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MorleyView: Sabrina Korva

The Next Great Canadian Star

Sabrina Korva is a 19 year-old musician from Vancouver. She's taking the slow and steady path while building a career in rock and roll. She's been working on her debut record for awhile now and might not have it out until 2007. She's not courting the major labels either, opting to take a more independent route. But one quick listen to her songs show talent far beyond the next new "it girl". I talked to Sabrina while she was in Toronto recently and she brought us up to speed on her debut record and how she got her start.

antiMUSIC: For a lot of us, who are just getting to know you, can you get us up to speed on Sabrina Korva? How did you get involved with this as a career and what led up to where you are right now?

Sabrina: Well there's a lot of stuff that has happened in the past five years. I'm 19 years old and from Vancouver. I've been writing music since I was 13. I was studying classical piano and writing all kinds of stuff. Then in the winter of 2000 when I was 13, I went to a Bryan Adams show, I got called up on stage and sang a duet with him. It was very unexpected. It was one of those being at the right place/right time kind of things. Every night he could call up a girl to sing the song that he had recorded with one of the Spice Girls. It was just a regular thing. When he called me up, it got a lot of attention. I guess a lot of the girls in other cities were just like "Oh My God" and would just kind of stand there. With me, it was really weird because he was such a nice, down-to-earth guy and just being on stage after a few minutes felt really cool and just natural, you know? So after that, I got a lot of press in Vancouver and somehow word got down to the States, and that's how I started working with a lot of musicians down there. Then I came back to Vancouver and worked with Todd Kearns and it was just one thing after another. Things just kept progressing. Next thing I just had some really great demos and then I started traveling around and playing shows at festivals in the States and Canada and meeting a lot of people. So now I'm working on my album in LA with some really great songwriters down there. It took off when I was really young and I've just been at it ever since. 

It was always something I wanted to do but I was really young. I was in my first year of high school. I was kind of quiet…I mean I was loud and outgoing with my friends but …. all of a sudden I was that kid. Everybody knew my name. It just blew up like that. I had already actually done a record with material I had written with a songwriter in Vancouver. We were recording an album but it wasn't anything like I knew exactly what I would be doing later on. I mean, I was 13 years-old. I was like, maybe I want to be a fashion designer. Maybe I just want to be a composer. Maybe I want to be an artist. And all of a sudden everything was thrown at me. I was on planes from Florida to LA to Nashville…Toronto. I was playing all these places and meeting people, and writing and recording. And all of a sudden it was like, "This is what I want to do." So I just kept on with it. And I lucked out because it turned out to be what I wanted to do in the end because it all worked out. Sometimes the best things happen unexpectedly. Because everything you do leads to the next thing. It's not like you sit around waiting for something to happen and it all gets thrown at you. You have to go from thing to thing. And I've been really lucky. I've got a lot of great people around me supporting me. Nobody can do this on their own. But you have to really want it. If you don't want it bad enough, you're going to say, "OK screw this. I'm going home." At one point, I wasn't sure that I was physically able to finish high school. I wasn't in one city long enough to finish. Luckily, I made it work because I was sticky about it because there was no way I was not going to finish high school. And you miss a lot of things. My friends would be going, "C'mon. How come you're not coming?" But I'd have to fly to Florida or something. But you've got to do what you've got to do. I think I got the best of both worlds though. I still got good grades. I studied a lot. But when you're gone for a month and you come to math class… (laughs). But it's all worth it.

antiMUSIC: So how is the record going?

Sabrina: Really good. We've got a lot of songs on the go. Even a lot of them are quite finished. The goal though, was to have about 25-30 really good songs to choose from for a first record. The cool thing is that once you have that many songs, when it comes time to put out a second record, if you need to put it out really quick, you've got enough sitting there, which is great. I'm working with a lot of cool people and the songs are turning out really well. It's hard to describe. There's not really anybody else out there today doing this, as a female anyway. I a lot of people are describing my material to the Pretenders, Joan Jett --- that kind of thing. A really raw rock. It's not at all pretentious sounding or pop rock. It's just rock and roll. Even the ballads. It's not like, "Here's my pop song from the album." The funniest thing is when you have a rock band and they've got two songs on the radio and they're both pop songs. And a lot of time, as an artist, you don't have that control if you're with a record label. So I wanted to go against the grain in that sense. It's just….this is me. I'm going to write my songs. I'm not going to try to write anything in particular. I'm just going to write whatever comes out. And it's been going really well. It's not anywhere near finished. I hope to have it done by the end of the year, but we'll see. 

antiMUSIC: You've got a great voice as one can tell from one quick listen to "Why". Would you rather be known for your voice or your songwriting?

Sabrina: Thank you. That means so much to me because that's totally just my song. I wrote it in two nights and recorded it really rough at my friend's studio. Usually I ponder a lot on new songs when I'm writing them and leave them for a couple of days and then go back and then maybe a line or two or whatever. But "Why" just came out. The music came out first with the melodies and then the next night, the lyrics just poured out. And I just went "Wow. That hasn't happened much before." I just wanted to get it down. I wanted to record it because it was done, you know? And it was just a cool feeling to have it done so quick. I played 12-string on that one and that's what gave it that really cool sound. It might sound like an effect or whatever but I just played a six-string and a 12-string and that was it. And production-wise, if I were to do anything to it, I would imagine it kind of sounding like "Mama I'm Coming Home" by Ozzy. 

To some people I think it would mean more for an artist to have a good voice. But there are so many girls out there with great voices. And you watch American Idol or whatever and there's these girls who can't write a song to save their lives…or maybe they can…I don't know…You don't get to see. But their voices are just amazing. But as a songwriter, you want to be known as that as well. I've never really thought about how people see me a lot of the time. I just do what I do and don't even think about it. Also, when you're performing your own songs, the performance definitely comes out a lot better. If you written the song, you know exactly what you're saying and how you want to say it. And it just seems a lot more natural, at least from my experience. I've demoed other people's songs before and I've demoed them and it just doesn't feel the same. You just don't have that internal connection with the song. But I'd like to be known as a songwriter and it's definitely a bonus if people like my voice. It's actually a compliment when people say they like my voice because that's something you can't really change. You're kind of stuck with it. I can't sound like anybody else. So if people like it, it's a great feeling for sure. Songwriting can be developed. And so can your voice to a certain extent. But if somebody really finds your voice irritating, no matter how good the song is, they're never going to listen to it. 

antiMUSIC: You list all these '80s metal bands on your site. How does somebody so young as you relate to bands like this?

Sabrina: I would say the best thing for me is the big drum sound. That really gets me. You listen to Def Leppard or somebody like that. I would rather listen to any of that than other stuff with mellow drums. I don't know. It just gets you more into the beat and gets you more into it. Especially if there's a big groove in the song. It's so fun to listen to. And you look at the videos they made. They're freaking FUN videos. And it feels like you're there. And the lead singers were all great performers as well as great singers. I like that freedom to move around the way they have. I mean I can play guitar to all my songs. But it would be so boring when I can just play for a couple of songs and then spend the rest of the time interacting with the crowd. Just dancing and moving around….it's a great workout too (laughs). But yeah you watch KISS, and Poison and Aerosmith, and Guns 'N Roses and it's just so different than seeing a band play today. And not to put down current bands. There's a lot of great bands out there today. I just love the bigness of the '80s. The performances and everything. They were moving all over the place. I don't know if the drugs and alcohol had anything to do with it. And the show…even the lighting guys. They were just great. I mean, watch a Bon Jovi tour from '86. I wish I could have been my age now, in '86. A lot of people look at me funny over that stuff but it's alright. I don't mind it. And you ask anybody who was going to shows at that time. They all say they loved it. They were fun times. You never hear, "Oh man. That was so boring." When a band is having fun and is happy and is having a great time playing, it really shines on the audience and it makes everybody else like they're having a great time as well. It's a very contagious thing. So it's not just one thing. I love everything about that time. The sound of the music was great. A lot of the songs were really great. And the singers could really sing. 

antiMUSIC: So…ultra talented…really nice and funny…and a hottie…if I may say. 2006 will be the year for Sabrina Korva I would bet, right?

Sabrina: You bet, man (laughs). Now is the time for sure. There's still a lot of writing to be done on the record but I write every day so we're definitely hoping it will be out by the end of year. There's still a lot of stuff to be done but it's hard to say. I'll keep everybody posted on my website and on MySpace of course. 

antiMUSIC: OK, thanks a lot for taking the time Sabrina. Best of luck with finishing the record and we'll talk again later.

Sabrina: Thank you so much for talking to me. Take care and Rock ON!!!

antiMUSIC and Morley Seaver thank Sabrina for taking time out to do this interview.


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