From struggling undergrad to YouTube mogul and up-and-coming pop sensation, Sarah Close has passed every checkpoint in record time and is flying towards the finish line.
Thanks to the internet, making your dreams a reality can all begin with just a single upload, and for Sarah, it all started way back in 2010 with a cover video of Katy Perry’s pop nostalgia hit ‘Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F)’. Since then, Sarah’s channel subscribers skyrocketed, and in March 2017, she was able to release her debut single ‘Call Me Out’, and a debut album Caught Up, the following month.
Growing up on the small island of the Isle Of Wight, Sarah has admitted that the size of her hometown limited her options creatively; “I think feeling so isolated was one of the reasons I got into music, I didn’t have other kids in my village to hang with so I had to find things to keep me busy! I don’t think my home area has an obvious influence on my songs and writing, but I do have a couple songs that explore growing up and feeling like a bit of an outsider because of a different childhood to other people”.
Fantasising about a what life could be past the small island, Sarah got light of the idea of putting herself out there through by pure coincidence from her covers rival Taylor Swift. “I was hugely inspired when I found out that Taylor Swift wrote and performed her own songs, that made me believe that I could do the same! That and ‘Naive’ by the Kooks is what made me pick up a guitar and start teaching myself.”
Sarah was inspired to follow in Swift’s tracks but found herself held back by a feeling we all know a little too well. “I’d known I wanted to do it for a while, I’d been watching other singers on YouTube and saw that they were doing what I wanted to do. What worried me most was people at school finding out and teasing me for it, I told a friend what I wanted to do and she encouraged me so much that I just did it. People at school found out about my channel earlier than I expected them to, but luckily everyone was super nice and supportive which only spurred me on more!”
The confidence to put yourself out there, so exposed online, is no mean feat. Since the whirlwind success of her debut album, she’s encountered both sides of the social media beast – good and bad – but remains positive in tackling comments head-on. “I like to think that there are two different Sarah Close’s. There’s me, that wakes up in the morning and phones her parents and does whatever I do, and then there’s the Sarah Close that is making music and putting out her songs. When I see negative things, they’re commenting on who they perceive Sarah Close to be, they don’t know me so they can’t hurt me. Creating that distance is important and really helps, and criticism is sometimes healthy. I would say, do what you wanna do and deal with anything negative as it comes!”
As an individual that has explored the industry in all its glory, Sarah does not shy away from being vocal about her frustrations within the belly of the beast. “I think the industry is lacking in diversity, especially in the behind the scenes roles. I’d love to meet more women and PoC working as A&R’s and managers.” However, that’s not to discredit her experiences to date – having worked alongside Parlophone Records and now coming back to a point where she’s in full control of her own music. Releasing independently through The Kodiak Club and self-directing her own music videos can be intimidating, but Sarah takes it all in her stride. “At the end of the day no one really knows what song is going to bang or not, so trust your gut and put out songs that feel right to you!”
And that’s exactly what she’s been doing, and with huge success. The singer-songwriter has hit number one on many global viral Spotify playlists, accumulated over three million streams in a year and has completely sold out her debut UK tour, but is staying true to herself and her big ambitions: “I want to perform all over the world, I’m really so excited to be doing some more live shows soon and I’d love to do them in places I’ve never been to before and I hope that becomes a reality for me! In 5 years time, it would be great to have a second album out, and I’d like to have ticked off some of my dream people to work with!”