“I don’t want to be here no more with you / Wouldn’t understand unless you see life from this view / Just wanna find a place where the sky is really blue / Now I don’t want to be here no more with you.”
The opening words of ‘This View’ by UK singer Sharna Bass set the tone for a musical masterpiece that is moving, colourful and meaningful in equal measures. Tackling the themes of homelessness and suicide, Sharna continues her theme of presenting raw lyrics that touch upon real world issues through the lens of soothing vocals – here overlaying effortless piano sounds that soon after are met by a gentle drum-backed rhythm.
This View is the lead single from Sharna’s upcoming seven-track EP ‘Beautiful Chaos‘, a far cry from her ‘Extraordinary‘ days. Breaking into the industry so early has allowed Sharna to go through many of the stages of artist development far more quickly than her peers. This has made her a more rounded artist than most, despite still only being 21 and having several decades of further growth ahead of her.
Now signed to EGA Records, GUAP caught up with Sharna to find out how things have changed for her in recent years and to hear more about what inspired her latest track, ‘This View’.
“I would love to collaborate with J.Cole – he’s such a conscious rapper and he conveys powerful messages.” ~ Sharna Bass
Aji: What inspires you to create?
Sharna: I would say my emotions. I am really bad about speaking about how I feel, so it is a way of expressing myself. It’s a form of therapy for me.
Aji: Has your approach to music changed over time?
Sharna: I would say that it has. I am developing my craft more and more – I feel like I’ve finally found my sound. Before I was on doing any genre, now I do shit that I like and enjoy. So it’s made my music style more RnB, as that’s the kind of music I like.
Aji: Did you feel like you had to come to a place within yourself before you could call yourself an RnB singer?
Sharna: Yeah – I’ve grown up listening to RnB, so it is the type of music I am used to. I think branching out into other genres solidified just how much I love RnB. Anytime that I would have to write a pop tune, I would miss RnB. I’d get home and that same day would have to bang out an RnB tune.
I wouldn’t ever completely box myself into one genre though, even though it’s my most comfortable genre. I love singing jazz, I love different things – but I like to at least ensure that there is an ‘RnB feel’. Whilst I do have a genre that I want to be able to call my own, I don’t want to be restricted by my label.
My latest song coming up with K Trap features a beat from Nas’ project ‘The Firm’ – I love Nas, I love Biggie and I love old hip hop beats. If I can add jazz chords on top of those kinds of beats – even better. I just love mixing things together, to be honest.
Aji: ‘This View’ is a very honest and personal track – you really bore all. Is this something we can come to expect from your upcoming EP?
Sharna: I feel like all my tracks are about emotions that I’ve felt, emotions that others close to me have felt, or just stories that are special to me. Everything I express in a song is going to be a message about something I’m feeling. I feel that my EP is my own little diary, full of memories – it’s like taking pictures in song format.
Aji: In ‘This View’ you touch upon some really key issues and things that you’ve had to process and deal with yourself. One of things that you touch upon, and I think is a bit more evident from the music video for the song, is homelessness. Can you talk us through your journey from experiencing homelessness to getting to the stage at which you felt comfortable enough speaking about it on a track?
Sharna: Literally, when I was homeless, I was in such a low place that music was all I cared about and was my only outlet. It was the only way in which I could express my emotions. I actually think music got me out of homelessness – it’s when I met the people and the team that I’m working with now. I feel like music definitely helped me deal with all the emotions and things that I was dealing with when I was homeless, I’d say.
Aji: A common theme in many of your tracks that I’ve heard recently is that you juxtapose soothing vocals and touching issues. How do you strike that balance between your tracks being soothing but still getting that message across?
Sharna: I feel like songs should always have a message – I don’t like making pointless music. Because my mum suffers from mental health complications it is something that I deal with on a daily, so naturally I’m channelling that it into my music. I think that when I sing I’m naturally very relaxed and I’m so high in the sky that my sound comes out in a very soothing way.
In terms of lyrics, because I’ll be going through certain things at that time, there will always be a certain strong message. I’m a big advocate of mental health awareness so I’ll always try and do what I can, even including messages and pointing people to helplines at the end of my music videos. Mental health is more talked about now but growing up I never used to know what was wrong with my mum. Culturally, we don’t really speak about these things so I’m glad that there’s now more of a conversation.
Aji: Do you write your own lyrics?
Sharna: For me, personally, the way I like to work is not to write anything down – I can’t work like that. When I’m writing I get distracted so I prefer to just play a beat, and just freestyle. That’s why Biggie is my favourite artist – I love the old school rappers as they all did that. If I’m not freestyling over a beat, I’ll just write down a topic or point, or note it in my head. For example, with this latest single, I just wrote down the words ‘this view’ and started singing about that topic.
Aji: Amazing. I guess the reason why I was particularly curious about that question is that you mentioned that your EP is like your diary. I thought that maybe you started off with a diary and then begun to sing about the things in it.
Sharna: Oh no no, I’m not even good at writing about things. I just hear a beat and don’t even think – it just kinda comes to me. I love stuff to flow naturally which is why I love music.
Aji: I feel that the video will do incredibly well and that a lot of people will find elements relatable. Even outside our own communities, people still struggle to speak about mental health. Do you get many people sharing their stories and experiences with you when you put your work out?
Sharna: Yeah yeah – it happens a lot and it’s happened with ‘This View’ too. I’m really glad that music can make people feel confident enough to open up to me about their stories as it helps me know that I’m doing something right.
Aji: How do you yourself process those conversations? Do you feel any kind of responsibility when people approach you?
Sharna: Sometimes it makes me kinda sad, but I do feel like I’m helping. I do feel some responsibility – I would never want to leave the people sending me messages feeling like they’re alone, so I’d rather talk them through it. I know I’m not a doctor or a therapist but I will try and give uplifting messages or share my own experiences so I can try and help. I feel like I like to communicate with people who are supporting my music in general.
Aji: If you had to choose one modern music artist or group to collaborate with, who would it be? Shoot your shot.
Sharna: I would love to collaborate with J.Cole – he’s such a conscious rapper and he conveys powerful messages. He is such a great storyteller too. I feel that the message from our song would be so sick.
Storytelling is something I’d always like to keep a key part of my music and it’s actually why I love to create video concepts whilst I’m still writing a song. Even when I listen to other people’s music, I like to have an image in my head of what is happening.
Aji: Any artists that you would have like to have collaborated with from other eras?
Sharna: That would have to be Biggie. He was such a great storyteller with a great flow. He was also just so gangster – he’s from the hood, I’m from the hood; it would have just worked!
Sharna’s upcoming EP will be released on 17 May – keep an eye out for it.
‘This View’ is out now on all major platforms.