Interview: 2007 RBMA Participant Sarah Linhares

Sarah Linhares is a songwriter and vocalist from Montreal whose influences range from electronic music to gospel choirs and Afro-Brazilian samba. Sarah Linhares’ time at the Red Bull Music Academy in 2007 seemed to have really changed her—musically at least. At the time, she was struggling to decide whether or not she wanted to keep pushing her musical career, so in a way, RBMA saved her music. Since then, she’s been collaborating with a swarm of RBMA grads and keeping herself mad busy. Expect her debut solo full-length album, Messages from the Future, to drop sometime later this year, an album branded as “future soul” by her label, Public Transit Recordings.

To apply for this year's Red Bull Music Academy, which will now be held in Madrid, Spain (!!!), or for more information, click here. The application deadline has been extended until April 26, 2011.

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LOOKOUT: It’s been four years since you attended the Academy. Do you ever still think about it?

SL: Each year around this time, RBMA contacts me to speak at the info session or to do an interview, etc. So this season ends up being a time when I reminisce about my experience. Usually when people find out that I attended RBMA they ask me to tell them about it. I also think about the academy every time RB [Red Bull] throws an event in town 'cause I end up seeing all the Canadian RB guys, which is always great!

Why did you decide to apply?

It's funny, I wasn't going to apply 'cause I thought I wouldn't get in. I was actually contemplating letting go of my musical aspirations at the time. However one of my close friends, Scott C aka The Incubator, who was a RB Mr. X at the time, pushed me to apply. It's really thanks to him for being so encouraging!

What was the most challenging part of RBMA?

The challenging parts for me were allowing myself to enjoy the experience without doubting my talent and feeling scattered by wanting to do everything all at once. At that time, I was still unsure of myself and wasn't fully able to assert myself in the way I would now. I knew that I had something interesting to offer musically, but I wasn't able to fully embrace the depth of my ability and uniqueness. I was still discovering my own voice. I also felt this strange pressure to do too many things at once. I wanted to write and sing on so many collaborations that I think my efforts were slightly scattered. In retrospect, I would have chosen only a couple songs to work on and would have enjoyed just being there more.

You've since collaborated with other RBMA grads, like David Ryshpan, Aklimatize, Camplaix, and Sikh Knowledge, on Messages from the Future. What is it like doing collaborations with other Academy participants?

Honestly, I love working with RBMA participants 'cause they are mad talented producers, musicians, and DJs with really unique musical worldviews. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to have met and collaborated with all of them. I’m still look forward to working with more of them!

David Ryshpan and I became friends because we both live in Montreal and did radio together before the academy. Now, he's my go-to pianist in town. We continue to enjoy working together as he's part of the band that is currently reinterpreting my upcoming album in a live setting. I had the pleasure of meeting Aklimatize in Montreal when he was on tour and we hit it off right away. We spent a very fun day in the studio recording together. Camplaix is my Portuguese brother that I connected with at the Academy. He's amazing to work with. He sends me these incredible beats that instantly inspire me and then we go back and forth sharing ideas and building the tracks. We have two songs together on my upcoming release and I think they are very strong songs. Sikh Knowledge is another talented Montreal friend that I love working with. We get along like a house on fire. We have a couple tracks together on the album and we are working on building a live show together using our laptops, drum machines, percussion, and a loop pedal. We are going to work on an EP together in the summer.

Aside from collaborations, how did the experience help your musical career?

The experience marked a major turning point in my musical career. I think if I hadn't gotten accepted I might have given up on my musical dreams. It was a big confidence boost at a time when I really needed one. Being there inspired me to keep on dreaming and allowed me to begin envisioning my future album project. It also allowed me to meet and be inspired by all kinds of people in the business. It encouraged me to tap into an extensive group of amazing music people that are forever to be a part of my network. It continues to allow me to connect instantly with these folks whenever I meet them. Being a part of the RBMA family allows me to share my projects with a massive international audience that I wouldn't have had contact with otherwise.

Do you have any advice for this year’s RBMA applicants?

All I can say is make sure you apply! The application is long, challenging, and can be daunting 'cause it asks you to really examine yourself and express things that aren't often asked of you. However, it is one of the most incredible musical experiences you can have.  When applying, just be honest about who you are musically and personally. Don't waste your time trying to prove something or trying to be something that you think will please them. The application is an opportunity to get to know yourself better—so enjoy it!

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