'Magic, mayhem and power, sprinkled with a little tragedy'
Pic: Atina Feola
“I’m not here to be liked,” laughs Sabrina Kennedy, “at least, not by everyone.” While Kennedy’s music has mass appeal written all over it, she also knows that you don’t get to be a woman who knows her own mind without upsetting a few people.
In an era of small pop voices, Sabrina's big bold sound has found her new EP 'Wheel of the Year' playlisted by Kerrang! and Stereogum alongside Royal Blood, Foo Fighters and Passion Pit. Sabrina fuses pop, rock and R&B influences with esoteric witch/feminist imagery, along with her signature showstopping vocals, to create a unique mix.
'A powerful display of pure unapologetic individuality, Sabrina rejects the pressure of conformity and comes into her own — her own sound, her own voice, her own identity' - Wonderland
Sabrina says: "The Wheel of the Year is the Wiccan calendar that existed before the Roman one we use now. So it’s reaching back to the world before the one we’ve conformed to. I’ve used it to make my own wheel of the year, a journey through the seasons of my life: magic, mayhem and power, sprinkled with a little tragedy."
Kennedy was raised near Salem, Massachusetts, infamous for witch trials and executions in the 1690s. It is, she says, “a place with a very peculiar energy”.
Now living in the UK, Sabrina shot the video for EP-opener 'Puritan' on Tynemouth beach on England's North East coast: "I discovered there were witch trials there 40 years before Salem! ‘Puritan’ is an anthem for my ancestors, women who were burnt for being who they were. I am channeling their sacred rage. So Tynemouth was the perfect location."
The 'Red Wine' video was shot in a historic English church: “I summoned the divine feminine energy that is Mary Magdalene, the misunderstood whore. Red Wine is the direct relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus – two lost souls just trying to get by.” Reviewing the track, Kerrang! said "Sabrina’s killer new video matches the lyrical themes perfectly."
Kennedy’s identification with the witch has little to do with spells and curses. It’s more about facing the controversy that being a strong woman continues to engender. But it also takes strength to show vulnerability, and she's equally adept singing bangers like 'Magic & Mayhem' as she is with the EP's tearjerker closer 'Overflow', a painful reflection on a violent relationship. And her anthemic track 'Hold Tight', dealing with the loss of her father, was deemed pop enough to feature on 'Love Island'.
Pop, rock, witch, angel - all on her terms.