Sabrina Carpenter talks following your heart and finding your dangerous side

Tanyel Gumushan /
Jun 6, 2017 / Music

Sabrina Carpenter bought the sun with her. When we catch up, we’re in the midst of the British heatwave, and she’s radiating bright as ever.

You may yet to be introduced to Sabrina, or you may have grown up with her. Appearing on hit Disney Channel show, Girl Meets World, and now well pioneering her own music career, Sabrina is a force to be reckoned with and it’s only so long until she’s the name on the tip of everybody’s tongue.

‘Thumbs’ is a song that celebrates the oddities of life, and steering away from the stubborn routines of life. Thrilling in its pace and witty in its lyricism, the indie-folk track fizzles as a testament to individuality.

“There is no right way! There is no right answer!” Sabrina declares, genuinely passionate, “Just because the mass of people do something doesn’t mean that that’s the right way to do things. I think it should all be to you and your life. I think a lot of people choose to go in the same way that everybody else goes and that’s great.

“But I also see that a lot of the difference and the changes that happen in our life comes from the people who do the different things and the people that go in a way that is unexpected.”

If anything, ‘Thumbs’ is the embodiment of the songstress. It’s a refreshing number; both humble and honest, with a irresistibly quirky flair from utilising the freedom of jazz and the joys of pop. That, and it’s one that isn’t easy to forget. Explaining, how she’s just graduated high school and doesn’t feel the need to go to college to figure out what to do next, she laughs, “For me it was kinda like I figured out what I wanted to do when I was ten years old so I started off on the wrong path in other people’s eyes.

“But you follow your heart and let your heart tell you what to do.”

Recent album, EVOLution, has a heart of its own; poured in from Sabrina’s in every possible way. Aptly named as the body of work highlighted the “many opportunities and way that [she] can go from here”, she’s giddy in recognising this album as a stepping board. Across the board there’s folksy songs pining for home in her grandad’s eyes, more sultry numbers that are rich in velvet vocals, and soul ballads infusing with more tropical numbers that call to the sun.

The songs, you can tell, needed to be written, kept and cherished. They’re an insight into every part of Sabrina, and a true and raw expression. But the thing that’s the greatest, she says is “I can just write from my heart.” Her listeners – the Carpenters – she has faith, understand every word. “We’re all kind of going through the same things.”

First loves, first heartbreaks, moving away from home, making sense of the strange feeling in your chest when you spot somebody, and realising what’s best for you.

“I think we all speak very openly to each other, and nowadays there’s only so much good in hiding the things that you experience. If you experience something that could help other people then you should share it.” she explains. Her lyrics reach extraordinary depth, they trigger thought and tell stories that make you root for her further and want to confide. “[the fans] share their problems with me every day, they share their stories and what they’re going through and the greatest times in their life to the worst times in their life, and I feel like I should do the same.”

Sabrina strikes a balance between candid relatability that strikes and connects like a lightning bolt, and poetic elegance. Her eloquence I learn, derives from 1920s art.  “I feel like there was so much drama that happened in their life to spark all of the art that they gave us and history,” she says amused, “I would have liked to have been in on the gossip in those days!”

Believing it’s the voice that holds a song together; her own is one that is undeniably slick. It can whisper a secret that’s instantly believed, tempt a dance and strut with killer sass.

“Sometimes I feel like I want there to be an alternative personality that I’m hiding that I can shock the world with sometimes.” She smiles, not quite giving herself enough credit to how charismatic her performances are when she doesn’t even have to try, “I think it’s really fun to pull out different parts in each song. I don’t like to be bored so honestly I make music that I would want to listen to myself.” She admits that she and her band have dance parties together and jam out to the album.

Though it’s discovered that there is a dangerous side to Sabrina Carpenter – and it emerged by accident. Recently collaborating with tour-mates, The Vamps and Mike Perry, ‘Hands’ is a much raunchier number that you’d ever expect. Demanding to be chanted, there’s a swish swagger to the anthem. “It’s such a fun song. It’s one of those songs where you don’t realise it’s over, it can keep playing on repeat and I think that’s how the best songs are.” She tells me, before practically exploding, “I have a really funny story!”

With great anticipation, Sabrina explains why the song is labelled as ‘explicit’, and how she’s the one accidentally responsible. Insisting that nobody sent her the lyrics, and that she was confident in her lines from the demo, she explains how she sang the lyric, ‘leave your shit at the door’. On the day of release, she recalls in a rather impressive British accent impersonation that James McVey said, “”you know, the lyric is ‘leave your shirt at the door’!”. I was like, “why would it be leave your shirt at the door?” And he was like, “well in the first verse it goes, ‘drop that dress to the floor’, so he would say ‘leave your shirt at the door’”

“My mind was just like in a total map!” she laughs, “I was like why would you wait until the day that the song comes out to tell me? I keep laughing now about it, I’ll never hear it the same way.”

This slip of danger comes from the girl whose party trick is making Tupperware and water into instruments. This is the Sabrina Carpenter we adore.


Image: Sarah Barlow

Words by Tanyel Gumushan

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