The super talented musician talks queer artists, social media, and the future of US politics
WORDS BY ELEANOR NOYCE, IMAGE BY DANIEL SMITH COLEMAN
US-based musician Sarah Walk first came into our DIVA-shaped lives a couple of years ago. Having appeared on Radio DIVA with Heather Peace, she played the DIVA Musical Festival in 2018 and pretty much stole our hearts. And she’s about to release a new album, so we chatted to her about queer artists, social media, and the future of US politics. Much to think about DIVAs, much to think about.
DIVA: You played the DIVA Musical Festival in 2018. Have you got any new projects in the works?
SARAH WALK: I’m just finishing recording my new album. I may be doing a European tour later in the year, and will be ending that tour with a show in London – more details to follow soon! Right now I’m just trying to focus on finishing the album and then hope to be playing live again as much as possible.
Is misogyny still present in the music industry?
The music video for CTRL was an all female identified cast and crew. It was politically charged, and that was a message I really felt strongly about getting out. It’s a lot harder as a woman to be taken seriously, and the music industry is still very male-dominated. It’s important not to apologise; not to be afraid to take up space.
Is your musical process partly driven by politics?
The confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh brought up a lot of emotion for me. In a place where you think there’s going to be a clear understanding of right and wrong, seeing that happening was troubling. I hope that I can do my part to create a sense of community and ensure that women’s voices are being heard. Trump being in office has forced people to have conversations that they haven’t had before. That’s one of the biggest gifts about this horrible situation: people are speaking up. I’m hopeful that’ll help trigger a change in office politically. I teeter between feeling hopeful and feeling disillusioned. In the end, it’s a lot more productive to wake up and choose to feel hopeful.
Who are your main musical influences? How do they inform your musical process?
I don’t know if I’ve been influenced so much as inspired by, but everything from Joni Mitchell to Radiohead, Everything Everything to Beyonce. I grew up listening to a lot of different music and I just try to incorporate the things that I love from music into mine in an honest way. The new album for me feels more experimental sonically, which is really exciting for me. The first record was centred around love and heartbreak, but my new album feels arguably more vulnerable and personal because I’m really looking inward and self-investigating.
How does it feel to be a part of the LGBTQI section of the music industry?
I’ve seen a big emergence of queer artists over the past couple of years, which is really wonderful. A couple of songs in the past I’ve had female pronouns when talking about a love interest or a romantic interest, and I want to sing about my honest experience. If I’m singing about a woman, it shouldn’t make it any less relatable for other people. A song is still a song irrespective of gender or sexuality.
If you could give your younger queer self a few words of wisdom, what would you say?
Don’t overthink who you need to be. For a long time, I felt like I was boxed in. You can be masculine, you can be feminine. I felt like I couldn’t be soft or sensitive or weak. People are complex, and identity is wide-ranging. Being a younger queer person is hard enough, but now you have to figure out who you are in real life and who you are on social media. We live in an age where people are constantly looking at each other and comparing. Who you are should come first and who you are online should come second. Focus on who you are as a person; how you want to represent yourself, and the friends and relationships you want to have. You need to figure out your beliefs first.
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