Focus: Tobias Sarra | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Who are you?
Tobias Sarra: multi-instrumentalist | improviser | songwriter | sound worker
What is it you do?
I make surreal improvised DIY acoustic soundworlds and neo-shamanic dream folk. I write songs and I improvise, sometimes both at the same time.
Beyond that, I tend to drift a lot between genres – I’m 1/4 of Shunyata Improvisation Group; we make zen-influenced ambient durational improvisation. I’m also lead singer of a prog metal band in Latvia called Mattergy, and then there’s this stuff. I find it hard to keep up sometimes. 
How long have you been doing it?
I’ve been writing songs for as long as I can remember – it’s gone through so many different manifestations but it’s always been there. This current manifestation’s been building for about a year or so. I’ve had a few shows across the year as Tobias Sarra, all totally different. One was a 2 hour marathon at Cobalt Studios with improvising dancers and musicians working around my songs, that was back in November and it’s a format I’d really like to explore more. 
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by stuff that makes me think, that makes me feel, stuff that makes me stop and listen. There’s so much power in art, I’m inspired by people using that power for positive change and freedom of expression. I like to keep things fresh and exciting, which is partly why a lot of my music’s improvised – if I see an artist making totally different types of music, or working across different mediums, that really inspires me – I feel it sort of validates my own work. 
I’m also super inspired by nature – stillness and chaos, beauty and devastation in equal measure. 
Tell us about your work/music.
I’ve been improvising for years, writing songs for years, playing in different groups. This is my first solo release as a songwriter since I was a teenager. This single and the work I’ve got coming up, they’re a fusion of the things I’ve gathered on my musical journey – there’s a lot of jazz influence, hip hop, world/ traditional music, devotional music – there’s surrealist stream-of-sound in the lyrics and then there’s this anti-art sentiment inspired by Newcastle’s industrial underground scene, Fluxus and artists like Tori Kudo. So it’s a bit of a melting pot. A friend described one of my concerts as ‘An evening with Mickey Mouse in the bathtub’. So it’s like that, sometimes. At the minute I’m listening to people like Blake Mills, Dawes, Hiss Golden Messenger, Julia Holter – that’s sort of the direction I’m moving in. 
It’s been a whole new process working on this music over lockdown – we recorded some bits before the quarantine in a friend’s bedroom, and the rest has been home studio’d and passed from computer to computer. For ‘Something Natural’, Rob Griffiths did the production, Diji Solanke’s on drums, Adam Sams is on bass clarinet and I’m doing the rest. Anith Bastian did the artwork. 
What have you got coming up in the future?
I’m always working on a thousand different things at once… I’m planning a double single release for mid-September, those songs are basically ready to go, just a bit of touching up needed. My debut album should be ready for release later this year and in the meantime I’m working on some audiovisual work for Blue Rinse. You can keep up with all of that by following my FB, I’m getting increasingly tech savvy as the quarantine continues. 
On top of that, my prog metal band in Latvia (Mattergy) have released 2 singles already this year and we’ve got our first EP launch planned for late August.
Where can people find out more about you?
Facebook –
Soundcloud –
Instagram – 
Youtube – 
Website –
Spotify –
Mattergy – 
Shunyata Improvisation Group –

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