G3 recently had the pleasure of interviewing Half Egyptian, quarter Swedish, London based solo artist and songwriter XSARA (pronounced Ex-sar-ruh). She spent her childhood in the US Mississippi where she was influenced by the Blues. Now her 7 piece band performs her cocktail of Blues, Jazz Cabaret inspired Pop mixed with tongue-in-cheek lyrics and attitude with a dash of madness and mayhem.
Her new E.P 'Are You Living In A Paradox? is now available to buy & Her upcoming album is due for release November 2012.
We thought this was a perfect opportunity to find out a bit more about her…
g3: How would you describe your music to an audience who had never heard you before?
Xsara: Blues, Jazz Cabaret Pop. However others have compared me to Amy Winehouse, Fiona Apple and Amanda Palmer. I like to blend these influences into a cocktail to create original music that is great to listen to. It is unusal to have a 7 piece band in the Pop genre (we use 9 in the studio) and the range of instruments we have including trombone, trumpet, and harmonica, I would like this to be more of a common feature in the charts.
g3: Thinking back to your childhood, who would you say your early musical influences are?
Xsara: Definitely Blues music. I grew up in Mississippi my experiences there influenced me greatly. I was the only white looking child in an all black school-I learnt a lot, we used to watch Martin Luther King videos every morning before lessons started- it was a great morale booster, it taught me to fight for my dreams and be upfront with what you have to say to the world. I guess I am doing that with my music. When I moved back to England I was given a box of unwanted 70's Funk and Disco vinyls I fell in love with them and was a bit obsessed with the Star Wars soundtrack haha! Artists that have inspired or influenced me the most I would say are Bessie Smith, Betty Davis, Janis Joplin, Tori Amos, Ruth Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, Bjork and Ani DiFranco-all for their individual reasons.
g3: What are your immediate musical career goals?
Xsara: To play more festivals, increase our exposure and get my name out there more. We have two upcoming music videos on the way, as well as a new album called 'Are There Dragons In Your Heart? due for release November 2012.
g3: Do you have any other interests or hidden talents?
Xsara: I love video games especially RPG's (Role playing games) preferably Japanese. I ban myself from playing online games and only allow myself to play offline. I would love to go to the E3 conference at least once in my life. One of my goals in life is to feature in a Final Fantasy game as a character. I like manga, making zines, painting, making craft objects, graphic novels, watching David Attenborough boxset documentaries and X-Files. I love surfing but am so ruubish at it! I always look forward to my Surfergirl mag and love nothing more than retreating to Newquay for a solo chill out. I would love to write a childrens book for toddlers. Hidden talents? I studied Sociology at Uni I guess that's hidden but not a talent though!
g3: Do you currently have an agent, endorsement, record label or sponsor?
Xsara: Currently I am doing everything independantly from the funding, logistics, to booking to management- it's a full time job and not easy when I have to switch to being an artist focusing purely on songwriting and performance. It is important it is the right label who approaches us and knows how to market the act effectively without taking away any of its magic. I have a good relationship with Prangsta in New Cross a costumiers that I use for my stage outfits. If any fashion or accessory designers would like me to wear their work on stage or any sponsors interested, get in touch!
g3: How would you describe your music in three words?
Xsara: Unique, Soulful, Energetic,
g3: Where can we get hold of your music?
Xsara: You can download the current E.P 'Are You Living In A Paradox?' from iTunes and Amazon, the limited edition physical signed CD is also available directly from the website at xsara.co.uk. Also from live gigs where you will receive a complimentary goody bag if purchased on the night.
g3: What advice would you give to other aspiring singer/songwriters?
Xsara: Never give up or forget your dreams. Be prepared for daily rejections as well as beautiful successes, be prepared to work night and day, to make scarifices and to be resilient ato criticisms as well as being determined in endless reserves. Surround yourself with positive friends who will help pick you up when you feel tired but who are honest. Music is unique as it is created from the heart while also being a cut-throat business, success will depend not just on your talent but how professional you are in your dealings so have a good manager if business is not a talent. Your music has to always come first so a partner needs to be understanding towards this. Expect to be extremely poor for many years before you make it big!