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Tsarzi Eccentric pop for the discerning audiophile

Independent Sheffield musician tells us more about her second album, Lost Decayed Love. 

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Sarah Sharp, aka Tsarzi, is a musician based in Sheffield. She's recently dropped her second album, Lost Decayed Love, which contains remixes of songs from her debut, Last Decade of Love. She's part of Sheffield's independent scene and has already started working on her third release. Her style is unique, something you never seen or heard before.

On my way here, I was wondering why 'Tsarzi'? It sounds a bit Russian to me.

I was looking for a stage name as I'd been performing as Sarah Sharp, my born name, before and it felt a bit weird. My family has always called me Sarzi, so with an additional letter 'T' at the beginning it sounds more imperial. It's like an elaborate dress-up.

Where are you from?

I was born in London and grew up in Buckinghamshire in a boring village. I lived and studied in London, then I studied in New York.

Did you study music in the US?

No, I studied Latin and Greek. I love languages and get easily obsessed with something I like doing.

How did you end up making music?

London has always been extremely expensive and it's getting more and more costly. It's ridiculous. I was doing a lot of stuff, such as writing, comedy and impros, and then I just really wanted to focus on music. I started to write songs, as I realised music was the way I wanted to tell stories. In early 2014 I decided I'd be leaving London.

Why did you come to Sheffield?

Well, Sheffield is friendlier and cheaper. I just fancied it and liked the music that came out of it. I had no money so I started house-sitting, thus I didn't have to rent. Sheffield was always going to be a temporary stop, as I aimed at Manchester because I thought Sheffield was too quiet. However I just fell in love with it and I've been working here ever since.

I assume the vibe and independent culture were relevant.

Exactly. There is so much going on in Sheffield, so much collaboration. I love working with other people. I'm into poetry, art, photography and writing, and in Sheffield I met and worked with some truly amazing artists.

I was listening to all of your songs and found them somewhat unfamiliar. How would you classify your style?

The official party line is 'eccentric pop', which is something I came up with a little while back. When I started out it was very folky, but I didn't want to be this very delicate, folky artist. It's obviously not mainstream, so I named it eccentric pop.

Who or what exactly has inspired your work?

Well, there are lots of people. I remember going to the David Bowie exhibition a couple of years ago and I was like, "That's it - that's how I feel."

Have you put your life story deliberately into your lyrics?

Not intentionally, no. I always loved writing but I thought I didn't have anything to say. I never sat down and started working on my manifesto, no.

You released this new album, Lost Decayed Love, with nothing but remixes of your previous songs. Why didn't you just make new songs?

I thought I wasn't ready to put out new music myself. I really love releasing albums though. Maybe it's not big news for lots, but for me, it's a marvellous feeling.

One of the things I enjoyed the most during the process was getting to know other independent artists. I reached out to a couple of wonderful people and artists all across the country. I was curious about who was interested in working with me and the response was amazing. I feel like the album is quite representative in terms of style. It's not all high-profile people, but people that are part of this independent culture here in one way or another.

Do you see this new album as the next step in your career?

Obviously, yes. At the end of the day I'd like to be a full-time musician. I've been working very hard since day one. I'm lucky because at the moment, as a freelance copywriter, I have time to work on my songs. In the foreseeable future, maybe in a couple of years, I'd like to be able to do and write music full-time.

Wouldn't Manchester or London provide you more opportunities?

It depends on what you want to do and what kind of musician you want to be. I'd be more than happy to collaborate, though I don't think I could move either to Manchester nor back to London. I think Sheffield is the sort of perfect setup for me. I think there should be a discussion about what success means in music anyway.

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If you ask an ordinary citizen, they might say something like making tons of money, or at least a living out of it.

Yeah, maybe they'd say something like that. But if you look at some independent musicians, like Richard Dawson, well, he isn't mainstream and his songs are outstanding. People are loving him and he is still based in Newcastle. You don't have to be living in a big city to be successful.

What do you need to be successful then?

You need to be touring a lot and selling records, but that's only one type of success. My version of success is moving forward, being a better musician, making more and more songs. Sheffield is full of people who are enjoying themselves and doing cool stuff in this industry as full-time musicians. So, yes, I'd like to make a living out of it, but as of now I just want to enjoy the process.

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