25-year-old Sarah Walk has emerged as one of the year’s fiercest and most beautiful voices. A songwriter capable of taking you through every emotion and relive every experience in just one song. Signed to One Little Indian in 2014, Sarah’s work moves you with its sense of urgency, an artist with a burning need to express herself.
Sarah grew up in Minneapolis before going on to study at Berklee College of Music – the school’s alumni include the likes of St. Vincent and Quincy Jones. Throughout the last year Sarah has been living between Los Angeles and London where she has been working on her debut album with Steve Brown (Rumer, Laura Mvula).
Sarah’s most recent single “Wake Me Up” is out now via One Little Indian. Her debut album is due to be released in early 2017.
Your most recent single is “Wake Me Up”, how would you describe it?
I think it's one of the most haunting songs on the record. It has this darkness to it but I also wanted there to be a sense of softness and sweetness somewhere at the core. It's a song about temptation, addiction… feeling taken over by someone or something.
Your lyrics are very personal, when did you first start writing songs?
I've been writing since I was little, probably 7 or 8 is when I started putting songs together and putting on concerts for my neighbourhood and family. It was always a way for me to reflect on the things around me and as I got older those reflections became more mirrored on my own experiences.
Talk us through your writing process?
It kind of depends- I don't really have a reliable process that always works. I think sometimes I have to fool myself into thinking it isn't writing to find the best way to break into an idea. For a lot of the heavier songs I usually start with a piano idea and build it from there with a band. The softer songs are usually sparked from a lyric and developed on my own.
Who were the songwriters that had the biggest influence on you?
I've been inspired by a lot of different genres. There are things from many different styles that I like, so I think I kind of take bits and pieces and try to bring them together in my music. I'm big on grooves and hip hop, but love the lyrical sensibility of folk and classic songwriters- love the detailed parts and textures from a lot of alternative and pop rock bands.. it all kind of gets me excited. The most recent and probably influential songwriter for me, though, has definitely been Joni Mitchell. I read In Her Own Words by Malka Marom- an interview with Joni- about two years ago, and that really changed things for me.
You grew up in Minneapolis, studied at Berklee and recently have been splitting your time between London and Los Angeles – does your location influence your work?
Definitely. I think location has a big influence on experience and perspective which all affects my songwriting. The weather plays a big role too.
From touring to with Laura Mvula to performing at festivals, 2016 has been a big year for you – what’s been your highlight?
I think the support tours in May were probably the highlight. I had never toured or seen other parts of the UK before. It was really exciting to be on the road and playing the record in front of new crowds.
What can people expect from your live shows?
I think the live show is really dynamic and I try to make it as honest and personal as possible. The goal is for my experiences to be given away when I perform so that they can resonate with other people and make an impact. The record is very diverse- some really aggressive heavy stuff and then some very soft and introspective ballads. I try to balance the two in the live show and keep a common thread between them.
What’s next for you?
Hopefully a lot more gigging next year and developing things before the album release. I'm really looking forward to getting the record out there and continuing to play live. Onwards!