SARAH DARLING TALKS NEW MUSIC, TOUR PLANS & SONG-WRITING INSPIRATION 8

Currently promoting her new album Dream Country, Nashville-based Sarah Darling is a talent whose music crosses several genres including contemporary pop, Americana and, of course, country. Having achieved considerable success thanks to her 2012 Home To Me EP, this new collection showcases just how much she’s grown and matured as an artist and she kindly took time out of her increasingly busy schedule to talk to Thisisthelatest about musical influences, performance plans and her hopes and dreams for the future.

TITL: Please introduce yourself.

Sarah Darling: Hey everyone! My name is Sarah Darling.

TITL: At what age did you first realize you wanted to be a performer and prior to that, did you have any other career ambitions?

SD: There’s this video of me singing a solo in pre-school that shows I was quite serious at a very young age. It makes me laugh watching it now. I had all the moves going back then. I guess I was born wanting to perform!  However, there was a brief moment I wanted to be an oceanographer.

TITL: Which bands and artists did you grow up listening to and have your music tastes changed much as you’ve gotten older?

SD: I grew up listening to Fleetwood Mac, Patsy Cline, Joni Mitchell and The Eagles. I feel like my musical style is still the same. I’m pretty pumped for Alison Krauss’s new album to release!

TITL: Hailing from Nashville, do you ever feel any pressure to live up to the success of artists like Taylor Swift and bands like Paramore or are you happy just to ride your own wave?

SD: There’s always the pressure because it’s constantly around, but I’ve learned over the last couple years that you have to ride in your own lane. As long as you trust your instincts, it makes for a happy life in my opinion.

TITL: Who or what most inspires your song-writing and with that in mind, which song would you say is the greatest ever written and why?

SD: I’m really inspired by landscapes and stars. I think there’s something quite wonderful about painting these pictures in a song. It’s dreamy and romantic. With that being said, I really love the track “Halley’s Comet.” I think it really inspires us all to shine bright.

TITL: Tell me a little about your new album Dream Country.

SD: Dream Country is a concept album that’s very inspiring for the dreamer. It takes you somewhere else which I love. I wrote a lot of the tracks as encouragement to myself, and I think a lot of people will relate to the honesty of that.

TITL: Could you pick your favourite track on the album and if so, which is it and why?

SD: I truly love a track called “Where Cowboys Ride.” It’s my love letter to Wyoming. I love it because I’m immediately right back there when I hear the first verse. I knew it was special when I wrote it.

TITL: How would you say the album differs from your previous collection, the Home To Me EP?

SD: This album is more experimental, I would say. I’m a country singer that writes about Paris and things other people don’t write about in my genre.  I have always had a love for strings and they are in almost every track! I wanted each song to sound exactly like what I was singing about. It was really fun for me to explore.

TITL: Will you be touring in support of the album?

SD: Yes, I will be touring this year! Just keep checking the website sarahdarling.com.

TITL: You’ve opened for the likes of Carrie Underwood, but if you could share a stage with three other bands living or dead, who would you choose and where would you play?

SD: Coldplay at Glastonbury, Patsy Cline at The Grand Ole Opry and Alison Krauss at the Royal Albert Hall.

TITL: Are there any other plans/projects in the pipeline you can tell me about?

SD: There is a wonderful video coming that I shot last year that is associated with the track “Montmartre.” It’s quite epic!

TITL: How do you feel about social media and to what extent has it impacted your career? Do you think it’s possible for bands and artists to succeed without it?

SD: I think social media is our direct line with fans. I adore the chance to get to know the people who take the time to listen to my tunes. I think anything is possible these days, but I it would be quite sad to not interact when you can. We have to change as the world changes.

TITL: Finally then, where would you like to see yourself five years from now and what’s your ultimate career ambition?

SD: In five years, I hopefully would have traveled the world! Of course, I’d like to record a couple more records, but I’d also like to own my own patisserie in Nashville. Big goals!

For more information on Sarah, give her page a like on Facebook or follow her on Twitter. Her album Dream Country is available now on itunes.

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LIVE: THE SCRIPT @ BLACKPOOL EMPRESS BALLROOM – AUGUST 30TH 2017 9

Up and coming Mancunian JP Cooper warms up the packed out floor and quickly filling seating area with a set lasting around half an hour, armed simply with a guitar. “I’ve played a few empty rooms here in Blackpool so it’s awesome to see so many of you have come out early” he says, prior to performing ”She’s On My Mind”, which is currently receiving huge airplay and support from radio stations across the country so needless to say, the song goes down a treat. He rounds off his time on stage with a short heartfelt speech about “Passport Home” claiming it to be: “…a celebration of anyone who’s done something good or who has been there for you. Thank you to all of you for coming out and to The Script for this amazing opportunity.” By the time he walks off stage to warm applause, he’s certainly earned himself a considerable number of new fans.

After more than two years away, Irish trio The Script are currently preparing to release their fifth album Freedom Child on Friday and have been touring the UK and Ireland in support of it for the past couple of weeks. Tonight, on the second to last night of this intimate run of dates, and four years to the day the band were due to perform in town as part of the Illuminations switch-on event, they walk on stage to a heroes’ welcome, kicking their set off with  “Rock The World”, one of the songs from the new album. It gets the show off to an up-tempo start with those on the floor, particularly at the barrier (which one girl I spoke to said she’d queued from 5am to get a spot at) and in the first few rows clapping, jumping and, having followed the previous few shows and quickly learned the lyrics, singing along.

“Superheroes” keeps the mood of the night upbeat, as does “Paint The Town Green” which sees front-man Danny O’Donoghue practically jig his way from one side of the stage to the other before the song slides straight into part of “Good Ol’ Days.”

Fan-favourite “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” is next up and as the crowd all but take over vocal duties to close out the song, Glen turns to his left slightly and proudly applauds while Danny bows down to them, grateful and somewhat overwhelmed by the strength and passion of the masses before him. Having been made aware of some venues not allowing gig-goers to photograph or film parts of shows, Mark, calling out a member of their tour crew, then proceeds to make the following statement: “Tell security to let people film and take photographs if they fucking want to. Venues might have a policy against it but we don’t give a fuck.”

With Freedom Child just two days away from release, the trio then introduce what Danny has called the only “ballad” on the album, “Arms Open”, which, under atmospheric lighting, sees a hand-clap slowly spread around the venue. Addressing the fact they were due in the town 4 years ago but had to cancel their appearance due to a family health emergency, they then call out: “Turn the fucking lights on!” and as every corner of the venue becomes illuminated, while the band stand watching and listening to the crowd roar to life once again, all they can remark is: “Amazing.”

Carrying on what has become a long-standing tour tradition, Danny then says they’re going to create a Mexican Wave and share it using Boomerang, explaining for the older members in the audience – “like me” he jokes – that Boomerang is a social media tool that takes a little clip and puts it on repeat. “It’s gonna look fucking awesome” he insists, and after a practice run, sure enough, the sight of thousands of arms rising and falling together is quite a sight to behold.

Getting back to the music, “Nothing” and “If You Ever Come Back” are next up before, after a brief interlude during which Danny announces: “This tour keeps getting better and better…you guys are amazing, thank you so much”, they introduce another new song; the rather reggae sounding “No Man Is An Island” at the end of which Glen looks out at everyone and declares: “You guys are an amazing crowd”, then all but (politely) demands: “Give yourselves a round of applause” which everyone duly does.

As three criss-cross white lights shine down on the band, “Never Seen Anything Quite Like You” begins with Danny standing centre-stage with his keyboard, while “For The First Time” ends with huge, seemingly never-ending cheers and rapturous applause as Danny stands almost perfectly still for a moment and looks speechless, gazing out at the sight and sound around him. “Science And Faith” and “If You Could See Me Now” follow soon after, before Danny then proceeds to delight those on the balcony towards the back of the venue when he appears on the walkway in front of them to perform “The Energy Never Dies”, with one fan getting an extra added surprise when he sings straight into her phone. Returning to the stage, he then instigates a venue wide sing-along of “Breakeven.”

From the second the band move to walk off stage, the venue echoes with the sound of thousands of people whistling, cheering and stamping their feet non-stop until the trio return for an encore which begins with “No Good In Goodbye.” Half way through, Danny says “Let’s hear you sing this” and holds out the mic to the crowd who duly oblige, albeit a little quietly at first, but they soon find their full voices again.

Latest single “Rain” has the mass of people on the floor, and Danny in particular, jumping around with the energy of someone half his age, before, as the show draws to a close, talking about the meaning behind the new album, he makes the following emphatic and passionate speech:

“We feel that freedom of expression has been under attack recently. We’re talking about the freedom to do what you wanna do, the freedom to say what it is you wanna say. The freedom to feel what is you really feel, the freedom to think what you wanna think, the freedom to pray to whoever you wanna pray to…but more importantly, the freedom to love who you wanna love…”

He goes on to ask: “Blackpool, are you in the mood for making a moment right now?!,” to which he receives a roar in response that makes him beam. “Let’s do this!” Seconds later he announces that they are live across the world right now and encourages everyone to repeat after him: “Freedom Child!”, before the band launch into final song of the night, “Hall Of Fame” which ends with Danny jumping off the edge of Glen’s drum platform. Then, gathering for their usual group bow at the front of the stage, the trio, alongside bassist Ben Sergeant and keyboardist Rodney Alejandro, take a moment to soak up the cheers and applause which thunder around the ballroom, sounds which continue to reverberate long after the group disappear from view.

KENDRICK LAMAR WINS BIG AT THE MTV VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS 2017 11

Kendrick Lamar was the king of the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards, winning six awards on a night full of emotional performances, political moments and a new, eye-popping Taylor Swift music video.

The 2017 MTV VMAs at the Forum in Inglewood, California, kicked off with lasers, fire and Kendrick Lamar. Break dancers performed amidst the light beams and fog as the rapper performed “DNA.” The song culminated with a ninja break-dancing while engulfed in flames. Then, the rapper transitioned to Humble” and Lamar’s backup performers, who were wearing martial arts uniforms, clamoured up and down a ladder that was set ablaze.

Ed Sheeran then took the stage to perform “Shape of You” against a prismatic set before Lil Uzi hopped onstage to add a few rap lines and helped Sheeran close out the song before the two launched into “XO TOUR Llif3.

The show cut to a skit featuring host Katy Perry hatching up a scheme to visit space, asking for advice from Buzz Aldrin, Peggy Whitson, Abbi Jacobson, Kathryn Hahn and Kevin Bacon who reminded Perry, “I wasn’t really on Apollo 13.” Perry then detailed her fictional trip to space before she floated down to the stage in her holographic space suit.

When she got to the stage, Perry explained to the audience that she has been missing in action because of her trip to space.

She said: “The world is doing so well right? Everything is fine? Great! Maybe not so much.”

Perry explained she wanted to change clothes. As she started to disrobe, she went through a rack of clothes. At one point, she took a “Handmaid’s Tale” uniform out and asked what it was. She said, “You guys have really been going through it, haven’t you? How the f**k are you coping right now?” before she was handed a fidget spinner as an explanation.

Paris Jackson presented best pop video award, but not before giving an impassioned statement against white supremacists.

“Let’s leave here tonight remembering we must show these Nazi, white supremacist jerks in Charlottesville and all over the country that as a nation with liberty as our slogan, we have zero tolerance for their violence, their hatred and their discrimination,” said Jackson. “We must resist.”

Fifth Harmony won best pop video for “Down and they got teary as they thanked their families and Gucci Mane, who was on the stage with them.

Hailee Steinfeld announced Julia Michaels’ performance of “Issues.”

The VMAs premiered  Taylor Swift’s video for her new single Look What You Made Me Do” while a new minutes laterYara Shahidi announced Shawn Mendes’ performance of “There’s Nothin’ Holding Me Back.”

Perry returned to the stage with a message for people affected by Hurricane Harvey and said, “We are praying for your safety … because we’re all in this together.”

Alessandra Ambrosio and Jack Antonoff, who sported a prominent Star of David necklace, announced a performance by Lorde.

Lorde opened by turning on a boom box onstage and dancing to her song “Homemade Dynamite.” Later, backup dancers joined her to lift her into the air so she could float over the stage. She ended the performance without singing a single word.

Pete Wentz and Teyana Taylor presented best dance, which went to “Stay” by Alessia Cara and Zedd.

DJ Khaled took the stage with his baby, Asahd Tuck Khaled, who Perry said would obviously win the social media baby contest. He then announced a performance by Fifth Harmony. The girl group started with “Angel” before transitioning into “Down.”

Ludacris and Olivia Munn presented best collaboration, which went to “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” by Zayn and Taylor Swift. Jack Antonoff and his “favorite new artist” Sam Dew accepted the award on the singers’ behalf.

Jared Leto took the stage to pay tribute to Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington and Soundgarden front-man Chris Cornell.

Leto then urged audience members and viewers at home to stand up for a performance by Linkin Park.

A few minutes later, host Perry announced a performance by Miley Cyrus, who sang “Younger Now” after shouting, “Love you, Katy!”

Cardi B announced a spirited performance of “Sorry Not Sorry” by Demi Lovato.

Later, P!nk appeared onstage in a convertible to sing a medley of her songs, including “Get the Party Started” and “Raise Your Glass” before hopping onto an ATV to sing “So What” as backup singers danced nearly nude with only black bars to cover themselves.

P!nk then sang “Don’t Let Me Get Me” and “Just Give Me A Reason” against a screen playing her old music videos before she performed her newest single “What About Us.”

After Pink’s performance, Ellen DeGeneres took the stage to present the Vanguard Award to P!nk.

Stranger Things actress Millie Bobby Brown took the stage to present artist of the year and quipped, “Just last year, I was stuck in the upside down and now I’m here.” The award went to Brown’s “personal favorite” Ed Sheeran.

Vanessa Hudgens announced a performance by Alessia Cara.

Kesha announced a performance of “1-800-273-8255” by Alessia Cara and Logic, encouraging people to seek help and advice. The song title is also the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Bebe Rexha and The Chainsmokers presented best new artist, which went to Khalid, before Thirty Seconds to Mars sang “Walk on Water” with a performance that saw them appear as a heat map.

Reverend Robert Mead IV took the stage and said:

“I am a descendent of Robert E. Lee, the Civil War general whose statue was at the center of violence. We have made my ancestor an idol of white supremacy. As a pastor, it is my moral duty to speak out against racism, America’s original sin. Today, I call on all of us with privilege and power to answer God’s call to confront racism and white supremacy head-on. We can find inspiration in the Black Lives Matter movement, the women who marched in the Women’s March in January and especially Heather Heyer, who died fighting for her beliefs in Charlottesville.”

Mead then introduced Susan Bro, Heyer’s mother, who said of her daughter:

“I miss her, but I know she’s here tonight. I have been deeply moved to see people across the world, the whole world, find inspiration in her courage.” She announced the launch of the Heather Heyer Foundation, which will provide scholarships to “help people join Heather’s fight against hatred. I want people to know that Heather never marched alone. She was always joined by people of every race and every background in this country.”

She announced that MTV decided to honor all six nominees for its category, best fight against the system, adding:

“I congratulate all these artists on their VMA tonight and I look forward to the important work that they and all of you will do together to make the world a better, kinder place. Thank you.”

Hailey Baldwin announced the performance of the “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” reboot by Rod Stewart and DNCE, who put on a colorful and flashy performance from Las Vegas.

Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot presented video of the year, which went to “Humble.” by Kendrick Lamar.

Noah Cyrus announced a performance by host Perry and Nicki Minaj who together closed out the ceremony.

Here’s the full list of winners from the 2017 VMA’s:

Video of the Year: Kendrick Lamar: “HUMBLE.”
Best New Artist: Khalid
Artist of the Year: Ed Sheeran
Best Hip Hop Video: Kendrick Lamar: “HUMBLE.”
Best Collaboration: Zayn and Taylor Swift: “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker)”
Best Pop Video: Fifth Harmony: “Down” [ft. Gucci Mane]
Best Dance Video: Zedd and Alessia Cara: “Stay”
Best Rock Video: Twenty One Pilots: “Heavydirtysoul”
Song of the Summer: Lil Uzi Vert: “XO Tour Llif3”
Best Direction: Kendrick Lamar: “HUMBLE.”
Best Cinematography: Kendrick Lamar: “HUMBLE.”
Best Visual Effects: Kendrick Lamar: “HUMBLE.”
Best Choreography: Kanye West: “Fade”
Best Editing: Young Thug: “Wyclef Jean”
Best Fight Against the System (all nominees win):Logic: “Black SpiderMan”; The Hamilton Mixtape: “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)”; Big Sean: “Light”; Alessia Cara: “Scars to Your Beautiful”; Taboo: “Stand Up / Stand N Rock #NoDAPL” [ft. Shailene Woodley]; John Legend: “Surefire”