In this exclusive, the soulful Sabrina Claudio opens up on what it means to truly be vulnerable.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

For some, their love for music came out of passion from the get-go. For Sabrina Claudio, it was different. Music was (and still is) one of her many passions, but she never took it seriously until she decided to give YouTube a try. “I started posting covers and from all the positive feedback I was getting I took it more seriously,” she explained during a phone interview with #TeamCLEO. Once she experienced what it was like to be in a studio, to create and write her own music, she found her passion and delved deeper and deeper into music. And we’re so glad she did.

Her voice teeters between smooth and sultry; it keeps pulling you in, making you feel everything. Sabrina admits that she’s an introvert in real life — using music to express how she’s truly feeling.

Listening to Sabrina’s discography will take you on a ride of emotions, as the vulnerability in her voice is clear. “I find that being vulnerable is important — not just for the sake of expressing something but also to show that I’m not afraid to get emotional. Even if it’s for somebody else’s story.” She admits she likes being the vessel for others and the only way to be that is showing that side. “Not everybody has the capability of expressing themselves in that way so I just find it easier for me to open up when I’m writing music.”

With how personal and emotional her songs can be, one might think she takes inspiration from things that have happened to her but that’s not usually the case. “Before I started working with songwriters, I used to write all of my songs about conversations that I’ve had with people in my life that have gone through things — whether it’s relationships or just life experiences.”

There’s no method to her songwriting process either, “it really just depends on the day”. When she’s in the studio, it depends on who’s in the room and who she’s working with. “Is there sunlight? Or lack of it? It really depends on the day. I mainly get inspired by whatever it is we’re creating at the moment. I never go into my sessions knowing what I’m going to write about. No restrictions, no limitations; it just has to be the right day with the right people and the right vibe.”

Her sound has evolved throughout the years; the Confidently Lost EP was filled with R&B numbers of an artiste finding her voice, while About Time showed her mature side and she tapped into her vulnerability with No Rain, No Flowers. “I just keep growing as an individual, a woman and an artiste. My influences change, my inspiration changes, my mood and experiences change so it all kind of falls back to what I create. My music expresses what I go through and what I am in that particular moment in time.”

Although she takes inspiration from her surroundings, Sabrina says that No Rain, No Flowers was extremely personal to her. “It was a project where I kind of just sat by myself and my producer and I created it on our own. I can truly say that it was written from personal experience.” Sabrina went on to explain that it was a moment in her life where she felt that being vulnerable was important for her to heal (she had gotten into a little scandal just months before) and it was also important for her to show that side to people who support her and listen to her music.

“It was a little difficult and performing some of the songs still gets me pretty emotional because I remember how I felt when I was writing the music,” she adds, “But at the same time it was an easier process than usual because I felt like I was spilling my heart out. It came so easily and quickly, and No Rain, No Flowers took a month or two to complete which was way faster than all my other projects.”

With a growing discography, we couldn’t help but wonder if Sabrina has a song that she favours the most. “I think ‘Confidently Lost’ will always be my favourite song that I’ve written and it’s also my favourite song to perform,” she says, “because the song means the most to me. It was written when I first moved out to LA and it was the first time after a couple years of being manipulated to being somebody else. I felt like I had a brand new start.”

We would expect artistes to have a particular prominent individual who they look up to but it’s not a given for Sabrina. “There are no artistes in particular, I don’t normally try to idolise specific people just because I have a fear or somehow unintentionally copying them,” she answers when we asked if there are any artistes who have influenced her music, “But I do listen to different artistes, music and genres, and every single piece has influenced my music. It’s years and years of listening to different types of music that moulded who I am.”

Sabrina performed at Good Vibes Festival 2019, which made it the first time she had set foot in Malaysia. “I [was] super excited. I have not been out of North America or Canada so this [was] my first time in Asia,” she exclaims, and we could feel her excitement just from her voice. For her performance at Good Vibes, there was minimal production and visuals but the songstress only needed her attractive, soulful vocals to reel in the crowd. “I [wanted] the focus to be on the live music and the live vocals. I just [wanted] everybody at the festival to be present and in the moment, no distractions.”

“Well, funny you asked,” she laughed, when asked if we’re getting new music from her any time soon. “I’m currently working on finishing it up, hopefully by this year for sure! I just want it to be perfect so I don’t want to rush anything. But don’t tell anybody!”
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"Sabrina performing at Good Vibes Festival 2019"

“My influences change ... my mood and experiences also change so it all kind of falls back to what I create.”