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Interview with Sazrah

Producer turned artist shares the tools and services she used to push her latest release to the top

Give an introduction to yourself, how you got into music, where you are today, and where you'd like to be.

I'm Sazrah. I've been in the industry as a music producer/songwriter for over 10 years and recently have started emerging as an artist. I have been into music since a child. My Dad is classically trained and I learned piano with him and my Mum played percussion in a band in Ghana (where she is originally from) and used to teach me to drum rhythms which we would play out on the kitchen table!

I then used to love layering tracks by recording something onto tape, playing it back on my ghetto blaster back in the 90's haha, and then playing the next layer on my keyboard and recording that on another blank tape! Little did I know that was me making a beat until I got older and saw people like The Neptunes, Timbaland, and Missy being famous as producers and I then went on to take it further after being so inspired by them. 

I have since gone on to achieve a few things as a producer. My music has been featured on Keeping up with the Kardashians, MTV, Nickelodeon, and The Oprah Network. I have remixed for Damian Marley and Nas, produced for Sho Madjozi, and written with Roni Size as well as plenty of amazing other artists. More of this can be seen on my website at sazrah.co.uk.

Some Kinda Way cover art

Tell us about your latest release, what's it about?

Some Kinda Way is a feel-good song about falling for someone because of their charm and style. The rhythms and percussion are influenced by my love for afro-beats and Latin music and the melodies and singing style are more pop-influenced. It features Ghanaian rapper Simpol Tinz. His rap covers the more humble approach expressing how my talk of love for style and need for attention can be pretentious but he will shower me with love anyway as he loves me as a person so it's a nice contrast. It's also been featured in a few blog articles, papers, playlists, and radio stations across the globe which is exciting. It is my second ever release as an artist.

Sazrah in recording studio

How did you record it?

I recorded it all in my room! Using Logic Pro-X, my Maschine MK1, and a Rode NT1-A mic. Budget studio setup ;-) I mixed it on my Yamaha HS8's with well-respected musician M3nsa who helped bring the sound to beautiful broadcast quality.

How did you distribute it?

I went via Distrokid as my distributor. I have used Tunecore before and RouteNote but have been trying Distrokid with my newer releases. But yes, totally independent release. 

How did you promote it?

I promoted it by doing a build up of posts and photos to get people excited and pre-saving the single. I also uploaded it to BBC Introducing which got it some radio play and some friends (out of choice) shared it to their stories and pages which helped as some other people asked for the song details and started streaming it. Even a radio station in the USA approached one friend who used it in their story and asked for it and now it is on their rotation list! I also got a press release made for the article and a few papers picked it up and wrote about the song.

It also got mentioned in a Brazilian paper which was a surprise to me! I also submitted it for playlists either by directly contacting people who made independent artist playlists that had an email in the playlist description or via Submit Hub. I am going to try Daily Playlists as another artist has recommended that to me. Once momentum gets going other people pick it up. Some influencers and streamers have used it in the back of their lives and shouted it out which is really cool! 

Sazrah at UMA

The music industry is in a state of flux right now, where do you see it heading?

I feel for the artists who are used to making money from gigging and touring. I think platforms like Twitch and Streamyard are perfect for artists to connect with fans and to raise a bit of money from tips, but I do know it is nothing compared to the money some of them made previously. I have really enjoyed watching online gigs (if the sound is good) and it does feel like I have been on a night out so if this can happen more and it can be ticketed I would probably pay to see good music and be able to comment and connect with artists I love etc. That could be a way forward but I know art and music are so good for the well being, it will never go away.

For me, being quite an introverted person (who is used to being in the background as a producer), I am happy to just release as a recording artist. In terms of performance and gigs, I am not used to being in the spotlight so it is an area that I haven't experienced yet. But I am using this lockdown time to work on my craft and practice performing if I do ever want to start doing live music in the future. 

What's the most important thing missing from Songwhip?

Maybe if there could be a "Lyric Video" and "Website" option or places where we can add it ourself if it isn't picked up by Songwhip?

Which artist do you look up to the most and why?

Michael Jackson, and Missy Elliott because their music is timeless and their visuals go down in History. Amy Winehouse, her lyrics and melodies were insanely clever. I do admire Will.I.am as production is a huge strength of his but he is able to find ways to express himself as an artist too and I relate to that. 

Sazrah singing

What artist tools/services can't you live without?

Like online services? Spotify, Apple, distribution services and Songwhip. Songwhip makes my life so much easier than other link services out there!

What is your advice to other indie artists to help fund their work/produce music?

Help Musicians is a good website to get help in these times, they offer grants to those who have lost money. Also PRS fund projects but it is best to organize a call with them for tips on if your project is fundable so you don't waste your time on the long forms if it isn't something that would work. If it doesn't work, you can re-think your project if you need to and then apply. I also recommend live streams with a PayPal link or Twitch where you can raise money and people can pay to subscribe to you. Also for a side hustle, Vocalizr and Fiverr are good for vocal work. And Youth Music if you ever want to apply to run music projects for young people.

Anything else you'd like to plug?

I also make meditation music with a reiki release, here's the Songwhip. Also give me a follow. I'm @SazrahProducer on Instagram, Twitter, and FB.