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Singer-songwriter Babs Savage talks about her craft

Babs, Red Dress

Photo: Edna Sims

Born and raised in the U.K., singer-songwriter Babs Savage first began honing her craft at very early age. She would later go on to attend the prestigious Central School of Speech and Drama in England, and by the time she was in her mid-teens Savage, who by then had formed her very own band, knew that music was her calling.

Tell us about your introduction to music. When did you first become interested in it? 
I was interested in music from the age of 5 when I first learned how to play piano. I had two aunts who were singers, too, so they would introduce me to opera and jazz. I joined the church choir at 12 and learned a lot of technique there. I was madly into jazz, then moved into funk like Tower of Power and Defunkt and Funkapolitan . . . David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed and underground soul funk bands. I formed my first band at the age of 15 called Savajazz; it was a nine-piece band that included bongos, horns and a rapper. The oldest member was 19, and I was the youngest and only girl at 15. We toured the London night clubs and became quite a phenomenon. We were young, but our talent was bright. Unfortunately though, we were too young to handle ourselves and the band split within a couple of years.

Where exactly do you hail from? And growing up there, who did you consider to be your strongest musical influences?
I hail from St. John’s Wood in North West London. My big musical influences I would say range from early jazz artists such as Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole, Tower of Power and other jazz funk bands, David Bowie, and then moving into soul and Motown such as Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross.

At what point in time, specifically, did you decide to pursue music on a professional level?
 I opted to pursue music professionally about 15 years ago.

How do you classify your overall sound and/or style?
My overall sound is soulful with a jazzy twist, but still maintaining the urban vibe in the music. I guess the style is true R&B, because the rhythm and hook in my songs is always at the forefront of the music coupled [with] the soulful jazz element, which is dominant in my voice.

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Photo: Edna Sims

Your latest single is titled, “La La” — how did it come to fruition?
 My producer, Rickey Rainbow, had co-written this song a while ago and sent it as a possible track for me…I fell in love with it immediately! The Delfonics’ sample at the beginning of the song just adds that vintage and recognizable quality that connects listeners straight away

What do you feel you bring to the music industry that we don’t already have in other performers?
I am an experienced woman with lots of energy and a huge  passion for music and life in general. I’m not afraid to bare my soul to my audience. I am proud to be British, and I also see myself as international. I can connect to anyone from any country, because I love human beings and I want to inspire them with my vitality. I have a unique quality in my voice, which is gravelly and deep with a vibrato that creeps into the notes. I can make people feel happy. I am an independent artist with an independent label which I have set up myself. This is an inspiration for other artists and indeed other women to believe in themselves and go it alone.

Have you encountered any problems in getting to this point in your career? 
The problems I have encountered up to now have really been my own personal difficulties. I have only recently built up the confidence and belief that I could do and be an entertainer on a large scale. People spend an awful lot of time telling other people that they can’t create their dreams. Often it’s because they haven’t got that belief in themselves. I listened to that for many years and stalled my dreams through fear of the unknown, but I left the door ajar because I’m inquisitive and I’m also not afraid. I don’t believe in failure because I think that any experience you have, even if it results in disappointment, can ultimately be turned into a positive. It’s how we handle our mistakes and unexpected outcomes that makes us more interesting and rounded people and you need this to continue to grow and indeed survive as an artist. Taking risks and putting yourself on the line is all part of the incredible journey. It’s the demons inside ourselves that can be our worst enemy, and you need to be able to put that little devil in its box. We always need luck and blessings, too, and I definitely found that with Rickey Rainbow, who has believed in me from day one. I thank him for that.

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Photo: Edna Sims


What do you want people to get from your music?
I want people to feel light, happy, sexy and inspired by my music.

When can we, the masses, expect some more music from you? Like maybe perhaps that full length debut solo album…
The next single “Watcha Gonna Do” will be out shortly and we plan to follow that up with our album release called Savage Rainbows.

If you could collaborate with any one artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?
I would love to collaborate with Michael Jackson because I would learn and experience so much from being with him. He was unique in his ideas, both musically and visually. He pushed boundaries with his genius and wasn’t afraid to show the world. Of course he wasn’t a straight forward person, but then how could he be with that super brain.

If you could play any venue in the world, which one would you choose and why?
I would love to play Hyde Park in London. It’s on my own doorstep, so it’s not a thrilling location for me to choose but it’s my home and I would be so proud to entertain on that stage and look across my beloved London.

One track of yours that you think defines you and why?
“La La” is actually very “me.” The personality of the song is uplifting and it’s about the singer connecting love back and forth with her audience. It’s a love song to the masses. She loves people and so do I. Love is the most important emotion to live and I endeavor to live it and give it everyday. It’s not always easy, but if you feel it and act it in your life with it in your heart then you discover so much more beauty and warmth around you.

In terms of longevity, what do you feel it is that will continue to sustain you in this grueling industry?
I think my sheer stubbornness and drive will help me through hard times, plus the ability to adapt and change to circumstances and my surroundings. To be able to pinpoint my weak links, understand them and fix them.

Do you have any other outside/additional future aspirations, maybe even completely away from music?
I have huge dreams for Savage Entertainments. The plan is to fund the record company with the Babs Savage brand to be able to sign new undiscovered artists of all talents, styles and ages. I’m also planning a musical from the Savage Rainbows musical repertoire.

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Photo: Edna Sims

 To date, what has been your biggest career moment, at least thus far anyway? 
I guess “La La” is my biggest career move so far. The song was the second most played new song on Billboard and has reached number 1 and 2 in charts in America, UK and Japan…And it’s currently moving up in the UAC charts.

Looking ahead, say five or maybe even ten years from now, where do you see yourself?
I see myself with an international fan-base, and major tours. Writing and performing in my own studio. Building the record company for new talent. Having a musical show touring.

As for the immediate, what’s next for Babs Savage?
 The next thing for Babs Savage is to build my grassroots following and become known as an  international artist. To perfect my performance skills and stay fresh and interesting.