IT is a busy time for Sertari…
as her E.P., Bright Star, is out. I speak with Sertari about the songs and influences behind the E.P. – and whether it differs from her earliest work. She speaks about her musical upbringing and charity work; what gigs she has coming up; how she spends free time away from music – some new names to investigate closely.
Sertari discusses her personal aims and experiences running a record label; what guidance she would give new artists coming through music right now; working with brands like Akai Pro – and whether she has any special memories from her time in music.
Hi, Sertari. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi. Yes, fine; thank you. It has been a busy, but exciting, week of radio interviews, performances; writing and more!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Of course. I am Sertari - I am a singer and songwriter. I’m from Hampshire but come from a Greek-Cypriot family. I love anything to do with getting up on stage and singing (or writing) music. I have performed at some great venues around the U.K. and recently toured Cyprus - which was absolutely amazing!
I also love a good old cup of tea.
Bright Star is your new E.P. What can you reveal about the stories and ideas that enforced the songwriting?
The E.P. took a long time to put together…some of the songs I must have written years ago.
Between the time I started writing this E.P. to the time of release, there where a lot of events happening in my life. I had my first child, I moved house; I was also working in several function acts and working a day job. As you can see, there was a lot to deal with - and the way I dealt with the demands was to write songs and perform. It was a way of me releasing my emotions no matter what the subject was. What I have noticed is I build a story or idea and use that as a metaphor for how I am feeling.
On Bright Star, I talk about being lost in a city and being guided by a star to help me through; trying to escape to “somewhere we can breathe” – you could translate that as being lost in yourself, but there is a way out of your darkest days.
I am also a bit of a universe geek - so I do like to talk about stars and planets!
How do you feel the music on Bright Star differs from your earliest work? Can you feel yourself growing as a songwriter and performer?
I definitely feel I am growing as a songwriter and performer. I think it's good to keep evolving and draw upon new ideas; experiment with how to write music with new sounds in the mix. I first started out as more R&B; then I moved to Rock then Pop-Rock - and now I feel I am started to find my feet and sound: a blend of different genres and styles…let me call it ‘Alternative-Pop’! I feel I am more adventurous with my vocals.
However, I will never deny room for more growing and improvement and I am a great believer that, with every new E.P. or single released, it’s always a step forward and learning curve…
I know you have worked with brands such as Akai Pro. Do you feel, working with various companies, it helps bring music to younger generations? Is that an important drive for you?
Yes. I think it's important to bring music to a younger generation – although, the younger generation has it so easy these days. With the ability to find music through many platforms; I feel being involved with a company is not the only way to draw the young listener in. However, as an artist, I feel it is great to get brands backing your work - as it’s all part of growing your own brand and identity. I am pleased to announce I have just been endorsed by Vocalzone!
Very happy about that - as I use them at almost every show!
I believe you started out running your own label - sourcing talent from the South Coast. Was that a good way of seeing what life was like for a new musician? Do you feel you’ll run your own label in the future?
I ran the label with my drummer and producer, Ben. We did it with more of a view to helping other artists out - but also give us a platform to get out and perform; to showcase what we did as well as others. I'm not sure I'll run another label as (just) running myself as an unsigned artist keeps me on my toes.
However; I'm always up for collaboration.
You were offered a record label recently. What was the reason for turning that down?!
Oh yes! It was a label in Greece. Unfortunately, the deal itself was not right at the time. I think it's easy for a young artist to get swept away when they are offered a deal. But, a deal is a contract at the end of the day and it's got to work both ways - and, unfortunately, this one didn’t.
So, for the moment, I will stay independent!
You do a lot of charity work and bring your music to a lot of different people. Do you feel other artists should involve themselves with worthy causes and do a bit more for others?
I do this as the causes that I have worked with have been close to my heart.
I feel, if other artists also have things they are passionate about or want to bring more awareness to something they believe in, then, yes; I think they should do what they feel is best for them. Sometimes, bands and artists are in a position of being able to reach a lot of people - so it’s good to use this to good effect.
Which artists were you raised on? Did you grow up in a musical household?
Yes. I grew up in a very musical household. My dad used to be in a Greek function band playing at many weddings and events. My mum used to be in Classical choirs, so I used to hear her practising around the house - and I have three older sisters who were also into all sorts of music. I used to listen to the likes of No Doubt, Tori Amos; Led Zeppelin, Guns N’ Roses; Night Wish, Andrea Bocelli; Mariah Carey and so on.
IN THIS PHOTO: J. Ivy/PHOTO CREDIT: @heathertalbert
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
I feel terrible as I have not got out recently to listen to the underground music scene! But; please check out J. Ivy (who I collaborate with on my E.P.). At the moment, I have been listening to Twenty One Pilots a lot - not that they need any recommendation!
IN THIS PHOTO: Twenty One Pilots (Josh Dun)
Can we see you tour soon? What gigs do you have coming up?
Well. I have been filling up the diary: I have some great festivals coming up, including Lowde Fest on 7th July; Kitesurfing Armada festival on the 23rd June; Petersfield Hometown Festivals on 27th May. Also; I will be performing at the O2 Academy Islington on the 18th March in the SoundWaves (Final) competition.
Tickets are available through my site.
What do you hope to achieve, personally, in 2018?
Well. I have started to write my next E.P.; so it would be great to get to a point where I can take it into the studio and start the recording process. I would love to get one of my songs featured in a film or ad.
That would be amazing!
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
I did a show in Paphos (in Cyprus) and it was an outdoor event in the mountains. My band and I went on as the sun was setting. It just felt that everything seemed to fit with the atmospheric sounds - and singing about stars under the stars felt peaceful.
It made me feel very relaxed…plus, we got to stay in a yurt - and it was beautiful!
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
I think (my advice would be) patience and determination. You have to do it because you enjoy music: not because you want quick fame. If you're doing it for the fame, you will be disappointed as, unless you’re very lucky; most really successful artist had been doing it for years before they had their major break.
Don’t give up! You have to be your own label these days and control everything about your music - which can be quite exciting in itself, yet challenging. But; you can't wait for things to fall into your lap: you need to be productive and remember the core reason why you write and perform your music…
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Umm…that’s a tricky one as, when I'm not at work, I'm working on my artist project and, when I'm not doing that, I'm performing with the other function bands (I'm in). Also; I have a three-year-old daughter who is just beautiful. She’s full of spirit and has loads of energy!
When I do have that moment to myself, I like cuddling up in my P.J.s with a cup of tea; either watching a film or Vikings – or, sometimes, I listen to The Ricky Gervais Show.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Coldplay - A Sky Full of Stars
Been listening to this a lot recently