INTERVIEW: A Conversation with Singer-Songwriter Sarah Walk

Sarah Walk’s emotive, confessional song-writing has earned her comparisons to Indie greats like Cat Power and Sharon Van-Etten. She’s currently preparing to tour and releaseher debut full-length record in England, but she took time to sit down with Hooligan over Skype to discuss her writing process, and what it was like to make a video for her third single “Still Frames.

Your music has a cinematic quality to it, was it easy to come up with a concept for a music video for “Still Frames”? Did you have a narrative in mind before you started shooting?

No, I actually didn’t. I wrote that song a long time ago. That was kind of a really gloomy day and we were all thinking about the past, feeling nostalgic, that’s kind of where the song started. I think it’s interesting with videos, we got a lot of treatments from different directors with their take on the song. Sometimes that can lead you to an interesting place because it might be a different interpretation, which gives it a different meaning. That’s exciting, especially when it’s for a song that you’ve known for so long in a certain way.

I love that the video for “Still Frames” has a queer love story as a central narrative, how do you think we can improve queer representation within the media as artists and makers?

Yes, I was aware that it was a queer couple, but above anything it’s a love story, I wanted people to recognize that relationships are the same. I wanted the over-arching narrative to be a love story. But, I wanted a queer relationship to be a bit more accessible in the public eye, just to recognize that people love the same way, relationships fall apart in the same way.

Do you use songwriting as a mechanism to help you process difficult situations in your life?

I do, I think it definitely helps to write. I find it easier to navigate my feelings on certain things through music. I’m relatively guarded with my personal life, but for some reason with music, performing, and writing, it doesn’t really feel personal. It feels like something I’m giving away to people and inviting them into as opposed to an individualized experience. It definitely helps. Sometimes, when you get a song written it feels like a weight’s been lifted.

Do you write about something immediately after it happens, or do you let yourself mull it over first?

I don’t know, I’ve written songs years later and in the thick of things. Sometimes you need time to gain perspective, and sometimes you write something in the middle while not really knowing how you feel. There’s no formula for writing, at least for me there’s not … the whole process is pretty unpredictable.

Do you have specific things that you like to explore thematically when you write?

Not consciously, I try not to overthink it, usually I just want it to be honest and meaningful to me. If I find something to be moving, real, and personal, it usually draws me back enough to finish an entire song. If it moves me, I feel like it’s going to move other people.

Describe what it’s been like finishing up your record.

It’s been great it’s actually been finished for a while now, I’m just trying to gig as much as possible and get the music out there. I’m really excited to put the album out.

Do you tour often?

I’ve done a few support tours, I toured all of May last year and i toured a bit in December. In between, I’ve been doing headline gigs with my band in London.  We’re trying to get more support tours. I really like support tours, because it’s exposure to people who don’t know who you are. It’s less pressure and it’s exciting to get a new audience. I’m starting to hopefully get some stuff booked in Europe for the rest of the year which will be really cool.

If you had to pick something to do other than music, what would it be?

I always could have seen myself teaching or doing something in social work, just helping people. I like to be around people and give back. There’s still a lot I want to do, I always want to be doing music, but also be able to create some sort of platform to give back other than music.

Do you have a record that changed your life?

I’ve always been writing ever since I was really young, I’ve always been drawn to it. The first record I ever bought was third eye blind’s self titled album and I fucking loved it. There are definite a-ha moments, like Ok Computer by Radiohead or Thirty Roses by Joni Mitchell. I really love hip hop too.

Do you think that music has the power to enact social change?

I do, there’s a sense of responsibility alongside the being in the public eye. I hope that my music will continue to grow and build and impact people in different ways. I don’t think there’s only one way to do that, so that’s one thing about music that does excite me — whether that be in the music or around it, there’s different ways to reach people.

Did you ever have moments when you were first starting to write songs like, ‘why should I try this if there’s already thousands of records?

Yeah, but I do think that every experience is different and I feel like I don’t want to put out music unless it says something that hasn’t been said before, or has a different approach musically. There’s so many different genres that I like, I think I just pick and choose different things I’m drawn to in order to try and make something a bit different Every story is never going to be told, there’s always going to be a new way to say something, that excites me and makes me want to continue writing.