In conversation with Azraq Sahara

Recently I attended an event at Mabgate Bleach called Sour Times. The night was part of a tour by Newcastle-based band Headclouds. They were supported by two-piece emo band Baby Names and New York rock band Fat Spatula. Sub-headlining the night was Azraq Sahara, a Manchester based band made up of Sara, George and Louis who describe their music as “Desert Goth”, “surf guitars and jungle drums mixed with Mediterranean influences, from folk and Eastern melodies to sea sounds and desert winds”. Immediately intrigued by this, and the fact they were the only band out of the four on the line up to include a female, I got in touch with lead singer and guitarist Sara D. Satàn to find out how a web designer from Athens winds up playing a gig in a decommissioned textile mill in Leeds.

What made you move to Manchester?

I moved here with George last February from Athens. We wanted to travel and play music, so what better place to start from than the birthplace of some of our favourite musicians? The Smiths, Stone Roses, Joy Division: we’re big fans.

What’s the biggest different between the music scene in Athens and here in the UK? 

There is so much more happening here compared to Greece, which could be a good and a bad thing. For a new artist, trying to seek more opportunities to play and share their music, it’s a great place to do that.

Do you have any experiences of being treated differently to other band members or other bands due to being female?

Of course I have. I used to play in a girl band when I first started and although hearing bitter comments every now and then, it was when I joined a friends’ band when I truly felt it. I have been described as the ‘pretty, but not the “real” guitarist’ (whatever that means) of the band, I have seen surprised looks on promoters’ faces when meeting the all-male band and seeing a girl replacement on the guitar. Most of the times it was funny, other times it just motivated me even more to do what I wanted to do. I never really cared about what others had to say on what I am doing and how I’m doing it, so I wouldn’t let situations like that affect me, but I know how someone else in my place could be affected by negative comments and actions. My advice to all these girls is to keep on doing what they’re doing. They’re probably intimidated by you.

Have you had many experiences of being on a bill with other female-fronted bands?

Strangely, I have played with more female musicians in Greece than here. I recorded my debut album Radamenes back in 2015 with my friends Nefeli on drums and Chrysanthi on guitar and I have always collaborated with women either through my music or our art collective Sæle. I was surprised to see so very few female musicians at our gigs here, but the times we did share the stage with female performers, they were all amazing! There’s something about the energy a woman performer has that is captivating. The world needs more women artists out there, on the stages, on the screens. It’s time to share our thoughts and views about the world through our eyes.

How would you describe your sound? 

My music influences are so diverse so it feels natural to combine a lot of different styles when writing a song. I would describe the sound as a blend of lo-fi beach pop and darker desert psych with surf guitars and Eastern melodies.

What’s next for the band?

New songs! I am so excited to be working on new material now. Some of them will be included on our next release, but we’ll be sharing a sneak peek before that.

You can find Azraq Sahara on bandcamp, Spotify, iTunes and you can buy their cassette RADAMENES through their record label TBMR Records.

Megan Jones

Image: courtesy of Sour Times, a month night of diverse music, art and film from emerging artists both local and nationwide. Find them on Facebook here

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