NewTracks New Artist: Sahara Skye

NewTracks New Artist: Sahara Skye

Sahara Skye McDonald was always a musical kid, having played acoustic guitar since the age of 11. After collaborations with Ryan Enzed in 2016 on a track called Crawling, plus writing and recording a song called Who I Am with Ciaran McMeeken for his latest album, Sahara is now stepping into the limelight on her own. She’s off to a good start with first single Expectations featuring on NZ On Air Music’s NewTracks compilation this June.

What’s the background story of Sahara Skye? Is it just you, or are others directly involved with your music?

It’s just me, haha! I grew up singing and performing ever since I can remember, but always felt songwriting and making a career out of music would be an unachievable challenge, especially for pop music in New Zealand. In 2015 I knew that this was my chance to commit to the process of writing and artists development. All the right people came into my circle, and that’s when the push into writing with LA writers and recording began. I’ve always known my name was a little different, so thought that ‘Sahara’ along with my middle name ‘Skye’ was true to my birth certificate, and would hopefully have a little ring to it.

What makes Expectations stand out for you as a single?

I believe that expectations in relationships are complicated and all people tend to have them. They are somewhere between really low and really high. For me, this song has a message for those that have really high, or just unrealistic expectations. The music and production itself I feel provides the listeners with hope and has an upbeat but yet relaxed way of discussing the ups and downs of the pressures we have on ourselves and others.

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the single?

The bridge in the song is my favourite moment. It feels like an extension of a thought where someone is recognising that we all have a choice to start making things right in the connections we have.

Who did you write and record Expectations with and where? 

I wrote and recorded the song with LA-based singer-songwriter and producer James Wong (Gladius James) in LA. Jimmy and I really love writing together and this song was super special for us as we both wanted to write something that people can just easily relate to. It was one of the quickest songwriting sessions I’ve ever had and we wrote most of the song on the guitar and piano.

Describe in one sentence what you want listeners to take away from this song.

I just want people to hear it and think ‘I just wanna love myself, love others and stop being selfish’.

In general, how do you work out what song would make a good single?

I don’t think you ever really know for sure. I just think if the artist is genuine, confident and the music shows that, it really helps the listener to understand them and the rest follows

Are there any other musical endeavours you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for, with this band or others?

Yes, there are. Most of it is under wraps! But yes still writing and working on the next release. Always working on next steps.

Can you please tell us three other local tunes that should be on a playlist alongside your song.

I would say

  1. Drax Project Woke up Late – amazing vibes from those boys.
  2. Kings You Do
  3. Robinson Nothing to Regret

Have any previous funding applications not been successful? Got any advice for people out there?

None actually – this was the first funding round I applied for and was grateful to have got it! Best advice would be to have not just one song to apply with but have a body of work you are proud of, and if one song doesn’t make the cut, you can try with another.

Was there an NZOA criterion you struggled with in the application? How did you work it out in the end?

I guess it would be the number of the social media followers you need as part of the application. I had plenty of Instagram followers but didn’t have many on Facebook. I think if the panel see you are working on your social media accounts and see the artist is active and trying to increase their social media outreach, then that’s the main thing.

How can we find you on social media?

You can find me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter! Check me out! Haha!