Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.
In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.
Sahara Beck – Lou Reed, Transformer
I am writing to you today from my bedroom, the weather is nice here where I am in Brisbane today.
As I write this, I am listening to you, remembering all of the emotions and hope you have filled me with through the years.
I remember I first heard you when I worked with a team of musicians and singers who came together under the guidance of musical director James Lees several years ago. Our goal was to replicate you live so others could hear, feel and appreciate what you are in a live setting once more. I had only heard some of your songs before joining this project. After hearing your track listing from beginning to end I knew you were something special.
You have an intensity to you that demanded my attention. I have grown up being told left, right and centre that I am a very intense person when I become excited or fascinated with something. A part of my personality that I can’t seem to control or notice when it is happening. This is something I have become used to being told however this small comment can get to me sometimes and make me feel as though I am making others lives harder by being myself. So, I turn down my intensity, the part of myself that inspires me and makes me happy. When I found you, I remembered why I am the way I am. You inspired me to continue to think however I want to think, to play the music the way I want to play it even if it doesn’t flow perfectly, you taught me that music is something that you feel and to let it take you wherever it will take you. You taught me to accept all music and people and reminded me I would never be one to ask anyone or anything to change because we are all perfectly imperfect.
I remember hearing ‘Satellite of Love’ for the first time and listening to all the little extra vocal parts in the background. I love the backing vocals in the chorus:
Bung bung bung
Satellite of love
Bung Bung bung
Satellite of love
and so on..
I love the way every sound has been inserted into you. Everything has purpose and meaning. Those little “Bung bung bung”s in the chorus of ‘Satellite of Love’ might not make sense to someone analysing the song at first, in fact, they may ask what the point is of adding in a part like that? They may say it could have been played by an instrument. But this part is important and changes the whole feeling of the song and reminds you that a human made it, a human who has many thoughts and happenings. These extra backing vocal parts are like the little voices in your head that just pop out at any time without your control. Sometimes one may not want to hear what the little voices have to say but they are a part of us and a part of what makes us whole. The little voices are just as important as the main melody, without them maybe the main melody would have never become what it is.
You are not perfect by any means, but you are real. Every part of you is so perfectly imperfect and that’s why I love you.
‘Perfect Day’ is another genius example of how you somehow make the imperfect and rough, beautiful and perfect in its own way. The way the verses are sung so low and relaxed with such relatable and beautiful lyrics and then sing up the octave in the chorus while the words “It’s such a perfect day I’m glad I spent it with you,” soar over the melody is a stroke of genius.
I made my album, Panacea, in 2016. Much of which was thanks to you. I had learned by this point that you were produced by Lou Reed and David Bowie and had created a fantasy in my mind of them both sitting in the studio working on you together, with no intention of whether the songs needed to become as famous as Lou Reed’s other works. I truly felt that this album was created because it needed to be.
Sometimes music just needs to be created and put out there so that it exists for the whole world, not just the creator. Each instrument, each sound, each movement was in its right place and had a purpose. With this in mind I told everyone that worked on my album many references I had learned from you. I told them that I was going to co-produce this album with Jeff Lovejoy. I had never officially done this before but thanks to you I knew that I could. That there was no reason why I shouldn’t believe that I could. I made sure that every track on my album ended up sounding exactly how they did in my head as I was writing them. This way, I would always know that no matter what happened to my music or even to me, that anyone that would listen to Panacea would have a moment with me in my mind, whether I was there with them or not. People could say “what was Sahara like?” and I am proud to know that one could respond, “Listen to Panacea”.
I feel when I listen to you that I am getting to experience the inside of David Bowie and more so Lou Reed’s mind, which is a powerful thing. I very rarely get this from an album because I feel they aren’t usually made with this intention in mind anymore.
You’ve been with me through so much. Through every moment of doubt or insecurity, every happy moment, every sad and even angry moment. But most importantly, you continue to remind me how important it is to be who I want to be and to make the music I want to make regardless of what everyone is doing around me.
Thank you for existing.
Sahara Beck’s latest single ‘I Haven’t Done A Thing Today’ is out now. Listen here.