mariah Carey has always been an idol of mine, especially her songwriting and the way she layers her harmonies. My recently released album, All My Life has traditional and contemporary R&B songs, with some dance tracks. I write all my songs about feelings that are true to me – in the way that the blues does, and are connected with a positive message – in the way that Gospel does. At the end of the day, I love working with unique contemporary R&B producers that deliver beats that let the lyrics breathe.
HipHopCanada: What drives you to stay in a business that is rarely profitable and highly competitive?
Sarah K: Passion. I continue to pursue this career, because writing, recording, and performing music that people can relate to makes me feel whole and fulfilled. Life itself is highly competitive; many businesses in and outside of the arts are rarely profitable. You have to be creative to find ways to generate revenue. Gigging and touring with my bands has certainly helped to build fans and pay for studio time.
I think it comes down to commitment, drive, and determination. Having a great team around you makes all the difference in the world too. If you can find a way to exercise your passion into a career that has meaning, then that is the gift. Music has helped me get through a lot in my life; it only feels natural to share my stories. I feel like I am connecting.
HipHopCanada: Where are you based specifically?
Sarah K: I was born and raised here in Vancouver, BC. I record all my vocals here, but I work with producers from the US and Europe. With the help of my management team, I have recently put together a great band, The Soul Collective. We play a lot on the West Coast, and are planning a tour in the New Year. I also have a band in Rabat, Morocco for when I am there or in Europe. We play all my tracks with some iconic R&B/Pop songs. Western music, especially R&B is very popular in the Mediterranean.
HipHopCanada: How has living there influenced your sound?
Sarah K: Unfortunately, much of the West Coast doesn’t have a vibrant R&B culture like Atlanta, Chicago, or New York has. It does have a strong hip-hop community, so collaborating with a number of emcees has been away to bring out opportunities to showcase R&B music. I also grew up travelling a lot which helped to influence my taste in music. I think I was drawn to the spirit of R&B music through the many family trips to New Orleans and other American cities. Travelling overseas to Morocco, Asia, Caribbean and Europe’s also inspires me creatively. I am excited that more and more “Live” music venues are returning to Vancouver, so hopefully we can strengthen R&B music here.
HipHopCanada: Who is your primary fan base?
Sarah K: I think most of my fans are 18-35, but I have gotten emails and beautiful words of encouragement from 7 year old fans, and people in there 50 come up and buy a CD off me after a show. I am so fortunate that my music is enjoyed by so many – its diverse. Soul, Urban, Pop, Ballads, and Dance music; something for everyone it seems. I am also an advocate for anti-bullying and youth mental health initiatives. Positive messages are important to me. Many of my fans appreciate that too.
HipHopCanada: What tips would you give young artists coming up, or what do you wish someone would have told you when you first started out in the R&B industry?
Sarah K: I would tell any young artist to find someone who has professional success in the industry to critique and guide them. Do what the successful people are doing. Always be professional. Leave your ego at the door. Take feedback with a “Thank You”. Get a representative or manager to help you once you are ready. Chris at Mercury Artists has been unbelievable. A career in music is an investment in the same way people invest in their education to have a rewarding career. Be prepared to spend some money. Create and deliver quality music from the start. Don’t think that it starts with a record deal. Find your sound, and then go for it! It’s difficult to do this on your own, especially in today’s music industry.
HipHopCanada: In which ways do you interact with your community?
Sarah K: I believe strongly in giving back. I feel that its important to donate my time to perform at charitable events that benefit our youth, women, and the less advantaged. If I can mobilize my network to support and bring awareness to an event or cause, that is what I will do. I have been so lucky to have the opportunity to raise money for Amanda Todd’s Legacy Memorial Fund and The CKNW Orphans’ Fund by donating all iTunes proceeds from my song,“Fly”. I also support St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation, Beauty Night Society, Vancouver Battered Women Society, and Access Youth Services. Music is a very powerful tool, and can really inspire, and help lift people up and over hardships. That is what it did for me.
HipHopCanada: Which artists have you worked with that left an impression on you, and why?
Sarah K: Baby C. She is a young and talented female hip-hop emcee who is a unique, strong and hardworking performer. Her writing and rhymes are thoughtful, and articulate. She is a woman in a mostly man’s game. I find that admirable. When Baby C is one stage she has all the men and women’s attention. It’s always a treat to take the stage with her to sing our song, “Show A Lil’ Love”. We are both doing what we can to make our mark in this industry.
HipHopCanada: Which Canadian artist would you most like to collaborate with?
Sarah K: As for a Canadian artist, I would say that Drake is one of the most talented artists to come up in a long time. Not just for Canada but anywhere in the world. To collaborate with him would be life-changing. If I could pick a Canadian producer, I would like to collaborate with David Foster. He is an amazing contemporary Pop songwriter and composer. I will know that I have made it if he ever calls. As a singer/songwriter I feel I can learn a lot from him.
HipHopCanada: Tell us about past and present successes, as well as future projects?
Sarah K: My most recent success is the release of my album, All My Life. A lot of love, sweat and tears went into the project. In June 2014, I released the music video the album’s title track, as well as, a remix produced by Universal Music producer, Sickick. He actually producer the original, and the remix. I am amazed how he was able to create two distinctly unique tracks. One at 70bpm and the other at 128.
In February and March of this year I was on tour in Morocco with my band from the capital city, Rabat. We played shows in Casablanca, Marrakech, Rabat, and Agadir. We also filmed three music videos while we zigzagged across the country. From the beaches of Sidi Ifni, to Zagora, in The Sahara. My family is from Morocco, so I am fortunate to have an energized fanbase there. I was also doing lots of radio interviews, and was featured on on the international 2M television network. 2M radio is currently playing my songs, “All My Life”, “Free For All” , and Hands Up!” regularly.
I’ve opened for Deborah Cox in front of 30,000 beautiful people at this year’s Vancouver Pride Party was amazing. She is so talented, and gracious. I also performed the title track from my album All My Life at Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding show at Bally’s Casino in Las Vegas. Last year I traveled to Cuba to film the video for my song, “Runnin’ Away” and to perform at the Sol Sirenas Coral Resort in Varadero. There was a capacity crowd in an open-air amphitheater. Back home, I played twice at Joe’s Apartment on Granville Street; the first R&B shows for the club. In March 2013, I was interviewed and performed on the National OmniTV program “V-Mix” as part of the 2013 Canadian Music Festival in Toronto, was on ShawTV’s “Go! Vancouver”, and continue to be showcased in a number of international music publications. I feel so blessed.
It is such an honor to be invited to perform my inspirational anti-bullying song “Fly” at a number of charity events over the past year. Later this month I will be performing at the, “Bikes Against Bullies Ride” at Trev Deely Harley-Davidson. Recently I performed at The Sage Awards to a room full of community leaders, Evander Holyfield, and Carol Todd. I was the guest performer at “The 2013 Pink Shirt Day Ladies Luncheon”, “Mike and Manny’s” Olympic Ski Camp, The Access Youth Services Gala at Red Robinson Show Theatre, and supported concerts for the battered and abused women of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
Since the formation of my Vancouver-based band, The Soul Collective in the Summer of 2013, we have been performing all over the lower mainland. Most notably at Vancouver Fanclub, The Vancouver Pride Parade, Calabash, Joe’s Apartment Nightclub, The Railway Club, The Richmond Night Market, Caribbean Days Festival, and West Vancouver’s Harmony Arts Festival to name a few.
HipHopCanada: Any last words for the online community?
Sarah K: Yes. Please continue to support Canadian music. All genres. One of the best ways to do that is to go to LIVE shows, and buy a CD and a T-shirt. Please “share’ the music you love with your friends. So many decisions are being made these days by the number of followers and “Likes” artists have. Take a second to show your love.
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