South London singer/songwriter Sarah Williams White is smashing taboos that all guitar-playing females are carbon copies of each other, with her jazz and dub-infused sound drawing comparisons to Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu. Wonderland gets an exclusive preview of her brand new video ‘Your Silence Is Killing Me’.
Sarah Williams White: who would be your other favourite double-barrelled human?
The late Gil Scott-Heron. Or Hunter Stockton Thompson.
You’re heavily influenced by the likes of PJ Harvey and Prince – who else has inspired your atmospheric R&B?
Artists with soul and fearlessness! Erykah Badu, Jamie Lidell, Fiona Apple, M.I.A, Imogen Heap, Tori Amos and The Roots to name but a few.
What will set you apart from the horde of other females currently saturating the industry?
There aren’t really that many current female producers writing and recording their own stuff, especially in the UK. The few that do are huge inspirations to me. The idea of handing that over to some guy in a swanky North London studio to make them ‘radio friendly’ makes my belly churn. I keep the upper hand with my art, the songs maintain their rawness and honesty.
You guest vocal on the lead track ‘Play Along’ from Dans le Sac’s new solo album. How did that collaboration happen?
Dan heard my track ‘Hide The Cracks’ and got in touch to do something together. I loved his stuff with Scroobius Pip so I was really up for writing a track together for his solo album. Thankfully what we came up with everyone else was really pleased with too and decided to put out as the lead single!
Your new EP, Your Silence Is Killing Me, is out next month. Can you tell us a little bit more about the record?
It’s a 4-track release with a bit of darkness and a bit of light. Or at least a hopeful ray of light at the end of the dark tunnel! It’s been a seriously fun EP to make though, going nuts with vocal layering, hohner pianet parts, wah pedals, attempting a little bass guitar. All recorded in my living room studio in Crystal Palace – with the exception of Timmy Rickard’s incredible beatsmanship and mixing skills, as featured on almost all of my previous releases.
How will it differ from your last record If I Smile At You/Take Your Time?
Andy Spence (New Young Pony Club) was also involved in the production of the last record and co-wrote ‘Take Your Time’ with me. That maxi single was a springtime release, with plenty more sunshine than darkness. It was a kind of walking down the street, post-spring shower sunny skies soundtrack. Whereas Your Silence Is Killing Me is more of a late night eyes-closed and maxed-out headphones kind of soundtrack.
You’re doing the rounds at this year’s summer festivals. Do you prefer big audiences or smaller intimate gigs?
I’ve done my fair share of 10-people-in-the-audience gigs so I’m about ready for some bigger crowds now!
Finally, what else can we expect from SWW in 2012?
I’ve just finished making a video for the latest track with a great group of guys and gals. Me and the band are playing the BBC introducing stage at Reading on 25th and Leeds 26th August, plus another London date in September. I’m also playing with Dan Le Sac at Bestival on 9th Sep, and off supporting his UK tour this October.
Your Silence is Killing Me is out in September. iamsww.com
Words: Shane Hawkins