Following our interview with Tom Marsh where he introduced her, it made sense then to talk to Sarah Maguire, a fellow British expat also based in Berlin. We caught up with her via e mail…
Cat On The Wall: For those of our readers who have yet to discover Sarah Maguire can you tell us a little about yourself? Who is Sarah Maguire?
Sarah Maguire: The first thing that comes to my mind is…I don’t know! Ha ha. But I guess that describes me quite nicely in a way. I am a girl from Northern England that has been on quite a journey around the world and back. I am a compulsive learner and am on a desperate mission to find out about anything and everything that interests me, which is quite a lot! On this quest I have had to do quite a lot of looking on the inside as well as on the outside and I guess that comes out in my Writing and artwork.
COTW: You’re currently based in Berlin. It seems that the city is still a thriving place to be for musicians and artists as many artists I’ve interviewed recently either live or have recorded there. What brought you to the city?
SM: I ran away to Berlin from London about four years ago. I do this kind of thing every so often. I am quite a drastic person and if I want to change something I often do it without much fear or thought. So I chose Berlin because a friend lived here and said that the rent was cheap. I felt extremely trapped in London, working just to survive and sucking my creativity dry. Not very romantic I am afraid. I think wherever there is cheap rent and the cost of living is low, artists will flock. It means that you are a lot freer to create on a daily basis. Great things can blossom from this freedom if it is respected.
COTW: You play an instrument called the Autoharp – I’d never seen one until I watched the video of you performing on your myspace page although I had heard of it (and regularly confused it with the pedal steel guitar). How did you discover the instrument?
SM: As I mentioned earlier I am a compulsive learner. Well, there is an exception to the rule when it comes to musical instruments. In the past when I was a very small girl I had a fair few bad experiences with music teachers, which left a very bad taste in my mouth for learning to play instruments. Out of trauma, fear and a touch of stubbornness I vowed I would never pick up an instrument again. One night I was over at my friend’s dinner party and I saw this strange instrument laying on the coffee table. I asked her what on earth it was. She explained that I ‘HAD’ to see this thing in action and that it was for anyone who had trouble playing an instrument. You just press a chord button and strum! I ran home (not literally, maybe stumbled) and ordered a vintage Autoharp from eBay straight away. About four months later my first song was born!! Abracadabra!
COTW: What inspires you to create songs? How do you write your lyrics (are they inspired by books you’ve read, films you’ve seen, conversations you’ve had with people etc)? Talk us through the creative process…
SM: I love real life! I adore being nosy and ear wigging into other people’s conversations. I call it ‘being in someone else’s story’. At home I own a TV but it’s not connected to the aerial. I use it to watch countless films on DVD. A lot of the things I watch are documentaries obviously, cos I have to be ‘learning’ all the time. Ha ha ha! And yeah I read a LOT as well! So I guess it’s half-autobiographical and half-inspired by the subjects that I consume from day to day.
COTW: What gets you in a cultural mood at the moment (music, art, fashion, films, books etc)?
SM: For the first time in many years I feel at home in Berlin. I have got lots of artist friends and we are all very supportive of each other’s work. At first it was a little family and now it seems to be growing into more of a community. Even though I mostly work alone, I think that this idea of a social art community really helps and drives me. We are all living artists, creating everyday. It’s like an evolving culture. This is very inspiring and feels very powerful to me. Does this answer your question?
COTW: Yes, it does! Now what are your plans for the near future?
SM: I really want to do a little tour in the UK. Break out of Berlin for a couple of weeks and come sing my songs for you guys. This is one of the main dreams on my mind lately!
Interview by Jo Whitby