A SlantedPress exclusive: a conversation with Maverick Sabre on his When I Wake Up Tour at Nottingham's Rescue Rooms.
On April 1st I had the opportunity to sit down and have a conversation with multi-talented English-Irish singer, songwriter and rapper Michael Stafford, better known as Maverick Sabre just before his sold out show at Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms as part of his UK leg of the When I Wake Up 2019 Tour.
With his latest album When I Wake Up dropping on March 22nd, I took this opportunity to learn the meaning behind the album and a few of our favourite tracks. In a yellow-lit cosy dressing room with two red sofas we sat, chatted, and I really saw the passion behind the music.
A movie for the blind.
Upon listening to When I Wake Up, you can notice a quick change in pace and atmosphere from song to song, such as ‘Preach’ to ‘Drifting’. Not only this, but the entire album gives the atmosphere and presence of a greater depth. When asked about this, Sabre states that ‘all the songs were written to visuals’ such as films and paintings, which is what gave such a cinematic feeling to the record- put best in his own words ‘a movie for the blind’. For myself, the album is a complete soundtrack to something much greater than just your average visual. With Sabre describing ‘Preach’ being ‘bare vocals like a slow emotional intro’ and ‘Drifting’ being ‘the first scene’.
When talking about the entirety of the project and the album itself, ranging from the songs, music videos and even to photos being taken for the album, Sabre was clearly rooted to it all on an emotional level. Everyone involved in the process is seen as family to him and carried his trust in the vision he saw. When discussing his incredibly shot music video for ‘Slow Down’ featuring Jorja Smith, director and close friend Rashid Babiker saw the song being represented in the same style as Taxi Driver. Though at first hesitant to the idea, especially since it involved wearing a gold tooth, Sabre knew Babiker understood what he wanted to portray and put full trust in his creative vision. It’s a good thing he did as the artistic visuals are beyond compare.
With it being hard to pick a favourite from the 13 song album, Sabre stated that 'Don’t Talk About It' is up there in the list due to the ‘Tarantino vibes’ he gets from the song, as well as the fact that it was ‘the most stand out piece’ as he ‘kept seeing visuals to it’. One thing I could immediately notice from Sabre, not only about this album, but the way he talks about his creations in general, is that every piece, every lyric is so creatively thought out with a visual in mind. His entire thought process is on a level of creativity that goes unparalleled in today’s society of growing talent.
If you have listened to the album, then you will agree with me when I say that 'Into Nirvana' takes you to that feeling of a summer’s day drive, windows rolled down and old school classics we all grew up listening to blasting in the background. When asked what music Sabre grew up surrounded by and if it had any influence on this record, he described how he had always listened to artists such as The Stone Roses, Fleetwood Mac and Kate Bush. However for this album he really sat down and started to ‘take them in’ and described ‘a rebirth, another element’ of who he could be and what music he could produce for the album.
After a few questions about the tracks on the album, I got talking to Sabre about a few general “quick-fire” topics. His favourite film at the moment, La Haine - a french classic about multiethnic suburban life in the projects of Paris and daily hustle to survive within French society - is what happened to have inspired a lot of the tracks on When I Wake Up. Through recommendation from a friend, Sabre discovered the film and ended up writing most of the tracks from the album to the black and white cinematic film on mute. The themes portrayed in La Haine are still very much relevant to today and so Sabre’s inspiration from the visuals are not far-fetched.
An hour or so after my conversation with Sabre, he took to the stage to perform his sold out third show of his When I Wake Up Tour. Sabre has a voice and presence so powerful that although it seemed as if everything was stopped in a trance, his smile when the crowd sang along would bring you back to the humble nature of who he really is and what his lyrics mean; not only to the audience, but for himself.