Interview by Danielle Holian
For our readers, please tell us a bit about your background in music.
I like to describe my music as a fusion of soul, jazz, and pop. I am a Portuguese surfer girl who grew up by the sea. I started learning to play guitar at 17 but I started writing much earlier. When I was 12 years old I decided I wanted to become a poet and started writing poetry. I changed my mind after having a guitar in hand. It was completely natural, songs started flowing through my pen and fingers as easily as my surfboard ripped the perfect waves of Portugal’s west coast. I was completely unaware of what I was doing by then. I was just following an instinct. I always thought I felt too much and I always felt the need to translate these feelings into words and graciously note them down. Words always seemed like a puzzle for me. It was always so much fun to put them in a certain way that would make sense for me and would somehow sound musically. I moved to London last year in October because Portugal became too cold for me. The music industry can be quite cruel sometimes. Maybe it’s not the industry itself but the people who run it. I hate when people want to change me or when they think they have the right to compare me to someone else or even worse when they actually say things like this “you should get a big bass and a piano and sound like Diana Krall”. I find this completely ridiculous. I have nothing against Diana Krall, she is an amazing singer and I admire her, although I am myself. I am unique and I don’t want to sound like someone else. I want to have my own sound and that is what I have been fighting for: my right and freedom to do my own original music and leave a mark.
Who or what are your musical influences?
I grew up listening to Nat King Cole, Screaming Jay Hawkins, Billie Holiday, Vaya Con Dios, Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, James Brown, Etta James, Bessie Smith, Memphis Minnie and Nina Simone. I am all about classics and Motown. Love all those old recordings, I am absolutely crazy about blues, soul, and jazz. Mostly because of my parents, they have a huge collection of vinyl and I grew up listening to great music. That may have influenced me a lot I suppose. I think soul music is part of my DNA and I can’t see myself doing anything else apart from this.
How has your music evolved since you began?
I think it started to sound like very acoustic jazz and it has slowly changed to more like a soul, pop with a slight electronic influence. I think every year that passes I am becoming more mature in terms of songwriting and producing and even performing. My voice has gone a little deeper and I master it in a better way I think.
How did it feel to make the Top 90 on The X Factor?
It was absolutely insane. I was like “Is this really happening?” Sometimes you just need to be brave and little crazy enough to do something really out of the box. And I also believe sometimes we have to push ourselves out of our comfort zone. That’s how we grow up and improve as human beings.
And what did you learn from this experience?
Well, first it gave me a wide exposure and people started noticing me and my music. I also learned we are living in a very commercial world and if we want to reach people we have to adapt a mold ourselves a little bit. I went to The X Factor with my acoustic jazz/soul music and they kept on pushing me to sound more pop and more commercial. I found this unpleasant at the very beginning but then it started making sense and I am grateful for this experience because after this I started to listen to more pop and electronic music and somehow things started making more sense for me. I took it as a challenge and I started mixing all my soulful influences with more modern day pop music and “Play Alone” was born which is my newest single and n spite it was released this month it has already 900k on YouTube. I think if you listen to the song you’ll get exactly what I am trying to explain.
What inspired your debut album Waking Up The Drums? Tell us a bit about the songwriting process and what you have learned since then.
Well, I am very proud of my debut album Waking Up The Drums” which I have done all by myself in terms of songwriting, mixing and producing. It took me a good while to get it done partly because I had no experience at all on recording an album. It was a big, big challenge! It is part of my growth and my story as a musician and it’s very beginning, the first page and the first line. Check it out on Spotify.
You stated London is the city of your dreams, since moving there permanently, how has making music changed for you?
Yes, absolutely. London is in my heart. Love this city so much. Love to live here in this madness. So many things have changed after I moved to London. Here there are more opportunities and there is more competition so it’s very exciting and challenging at the same time and I love challenges so it’s the perfect place for me to be. I can’t say I don’t miss Portugal, the sea, the food, surfing, family, and friends. But I feel that my destiny is here and this is where I need to be.
What can we expect in the near future from you?
I make no promises, but all I can say is that you can expect great music and good vibes!
Where can someone find your music?
You can find all information about me and my music on my website www.sarapaco.org. There you will find links to my Spotify, Youtube, Facebook, Instagram and twitter account. You can also find links to purchase my music on iTunes and Apple Music. I also have a blog where I write about my day to day experiences and which is also on my website.
What advice would you give aspiring songwriters?
Always believe in yourselves. Don’t let no one put you down and listen to all advice but do your own judgment. Be yourselves and enjoy the trip!
Any last words?
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you so much, Danielle. Thank you for this fantastic opportunity to share my music with you and all your readers. I lived in Ireland after graduating in economics and I must say Irish are a lovely people, very musical, very warm and kind. I have these two songs from my debut album called “Step Out” and “Plastic Flowers” which were written in Dublin.