The singer songwriter talks to DIVA about her second album and reimagining a track made famous by Sinéad O’Connor
BY NADIA DAVIES
Released three years after her debut album Little Black Book, Another Me is the second album from Minneapolis-born singer-songwriter Sarah Walk.
Raw and refreshingly honest, the album explores themes of vulnerability and toxic relationships, mental health and sexual identity, while fixing a cold stare at the patriarchy. Described as her “coming out record”, Walk takes the listener through her journey of introspection and self-discovery, ultimately finding her space and claiming it.
Walk shares her original take on the Prince classic made famous by Sinéad O’Connor; Nothing Compares 2 U, and its poignant accompanying video, out now.
The short film was shot in LA by director Daniel Smith Coleman and follows a young man battling with his sobriety, shot completely in reverse starting with the end of his night and working back to his temptation to drink.
“For this Nothing Compares 2 U music video, I wanted to find a way to reframe the song to give it a new life and meaning” Walk tells us. “It’s always been interpreted as a song about a romantic relationship, but when I was listening to the lyrics, I was really struck by the opening line, “It’s been 7 hours and 13 days” – a lyric that suggests each passing hour is a feat and triumph.
“This made me think about sobriety and the struggles of temptation and addiction, resistance and possibility. I thought this was an important story to tell, particularly now, when so many people are struggling with mental health challenges from isolation and lack of adequate resources due to Covid-19. I wanted to zoom in on one moment of resilience that may have otherwise gone unseen.”
Through Walk, Nothing Compares 2 U, one of the most famous love songs of all time, is given the opportunity to exist in a slightly different context, examined by an artist who isn’t afraid to question outdated romantic themes. We caught up with her to find out more.
Your second album, Another Me, was released during the coronavirus lockdown. How was that experience for you?
Obviously, there was a big element of disappointment because I wasn’t able to tour the album leading up to the release, but I’m really grateful that I had the album completed by the beginning of lockdown. I think it would have been much more difficult to put an album recording on pause and be without any material during that period, so I’m really happy that I could at least put music out and feel a sense of connection with my fans through that.
You mentioned on Instagram that the new album feels like a coming out record. Can you explain a bit more about that?
It was a really interesting process for me, because through this album I learned a lot about myself that came through releasing these songs. Because of my masculine of centre appearance, I think my queerness is often assumed by others, so I never really had that “coming out” experience. That process is really critical in learning how to take up space and I don’t think I ever really went through that. So, in that way, this album is my coming out experience because I was really learning how to do those things when writing this album. It’s about taking up space without apology, setting boundaries, and not shrinking to avoid discomfort.
How has the pandemic affected you creatively?
Well, like I said, I feel really grateful that I had an album to release during this time, but I think that may have taken my focus away from writing and creating because I was really focused on the campaign and the singles being released. I also think that everyone has a different process for writing. Some people make it a habit every single day, and others sort of wait for the songs to come to them. I’m more the latter. I still don’t know if that’s patience or laziness on my part, but I tend to feel like the good songs make themselves known by tugging at you for your attention. I think the pandemic has prohibited a lot of us from having these outside experiences that can facilitate the urge to write, but I know some friends that have really taken this time to look inward and find plenty to write about. I’m just starting to get back into writing mode, especially now that I’ve just finished an acoustic EP and can shift towards new music now.
Nothing Compares 2 U was released in time for Valentine’s Day. Although it’s one of the most famous love songs of all time, it’s very melancholy. Do the themes of lost love and trying to find oneself after a relationship particularly resonate with you?
I think I’ve learned the most about myself through moments of heartbreak and suffering. This song, to me, both celebrates love and loss while also mourning it. I think that’s a very powerful thing to feel and to capture.
Could you explain a bit more about the themes of addiction within the music video?
This song has almost exclusively been associated with love or a romantic relationship, but I’ve always been really struck by the opening lyric and the awareness of each passing moment in time after something has been taken away from you. I wanted to hone in the experience of one person making one decision that otherwise may go unnoticed to shed light on the resiliency and courage that it takes during a battle with sobriety.
As an out queer artist your music is very important to your queer fans. Do you think the music industry is lacking in queer representation?
I think it’s gotten better but there’s still a lot more progress to be made, particularly behind the curtain and surrounding the artist. Music producers, engineers, agents, lawyers, managers… It’s still a very cis male (white) dominated space, and that’s not because there aren’t women, POC, queer, trans, disabled folks with the talent or ability. We need to keep making room for people in the margins.
You got engaged in January last year. How is wedding planning going?
It’s been… interesting! We got the venue and date booked RIGHT before lockdown last year, which is crazy, so we’re hoping that it’ll be able to safely happen this October. I feel like we both haven’t really processed the fact that we might be getting married in six months because we haven’t been around family or friends to talk about wedding planning over the past year. I’m going to be such an emotional mess because it will be the first time seeing so many loved ones in one room – oh and plus, getting married!
Who has been on your lockdown playlist?
This lockdown has made me crave comfort and tranquility. I’ve been repeating old favourites rites. Some early Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Debussy… I pulled out a record of Scott Joplin last night during dinner… I haven’t been pulled towards new releases lately to be quite honest. I think I’d rather be stuck in a different time.
What are your hopes for the rest of 2021?
Really hoping for a chance to perform some live music at some point before the end of the year. I have an acoustic EP coming out in a few months with some songs off Another Me in a more stripped back arrangement (plus two new songs) which I’m really excited about. And in the meantime, I hope to be improving my production skills and writing a new record so that I’m ready to go full steam ahead once the world opens up again.
Follow Sarah on Instagram @sarahwalkmusic.
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