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New Artist of the Week: Sadie Campbell

By Amanda Wicks

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Country-folk is built on the beauty of lyricism, but sometimes a particular musical interlude ends up saying far more than any one verse can.

That's the case with singer/songwriter Sadie Campbell's single 'Fade'. Across a slow, and increasingly intense, opening build of electric guitar, synths and vocals, Campbell captures the difficulty of breaking out of a darker moment.

Her lyricism reflects the swirling noise in her head. "In a darkroom at the end of the hall/ I'm climbing the walls/ I can't get through or live up to/ I wish I knew/ Am I seeing red? Is it all in my head?/ Do I have to tell the truth"? she sings with her raspy alto.

The song appears on her forthcoming EP Darkroom, which traces the darker mental days she, like many others, faced in 2020. 'Fade' is "about being in that depression and knowing it, and not being able to necessarily control it, but knowing it will pass — you have to ride it out sometimes", Campbell said.

Campbell was born in Canada — in Pritchard, British Columbia, to be exact — but she moved to Nashville after honing her singing chops in her native province. Early days spent singing in church choir and open-mic nights in Vancouver refined her storytelling. She took her songwriting to Music City, and continued developing a distinctive sound that bridges north and south.

Darkroom follows Campbell's previous EP Glory and arrives August 27. Listen to the song 'Fade' below and learn more about Campbell's influences, background and next steps.

Where are you from and has that influenced the type of artist you are?
I’m from a tiny little town called Pritchard, in rural British Columbia, Canada. There’s not much there, other than a general store and a community center that also doubles (or used to) as a church. That's where I played my first gig.

Growing up in Pritchard influenced the type of artist I am because I was super shy when I was a kid, and music was my way to connect with people and express myself. It’s still the same for me now. I love how songs can connect us and help us relate to one another.

Speaking of influences, what were you listening to growing up?
My musical taste has always been all over the map; I guess I can thank my dad for that. He had a huge CD collection so we were always scream-singing along to anything from CCR and the Beatles, to Ace of Base, Garth Brooks and Nirvana. The list goes on and on.

Did you ever want to do something other than music?
I actually almost moved to Guatemala in grade 12 to volunteer at an elementary school. I was already there volunteering and there was a position that needed filled so I wanted to stay. My parents made me come home and graduate high school (I remember being so mad at the time but now I’m grateful, thanks mom and dad).

I’ve worked at many other jobs in my life. I was a mail carrier, serviced airplanes, was that annoying person in the mall saying, “Excuse me, would you like to sign up for a Visa infinite card?”, worked in the bar industry selling anything from cheap shots of Jager to $500 bottles of champagne. I was a nanny. I flagged logging roads in the middle of the bush on a snowmobile. Music has always called me back.

Are you more creative when you’re happy or when you’re sad?
There’s a freedom in creativity that comes with sadness — for me anyways. When I’m down, I’m writing in order to feel better and turn those emotions into something. I’m not worried about song structure, if the song is catchy enough, what genre it is etc. I’m just letting it flow.

What drives you the most?
When someone says that one of my songs helped them through a tough time, or that they relate to something I wrote. That’s the driving force for me. In all of the tough times I’ve gone through in my life, songs played a huge part in getting me through. So if I can ever help someone through their tough time with my music, then I’ve made it.

In general which comes first for you, the title or the song?
Usually the song. The emotion and the story. If I focus too much on the title I feel like I put myself in a box and the song tends to suck before it even has a chance.

Who would be your dream collaboration?
Foy Vance, Chris Stapleton, Hozier, Bruce Springsteen.

What’s next?
I’m gonna keep writing, recording and releasing music that scares and challenges me. I'll be making an album in the fall and touring next year. Someday I'll buy an El Camino and go on a solo trip back to Costa Rica but all good things take time I guess, haha.