London-based Sarah Howells has formed a stronghold that’s impenetrable and vehemently powerful in her latest project, Bryde. Her words act as a guide, battling through all the pain, self-doubt and injustices that we hold against ourselves, so that we ultimately come out stronger and wiser after listening to her brutally honest and remarkably brave confessionals.
We spoke to Sarah about her forthcoming EP, playing live and honesty.
You are going on tour! You’ve announced a string of live dates are all centred around the South of England, culminating at your EP Launch gig at The Slaughtered Lamb in London. Also there will be a few stop-off’s overseas, one in Paris, and a small tour across the US. Will you be venturing further out in the future – seeing more of the UK and Europe, and the world?
Bryde: “I hope so! Touring is often determined by where you are invited to play. It’s not often a route or city I’ve chosen myself. I’ll literally play any city I’m invited if I can afford to go and it’s suitable for my audience.”
Is it exciting for you to be able to get out there and perform your songs live?
“New songs always feel more exciting to play live. They’re more raw and real. But it’s always exciting to play live yes! It’s a privilege to have people out there who want to come listen.”
In some ways it is more vulnerable to perform solo but also it allows you the freedom to act in the way that best suits you as an artist, but how have you found performing on-stage solo as Bryde?
“I’m loving performing solo. I’ve played on my own plenty of times before. There’s something really freeing about how spontaneous you can be, how you can change the feel of a song depending on your mood. There’s something a little bit more unpredictable about it for the audience but I personally feel more confident. It focuses people’s attention which can sometimes make it more powerful.”
You will be unveiling your largest body of work to date, upon the release of your debut EP. Can you tell us more about the tracks that will feature on the EP? Why did you choose these particular tracks to form the EP? Is there a theme or an idea that binds them all together?
“All the songs have a theme yes. So far all my Bryde songs deal with the psychology of a particular relationship. They’re kind of a study of different emotional stages. From love, longing, dependence, vulnerability to anger, defiance and strength.”
What is the plan after the EP is released?
“To record the next one. I have other songs to release but want to write plenty more before I’m ready to choose the next four.”
Bryde is still quite a young project, only beginning in the summer of 2015. As a writer and performer, you are not a stranger to the music world, being one half of the successful Paper Aeroplanes. How has the experience been so far, going out on your own into what is now a quite busy industry? Has anything surprised you?
“So far I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the nice reaction and interest in the music. But then another part of me is really really happy with the music I’m making, how it sounds, the songs I’m writing, so I maybe shouldn’t be! There’s loads of great music out there yes but that’s a good thing.”
From the tracks you’ve released already, particularly ‘Wait’ and ‘Help Yourself’ they seem to capture the same themes. Both documenting toxic relationships and the way we act around others, sometimes in a way that is destructive to ourselves. I feel that it is important that you have expressed such openness in these songs, for the people out there that may feel the same but are not in a place to speak about it and can’t find their own strength to move forward. Are these songs important to you also in the way that they offer up hope and console, as well as the strength to find your way out of a tough situation?
“I really do look at my songs as things I would like to be useful to other people. Whenever I have moments of wondering why the hell I do this, I become more determined to write things that can inform or offer a nod of recognition to other people. I hope that the songs offer some optimism to people and not just convey the negative emotions that can be present in this situation. There are a ton of clichés or memes I could quote about the things I’ve learnt over the last year or so. “Hurt people, hurt people”, “You can’t save people you can only love them” It’s all completely true. Basically these days, I only say sorry when it was me who messed up.”
Your songs leave you in a very candidly vulnerable and naked place emotionally, is it hard to put pen to paper when you know you are revealing so much?
“Not as much as it used to be. I’ve never been easily embarrased and I sort of believe that is something I have to offer. If I can be really honest then it paves the way for someone else to be. I also feel that if you chose to step into a vulnerable moment and show yourself, then you’re not vulnerable at all. You’re strong.”
Yet songwriting must be very cathartic for you? To release all these painful moments and stark realisations must be freeing and ultimately, the best way to cleanse one’s mind?
“I think it probably is really catharic, though I wish my mind was more clensed. I’m not the most zen person out there or anything, but it is really freeing to be able to honestly express emotions. It’s not something I take for granted.”
You’ve said that Paper Aeroplanes are just on hiatus at the moment, so does this mean that in the future you will be splitting your time between Bryde and Paper Aeroplanes?
“We’re really not sure yet. At the moment and for the rest of the year it’s all about Bryde.”
And finally before we let you go, what’s one thing that maybe we don’t know about Bryde now but that we should know?
“It means To Break in Danish.”