Interviews

Sarah P. chats her stunning new Maenads video trilogy

Over the past number of months, Sarah P. has been building her Maenads video trilogy. Across the three videos, the Berlin-based artist has created something stunning and startling.

So coming off the release of the trilogy’s final instalment, we caught up with Sarah P. to chat about how the videos came together, the visual elements of music, and what the future holds.

Fresh off the release of the final instalment of her Maenads video trilogy, we caught up with Berlin-based artist Sarah P. for a chat.

HAPPY: Hey, how’s it going? What are you up to at the moment?

SARAH: I’m currently celebrating the final chapter of my Maenads trilogy and slowly shifting towards my next album that’s called Plotting Revolutions. I’m about to get in the studio and rework the songs. You see, Plotting Revolutions was actually recorded before Maenads EP. It’s truly exciting times and I’m very much looking forward to delving into this new project. Research, experiment, create!

HAPPY: We’ve been loving the entire Maenads trilogy! How does it feel having the whole series out there in the world?

SARAH: Thank you so much! I had been dreaming of creating an audiovisual series for a long time and I finally made it. It was my first time directing and I couldn’t have done it without my Athenian/Berlin team. As a creator, when your work is published, you experience all kinds of emotions. Especially because I’ve been so candid about the symbolisms in my videos (memories of the past, finding empowerment, facing up my mental health struggles and more), it’s like I’m becoming an open book for everyone interested to read. This is exhilarating and fulfilling, but also terrifying. I choose to focus on the positive feelings and take in the love and sweetness I receive. I’m truly grateful to all those listening to my music and watching my videos. The support of these people gives me the strength to go on!

HAPPY: Did you always intend for these songs to be used in this way? Or was that a decision you made later in the process?

SARAH: I initially wrote most of the Maenads EP songs for a play, but I ended up loving them too much to keep them for myself. I spontaneously decided to go to the studio last summer and film the videos while in Athens. All this spontaneity was very out-of-character for me – I’m usually an over-thinker. Throughout the process, I learned to go with the flow and trust my instincts. I found the whole process very empowering. I worked really hard for this EP – harder than ever, but I was rewarded in the end. I now see the production of Maenads EP and the visual trilogy as a turning point in my life – a transformative moment. I learned to trust myself more and hopefully, through my songs and moving pictures, the people listening and watching will feel the same way for themselves, too.

HAPPY: You’ve held a pretty consistently high standard with all of your video releases… has the visual element of music always been a consideration for you?

SARAH: I studied acting when I was younger – I guess this is where it’s coming from. During my drama school years, I learned to act, write and direct, find the right props and build the costumes, do my hair and makeup for the role. That’s why I treat my art in the same, well-rounded way. Whatever I create – whether it’s a song, a video, a writeup, I want it to be an experience. I think it’s only fair. Every day, there’s so much information out there for the world to consume. There’s room for everyone to express themselves, and I want to take up my space proudly, without wasting it. I use my art as a platform to share my own set of values and ideals, and hopefully, connect with like-minded people. For me, visuals are a more direct and meaningful way to say “hi” and “thank you” to the people stopping by. It’s an easier way to connect with them.

HAPPY: How do you think visual accompaniment enhances one’s listening experience? If at all…

SARAH: I think it’s different for every artist and even more different for the music lovers who are consuming the art. If I talk for myself/my work, I think it truly depends on the listener – it’s up to them if they’ll dive in the visual world I created, or not. I always encourage everyone to make my songs their own. That’s why there’s a certain subtlety and ambiguity in my videos – I don’t want impose too much of my own aesthetics and visions. My videos are meant to be a gentle pat on the shoulder, saying “we’re in this together”. In that sense, it’s (hopefully) indeed enhancing the listening experience. It’s becoming more personal and less demanding, in the sense “I just released a song, you can stream it here and there”.

HAPPY: Were there any overarching themes you looked to explore across the three songs/videos?

SARAH: Many! As I said before, I like to keep things “ambiguous,” but I reassure you that everything is intentionally placed/acted/edited, in a way that at least makes sense to me. Maenads EP was about coming to terms with the past – not necessarily forgiving, but also learning to stop feeling guilty for not being at a point to forgive quite yet. Sometimes, we tend on dwelling on the past, and because we’re really set on what happened, we forget to look at things from a different angle. Everyone is carrying their own baggage and we can’t possibly know about what each of us is going through. As long as our interactions are carried out with respect, civilisation and humanity, I think we’re good to go. Naturally, the video series became about surrounding myself with familiar faces and creating art together. Creating this album and the visuals for it was a very wholesome experience and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

HAPPY: Could you walk us through how each video came together? Who was involved?

SARAH: Brace yourself because I have a big team! I worked with friends and family for this video series. Mneme featured Clio Arvaniti and Dora Pantazopoulou, as Aoide and Melete. They’re both like sisters to me – they’ve always been around, since I can remember myself, so it was pretty natural to perform as the three sisters/original, ancient Greek muses. The video was filmed in Dora’s garden, by my friend George Geranios who served as the Director of Photography for Mneme, Lotus Eaters and for the additional visuals on Maenads. Lotus Eaters featured Clio and Dora, as well as Nefeli Theodotou and Rania Ainiti, cast as maenads. The makeup for that video was done by the incredible Sophia Sarigiannidou. It was filmed at a typical Athenian building that was built in the 70s. Rumour has it that it used to be a casino, back in the days! Maenads was filmed in two stages. We first filmed in Athens together with the core team (George, Clio, Dora, Rania and a new addition Marianna Pagrakioti). The makeup this time was done by the talented Apostolia Gogara. We filmed on a rooftop in Athens on a cloudy day. The main part of the video was filmed in Berlin at Theaterhaus. This time Colette Pomerleau served as the Director of Photography and the video featured Sabina Smith-Moreland, cast as the bird. The colouring of all three videos was done by David Hofmann and I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without the support of Robert Helbig of Hellbig Management.

HAPPY: What’s next for Sarah P? Any other exciting plans in the works?

SARAH: Apart from the finishing Plotting Revolutions and producing videos for it, there are lots of other projects I’m continuously working on. Every month, I’m releasing a zine called EraseRestart (eraserestart.com/zine) that’s meant to “erase” the stigma that surrounds mental health and “restart” on new grounds, with more understanding and kindness for those struggling. I’m also advocating for the artists’ rights and currently sitting on a plan that will empower music artists through education. Hopefully, I’ll be able to say more on that very soon!

HAPPY: Cheers for the chat!

SARAH: Thank you!