Sabin Sharpe is as authentic as they come, something that was evident the first time I heard his music and later confirmed when we spoke for this interview. He and I talked about how he first got into music, who his musical influences are, his latest single, “When I Met You,” his recording process and so much more! Keep reading to see what he had to say.
Tell me a little bit about how you first got into making and performing music.
Well, how I first got into music… I kind of grew up around it; both my mom and dad’s sides of my family played instruments and sang, but it was in church. Both my grandmas sang in the choir and my great grandma played like nine different instruments, so I was always around music and singing and stuff. I started singing just because I was kind of drawn to it. As I got older, then I started playing guitar and writing. Then I started getting out in front of people and doing it because my friends and family were like, “Man, you could do something with that, so take it farther.”
Was there a specific moment or person who made you realize music is what you wanted to pursue professionally as a full-time career?
Yeah, I would have to say it would be my grandma. She passed away in 2012. It was her and my dad. They kind of saw my talent and said, “You should do something with it.” I didn’t believe them or anything because I was like, “Oh, that’s just my grandma and my dad. They’re telling me I’m decent because they’re my family.” At first, I was kind of shy to get out in front of people that I didn’t really know, but I have to say my grandma and my dad were the ones who kind of pushed me to get out there and do something with it.
What made you overcome that shyness and finally embrace being on stage and performing music in front of people?
The first time I ever sang in front of anybody was at church. I guess what got me over it was just really wanting to do it. I sang for my close family and stuff like that. But then I sang for my friends and all of them were like, “You sound pretty good. You oughta just do it.” I was just taking what they told me and it made me a little bit more confident. I was like, “Well, if they’re telling me I sound decent, then maybe I sound decent.” I started videotaping myself and listening back to it. But what really made me get up there and do it was I just told myself, “Hey man, the only way to get up there and do it is if you do it.” So the more I did it, I just got used to it.
I’m curious, growing up and even now, who are some of your musical influences? Who are some of the artists who inspire you?
Definitely growing up, my mom and dad always had Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers or Atlanta Rhythm Section, southern rock, they always had that bumpin’. Then my grandparents always had on Johnny Cash and Conway Twitty, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, stuff like that. But my biggest influences are probably Lynyrd Skynyrd and George Strait.
I want to talk about this new single, “When I Met You.” What is the story behind that song?
The story behind that song is I was kind of wild; I guess you could say I was kind of like hell on wheels and I didn’t care about living. I didn’t care if the sun came up. I met this girl, and she kind of changed me, kind of calmed me down. I feel like [she] made me become a better person, a better man, because I used to be kind of wild. I would have different girlfriends and I liked to drink and liked to party, stuff like that. I met some good girls along the way and I always ran them off by being wild and being dumb. But then I met her and it kind of changed me. So that’s pretty much the story behind it.
I always love hearing about the songwriting process. So I was wondering if you could give me a glimpse into that for this song. Are you someone who always has to write by yourself? Do you like collaborating with others? Did this come easily?
The songwriting process for this song was fairly easy because the girl I wrote it about… I had been with her for a little while and it just kind of hit me one day. I was kind of in my feelings, or whatever, and I was like, “She’s really changed me.” I always said I would never settle down or I would never quit doing this stuff. So I just sat down and I kind of came up with a little melody on the guitar first and had the idea in my head. But I write a majority of all my stuff by myself. My Dad will get in there with me sometimes just because he’ll be around me and he’ll spit a line or two or he’ll be like, “What about this?” But most of the time, I write all my stuff on my own. But I have done some co-writes and I enjoy those too. It’s just finding that right co-writer or co-writing team that you just get together and gel with. I’ve been with some where we sit around and it just wasn’t a good team, as far as writing. But I write mostly everything on my own. I like that I can get in the zone and not really feel scared to throw out ideas because sometimes when I’m writing for someone else, I feel scared to throw out what I’m thinking because I don’t want them to think that’s stupid or corny.
Then, in terms of when you went in and actually recorded this song, what was that process like? Was this song recorded in one single session or did it take a little time? Once you got into the recording session, did the song change at all?
Well, I record with a few different producers, both out of Nashville, but I recorded that song with Kenny Royster. He’s actually the same producer that produced Luke Combs’ “Hurricane”, that went platinum. But how the whole process goes, I record it on my phone or something, get a little rough draft and then I’ll send it to Kenny. He’ll get his team to come in and they listen to it. They play it back, and they chart it out and everything. Then, they can usually lay the music down in one or two takes; they don’t play no games. I’ll get in there the first day and they’ll lay the music down. I’ll get to hear it, then I’ll do my track vocals while they’re playing along. Then the next day, I’ll come back in and lay down the vocal we plan on keeping. Then he brings in background vocals and he’ll put his magic to it. But yeah, that was pretty much it. That’s probably one of my favorite parts about songwriting… is taking your song and your idea and taking it into the studio and seeing it all come to life. Kenny really does a good job of bringing them to life.
That’s awesome. I didn’t realize you started by recording on your phone and then send that rough idea to them and have them chart it from there. I think that’s so cool.
A lot of times, when I first write one, and I like it or whatever, I’ll take it to the guys in my band and they’ll come up with some stuff and we’ll kind of start playing it out at shows. And I’m not knocking what my band does because I feel like I have a decent band, but they’re not studio musicians, they’re entertainers. So once we take it to studio musicians, they really come to life.
Yeah, their job is to figure it out so it sounds good on the recording.
I feel like if I’m going to be putting music out I’m trying to compete with everybody else that’s up there, big time, bigger than me. If I don’t have something that can compete with what they got then I’m losing.
Yeah, for sure. I know you’ve got your first full-length album coming out next year. Is it finalized enough you know how many songs are on it and what people can expect from it?
It’ll probably have about 10 or 12 songs on it. I’ve pretty much got everything recorded. I might go back in and record two or three more that are unreleased as of right now. They aren’t recorded or anything. But I’m going to call the album “When I Met You,” so the album will be titled after the single. But yeah, it’ll be about 10 or 12 songs on there.
Are you going to work with Kenny on this one too?
Yeah, Kenny’s done a majority of the songs. I also have another producer that I use. His name is Colt Capperune and he’s also really good. I don’t know if you’ve heard of him or not, but he produced three or four tracks off the album.
As an up-and-coming artist, you obviously spend a lot of time on the road, playing shows and having to get your name out there. What is your favorite part about spending so much time on the road and the worst part about spending so much time on the road?
My favorite part about being on the road is just getting out there, meeting new people, making new fans and being able to play music and have fun with my buddies in the band. We get to do what we love for a living and that’s probably the best thing about it. The hardest thing about it is being away from home and being away from everybody that you love and care about.
Do you have a favorite city or favorite couple of cities to visit and play shows in?
Well, one of my favorites cities that I’ve played in is Los Angeles. I love the west coast, so that’s probably one. And then I like playing back home. I’m from a little, small town called Swansea, South Carolina. There’s a country bar back home called Ozzie’s Country Island and that’s kind of where I started. So we do a show there maybe once every couple of months. Since I’m from there we have a pretty good turnout. That’s probably one of my favorite places in Columbia, South Carolina. But I have a few favorite venues. It’s hard to for me to just name one.
I definitely get that. Like I said earlier, you’re still relatively new to the music game. What are some music industry related goals or benchmarks that you’re aiming to reach in the next couple of years?
I’m just trying to get my name out there as much as I can and get my numbers up as far as like my followers and all that for social media. I’ve gotten “When I Met You” on some playlists, but I really would like to get on a few of the bigger Spotify playlists, like New Boots. I’ve had some meetings with labels and stuff like that, but try to get some more labels, get more bigger labels’ attention. I believe in what I’m doing. If I didn’t believe in it, I don’t know who else is going to believe in it if I can’t believe in it, you know? But I do, and I’m sure everybody does, but I feel like I do have what it takes to be on that level. [So now it’s about] just getting out there and getting my stuff in the right hands and get some radio play and stuff like that.
For sure. So last question — our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner-nerd. So what is something that you nerd out about?
I definitely nerd out about guitars or music and stuff. I don’t know… if I was going to nerd about something it’d probably be guitars and just [the] theory of it all. People that don’t do music don’t think about it. You know, somebody that doesn’t do music might think that’s kind of nerdy like, “Oh, he’s freaking out about some kind of scale on the guitar.” But I’d say guitars.
Do you collect guitars or is it just whenever you see one you’re like, “Oh my gosh, that’s so cool?”
I’ve got a few guitars. I’d like to say, I guess, I collect them. But I just like guitars. And when I see a cool one I’ll freak out about it.