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Maverick Sabre im Interview: »Real change never needed everyone«

Maverick sabre, untoldency, interview, pop, soul, don't forget to look up, music, Jorja smith

Bei manchen klingelt’s sofort, wenn sie den Namen Maverick Sabre hören. Anderen geht erst ein Licht auf, wenn Sie den Klang seiner Stimme hören, denn die ist wirklich unverwechselbar. Vor ein paar Wochen ist sein viertes Album “Dont Forget To Look Up” erschienen und ich habe mit dem charismatischen Soul-Sänger gesprochen.

Die Einleitung halte ich beabsichtigt kurz, denn in der halben Stunde, die ich zusammen mit Maverick hatte, hat sich so ein ausführliches und überaus interessantes Interview ergeben inklusive einem Abschweifen in ein paar brennende Existenzfragen. Lest selbst, es spricht für sich selbst.


Maverick Sabre im Interview

Evelin: Welcome, I’m happy this worked out! How are you?

Maverick: I’m doing very well, thank you!

Evelin: Congratulations on your album release! How has the response been so far since the record came out on Friday?

Maverick: Yeah, it’s been beautiful. I think most musicians can vote for this. But once the music’s finally out there, it’s not really yours anymore and becomes everybody else’s. So it’s a nice space to let people live and breathe with a record and it’s been beautiful so far, people are connecting with it.

Evelin: Are the reactions what you’ve expected or wished for? Or what did you want people to take away from this album?

Maverick: Um, it’s hard to ever know what people will take away from songs. You might write a song, and for it to have a specific theme or a feeling. And then the audience takes away something completely different from it. So for me, it’s always just about: Are people connecting with it, and does it hit people’s hearts? And I think with this record it seems to be doing that. So, I’m happy.

Evelin: The album centers around the broad theme of love. What facets of love are you touching on and why was it important for you to address those in particular?

Maverick: I think for me with this record, it was just about being very honest about how I felt over the last 2-3 years. And every situation that I was writing about I was in or I was feeling. So I think if anything, this was maybe like an anti-lockdown album, not as an “anti lockdown”. It was everything else that was going on indoors, it wasn’t the world. Everything that was going on outside, in my head, my relationships. It was anti what was going on in the world. I would say it was just everything that was going on within.



“It just took me away from everything”

Evelin: In the past you have addressed a lot of societal as well as political issues. Now that you focused more internally on yourself: What is the difference in your writing process when you write about other people’s stories vs. your own internal ones?

Maverick: I don’t know if there is a difference really. I think it just comes down to inspiration. And I think, for anyone who’s a creative or expresses themselves in some form of art, I think you just go with what strikes you first. Maybe the only difference is if I write about the world around me,I think I can figure out a way of presenting it. Like I pre-plan it a bit more. So I’ve got an idea of how I want my message to be in a song. Whereas when I write about myself, and what’s going on inside, it just kind of comes out and there’s no pre-plan. Whatever pure emotion comes out, comes out and that’s it.

Evelin: Were there special moments during the process of „Don’t Forget To Look Up“ that still stick with you? I think you wrote and/or recorded the album in Jamaica, is that right, or at least partly?

Maverick: No I didn’t. One of the tunes “Something Special” was written in Jamaica. Because it was initially going to be a four track EP, which because of the prolonged period over the last two years, I ended up continuing to write and it formed into an album. There was a period at the end of 2019, where I’d put my last album out. And then when I got to the end of the year, I hit a bit of a stomp creatively. I couldn’t write, there was nothing coming out.

So I went to Jamaica, and I was meant to bring all my equipment with me. I was going to start a new project there. Anyway, I got to my friend’s house and I realized, by the time I got to the airport, I brought all my equipment, but no laptop. So I had nothing to connect anything to. So when I got to my friend’s house in Jamaica, she lived in the countryside. I found a guitar and I just started writing songs on it. I had no phone or laptop, none of that for about 10 days. It was beautiful. It was meant to be because it took me away from everything. And I wrote one of the songs out there, but that was part of the process that was kind of needed.

Evelin: Do you need to get away from everything that’s happening at home from time to time to spark some creativity?

Maverick: Yeah, I think what I’ve realized definitely over the last two years is that I need to force myself sometimes to just switch off. It’s the same for a lot of people, I think. Once you know, you can work off your laptop. And once you know you can work at home, the work never stops. My passion is both my work, my hobby, what pays the bills, but what I also have fun with so it’s all the same thing. I have to, well, let’s say I’m figuring out a better way of being able to switch off and go: “Right just stop for a minute, switch it off and let your mind be clear for a moment”. I think that’s healthier to come back in. And you’re more focused when you come back in.



“Find as much peace in your life as you can”

Evelin: Overall, I really enjoy the album, I love the vibe and that it is so vulnerable. It addresses heavy and sensitive topics in a sort of soft tone. I think my favorite song on the record is „Like This“. Because rap verses are so gripping, almost hypnotic. Can you tell me more about what the song is actually about?

Maverick: I suppose that’s more like an inner confessional moment at that point. The rest of the record are quite vulnerable love songs, or reflections around love. I think we’ve all had moments where you feel like you’re on the edge mentally. Yeah, and I think that in the mix of everything is what that song really reflects. It’s a kind of inner conversation about feeling just on the edge.

Evelin: You can tell that you are very emotionally aware of yourself and your surroundings. Does opening up about personal subjects natural to you? Or did you have to actively work towards becoming someone who’s that self-aware and put your own ego behind to achieve spiritual growth?

Maverick: I think it’s both to be honest. I’ve always been a pretty open sensitive soul as. One side of that question I can’t really answer because I’ve got music in my life. Because of music, I’ve probably found my space where I can write and say whatever I want. And that then has come back into just me as an individual anyway. So if I didn’t have music, it’d be probably more of an interesting answer to who I’d be in what I would be and how I would be because I know I’d still be a sensitive soul.

Or if I didn’t have music, would I have gone down the path of self reflection as much and being able to speak about what’s going on? Maybe not, I don’t know. So yeah, I find it very easy to speak about what’s going on in my head because I need to. If I didn’t write about it, I don’t know where I would be, to be honest. But then, as well, no matter how easy it is to speak about how you feel, I think we all need work. So I definitely still have to sit and go: “Could I have done that better? What am I learning from this? Let me not make that mistake again“.

We carry things through life that can weigh heavier on us as we grow older, if we don’t get rid of them. And sometimes certain things are very hard to get rid of. So you have to consciously make an effort to work through them. I’ve tried to do that as much as I can and I continue to try and do that because you want to try and find as much peace in your life as you can. I think that’s the goal for most of us, right? It’s peace and whatever that means.



“It’s definitely me being particular”

Evelin: Good that music is already like doing some of the therapy work. What was one song that was the most fun creating and which one was a rather challenging one? 

Maverick: I think probably the funnest tune to make was probably “Get Down” which is the last record on the album. I’ve got a beat tape, a producer project that I’ve had mid-lockdown at the end of 2020 and I haven’t put it out yet. It’s just a collection of beats. And there was a beat on it, an instrumental, almost felt like KAYTRANADA inspired 4-to-the-floor wonky, dance house tune. I played it to Zach Nahome who’s the producer of “Get Down” and we turned it into an organic funk record. It’s wonky and it’s still strange. And we got Nile Rodgers to play some guitar on it. That’s probably the funnest song on the record. It came together very easily, it feels very light hearted and fun. It just always gets me in the same movement when I put it on.

The toughest record to finish was probably “Time Away”, because I always have songs on each album that normally end up having about 40 different versions. And that was the one on this record. So I had a lot of different verses. Production sounded different at points and yeah there’s always one on a record for me anyway. I’ve got his track record of always having one song on an album ends up having about 50 versions and you’re not sure what one to go with. So that was the song I was probably toughest on that.

Evelin: Why do you think it was the toughest to work on? Was it the subject matter or just you being particular.

Maverick: It’s definitely me being particular that’s guaranteed. I just think sometimes there’s certain records on the album where there’s something special or a place in time or that the record just was what it was. I made it and it didn’t really change from the very first time I made it. Like the mix might have got a bit better or whatever. In essence those songs were what they were. And then “Time Away” just had many different versions. I think for me if I don’t nail exactly what it’s meant to sound like in that first second, it can go around and around and I start overthinking.



A love for album covers

Evelin: As a film-enthusiast yourself, you obviously have an eye for visuals. I was wondering what the idea behind the album cover was?

Maverick: I can’t really take any credit for the cover. It’s a friend of mine called Rashid Babiker. He was the director for the video to “Slow Down” that I had with Jorja (Smith) on the last record and did a couple of visuals on the last record. He came to my flat, we took some really plain photos and then sent me the album cover a couple of days later. And when I saw the album cover, it then sparked me off to call the album “Don’t Forget To Look Up” and then it just tied the record together. It was more of his input.

And I always love album covers. When I go into a record store, I try and pick out a record every now and then that I buy just for the album cover. I’ve never heard it. I go through sh** and if I see something I’m like: “That looks really interesting” and I buy it. So when he sent me that, it gave me that feeling that I thought: For the life of this record, for however long there’s a physical version or stream version of this record online, for people to be able to get that album, this cover will always drag me in.

Evelin: You feature some powerful women on the record, which is amazing to see. Who are some other rising female artists that you’re loving right now?

Maverick: Well the obvious: Demae, Sasha Keable. There’s a brilliant singer from North London called Raheaven. I’ve worked quite a lot with another Irish artist called Biig Piig. Jamilah Barry is another great singer from the UK. Lily Moore is another wicked singer. Yeah, there’s some great female vocalists at the moment in a wide variety of sounds as well. But they’re the first ones that come to the top.



*** Achtung, hier geraten wir in eine sehr interessante philosophische Diskussion. Lohnt sich zu lesen, aber wer nicht mag, weiter unten geht’s wieder ganz normal weiter 😉

Evelin: A more existential question because I’m quite curious about your answer. Looking at the current state of the world, how do you feel?

Maverick: (laughs) It’s quite a broad question, it’s a difficult one. I think that answer has got to be split into two, because there’s two sides to it. We’re probably at a time in humanity’s history where we’re the closest connected that we’ve ever been. If you look at the positive side of it, right? The world has become the smallest it’s ever been, where news, opinions can travel immediately, whether that’s a positive or negative. A 16 year old now probably has more in common with other 16 year olds around the world, creatively, artistically and culturally, than there ever has been before. Because everyone’s listening to the same stuff.

It’s all instant. It’s not like back in a day where we used to have to wait for four weeks for an American album to come out and go to the shop. Everything’s instantly connected. Culture, lifestyle, fashion, hopefully thoughts and way of thinking are all being shared very quickly. So in that, I think that potentially these and the next generations have the greatest possibility to gather together some momentum for change, right? Because if the world’s the smallest it’s ever been, potentially, then you can use that that the next generation can unify and go: “Right, we want a better world for the next generation, for ourselves or for our kids”. And I think there’s something quite powerful in that.


“Everything’s fake”

Maverick: On the other side, there’s a couple of dangerous places we’re moving towards. Our interaction with technology, I don’t think, is balancing on the healthy side. I think as much as we could potentially be unified and connected through technology, we’re probably becoming more disconnected in one sense, where we’re not looking at each other anymore. We’re spending more of our time in this fake reality. How many people do you know that only put pictures of their faces up or their kids’ faces up with filters on it? So we’re constantly living in an augmented reality. Everything’s fake, from followers to perception of personas online. It’s all this strange, weird world, It’s not actually real. It’s just living for something else. I think that’s quite dangerous, because who controls that world? What narrative do you spin and how does that make us feel about ourselves?


And then I think what’s just become more evident is that as a society, we’re still – no matter how connected or progressive we are, – we’re still driven by fear a lot. Whether it’s fear of the way we look or who we are, how we’re manipulated by companies to buy into stuff or what’s a perfect look, what’s a perfect style. And how easily manipulated we are by fear. I think it’s a concerning thing. When you add that up with corrupt politics, and technology that seems to only be for making money and advancement in technology and not the advancement of humanity. I think that’s a dangerous route to go down.

So there’s that side, which is quite concerning. But then there’s the other side where I do feel something’s happening in society. It might not be everyone. But real change never needed everyone. At any point of real change or any point in history, it wasn’t because the masses changed together. It was because a small, consistent amount of people were like: “No, we need change”. From whatever revolutions there were to any real acts of change. It was never really a mass change at one time. So there’s positives there. 


“We need to have understanding discussions”

Evelin: Yeah, it’s scary. But then also, you can see that there’s hope in some parts. When it comes to gender identity, environmental issues and so on. You can now actually feel a bit of the change, hopefully.

Maverick: Yeah. I think the one thing we’ve got to maintain in all of this, is conversation and discussion. And realize that there’s loads of discussions that are being brought up in the last couple of years that are being brought up all at one time. And that’s a lot for people to take in. So I think we’ve got to remember that we’re not always right, we’re gonna make mistakes, we have to allow people to be at different levels of understanding than we are.

Have empathy, and understand that not everyone is going to be at the same page on certain things. And it’s better to have a discussion with someone than shut people down or cancel people, because I don’t think that gets us anywhere. And I think that even ends up playing into the hands of the corrupt. Because if we’re not unified, and we’re not having discussions, we’re easily manipulated. So I think, with any of these discussions – gender identity, with sexism, racism, corruption in politics, climate change, – we need to have very real and honest discussions. But we need to have understanding discussions and make sure we’re not banishing people to the side, because that’s only going to create more problems. We need some harsh discussion, but we do need immediate change.

Sorry to keep rambling (laughs). I might be misquoting this. But someone said: “You need to be a romantic to be a revolutionary”. Not that I’m sat here calling myself a revolutionary, I’m saying to want real change. Or we might as well not think about it. I might as well just go buy McDonald’s every day. That’s a simple metaphor, but I might as well just not care. We can have ways of thinking in our minds that go: “Right, actually, as our individual selves together, collectively, we can implement change”. But I think you’ve got to have a romantic view of the world to think of any real revolutionary change.

Evelin: Yeah, because otherwise you shut yourself down.

Maverick: Yeah, and just give up. There’s loads of things to think about right now that make it feel pretty heavy, and pretty pessimistic. So that won’t get us anywhere.


*** Hier geht’s wieder um die leichteren Dinge im Leben

Evelin: What else is coming up for you after the release? Is there something you’re particularly looking forward to?

Maverick: I’m looking forward to being back on the road and being back touring, because I think in everything we’ve just discussed, going back and seeing live music and being around people … there’s something natural in us as humans that makes us want to sing together, and dance together. I just think there’s something very pure in us that no matter how far we’ve advanced or gone with technology or whatever, being in a room with other people and singing, there’s this feeling that I know everyone who’s experienced it gets. And I think we need more of that. I think that’s part of a solution. 



“There was a point where I fell out of love with the whole album”

Evelin: You said numerous times that music is all about a message for you, about untold stories. As our magazine is called untoldency, we always ask for an untold story at the end of every interview.

Maverick: I don’t know if I have told this. I may have mentioned it, but there was a point where I wasn’t even gonna put the out the album. It was probably because doing this record was a bit different than any other records that I’ve done before because initially, it wasn’t going to be an album and then I was kind of in lockdown. So I wasn’t out playing shows. I wasn’t really playing them to my family. They are all my testers. I’m like: “What do you think it is?” It’s different ears and they as a collection dictate what I feel about records. Obviously, I’ve got the records that I really love. But there’s also this general consensus of certain records.

So there was a point where I fell out of love with the whole album if I’m being honest. Because I’d heard it so much, I was just way too close to it. And I was like, I don’t know what I want to do with this. I don’t know if I want to do any of it with anything. Maybe I just need to step back from everything for a moment. So I went and I sat down with Dan Utters, who ended up finishing the album for me.

He mixed it and added production on it. He’s someone that I’ve worked with since I’ve been 19. He’s worked on pretty much every album at some point. I just really trusted his ear and I brought this collection of songs to him. I was like: “I don’t know what else to do with these. I’m done, here. I need your ears”. And he was like: ”No, I really like this as a feeling. Here’s a couple of things I’d do to it”. And that was it. So yeah, there was a point where I completely fell out of love with this. That’s the untold story. It nearly never was now.


Evelin: Well, I’m glad you fell in love with it again.

Maverick: I did I did.

Evelin: So that was everything. Thank you for talking. I hope that despite some things we discussed, our outlook will remain a bit more positive on the world. 

Maverick: Thank you. It was a lovely interview. No, it is. You have to reflect on the reality of the situation, which sometimes can be dark or heavy. But you got two choices. It’s like, alright, the world is either burning and we leave it burn, or we keep some hope and go: “What can I do to implement some change that if I die tomorrow, at least we’ve left some bit of positivity”. And that’s all we can do, or else we just give up and then we never have this conversation again. We either go down that lane or we don’t.

Evelin: That’s a good way to end the interview (both laugh). Thank you and have a good day.

Maverick: You do too and take care. Bye bye!

Hier gibt es das neueste Album “Don’t Forget To Look Up” von Maverick Sabre zu hören!


Fotocredits: Rashid Babiker, Mike Excell
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