photography by Jennifer Medina
In this interview, we talk to Sabine Holler, a musician, songwriter, producer and artist originally from Brazil, who is currently based in Berlin. We discuss her latest single, “Naked in Public,” which comes with a great music video directed by Jennifer Medina in New York, and explores the themes of nudity and vulnerability, and the inspiration behind it. Sabine also shares her thoughts on how her Brazilian roots and her studies in sound engineering in Berlin have influenced her approach to music production, as well as how being part of different bands has allowed her to explore different aspects of her artistic identity.
Sabine, how have your Brazilian roots influenced your songwriting and sound in your various projects?
I am very lucky to have been born in a country with such a beautiful music culture. Music is everywhere in Brazil. Growing up, I was surrounded by very rich and diverse musical traditions, especially Bossa Nova and Samba. Brazilians see music in everything and listen to it in every situation, and that has definitely influenced me.
In what ways did your experience studying sound engineering in Berlin shape your approach to music production?
Berlin has a thriving electronic and experimental music scene that exposed me to new sounds and techniques that I had never encountered before. I made a conscious effort to immerse myself in the local music culture by regularly attending concerts and events, which allowed me to gain new perspectives on music production. While there isn’t much “Lyric” music going on in Berlin, I found that there was a strong emphasis on experimentation and pushing the boundaries of sound, which inspired me to be more adventurous in my own music-making. Overall, my experience in Berlin has influenced my approach to music production by encouraging me to be more experimental and to think outside the box.
Throughout your career, you’ve been a part of different bands like Jennifer Lo-Fi, Ema Stone, Barrie, and Psymon Spine. How has your role in these bands evolved and influenced your growth as an artist?
Being part of different bands has allowed me to explore different roles and ways of collaborating with other musicians. In Jennifer Lo-Fi, I was the lead singer, while in Ema Stone, Barrie, and Psymon Spine, I focused on contributing to the instrumental parts and arrangements. Each band was very different and allowed me to embody different sides of my personality, teaching me something different, whether it was developing my songwriting skills or learning how to collaborate with others and incorporate their ideas into the music.
“Being naked is plain as that. It’s not necessarily a metaphor for personal or artistic expression, but rather a raw and direct representation of it.”
What inspired you to focus on your solo career after returning to Berlin?
During the pandemic, I believe we all became more self-focused. I realized that I had myself as my most valuable asset. Although I found it difficult to create new things because of the overwhelming world situation, I took the opportunity to revisit a lot of the material I had previously written and shaped it into the songs that I will soon be releasing.
Your new song, “Naked in Public,” is out. Can you tell us about the creative process behind it and the inspiration for the title?
The idea came from my experience of doing performance art in New York. I was part of a performance group where we would do site-specific “rituals” at the Judson Memorial Church, using our bodies, sound, and sensory means to connect with the audience. For that, we decided to perform naked so we could also connect with a primitive part of ourselves. The experience of putting myself in such a vulnerable position was very liberating and made me reflect on the sometimes negative relationship we often have with our bare bodies, but also the power that it can have.
Shooting a music video in the nude can be a vulnerable experience. How did you mentally prepare yourself for this, and what did you learn from it?
It was way more challenging than being naked in the gallery experience. I was lucky to be in New York, and most people would not really care about it, to my pleasant surprise. I think people in New York are used to seeing the craziest things. But yeah, it’s like diving in cold water, once you’re in it’s alright.
“In the video, I am celebrating it and saying a little bit of ‘f*ck it’. I hope that my message in the video can inspire others to embrace their bodies and celebrate their individuality.”
Were there any challenges or unexpected reactions you encountered during the filming of “Naked in Public”?
Not many! As I said, New Yorkers are well-trained to see crazy things. Jennifer Medina, my brilliant director friend who shot and edited the video, always had very good visions for the various locations and situations we could explore. There was a scene we shot in front of a fire station where the fireman started screaming at us, but we just left. Most people were actually into the whole thing. We found this guy with a funny bicycle that just offered to ride me around, and the shot turned out to be one of my favorites. We also went to The Lot Radio, where some friends were working at the moment, and they all spontaneously joined the film.
Do you see the nudity in the video as a metaphor for personal or artistic expression? If so, could you elaborate on that?
To me, the nudity in the video represents gaining power from a vulnerable situation. When performing on stage or presenting an art piece, there’s a constant state of vulnerability as you reveal the deepest parts of yourself and hope to connect with the audience. Being naked is plain as that. It’s not necessarily a metaphor for personal or artistic expression, but rather a raw and direct representation of it.
Did the experience have any impact on your perspective on body positivity or self-expression in your artistry?
Absolutely, especially as a woman, we often have a hard relationship with our bodies. In the video, I am celebrating it and saying a little bit of “f*ck it.” I hope that my message in the video can inspire others to embrace their bodies and celebrate their individuality.