Meet Sappho - the solo project of Alpine's Phoebe Baker - and its first song, Flex
The iconic Australian voice steps forward with a project of her own, and what a brilliant moment it is.
Header image by Tegan Crowley.
If the voice of newly emerging musician Sappho sounds familiar to you, it's probably because that same voice soundtracked some of Australia's indie-pop heights over the last decade. The project is the new solo venture from Phoebe Baker, previously best known as the lead vocalist behind Alpine - the Melbourne-based outfit whose journey recently came to an end, as the group announced they had disbanded shortly after releasing their 2019 single Dumb.
Sappho, however, features Phoebe Baker and her musicianship in the sole spotlight, emphasising the peaks of her creative vision - one we've had the please of seeing for much of the last decade - but this time with her full control. As she explains, the project - named after the name her parents were considering for her, before choosing Phoebe - blossomed throughout 2018, as she began exploring musical ideas without the greater Alpine crew. Then, when the band eventually fizzled out, Sappho took the spotlight; Phoebe pushing her creative passion into the new solo endeavour from there on out.
Now, with the release of Sappho's debut single Flex, we get a proper introduction what to expect, and another example of Phoebe Baker's everlasting artistic brilliance but this time, in its most potent and undisturbed form. Flex is a bright, funk-pop-like single that moulds together decades of musical influence and inspiration into a short, three-minute burst; nods to acts scattered throughout 90s pop music - Madonna an obvious one - intertwining itself with Phoebe's signature vocal and the dancier production that underlays it.
It's an empowering moment too, not just in the context of the single - which we'll let Sappho herself talk about in a second - but also in it being a long time coming for Phoebe, who at this point, having a solo venture to her name feels like a heralding moment that's bound to further solidify her craft and its place within bold and forward-thinking Australian music.
"Flex is about realising you have innate strength and that you can nourish and support that within yourself," she says on the single. "You can fight for yourself, fight to love yourself, and by singing it you can let others know that they too can find that strength and resolve. This song is an unabashed mantra, an invocation of inner strength and a celebration of following your heart.
"Writing Flex was a cathartic pop moment in my life. I felt like I was uncovering all my childhood pop dreams at the same time as releasing a sentiment of power I had never really allowed myself to say. I felt as though I was summoning my own strength and the strength of love in those around me. This song is a happy place."
Take a dive into the single below, and underneath that, introduce yourself to the Sappho project as it readies its aim for a big year ahead.
Tell us about yourself?
I am Sappho and I want to make your pop dreams come true. Sappho was born eating a mango in a volcano on a tropical island in the pacific. Sappho is in love with making music. Sappho is searching for freedoms just like you.
What’s your music like? What does it sound like? What kind of themes does it usually cover?
My music is pop music, but pop music that takes inspiration from all my heroes growing up in the 90’s. It’s kind of silly and kind of earnest, and when I sing it I feel like I am evoking primal fantasies at the same time as likely being a dork.
What are your production and writing processes usually like?
Every song is different. A song might take a week, a month, a day. But when I write with my friend Rob, it kind of just spills out. It’s like we’d been waiting to collaborate with each other, collaborational magic. We work on the tracks till they sit just right, and with this project we try not to overthink it, or overwork it. We’re trying hard to work well with our intuition.
Can you tell us a bit about this new single, Flex?
Flex is about fighting for your heart, your art, what you believe in, yourself, your loved ones. It’s about realising your own strength, a strength that’s always there to tap into. When I wrote it I was definitely seeking and finding my own flex.
What do you have planned for 2021?
To play for you on the stage, I’m desperate to prance and sing and slam my body on the stage.
What do you want people to take away from your work?
A pinch of sensual salt.
Where can we find more of your music?
More is coming soon, on all the socials and streamies, and you can find more when you come see me play.