Where are you currently based and what is the music scene like there?
I have recently relocated back to my hometown in Coffs Harbour. There are some talented and hustling artists up here, but a much smaller audience as opposed to Sydney where I have been previously based over the past 5 years.
How did you first start playing music?
Growing up in a family of musicians and singers, music was just a part of life. I never sought out to pursue it as a career, even though I used to dream of being an international artist as every young kid does. My Mother’s heritage is Maori which hugely influenced my musical ear as well as growing up singing gospel in church.
What’s been happening recently?
Recently I’ve come back to producing my own tracks. It has been hard to channel creativity and write whilst spending a lot of time in my other passion as a Youth Worker, but lately I’ve been looking to focus more on my art and collaborating with other artists.
You’ve recently transitioned into hip-hop, how and why did this come about?
I grew up listening to female artists like Lauren Hill, Brandy, Beyoncé and Rihanna. At the time I went to Uni, I struggled to find that type of community so I experimented in other genres for a long while. Hip-hop, R&B, Soul and Reggaeton are more so styles I feel I’m coming back to as I’ve been able to connect with an Australian hip-hop scene and staying true to myself as an artist.
How has the transition to hip-hop been so far?
I absolutely feel like I’ve reconnected with a huge part of who I am, how I write, what I write about and how I move and perform as a dancer also.
Because I’ve worked with an Electronic producer for a while now, I’m still transitioning and I’m unsure if I would categorise my sound as strictly hip-hop. I’ve loved Rihanna for this because I feel like a lot of her tracks explore other genres. It’s more about representing a vibe and a feeling for me, rather than sticking to a genre.
How was your experience supporting Tuka?
It was so incredible to meet and support Tuka on his “Selling Me Out” Tour last year. He is one of the most kind, genuine and generous artists I have come across. Supporting him live was just as memorable as the day he reached out to offer me the slot. It was a huge gift and I am still tremendously grateful.
Your first self-produced single ‘On My Way’ is out now, what influenced the sound and songwriting for this track?
I wanted to write something with grit because I feel like my life and musical journey has been the school of hard knocks. I can definitely say that I’ve poured every drop of resource into carving out a musical career for myself and am still. ‘On My Way’ is a short insight to the constant hustle of mind over matter, being born into a type of situation, bumping up against it and being good with the process as you try to create something of meaning from it all. Every sound is there to represent my grind.
How did you go about writing ‘On My Way’? Where and when did you record/produce?
I first came up with the chorus bass line. I instantly loved it and wanted to create a vibe around it. It reminded me of someone who is riding solo through life, has overcome obstacles and can smile at the future.
I have a small studio space at home that I write and produce from. I recorded and produced it last year when I first moved back to Coffs from Sydney. It was a transitional time in many ways, moving location but also getting back to producing which forced me to come up with my own samples and sounds and put my own flavours into it. I was listening to DaniLeigh and Rihanna at the time which influenced the sound, as well as Banks and Beyoncé. Women who get the mashup of soulful vocals, rock guitars, eerie soundscapes, heavy bass lines and a current beat.
It went through a few trials as it doesn’t strictly follow a “pop structure”, but I couldn’t leave any part out once it was finished. It’s a journey, which also represents the message. It’s the most soulful song I’ve written.
What did you find most challenging and rewarding through this process?
It has been super rewarding to remember that I can produce my own tracks. I’ve been writing, performing, dancing, making and directing videos for a while, I kind of put producing on the shelf.
It began as an experiment and once I got it mixed and mastered, I realised how achievable it was.
It definitely feels good to be able to express exactly how I feel through sound, as well as lyrics.
What did you learn through producing this single by yourself?
I learnt that by producing the track, I’m actually releasing my own sound and vibe, as opposed to writing and sending it off for someone else to create.
I’m really proud of this one and I will definitely put myself back in the producer chair for future singles.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
DaniLeigh, Teyana Taylor, Jhene Aiko, Kanye
What do you like to do away from music?
Dance is a huge outlet. Design, draw.. shop.
What’s planned for 2020?
Single releases and music videos! I’d love take my new music on tour as well, both here in Coffs and up and down the coast.
Favourite food and place to hangout?
Coffs has some really great coffee spots, my favourite is Salute on the beach. Favourite foods: sushi, dumplings and Mexican.
INSTAGRAM – https://www.instagram.com/sarai.music
SPOTIFY – https://open.spotify.com/artist/3Kec4Kc2YtCGMlCBRPViS8?si=RIGJCyA8S96p4Y7wJRrwaA
YOUTUBE – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJOt3GocKeK9c-E_JLIic6w
TRIPLE J – https://www.triplejunearthed.com/artist/sarai
FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/sarai.officialmusic/