With a debut EP under his belt, sadHAPPY is the artist you want to keep an eye on in the next months.
sadHAPPY (formerly known as Aaron Smith) has been working on his debut EP, Say Goodbye, for a couple of years, crafting his sound and lyrics to deliver an EP that blends an array of emotions and sounds. sadHAPPY‘s lyrics are introspective and about topics that everyone can relate to.
Before the release of the EP Say Goodbye we caught up with sadHAPPY to talk about the new release, his creative process and his journey until now.
The 5 track EP includes the previously released singles ‘America’ and ‘Dance Again’, the lead single ‘Say Goodbye’, ‘Love Me Like I Am Nothing’ and ‘Superlow’. For sadHAPPY, the EP has been an almost two-year process, with revisiting old songs from the archive for then putting together an EP that feels raw and emotional at times but always inspired by what’s been going on in his life.
‘Say Goodbye’ is both the title of your new single and debut EP. What is the song about? What can you say about the song?
It’s a very love universal thing about saying goodbye to someone. I try to write lyrics about what I feel at the moment, touching topics like anxiety and loss. A lot of the songs are based on my feelings and emotions, but I write them in a way that people can still take their meaning away from them.
For readers who don’t know you yet, How did you first get into making music? What made you think, ‘I want to do this’?
I started playing guitar when I was younger, between the age of 7 and 8. Then I started basking, and that gave me the confidence to sing. That brought me to a songwriting course, plus some workshops and I got a test for it. With my old manager, whom I met through the songwriting course, I went on a tour at the end of it. There were four people who would get selected for this. You would write your songs and then do a little tour in Scotland and each artist that was on it would go play a show in their hometown and you would end up with a tour manager.
This gave me a taste of what music was like and I loved that. So I just kept going. I signed my first publishing deal and worked my way up from that. That’s the story pretty much up until just now.
During your creative process and testing materials, who gives you feedback most of the time?
I don’t have one person as such. I try and let people who aren’t involved in the music industry listen to it because I feel like they see it in such a different light, like someone who loves your music at the end of the day. I go to friends a lot of the time. Sometimes I go to my management, sometimes I go to my friend Lucy, who signed me to the label that I’m on.
Did it ever happen to you to disagree with producers or music industry insiders about a specific part of a song or an entire song and say “I really want it and done it that way’?
I get that quite a lot, but I think that’s a positive thing because if you’re like “No, it has to sound like this” or “No, this is, I want to go with this”, that shows that you’re sure of what you want and, at the end of the day, you’re the leader. It’s your song and they’re there to facilitate and collaborate with. But I think ultimately at the end of the day, if it’s your song, you need to go in and be like “No, this is it” and stick to it.
So I feel like I’m very good at doing that now. I wasn’t at the start because I hadn’t been writing for a long time, but I’ve been writing for a good few years now. So I feel like I’m confident in myself to be able to say “No, we should do this” and I think a lot of producers and writers are quite happy with that as well.
Through your journey and now, what are your biggest inspirations both musically and in your life?
Artists that got me into music are Chris Martin from Coldplay and John Mayer; he is amazing. And that’s kind of who I was looking up to when I was learning to play guitar and trying to improve my craft; it was John Mayer who I’d listen to, even if his songs are difficult to play. Bon Iver was a big, big one for me. When I was younger, I listened to a lot post hardcore, like, Bring Me The Horizon and Sleeping With Sirens.
Now I listen to everything, and some of the artists whom I aspire to, artists I get a lot of inspiration from and from their live shows are Fred Again, Bon Iver and Calvin Harris. Novo Amor, I love them. Still Coldplay… There are loads of different ones, but those are the “examples” and who I aspire to be on live stages.
BBC Introducing, BBC Radio 1 Future Pop, new single and new EP… What’s next for sadHAPPY? Are you going to have any live shows?
Live shows are definitely happening, but unfortunately, I am not going to play a guitar on stage, so I’m putting more thought into the live sets. We’re taking the time to build that. I’ve been writing loads for the next project. I’ve been focusing mainly on that and getting the live shows up and running. Very excited!
Your name, sadHAPPY, is a combination of opposite feelings but these feelings can co-exist at the same time and we are all trying to embrace both of them and living our daily lives. Embracing the happy moment, the highs, it’s easy so do you have any suggestion on how to embrace the sad moments and the lows?
When we’re happy, we like to talk about it, but when we’re sad, we don’t. So I think just making sure that we still talk when we’re sad as well. That’s the biggest thing for me; the whole meaning behind sadHAPPY was being the best version of myself today but still acknowledging that I have really, really shitty days, like anxiety and depression and stuff like that. But still acknowledging that as well.
The only suggestion I have is to talk. Talking to somebody was the only way that I got through anything; it was just telling somebody how I felt, no matter who it was. Sometimes I’d go into sessions, I’d never met the person before and I’d be feeling so shit, but I just had to get it out. I would tell somebody how I was feeling; it just takes the power out once you’ve told somebody. That would be my biggest suggestion.
It’s a great suggestion because it’s not easy to talk most of the time.
It’s not and I can only speak for myself as a male, but for a long time, it was very difficult for me to talk, just to say how I was feeling because it wasn’t very manly. But when I did it, I took some time out of music to work through all that and realised that it is really good to talk. Suddenly, I wasn’t feeling as bad all the time. Hopefully, that’s a good advice in some ways.
It’s a very good advice. On your Instagram you posted a video of the five things that make you feel better every day: morning coffee, making music, light a candle, writing and watching Big Bang Theory. Are they still the same or has something changed?
Nah, I don’t drink coffee anymore because I was getting panic attacks and ditched Big Bang Theory. I’ve watched that too many times. I love making music, eating food, and being with my family. I love working. That’s the biggest thing for me; not very many people get to say that, but actually, I love my job and I love being on the go constantly. I’d say they’ve probably changed a little bit since then.
sadHAPPY debut EP Say Goodbye is out on all streaming platforms.