Featured on RGM, Clout, Earmilk, Indie Midlands, BBC Introducing, BBC Radio 1, Radio X and others, Sarpa Salpa are reaching audiences on a global scale. Creating a stir with their unique sound, this UK-based quartet is noted as “ones to watch” with their boundary-breaking style. We speak with bassist Ethan Whitby about Sarpa Salpa’s new EP A Feeling You Can’t Replace, last meals and discovering new music.
OSR: What drew you to music?
Ethan Whitby: My parents would often play music around the house and my dad would sing a lot, so naturally I started playing quite young. Initially, I started with violin, then as I got into my teenage years and violin was decidedly “uncool” I wanted to play in a band so took up bass. Then after playing my first gig I was pretty much set on this is what I would love to do with my life.
OSR: Is there a backstory to the EP A Feeling You Can’t Replace?
Ethan Whitby: A Feeling You Can’t Replace was written about a number of different events that have happened to members of the band throughout lockdown. It’s sort of a summary of how we have felt this past year.
OSR: Does the EP hold significance for you?
Ethan Whitby: Of course, I think everything we release is incredibly significant to us but this EP definitely feels that little bit more for us. A lot of the songs are written about subjects very close and personal to us, whether that be breakups, family or life issues. As some are still very raw subjects it really hits home for us personally but we hope listeners can take the songs and feel that intent within them.
OSR: What was it like recording the album during the pandemic?
Ethan Whitby: It was definitely an odd progress, some of it felt very normal and some of it very alien to what we were used to. We had written quite a lot more of the tracks at home, some of which actually made it into the final tracks! Luckily during the easing of lockdowns, we managed to get into the studio to get the rest of it down.
OSR: If you could change anything about A Feeling You Can’t Replace, what would that be?
Ethan Whitby: Right now, I think we are in the honeymoon period with the EP. I’m sure if you asked us in a year we would have parts we would like to change or approach sections differently, but right now we couldn’t be happier with how it turned out!
OSR: Do you have a favourite review to date?
Ethan Whitby: Jack Saunders from Radio 1 recently said: “one of the bands I want to go out and witness in the flesh, get a little sweaty to, run headfirst into a stranger to”, which we really liked!
OSR: If you were reincarnated into an animal what would you be?
Ethan Whitby: I would love to say a bee because they are my favourite animal but I would probably end up an otter or some other small mammal just going about its day. Or a gazelle, I’ve had multiple people tell me I have the legs of a gazelle!
OSR: What would be your “last meal”?
Ethan Whitby: It would have to be either a veggie burrito or maybe my ex-girlfriend’s mum’s paneer saag curry. To this day, nothing has come close to that. I would definitely like to have that one more time!
OSR: What do you think is the best way to discover music nowadays?
Ethan Whitby: Streaming sites are the obvious way to find new music, especially for artists and bands from outside your country, but I think finding blogs that feature new artists is a great way to discover new music. On top of that, just get down to your local venue and go watch gigs, spend a few pounds and support three or more artists from your area. If you like them, great, and if not then you’ve still helped support them and the venue too.
OSR: Do you have any recommendations of new bands for our readers?
Ethan Whitby: We are big on supporting our hometown and we are lucky we have some great talent – Century City, bloody/bath, Phantom Isle and Pieces who just released their new EP Lessons. A little bit further afield we have our good friends in Low Girl whose new song ‘Big Now’ is incredible, and then a fairly new band King Violet whose last single ‘October’ was a great little number! Honestly, I could list hundreds of bands who we’ve seen or played with, but these are just a few of our favourites.
OSR: Do you have any future plans?
Ethan Whitby: The immediate plan is to get back on the road gigging as soon as it’s safe and legal to do so, but we have also lots of new songs written during lockdown so will be seeing how they shape up whether that be singles, another EP or even our debut album!