Liberation! Sabrina Carpenter Discovers Her New Self, Sound: BreatheHeavy Interview
If Sabrina Carpenter wants to get authentic, she’ll have to get uncomfortable.
I can usually tell during the first minute or two of an interview whether me and an artist will have have a lot to talk about, or if we’ll both grin and bear 15-minutes of music blabber before going our separate ways.
Sabrina, like the music she’s co-creating with super-producer duo Stargate (Beyonce, Britney, MJ), kept it real.
“Where are you right now? Where are you coming from,” Sabrina asked me.
‘Ahhh, an ice breaker,’ I thought. ‘How genuine!’ (I’m aware that in print this may come off as sarcastic, but real talk? It’s not often the interviewee asks the interviewer a question).
At just 19-years-old, the rising singer has millions of followers and hundreds of millions of streams for her polarizing pop music. Sabrina’s songs have infiltrated the mainstream. Tracks like “Why,” “Thumbs” & “Alien” are just the starter course, and I hope you’re hungry, because SC, who recently released a new song titled “Almost Love,” is readying her third studio album for this winter. It’s titled Singular, a project Sabrina hopes will show fans a side of herself even she hasn’t full discovered yet.
“Almost Love” debuted earlier this month. What’s your take on it now versus when it was first released?
“It’s still pretty early on. I think everyone can agree… when you have a baby, they’re still a baby even though they’re three weeks old. They’re still brand spankin’ new (I’ve never had a baby before I’m assuming *laughs*). It’s been really interesting to see the first initial reaction.
The other thing is… as fast as music travels nowadays… it still takes a long time for people to even grasp it, get ahold of it, digest it and really have an opinion on it. I’m still in the beginning stages. We haven’t released the video for it yet – that will be coming soon. Very soon.
[“Almost Love” is] such a different sound for me. I think that initial shock is something that I’ve loved… seeing the reaction. My fans are amazing and I think they like it so far.
It’s insane how fast artists put singles out. Do you feel like you have to crank out song after song after song?
Listen, over the past three years of my life, I’ve heard that from so many people, ‘it’s all about the singles, you just gotta keep giving them singles.’ I think I’ve always been an artist that needs to make albums. I know I’m still young, but I think it’s definitely what I want, it’s what my fanbase wants. They just want a bigger picture, they want a full story.
Don’t get me wrong. I think there’ so much power within singles, and that has a big part to do with your story because I truly believe the songs that transcend a lot of your other songs obviously have some sort of a universal theme within them, and the more people they can relate to… I think it definitely signifies you and your style as an artist. Even a period of growth in your artistry and your career. [Singles] are just as important, but I’m a big fan of albums and I always have been.
Artists (like Kanye) are releasing albums that have only 7 songs. Do you know many songs you want on Singular?
I want there to be more songs on this album than I had on my last album. My last album was my first kind of ~pop~ album. It was my first entrance into that world; I didn’t really want there to be too, too much. I think less is more with that specific album because it was already such a big shift from what I was doing before, but now I think I’m honing in on my voice. I think there are so many songs on this album where my personality speaks for itself on a lot of them – it really is kind of the story. I’ve gotten to that point on this [record] where I get really upset about leaving certain songs out. But I think at the end of the day what’s meant to be will be. People will put their own stories into it at the end of the day. All I can hope is that I have a connection and love for each and every song on there which I definitely do.
A big part of my life growing up was dancing, but when I started writing my own music, I was around 13-years-old. I thought the best first thing that I could do was start simple and start stripped down because I had a lot more room to grow from there if I did that. Now, I’m at this place where… a lot of these songs feel bigger to me, and they do feel cinematic in a lot of ways. The content has grown because I’ve grown. I’m 19, and I’m very different from 13. Everything at this age feels so exciting because you feel it for the first time, and I truly think that that sentiment has come across in so many of these songs. And maybe that’s why to me they feel so special because it feels like I’m feeling it all for the first time.
With experiencing new things and writing your own music… you’re putting yourself out there and being vulnerable for millions of people.
VULNERABLE! Yes. We love to use the word vulnerable as artists *laughs*.
Your heart and soul goes into this. Is that scary?
I feel like this is the no-hold-back generation to be honest. We are living unapologetically as ourselves… There’s so much acceptance right now in this young, up-and-coming generation that there’s no part of me that feels scared to tell my story. If anything, I’m empowered to tell my story because I hope that someone else can hear [these songs] and take something from them if they need to. That’s the best thing that I can offer – is to be vulnerable. That’s the only way to help other people.
What do you want people to take away from this new body of work?
A lot of the fans that have grown with me since my first album, or even if they knew me from my second album, or if they’re just starting to hear me on this album… they’re growing with me. There’s a lot of people on this album that I’m hoping can see themselves. [When I listened to this album], it’s made me feel a lot more confident and carefree in a lot of ways. I hope people can listen to this and feel that weight off their shoulders. I hope it takes them to another place. That’s my favorite thing about music – it can take me out of the world.
For the listener, they’re getting a mini escape. But as the artist you don’t get that same luxury.
That’s why I listen to other artists, you know?
OHH? Who are you listening to right now?
I’ve been listening to Christina [Aguilera’s] new album. She’s one of my personal inspirations. Like, seriously in life. “Beautiful” was my audition song from the time I was eight-years-old. I have just always loved her and her voice. I’ve listened to [Liberation] a ton.
Favorite new Xtina song?
Oh my gosh. This is hard. I really like “Sick of Sittin’.” There’s a lot of musical flavor in the album. I think it’s so crazy that she’s a mother and coming out with stuff that still feels so relevant. That is one of the hardest things I can imagine to do. I actually listened to this album with my sister, and I feel like it’s 19-year-old Christina coming out with these songs.
Did you catch the new Beyonce & JAY-Z album Everything Is Love?
Yeah of course. I really hope I can go to the tour. I went to the Formation tour and it changed my life. The thing I love about Beyonce is that I just never know what to expect. That’s the best thing I can ask for as an artist. Just to be surprised constantly.
Xtina, Beyonce, both insanely successful. What do you consider being successful in music means?
I think I consider it integrity and control that you have as an artist. For me, being young and still developing every day and still figuring out what I like and what I don’t like. It can be scary. I trust my instincts and trust my own ideas that could work or they could not work. I think that’s the risk you take. As long as you keep taking risks… you’re an artist. And as long as you keep making yourself uncomfortable you’re an artist. It’s always this thing of… ‘how can I take myself to that place where I’m overcoming another fear? That’s where we constantly draw inspiration from. That’s how we keep growing. I think numbers are numbers. At the end of the day, if a single person is listening to my music, and it’s doing something for their life, then I’ve done my job. Of course I want to sell out Madison Square Garden, but I also think playing in intimate venues and getting to see peoples’ faces… it’s why music was created in the first place.