Track x Track: Sakr - 'Structures' EP

Track x Track: Sakr - 'Structures' EP

Aussie production wiz takes us through his deep and emotional debut EP of alt-electronic-pop, track by track

Image credit: Supplied

After years of honing his skills in the studio, both through his own music and contributing to releases from the likes of The Veronicas, Alt-J, and G Flip, as well as collaborations with acclaimed songwriters such as Sarah Aarons (Zedd, Dua Lipa), Carly Rae Jepsen, Alex Hope (Troye Sivan), and Justin Tranter (Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber), Sakr’s debut EP Structures is finally here.

Written across a range of cities and continents including influences from the Berlin underground as well as the pulsating energy of London, Structures sees Sakr delve deep into the human psyche with six tracks of introspective, engrossing and exploratory electronic productions.

Fusing elements from alternative and pop influences into addictive compositions, the music on Structures calls to mind what might happen if the likes of James Blake, Burial and Overmono were to jump in the studio together.

Speaking on the EP, Sakr explains “The Structures EP is a letter to the framework of who I am. Who I am has always been a complex question for me, both in my personal life and my creative life. Sakr exists, so I can. Naturally, the songs encourage the listener to explore themselves and hopefully find parts they need, never knew, or love.

To celebrate the release of Structures, Sakr was kind enough to dive deep into the record for Pilerats, track by track:

Cruel

I wrote ‘Cruel’ as a message to the echo chamber of anxiety. I have been in the claustrophobic hold of anxiety from as far back as I can remember. I always wanted to write about it feeling like a physical space because it causes such a physical reaction in me. So, not only did I write lyrically about walls without corners, mazes without endings, overgrown pictures. But sonically, I wanted to paint the juxtaposition of feeling closed in by so much harsh and heavy thought but also feeling completely alone so the verses and bridge are quite minimal, and the main sections are dense to mirror that concept. The main materials used in the song's production are two Elektron boxes, the Analog4mkii and the AnalogRytmmkii, a UDO Super6, and a modular system, all threaded together by Ableton. All closed boxes with their own maze of chips and hardware inside.

Everywhere And Nowhere

‘Everywhere and Nowhere’ I wrote, reflecting on the paradox of being present yet absent. I have been incredibly fortunate to travel around the world to some beautiful places and write music. But sometimes, I’m so lost in my own head when I finally come up for air; the beautiful places I’ve been can feel like an unsure memory or a dream. ‘Everywhere And Nowhere’ has a lot of parallels in its creation to its meaning. The idea started in Berlin, was worked on further in Sydney, and then finished in London. This little universe of a song didn’t know where it wanted to be. I made the track with a lot of re-sampling. I’d make a sound, push it one way, feed it through this machine, that machine, break it, and fold it until the sound itself was unsure what it was and where it came from, sounding completely different to its first state. The final level of this was Stan Kyberts Atmos mix, leveraging the immersion of Atmos having these sounds move around a 3d globe as if unsure whether they are in Berlin, Sydney or London.

Dust

‘Dust’ is about being unsure of where I am from and where I am going. I have painted this with ambiguous, introspective lyrics and delicate, minimal production. The creative choice to have minimal production in the chorus and very little in the verse is to create no grounding. The song itself isn’t sure where to move. I was also unsure about this song making it onto the EP, and this came from an insecure point of view. I am a producer artist, and singing is fairly new to me. My comfort lies in dense textural production, so this, being mainly vocals, was scary. But the EP really didn’t feel right without it. Funny for a song that has no grounding. Somehow, it’s taught me that maybe not knowing is a part of it, too.

Folds (Interlude)

‘Folds’ is the interlude in the Structures EP, which was created solely on a modular synthesiser. This is important because Folds represents the irreversible nature of change. Once a structure breaks, it cannot be rebuilt in the same way. (Once a page is folded, it can’t have a smooth surface again.) This concept is reflected in modular synthesis. There are too many variables within a patch that once it’s unpatched it will never be recreated exactly the same way (even temperature comes into play). To me, this temporary element is beautiful, capturing a moment in time that is in collaboration with not only the modules but the air, the temperature, and the electricity; it’s all collaborating. This process brings me tranquillity, and that is reflected in the soft organic nature of the track itself. This was important to have in Structures amidst all its disorder.

Phase

‘Phase’ is a track about complexities I’ve had about my identity, a topic that has taken years and years of therapy even to acknowledge. I grew up really struggling to reconcile with being Lebanese growing up in Australia. Post the 2005 Cronulla riots where I was told it was not safe for me to go to school because I look Middle Eastern. I would lie if I got asked, “Sam, you don’t look like you’re from here. Where are you from?” I would say I was from anywhere my lighter shade of brown skin would pass that wasn’t the Middle East. ‘Phase’ is a song about that cultural discord I had, that battle of being proud to say I’m Australian and Lebanese at the same time. These days, I’m proud to tell people about my Lebanese heritage, the beautiful food, the amazing music; I embrace it. I’ve worked hard to weave some of the drums and scales I grew up listening to at family functions into the Structures EP, and ‘Phase’ has lots of it, the Arabic vocal at the start of the drop and the Arabic percussion running through the whole song, the English lyrics, the four on the floor dance element. The song itself is a collaboration of cultures. (I still find this area of my life hard to put into words. Reading this back, I’m still not sure I’m getting across the feeling of it all)

All I Am

‘All I Am’ is the most vulnerable track on the EP. I have this coping mechanism of shutting down when I don’t understand my feelings amidst relational challenges. The production element of this track is vulnerable, emotive and, at times, cinematic. It’s a bit of a roller coaster at times, being very dense and others sparse, paralleling unsure emotions. ‘All I Am’ is super intimate, and I hope people lose themselves in the song and find their own barriers. (Note: When finding these barriers or parts of you, I have found it’s okay not to know what to do with them. But if you acknowledge they are there to yourself and the people who experience them, it allows you to have some control of them.)

          - Sakr, May 2024

004 Structures 03

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