Interview with Sara Lugo
10/20/2014 by Gardy Stein
A self-made woman, Sara Lugo has developed her skills steadily during the last years. The results of this journey can be heard on her freshly released album Hit Me With Music. Not only the combinations with Kabaka Pyramid, Protoje and Ras Muhamad contained therein have brought her name to the attention of an international audience – her sweet voice and personality leave an instant impression! Reggaeville spoke to the artist about her trip to Jamaica, her mission and (of course) her music.
Your new album is out, which is for sure very exciting. Let's talk about the title first – is it a tribute to Bob Marley?
Actually the song Hit Me With Music is not necessarily connected to Bob Marley. It was a jam session that I had with my band. We were just jamming and then this idea, this line came up. I didn't even think about the Bob Marley song that second, it's just what the music brought to me, you know, it was just there! In the end that song turned out to be the title of the album because, once again, the album is not just Reggae, it's a mix of Soul and Jazz and Pop and Reggae and everything, so we said all right, let's just hit the people with music instead of giving the album a different name. That's why we picked that name.
I read that the release-party will be on December 5th in Munich. Why so late?
It's a bit delayed, yes. To be honest, the thing was that by the time we checked the venues, the ones that I wanted to do it in were not available anymore and so we had to schedule it at a later time.
But that will give people more time to warm up to your songs and learn the lyrics!
Yes, they can come and sing them with me at the concert! (laughs)
You just came back from Jamaica. How long have you been there?
I was there for two weeks. It was amazing, a great first impression of Jamaica.
Wow, then it was your first time! Did you go there to work or was it just for holiday?
The main reason for me flying to Jamaica was to do a video with Protoje for the song Really Like You, the second track on my album. Yes, and other than that it was of course good to see the country and get to know the people and check the vibes, you know... it was important for me to go there, finally. After such a long time doing Reggae music and loving Reggae music and the culture and the language, it was very good to finally go there. Besides, the video shot was a bit of a vacation as well.
So it's done now?
Well, we filmed everything and we have all the shots and now it's up to Benny and Jay to finish, to cut and edit it and everything. I'll let you all know when the final video is there and ready to present! Me myself I'm very excited and looking forward to actually seeing it because so far I didn't see any of it yet!
If it's anything close to what you did with Kabaka it's going to be.... WHAM!
It's going to be a very authentic Jamaican video. We shot the video at Family Yard, it's at Fleet Street, Kingston. It's a very great community actually, it's a Reggae community in a ghetto area and they are really trying to build something for the people which is great. I was there and I saw their work and how they really try to put energy and time and work into it to make a better future for the kids. They built a school not too long ago, and there is this great big area with a lot of walls, and a bunch of Jamaican artists came there and drew their paintings on the walls. It's a very colourful, very nice place, so it's definitely a positive movement and an uplifting thing for the people. It's a very good energy there.
I saw a picture of you and Dre Island in front of the HELP! Jamaica Center, so you went there as well?
While I was in Jamaica, Munchy happened to be there, so I met up with her and we went to check out the Help Jamaica Project together. It was a very nice experience as well, also definitely a project that people should check out and support! I met the kids there and it's nice how the people working there dedicate their time to the children. I mean, they don't get paid or anything, just volunteering... It's a good thing, really! Unfortunately I didn't have enough time, I would have loved to go there again and do some music with the kids, but the time was just too short!
From that involvement there and also from your song Love The Children, it really seems to be an important topic for you...
Yes, definitely. I grew up around kids. My mum used to be a day childminder and she always had kids over that she would be watching and so I kind of learned how to deal with kids from an early stage, and I just have a good connection with them. They are very pure souls, they are very free, creative, energetic, there is so much to kids that we as adults can learn... Because when we grow up, people give you limits and rules, like, you cannot do this or that. Sometimes I wonder why, why can I not do this, why can I not sing in the streets if I feel like singing?! And kids they don't think about these things, they just do it! We as adults have a big responsibility to lead them in a right way, because we are the ones to define their future! If we teach them the right things like confidence and self-esteem and let them know who they are and what power they have within, then they can really make a big change for everyone. And if we don't do that, if we mislead them or if we don't show them a good way, they can just get lost on the way, and it's really not an easy one. So, for me, this is one of the things in life… if people want to change the world, I think we have to start with the kids. Because once you're grown up, there are certain patterns that you got used to and that just stick to your brain and your mind and then it's really hard to change your ways. Yes, kids are a very big topic for me.
And do you plan to get involved in any project or organization to show support?
Whenever I can I love to help. Of course, I'm not a rich person so I can't give a whole heap of money and such, but if there's a possibility for me to give a little something or just let people know about it, to promote it, as far as I can I will help to get it out there.
On another picture I saw you in the middle of a street concert, performing. Was that planned?
Well, yes and no. It was in Ocho Rios… A few years ago I met Conroy, he used to play keys for Alborosie, he was on tour in Europe when I met him. We just kept the link, so when I came to Jamaica he linked me up and said "Hey, we have a show in Ocho Rios, would you like to come and sing with us?" And so I said "Of course!" and we didn't get to rehearse which was a bit of a pity because it could have been a lot better, but still, we did what we do! We do new music, so without rehearsal we just improvised and created a vibe and caught the people. And it was really like a very very good experience for me. The Jamaican crowd in general is a very critical one. They have so much music over there, it's like that: if you don't touch them, you don't touch them and there is no reaction. So, I was well nervous when I was about to sing and they introduced me, but it worked out perfectly fine. I just sung, I was vibing to the music, and the people really enjoyed it. Actually, after the second song they requested another one, so that was a great feedback for a Jamaican crowd.
That would have been my next question, how you were received!
That was a real blessing. It was really good for me to see all that and it gave me confidence for what I'm doing, too. Jamaica is the place where Reggae comes from, and if people there don't feel your stuff, then maybe you should do something else! (laughs)
Another nice thing was when I was invited to an interview on Fame FM which is like one of the big radio stations there, it was called Full House Friday. It was crazy because I didn't really know what that was about. And then I got there and TOK was there and Voicemail and Demarco and I don't know who else, it really was a full house and there were tons of people and first I felt lost and like "What am I doing here?". But then they played Really Like You and they gave me a huge forward and they really liked it – it was very well received. They said tons of texts came in from the people who listened to the show; that was a really good experience. The whole trip was nice!
How did you link up with Protoje in the first place?
It was around the release of my first album that we got in touch for the first time… I heard his music somewhere around the internet, I don't even know where I got it from. But I discovered his music and I instantly fell in love with the sound, so I just wrote him, saying "I really love your stuff, thanks for the music, I really love it." And he just replied and said, "Hey, I love your stuff too, and I really appreciate you as an artist…", so it was that simple really and we kept the contact. When Silly Walks gave me the instrumental for Really Like You, I started writing on it, I came up with the first verse and the chorus and then I thought this would be a nice song for a combination and then Protoje came to my mind. So I recorded the lay-offs and sent it to him and he really liked it, so we started working from there. And everything worked out perfectly fine and now we have the video coming up!
Now to the other side of the world, how did you link up with Ras Muhamad for Learn To Grow?
That's a funny story because, actually, this man is the reason why I have a huge fan-base in Indonesia. It was when my first album, What About Love, came out in 2011. I don't know where he got my music from, but he got it and he's not only an artist, he is also a DJ and he has a radio show there on which he started playing my songs and people loved it. I remember there was one day and all of a sudden my facebook wall just exploded with comments from Indonesia: "Hey, we love you, we are waiting for you, my familiar stranger! Come to Indonesia!" and I was just like "What? Where is this coming from?". I was really surprised and then the link came up so… yes, the people really appreciate the music and we thought well, maybe we should just do a song!
Maybe you should go there! I guess you are busy with the promotion of your album right now, so is there a tour planned?
Right now I'm talking to a few booking people trying to set that up. I don't have a proper booking agency that I'm working with, so I'm doing most of this stuff myself. It's a lot of work, but it's good, it's still moving, something is happening, but the booking part I really need someone to help me with that and right now I'm checking who is a good partner to work with me on that. Hopefully we can tour the summer, we have to hurry up with it because the time for the booking is slowly running out, so I have to stay focused and try to set that quickly.
And with all that hard work you do, do you have any time left for yourself?
At the moment it's not so much really, because the album keeps me well busy. But it's a good work, it's like… a very satisfying feeling if you finish a next topic and you can say "Alright, this is done!". Even the album alone, just to have it in my hands and see it's a big piece of work I'm holding here, you know… So it's alright, I'm fine with not having so much time for myself right now. But then again, like the other day Tarrus Riley played in Munich, so that's a bit like a free time to enjoy, even though it's work at the same time because you link up and, you know, it's good for you as an artist too. But I enjoyed it, it was like a little holiday too.
So if you had a day off tomorrow, what would you do?
If I had a day off tomorrow… it depends on the weather. If the weather was nice I would just go to a lake and sit in the sun and listen to music all day (laughs).
I don't know if you remember, once when you were in Hamburg you played a song on my guitar, a very simple, very sweet acoustic one. Do you work with instruments at all when you conceive your songs?
It depends. The guitar thing… I don't really write songs on the guitar. The song I played there was If Tears, it's a song I wanted to play at my grandfather's funeral and there was no musician around so I just searched for some notes to go with it. This was a situation of not having any other choice that time. What I do sometimes is that I play around on the keyboard and then stuff comes out of it, like for example I Wish, I completely did that one, that's my composition on everything. There is a few more I have in store, but they are like not done yet, they might be on the next album or something. And then again you get so many nice riddims and instrumentals, and that's a next way to write a song, to let the music talk to me and put out what I hear – I'm really all taken care of when it comes to music! The other option is of course that you sit with some friends and create some music on the spot. In Jamaica for example, I did that with Debo. I stayed at his yard and we just created a song there. For me it's not one way, there are different ways of creating music! I love to just catch different vibes and put them in the songs…
Do you have any song on the album that has a special meaning for you?
Ahm… In a way they are all on a personal level, in almost every song there's a bit of a personal note in it, of an experience or something I've been through… It's hard to say. Soldiers Of Love is the song that for me is the most important because the message is the strongest and the most positive and important to people nowadays. At least for me! There are too many soldiers out there, and not enough soldiers of love. So that's the answer to your question, that's my favourite!
It has a very special instrument, what is it?
It's the marimba. It actually happened… that song was created around 2011 also. There was this Bavarian TV-Show for newcomers just from Bavaria and I took part in that. One of the challenges they have there for the artists was to create a song with certain things they give you. They gave me a kalimba, one of these sound sticks and something else that you like swirl around and they gave me a few words. So that's where this song was born. We're making a video to that one, too. We started shooting it in France and we're going to do some more works on it here.
Another thing to look forward to! And it will hopefully recruit more soldiers of love.
Yes, it would be great if everyone would just try to be good, to themselves and to everyone else. And to spread more love! I mean, I can't change people, but I can make the people change themselves eventually. I think people have a very very big power within themselves. The mind is very powerful, and if people knew what they can do with it, the world would be a different place, I strongly believe that. So, it's like my job, and when I'm speaking about these things it's also to remind myself, but I think these positive things and uplifting words cannot be said often enough because the world needs them!
Think about it, if the news would show positive and uplifting messages all the time, do you think the world would be like this? It's easy to be mislead nowadays and it's really hard to stay strong. We all have our issues to deal with, it's not easy to live a good life. So, we have to make sure that we are really doing good things, set a good example and be a strength for someone who is going through hard times. This is what I'm doing this for. Spread positivity and love!
Perfect closing words… Thanks so much!