‘Music has always been in my blood’ - Maverick Sabre talks ahead of Norwich show
- Credit: Supplied by Chuff Media
Neill Barston caught up with Maverick Sabre ahead of his Epic Studios show on April 2.
When Maverick Sabre's soul-infused debut first emerged, observers were quick to hail him as the male equivalent of Amy Winehouse.
With a blaze of positive momentum, the record narrowly missed the top slot in the charts, paving the way for a frenetic round of touring and promotion.
Gaining recognition from an early point, it seems the English born, Irish raised singer took comparisons with the late Back To Black star very much in his stride.
'I think with music people often feel that they have to place you as the new version of someone, but I don't mind those comparisons to Amy – I loved her, so I'll take that any day,' says the amiable singer.
The 28-year-old's distinctive vocals have indeed stood him out from the crowd, and he's strived hard to create his own niche in the business.
To date, he's clocked up an impressive rosta of writing, recording and touring credits, working with the likes of Professor Green, The Script, Chase and Status, through to recent recordings with Grammy nominated Chronixx and rapper George The Poet to name a few.
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After a hiatus of recording his own material since his second album, he now has chance to reflect on career ambitions and hone his music further.
'I'd say that the success of any album does put pressure on you to repeat that again, but I think my second record had some of my best writing on there.'
'For me, music has always been in my blood and I've known nothing else and it's what I've been doing since I was 15,' explains Maverick Sabre, who concedes he was in need of a break following an intense period of work.'
Seven years on from those initial recordings on Lonely Are The Brave, his assured latest studio recording, When I Wake Up, looks set to make a significant impact.
There's an added maturity to his sound, bolstered by the highs and lows of experiences soaked up from a life in a demanding industry, working with a host of other artists.
Perhaps most notably the album features a soulful collaboration, Slow Down, with Brit Award winning singer Jorja Smith as one of its lead singles.
Though he acknowledges that a gap of several years in touring and recording his own material is a long period within the music business, he appears in confident form ahead of the record's imminent release.
'The new album has shaped up pretty much by itself as I'd been doing a lot of writing for other people, and it came together quite naturally out of that.'
'I'm massively pleased with the new album and I think it's my favourite yet. I think it's the most unique I've put together, and there's a bit of everything in there.'
'I've written it like a piece of cinema, or series of photos which link to the music videos, as it was intended as a very visual album with the stories it tells. It feels like a soundtrack – 13 songs that escape into a world inside your head,' explains Sabre, who says the album's title was born of a sense of musical re-awakening after a spell away from recording his own material.'
There are musically haunting yet uplifting moments on the album, as with Drifting, matched by lyrically bold choices addressing disturbing subjects such as domestic abuse, as on Her Grace. Such willingness to tackle often taboo subjects typifies Sabre's commendably open and engaging approach to songwriting.
He's not writing to preconceived formulas or for radio-friendly commercial expectations – but he certainly has an ear for crafting emotive music.
'I've always enjoyed artists and bands that have felt very personal with their music featuring strong stories that put across their vision of the world that really moves you.'
'I felt like that about people like Bob Dylan, Tupac, Rage Against the Machine - it doesn't matter what type of music, but it's music that had a revolutionary side to it that has mattered to me,' explains the East London born musician, who says his childhood growing up in County Wexford in Ireland proved a big influence on his interest in music.
Catching his dad play a number of pub gigs as a youngster proved an initial musical spark, but as he says, it wasn't until winning a competition organised by Plan B.
'I was setting up my Myspace page and I just didn't think Michael Stafford was going to work as a name, so I chose Maverick as a name, someone doing something different, but Sabre – I am not sure where that came from!'
'But in winning that with Plan B, he invited me over to record and he proved a big inspiration for me and helped me out a lot. That's why I've enjoyed helping others and working with young artists,' adds Maverick of his pathway into the business as a teenager.
Having made a return to living in England, he says outside of music his grand passion is cinema and horror movies in particular, as well as keeping a close eye on what he believes is an especially thriving British music stream.
Amid a Spotify-dominated streaming age, he says he considers himself fortunate to be probably the last generation to enjoy having music released in physical formats, as well as being available digitally.
As for the latest tour, which stands as his first in four years, he says it's going to be something pretty special indeed.
'I love being out on the road, making those connections with people and seeing a reaction from crowds. I've got to be grateful that every day I get to wake, make some music and put a roof over my head,' explains the singer-songwriter on his highly memorable decade in the music business.
• Tickets to Maverick Sabre's show on April 2 are available for £16 advance from Epic Studios' website