Hailing from the Isle of Wight, and writing songs since the age of 6, a 14 year old Sarah Close started a YouTube channel with hopes that it would lead to a music career. Dreaming of a life beyond living in a small village on an island and knowing her dream was to move to London to pursue her career in music, at 18 years old Close enrolled in a songwriting course at North London’s Institute of Contemporary Music and Performance – a decision galvanised by seeing other musicians online becoming successful artists in their own right, writing their own original material. Whilst studying, Close’s social following rapidly multiplied in its thousands making her into an online sensation and so, in her second year, she decided to leave the course to pursue her music career on her own.
Since her debut release, the singer-songwriter has hit #1 on many global viral Spotify lists and sold out her debut UK tour, including her second ever London show, where she headlined at Heaven. Previously working alongside Parlophone Records, Close is now back in full control releasing music independently through The Kodiak Club, via AWAL. After the release of the video for ‘You Say’, which she co-directed herself, we sat down with the pop princess in-the-making to talk music influences, song-writing and social media.
How would you describe your sound to someone who had never heard it before?
Pop music that is fun, cheeky and danceable!
Who are your biggest musical influences?
I love anything Jack Antonoff, Charli XCX, Carole King or Alessia Cara.
You originally came to London to study at the Institute of Contemporary Music and Performance, but you left your studies in your second year, after your music career began to gain momentum. Would you say that it’s still necessary nowadays for musicians to study music?
I think it depends on what you’re trying to learn, jazz and classical music isn’t something that you just pick up and it’s so technical that it does need to be studied. I dropped out of my course, as you said, because my career began to gain momentum, and I knew that having a BA in songwriting wasn’t going to make a difference to my career at the end of the day. It’s worth saying though, that I did really find the course worthwhile, because it brought new challenges to me.
You’re originally from the Isle of Wight but now live in London — how has this relocation impacted upon you as an artist?
When I first moved it was amazing, so many new people and experiences to draw from and write about. After uni I moved into a flat where I felt really trapped because my next door neighbour hated when I made any noise and my creativity really suffered because of it. I’m out of that place now and able to make as much noise as I want, I think London is so vibrant and creative people are everywhere, it’s very inspiring.
With 149,000 followers on Instagram, you have a thriving online community of fans. How do you think that social media has impacted the relation between artists and their fans?
I think artists and fans feel a lot closer nowadays, I really love when I notice someone interacting with me a lot online, and then I recognise them at a show because i’ve seen their profile picture before.
On latest single, ‘You Say’, the lyrics are drawn from a real-life experience. Would you say that your song-writing tends to be diaristic? Why is this?
I think I can’t help but write from personal experiences, that writing style is what made me fall in love with songwriting. I also am so inspired by the way Drake or Kendrick will inject their personality and experiences into their songs, rap music has so much identity which I think a lot of pop music doesn’t.
What are your plans for the rest of 2018?
I have my next few singles already lined up so they will be coming out, as well as getting back on stage and doing some live shows. I can’t wait!