Maverick Sabre has been an important figure in the progression of UK R&B and Soul music, and their relationship with Hip-Hop over the last ten years. Since his debut album, ‘Lonely Are The Brave’, Maverick has enjoyed resounding solo success, and has also collaborated with some of the biggest names on both sides of the Atlantic. We sat down with him to discuss his career to date, writing in a pandemic, and his new album, ‘Don’t Forget To Look Up’:
I’d just like to start by saying that it’s been ten years since ‘Lonely Are The Brave’ came out. What’s that journey been like for you?
Yeah, it’s been an interesting one. It’s been a beautiful journey. I think like, you know, ‘Lonely Are The Brave’ was the first, yeah, the first kind of project apart from like EPs and mixtapes and stuff. It was the first full project that I feel like people got to know me as an artist really, and connected the most with people. It was a record that, you know, helped me tour the world and kind of make all the records from that. So, yeah, it’s been it’s been a beautiful 10 years, you know, there’s been a lot. There’s been a lot of music, there’s been a lot that’s going on. But yeah, it’s been a beautiful journey.
Ten years is a commendable achievement in the music industry. What would you say your longevity has been down to?
I don’t know, I just try and stay as true to myself as possible. I’ve never really been one to make music for anyone other than myself first, and for the people who connect with it really, so I’ve always just tried to maintain that, and what I speak about, and how it feels. Even down to the performances and connection with people who come in and listen to the music. Whether they come to the shows, or buy the music, or just come up to me in the street. I’ve always tried to maintain that connection, so I think that’s probably probably part of it.
Obviously, you’ve got a new album coming out as well, what has been the process behind the making of that?
I suppose the process was quite different from any other record, to be honest, because, you know, the first two albums I’d set out at the start to make albums. The third record kind of came about when I was doing loads of a lot of pop writing sessions and sessions for other people. And then in the evening, I was experimenting and getting back into my own production. That’s kind of where the third album was born. This one came about because it was originally going to be a second part to an EP that I released at the end of 2020, and it was gonna be like, for love tunes. R&B, kind of soul tunes. And then I didn’t put that out and I kind of decided to make it into an album. I think as lockdown kind of persisted, I was just making more stuff at home and the odd sessions I was doing, I was coming up with stuff that just kind of felt like it was joining together as a record. And yeah, I suppose a lot of my records are very reflective of the times and this was kind of me and my own four walls, not really feeling connected to anything other than what was going on in the four walls. So that’s why the record is quite love based, it’s kind of a different twist on our record.
How has the lockdown process effected the outcome of the album? I interviewed Swindle for GRM Daily and he said for his latest project that you guys all came together and had a writing session.
That’s correct. Yeah, the Swindle camp was as much of a fucking therapy session as it was a writing session. I think, you know, for everyone that came out there, it was a period where I don’t think any of us had been doing any other sessions. It was definitely the first group thing we had done since the start a lockdown. Obviously, there’s a lot that’s gone on in in the last couple of years. We were in lockdown on top of lockdown, you know and I feel like a lot of people needed to have conversations, and vent, and write, and Swindle kind of, I just feel like Swindle kind of is like the Yoda of the group. He kind of could feel that from all of us talking and realised we needed to get away. And that’s kind of how that record was born. For me, yeah, I thought I was a bit split, to be honest. At the start of lockdown I was mad creative, and it kind of felt like four o’clock in the morning for me for like a couple of months, three, four months because I felt like the world was switched off and then after that I just missed being around people and I missed hearing stories and, you know, living and experiencing life, and becoming cynical of people’s opinions on lies and truthfulness. It was a kind of whirlwind things that were going on. So yeah, it definitely affected the writing, some for the better and some for the worse.
And you collaborated with some interesting people on this new album. What has it been like working with such different talent?
Especially for my albums I never try and force any collaborations. I think, one thing that I’ve learned as time has gone on is that, yeah, I’m not really a person that likes to force any collaboration. There’s got to be a mutual love and respect and the records have just got to come about naturally, everyone on the record and that’s what it was. I’ve known Demae since ‘Hawk House’ days and we signed at a similar period of time. I always loved her as a singer, as a person, and as a spirit. So I was wanting to do some stuff with her. Sasha Keable is a friend that I’ve known for years and we’ve just never gotten on a record but we’ve always loved and respected each other’s music. And then Nile Rodgers, who’s done some guitar work on the last song on the record. He’s someone else who I’ve just jammed with a couple of times, written some stuff for other people with him, and just jammed with him and just got on with him really well. I played him the record just as a kind of friend and as a fan of him and and he really loved the record and I was just kind of, you know, honoured to have any element of Nile Rodgers on the record.
You’ve always had an interest in Hip-Hop and collaborated with rappers throughout your career. Is that something which you listen to regularly yourself?
Yeah, you know, I started making boom bap beats. I started spitting before I was singing, and I only started singing because I came from a small town and I had no singers around me that could sing my choruses but I was a spitter, I wanted to be a spitter, I still am a spitter, I still view myself as a spitter and I still write as a spitter. I’ve still got like, you know, a million spitting albums that I’ve never released in full. You can hear it though on my record, you can hear through the people I’ve collaborated with in this type of music and kind of production that I’ve gone for. Over the record, you can hear the influence. I suppose you know, I wouldn’t have been so deeply inspired by soul music or jazz music if it wasn’t for hip hop, hip hop connected all the dots for me. So yeah, that’s always probably the closest, closest sound to my heart.
You’ve made tracks with legends of the scene both in the UK and America. Has there been anyone in particular you have collaborated with from the world Hip-Hop who has blown you away?
Yeah, there’s been a couple, like obviously, I’m a big Joey Badass fan. That first Joey badass album. His debut album, I love that record, and I feel like it was kind of one of the staples of that new era of traditional Hip-Hop that I’m really proud that I was was a part of. Yeah, and there’s some of the new heads as well like I’ve done some stuff for for Kojaque’s record, done some stuff on on the new Kojey Radical record. It just excites me whenever I get into the studio with these guys.
I was wondering what your thoughts are on the UK R&B scene at the moment, because there are obviously people coming through right now like Children of Zeus, who have had a really great year, but then you can see people like Ella Mai and Ling Hussle who can’t break through here and go elsewhere. What do you think about the UK R&B scene model?
Yeah, I think like, I think maybe what Ella Mai showed is that the the UK is massively supportive of its own music, but in a lot of areas it’s not. And I think maybe R&B is one of them areas where Ella Mai and numerous people over the years have kind of shown it as well. You go to the States and you get far more love, where, you know, the UK should be supporting the Ella Mai’s of this world and they shouldn’t need to go to the States to blow. Why does it need to take America to recognise the talents that we’ve got in the UK? I don’t think that’s a good thing. Children of Zeus for me are one of the best acts in general in the UK. It’s beautiful music, yeah, but I just don’t know if it gets the right amount of support in the UK. And I don’t know if that’s, I don’t think that’s a listenership problem because there’s a massive R&B listenership in the UK. Stars from the states have been blown up and their music has been massively popular in the UK for years and years through many different generations so it’s not that there’s not the listenership for R&B. I don’t know what it is, but it’s not supported massively by the industry itself, which is sad. But yeah, there’s some great singers out there. Jvck James, James Vickery, there’s some great singers.
Also you have your tour in the UK coming up this March, how excited are you to get back out there?
Good man, anyone who’s been to any kind of music show knows the power of going to live music shows. You know, whether it’s fucking rocking or moshing or jumping around and throwing yourself on the floor, sitting down quietly listening to an orchestra or whatever it is, what kind of floats your boat. If you’ve been to a music show, and it’s affected you in some way you realise that it’s kind of, like a church for people. As cliche as it sounds, it can be as healing and connecting, as it’s meant to be in music shows. There’s a reason why, up until, before lockdown, I feel like there’s more festivals than there ever was and it wasn’t just like, old, you know, 60 year olds trying to hold on to memories of the past. It was reinvigorated by a new young generation now. We’re enjoying going to see live music and live acts in front of them and not, you know, in the age of technology. I think we need to get back to that. I think that’s the essence of music. It’s the essence of why we listen to music, to connect with music. I just think, yeah, I’m at the moment whereI just need to get back and be back around people. I’m not on any of these, Zoom or whatever. These new age, Metaverse concerts. I want to be around real people. I mean, we’re having physical experiences and I think most people, most people want to be in a venue or a festival, having a drink, rocking out, listening to fucking tunes.
Finally, aside from touring the album coming out, have you got anything else planned for 2022?
Like I said, even just speaking to you here and saying, like, I’ve got spitting projects in the vault. I don’t like saying that, I need to put that shit out. So it’s gonna be more music. I’m just yeah, II’ve put albums out every couple of years, but I’m refiguring out a way of, of not keeping so much music in the stash. I think, you know, this is definitely a time for releasing smartly but releasing as much music as I can. We’re all here, you know what I mean? And traveling more and touring more. That’s my main thing is like reconnecting with people. We’ve been away for two years. The world’s been locked away for two years. So I think music and touring and traveling is my priority right now.
You can stream Maverick’s new album, ‘Don’t Forget To Look Up’, here.