Interview – Sabreen Islam

Sabreen Islam is a fantastic artist and one that I recently featured in a round-up review, with her song, Like A Movie, taking pride of place. Find out more about her below!

By Jane Howkins

You recently released a song titled Like A Movie, which we reviewed. What can you tell us about this song and where can it be purchased?

I did! The song is about how falling in love in movies looks so easy, but in real life, it’s so much harder. I had so much fun picking out clichés and tropes used in my favourite romantic movies and putting them into the song, especially the bridge. Love (and life) would be so much easier if they turned out like a movie!

The song is available everywhere on all streaming platforms and services, and I made a fun lockdown video which is available on YouTube.

Has the pandemic hindered your work much?

It has, and it hasn’t. The funny thing about the pandemic is it has provided me with lots of downtime to get stuck into music, but at the same time drained a lot of my motivation. I was writing more than ever before, but I did find it hard at times to do the work of promotion and marketing when it was a lot lonelier doing it all from home. With Like A Movie in particular, my city of Auckland, New Zealand was in lockdown from August to December, so I was really racking my brain to find ways to promote this song without leaving my house.

What is the writing and recording process like for you? Have you started writing for a future EP/album yet?

I am my own producer and recording engineer, mainly out of necessity but also because I found that I really enjoy it. With Like A Movie, I wrote the song in about twenty minutes but then spent several months producing it in between university classes and assignments. I do it all from home and have created a nice little setup for recording that I’m quite proud of!

I have started working on some longer bodies of work. Not sure at the moment when they will be ready to release, but watch this space! I’m super excited about them.

Do you plan to release any singles in the near future?

I’m in the mixing and mastering stages of my next single right now, which is exciting! I have two more lined up after that, and then I plan on taking a little break to focus on solely making music and writing.

You’re based in Auckland. What is the music scene like in your part of the world?

The music scene in Auckland is amazing. There are some truly incredible people working in event management and gigs, not to mention some insanely talented and hardworking performers and artists. And everyone is so, so nice. What’s really exciting is that with social media and how the Internet can help to break artists, being isolated geographically from the rest of the world is becoming less and less of a barrier for artists seeking to enter the international market. There are more New Zealand artists gaining recognition globally than ever before.

Unfortunately, the music scene in Auckland particularly has taken quite a large hit due to lockdowns and COVID. Many of our prominent festivals and several tours, local and international, have had to be cancelled last minute which has really taken its toll. So, our main focus is to recover from the effects of the pandemic and hopefully bounce back bigger and better (and safer!) than before.

I hear you’re also an author! Are you working on anything at the moment?

I am! Currently, I’m working on revamping a previously published work of mine, as well as a long-term project I’ve been working on for a number of years now. Writing is my favourite thing in the world, whether that be in literary or song form. It’s all I wish to do with my life.

What/who influences you most as an artist? What have you been listening to recently?

Taylor Swift. She’s always been my number one inspiration, and since RED (Taylor’s Version) came out in November, I pretty much listen to it every day. I just think she’s the most incredible, versatile artist and has defined an entire generation of music and pop culture. I’m such an admirer of her strong advocacy for artists to be treated fairly in the music industry, and I truly believe that her work in re-recording her previous albums to own the masters will change the music industry forever, and in such a good way. Musically, she’s just such a brilliant songwriter and storyteller. We could be here all day if you get me started talking about how amazing she is!

Aside from her, recently dodie, Maisie Peters, Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo have really been influencing and inspiring me. I’m so proud that my generation can boast such incredible artists already who create such captivating music. D

Do you have any tour dates lined up?

At the moment with the pandemic, not really! I’m finding it’s quite hard to put lots of work into planning shows only for them to be cancelled. So, I’m playing the long game and waiting to see what happens. But I hope one day soon!

What can people expect from one of your shows and why should people come and see you perform live?

People can expect a lot of fun. That’s my main goal when performing — I love to make people laugh and dance along. Since I don’t have that big of a budget, I try to make do with what I have — which is human connection with the audience. That’s what I remember taking away from shows the most, over fancy lighting and expensive effects. I really try to create a warm and inclusive atmosphere that’s confessional and honest, and I would love to play as many shows as possible once it’s safe so we can get back to having a great time together!

Any last words for the fans?

Thank you so much to anyone who has clicked on one of my songs or saved it to a playlist, or come to see me live. Every little bit of support goes such a long way, and it means the world to me. Thank you for every kind word and every opportunity, I do read them all and it makes all the hard work worth it. I love you.