Scotland Uncovered #14: Sarya

Scotland Uncovered #14: Sarya

There are two things I hate. Okay, that’s not true, there are so many things I hate. But in music writing, I hate clichés.

Sarya (photo by Erietta James)

I despise using words that have already been used for music that’s brand new to me. I find myself repeating phrases to compare something that’s entirely original to something else that’s entirely original.

We all do this. The arts critic in the paper and the amateur reviewer scribbling into a notepad; nobody is immune. Most pointedly, though, I’m disinterested in the idea of “bedroom pop”, and the word “ethereal”. Let’s go point by point here: 1. Any kind of music can be made in a bedroom. It says so little about the sound of something that it’s an irrelevance. 2. “Ethereal” is high-concept stuff, yet it gets used for anything with a hint of reverb, from Cocteau Twins to your Uncle’s pub band. It needs to end.

Yet, when I listen to Edinburgh-via-Taiwan artist Sarya, I imagine a heavily postered bedroom, with endless scribbled notes, an 8-track recorder. Sarya’s music is absolutely of a bedroom; it’s personal, it comes from a private space where feelings are uncensored and at their rawest. Sarya’s music is blunt-force lyricism meeting with cloudy, video game-inspired synth sonics.

It’s – dare I say – ethereal. 

New track ‘i’ll break my heart (so you don’t have to)’ is a 5-minute long ode to loneliness, with buzzsaw synths over puffy clouds of NES-era keyboards. Their voice cradles intense emotion within infectious melodies, introspective, diary entry lyrics which reflect a year plus of isolation and heartbreak.

“I am happy to know you / and not expect anything / I’ll break my heart so you don’t have to”

It’s unsurprising to learn that Sarya is a poet and performer, as well as a musician. Yet, rather than filling every bar with commentary, they have incredible restraint, doing more with less. There’s something endearingly late 00s about the production, something “Tumblr-core” in the post-Postal Service keys and vocal melodies.

Already with a relatively hefty back catalogue, I am all the worse for having not known Sarya’s music. Don’t be like I was. It’s so difficult to find beauty in this moment; now you’ve read this you have no excuse to let some light in.

[Euan Davidson]


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