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Interview: JO SARAH'S 'THE CALL'
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JO SARAH’S NEW SINGLE ‘THE CALL’ IS AN ANTHEM FOR WOMEN+ TO UNITE
Jo Sarah’s artistic inspiration arose when studying the female vocalists of Central African tribes singing polyphonically in harmonious unity and togetherness. When the melody of the chorus came to her in the shower, she knew it was a powerful one - envisioning women singing it in unity, reminiscent of tribal musicality and mutual empowerment of and by each other.
The story of ‘The Call’ is about a woman surviving hard times, but when she sings the melody of the chorus a magical tribe of women+ start dancing and this sisterhood sends power to her. Alongside Jo Sarah, Dutch female director Leanne Vink helped to visually transform this story into a fascinating statement of a music video. Shot in four days at sunrise in six different landscapes with a 12-headed crew from Panama - led by strong females Jo Sarah and director Leanne Vink, The Call’s music video showcases fantastic visuals that portray the primal strength women+ have when they unite, connected in nature.
Influenced by artists like Sade, Sting, and Jill Scott, Jo Sarah finds huge creative pull to genres like Latin music, and R&B. Succeeding multiple releases and live portfolio, Jo Sarah discovered a new sound whilst traveling the globe, inspired by the rhythms of Brazil and female empowerment. In her latest music, feminist themes ooze tropical bass with a hint of R&B and jazz, facilitating conversation about womanhood and advocating for those who are marginalised to love, accept and stand up for themselves.
In the form of music and artistic expression, Jo Sarah conveys the essence of liberation through R&B coupled with Urban Latin influences. Utilising a multi instrumentalist approach as a producer and songwriter herself, ‘The Call’ truly echoes the sentiments of many women in music; with recent estimates predicting only 2.6 % of producers are female or non-binary. Jo Sarah hopes to unite women+ in light of prejudice, calling to support one another in defiance.
Emancipation, self-love and inclusion also play an important role in Jo Sarah’s earlier work. ‘Juicy', Jo Sarah's previous single, is an ode to the female orgasm, and all the juiciness it brings. It strives to celebrate the beauty and power of female pleasure in a contemporary, fresh and unique way as an anthem against the orgasmgap. The Call is, after Juicy, the next official single of Jo Sarah's newest project called 'UMA' - meaning 'Woman' in Sranan Tongo (the official language of Surinam) - which will be a compilation of songs about female sexuality, its’ taboos, and her personal experiences on these subjects.
THE CALL is an amazing melody and visual production. Congratulations on such a mysterious piece of music. How would you summarise the track to new listeners? What narrative or fantasy do you envision when you imagine them hearing THE CALL for the first time?
Thank you. Appreciate the love! The Call is tribal, empowering, transforming, unifying and serves as an anthem for women+ to unite and empower each other. The story of The Call is that when you are having a hard time in life, you can sing the melody of the chorus, and a magical tribe of women, somewhere in the world, will start dancing in unity and send you the power to continue on. Together with Dutch director Leanne Vink, we transformed this story visually into the music video which we shot in Panama in 6 different landscapes with a film crew of 12 over 4 days. It’s my pride and joy.
What inspired the catchy chorus?
I was studying the polyphonic singing & yodelling of the Central African tribes and I imagined how cool it would be if there was a melody without words, yet so powerful, provocative, and unifying. And one day I was in the shower and the melody came to me. I ran out of the shower, soaking wet, just to record the melody on my phone so I wouldn’t forget it. It felt like a message that came from the 5D to the 3D world that just channeled right through me - and every fibre in my being knew I had created something special.
With your role as a Producer, how was the instrumentation and choices made in the studio imperative when emulating that ‘mystical’ and ‘united’ sound?
So the intro and outro are audio snippets from the Tiríyo tribe(Amazonian indigenous tribe where my great-grandmother is from) dancing and singing in the jungle, and I wanted to pay homage to her by starting and ending the song like this. Furthermore, I wanted to mix electronic mysterious sounds with organic percussion, as to bring magical air and earthly groundedness together in rhythm and harmony. I also wanted a certain primal tone of voice in the chorus and when you hear me roar it really came out of the depths of my heart. The polyphonic melodies and clapping in the chorus also make you feel like it’s a tribe of women singing in unity. And when that magical moment comes when the tribe of women starts dancing, I wanted to add strings and a choir of voices guiding the narration. All of this on a bed of R&B harmonies that change in time signature to entice the listener and give them a feeling that something special is happening in that moment.
Feminism is a central part of your art and creative processes; what have been your experiences as a woman in music? How does this shape your music and sculpt the socio-political undertones of Jo Sarah?
Unfortunately, the music industry is still a man’s world. I’ve had multiple experiences of men seeing me as a sexual being first instead of a professional colleague. As a female artist and producer, I’ve had to set boundaries and prove myself as a female in a male-run industry. That’s why I believe that it’s imperative that the women in the industry should support and empower each other and other minorities in the music industry and it’s important that the men create a safe space for us. I know that I have a purpose and that is to help as many people with my music, especially helping women by telling my story and creating space to talk about it.
Umaversity sounds like an amazing project, could you explain the concepts and goals of the event?
How does THE CALL play a part in distinguishing this safe space? After having many conversations about female+ sexuality with people around the world for the last couple of years, I realized that there is such a lack of education on female+ bodies and female+ sexuality. We don’t learn enough in school, from society and porn is not the best education either, as it is still more male focussed. I believe that the moment we, women+, start learning about our bodies, sexuality, and the many possibilities for us and dismantling the taboos, we will feel stronger, more confident, and know better how to communicate what we want and don’t want. So I decided to curate a place where we can make up for this lack of education: Umaversity, where everyone that identifies as a woman and/or has a vulva (women+) can go to learn about their bodies and sexuality from expert talks, panels on taboos, a market with brands and foundations for women+ and a personal concert where I sing about my journey. The goal of Umaversity is to help as many women+ enjoy sex and their sexuality in a safe way without shame, with a movement of knowledge and sisterhood. The Call serves as an anthem for women+ to unite, empower and uplift each other at the first Umaversity event on the 27th of November in Amsterdam, the perfect place to do this.