If we had to choose one single word to describe Sarah Kinsley’s Ascension EP, it would have to be heavenly. Each song has its own personality and sonic vibes, but they all seem to transport you to a different realm when listening. This is one of the most beautifully crafted EPs, and we reckon it’s going to capture music lovers around the world and dominate the Best of 2023 lists come December.
If you’re not yet familiar with Sarah, there’s a good chance you’ve already heard her music. After going viral on TikTok with her hit ‘The King,’ her career has continued to reach milestones at a breakneck speed. She’s so deserving of every success so far, and we’re so excited to bring you this interview so you can get to know her even better!
First, we have to start with congratulations on your recent signing with Verve and Decca Records! How has this impacted your approach to this new project as an artist?
Oh, thank you! Oddly the flow of things hasn’t changed at all. My direction, my choices, my intuition – all of that is still there within the approach. There’s a wider circle of people I get to share this with and create with. I’m very grateful for the newness of it all.
Your EP is titled Ascension, which feels like a very fitting name given the nature of your music. We’re so excited for fans to hear it, in our opinion, it’s simply heavenly and one of the best releases of the year. If this is someone’s first introduction to you as an artist, what is one thing you hope they take away from the EP?
I really hope the EP presents an ethereal place to escape to – in its full form, full shape. I want Ascension to be an experience that is sort of irresistible, something delivered to you meant for your listening front to back. A place to soar away, to float, to ascend to!
Your songwriting is very poetic and visceral, and we think a lot of people will relate to your lyrical content. We love hearing about different artists’ approaches to songwriting, so do you have any particular process you enjoy when it comes to songwriting, or does it differ vastly from song to song?
I love the word VISCERAL. The process does vary a lot, yes – I think ideas are meant to come out of us distinct and new each time. Something I’ve been discovering about myself is that I have a pretty bad songwriting memory. Unless I record every moment of a demo, I may not remember it the next day. I’ve been finding that my best and most persistent ideas get stuck in my head. The ones my mind or my soul is refusing to forget! I often wonder about the hundreds of forgotten lyrics. But maybe they weren’t meant to be written down or remembered, so it’s okay.
One of our favorite lyrics from the EP so far is in ‘Oh No Darling!’ with “I was a kid until I fixed it / Tore into a love affair / Between me and what wasn’t there.” We feel like, alongside the song in its entirety, it really encapsulates the early 20s experience. Either on the EP or in your other releases, do you have a favorite lyric you’ve written so far?
Ah, yes, that’s definitely one of my favorites. Some other winners from Ascension, I think, are …
“On the eclipse of my mind…”
“Disillusioned, assuming love was the answer”
“There she goes running with her head / for the sake of living on the edge”
To name a few!
We really love the production on ‘Oh No Darling!,’ particularly the synths and 80’s pulse. Were there any particular songs or 80s artists that fed into the inspiration for this track?
Weirdly enough, I didn’t intend for the 80s sound to be so prominent – the medley of soft, repetitive digital drums and zig-zagging synths ended up cultivating that feel. I was more so drawing from earlier 2010s indie rock and pop, trying to mesh these elements together with cinematic strings and woozy synths.
We’re also big gaming fans here at THP, and the music video got us thinking, if you had to be stuck inside one video game forever, which one would you pick?
Either the New York or the ‘Paris Promenade’ map in Mario Kart, for sure.
You’ve self-produced a lot of your own music, how did you find a passion for production, and what would be your advice to any young artists and women interested in pursuing it?
I found that passion really out of wanting more control beyond the writing, beyond what I could do with my voice. I wanted to draw the landscape, the sonic world I would live in. I would say to young people pursuing production something I remind myself of often: to explore the cracks between, to push for the hidden gems. There are infinite universes within presets or resources that already exist. There are so many unheard sounds! And to women producing, I would say that your intuition is often more helpful than any unwanted advice you might receive. You are meant to be here, and our musical existence is a beautiful thing.
Fans have described your videos as being conceptually beautiful and brilliantly executed – we agree! How involved are you in the creation of your music videos and visuals from conception to execution?
I’m very much intertwined in the making of the videos. It’s been an incredible experience to indulge in this passion of mine (I used to dream of being a director when I was a kid). For ‘Oh No Darling!’ and ‘Lovegod,’ I really began to create visual worlds outside of the music. My partner Mason and I created the arcade-abyss-never-ending-game concept – I was even drilling holes in the arcade game machine the day of the shoot. Or for ‘Lovegod,’ I spent about three days in LA sewing the creature suit together and ending up with blue hair all over me. The music videos are a wonderful place for the extension of the EP to happen – and I have the time of my life working on them.
NME listed your EP, The King, as one of the top debut projects of 2021, between that and its success on TikTok, what was it like for you to gain that level of attention and fame and have it reach extreme heights so quickly? How has life changed over the past couple of years since you put out The Fall?
It was a very humbling moment for me. I’m very grateful for that first baby project. She’s changed my life very intensely and brought me to wonderful places around the world. I feel very much the same, though – just surrounded by a wonderful community of music lovers. Everything is always ebbing and flowing.
We’re so excited The King + Cypress is now available on vinyl to add to our collection. When you’re unwinding at the end of the day or putting your favorite records on, what’s your go-to format to listen to?
I love listening to vinyl – some favorites at the moment include the Best of Sarah Vaughan record I have and the famous Stan Getz / Joao Gilberto disc.
As well as touring this month, you’re going to be playing Gov Ball and Lollapalooza later in the year, which is huge! How different are festival shows for you to play in comparison to headlining tours, and are there any fellow artists on the lineups you’re really excited to see?
I’m very excited for these festivals – the stages are unlike anything I’ve really experienced before. They are wildly different: massive and expansive and outdoors too! I’m very keen to catch Lana, Thee Sacred Souls, Beabadoobee. Haim and Kendrick as well!
Finally, we want to give you the floor! Is there anything you want to say to fans, old or new?
Just that I love you so dearly and cannot wait to see many of you this summer!
If you’d like to catch Sarah on the road, you can grab tickets here! Which song on the EP are you most looking forward to hearing? Let us know in the comments or drop us a Tweet @thehoneypop. You can also find us on Facebook or Instagram!