Big Music Meets: Sacha

Big Music joined forces with The National Lottery to interview international songwriter, Sacha.

Big Music Meets: Sacha

Sacha Skarbek is a two-time IVOR Novello Award winner who has written songs for artists like Adele, Miley Cyrus and Lana Del Rey.


For this interview brought to you by National Lottery, Sacha sat down with Big Music to discuss his career so far. Check it out:

Sacha, thanks so much for joining us.

No worries, thanks for having me guys!

You’re the man behind some of the highest-selling records of the past two decades! It must feel amazing to have your name under tracks like ‘Wrecking Ball’ and ‘You’re Beautiful’.

It’s certainly amazing when you get a worldwide No.1. It’s a dream come true and is something very special.

Oh, it must be. Here at Big Music, we run a programme called Music Potential which includes song-writing classes for aspiring writers. What practical piece of advice would you give to our Music Potential students?

Okay, leading song-writers have two things in common:

Firstly, they have a notebook filled with ideas, lyrics and phrases that they come across. Artists like Eminem and Pink always carry their notebook with them wherever they go. Eminem once lost his notebook and gave a massive reward to the person that found it.

Secondly, you must be fearless when writing. You cannot be concerned about making a fool of yourself, you just need to go with it.

For sure. On that note then, has there ever been a time you were confident about an idea but the artist you were working with didn’t quite buy it?

Oh, many times! About 3 times a week actually. It is sometimes an idea that has taken me a while to prepare. That’s the thing about this job, you should be able to throw ideas out and start again. As a songwriter, learning to take rejection is important as 95% of your work is rejected. You must learn to accept that.

Oh wow, so what keeps you motivated during those hard times?

It is the belief that music is really all I want to do. There is nothing else I can think of doing as a career. Literally nothing. Also, during the hard times, I was willing to take new routes to reach my dreams. I was not concerned about diversifying what I did in music. I created music for adverts and other mini projects that weren’t particularly my passion.


That’s a really interesting point. What is the key to staying relevant in such a fast-paced industry?

I think the key is being aware of the business side of things. For example, look at the way streaming has become a huge way of making money.

Music today has changed so much, you need to stay aware of what exactly is commercially successful. With pop music, there are changes in styles and production. I mean, look at how hip hop has become the new pop! These are really important changes.

As a songwriter, you must stay above the change. Fundamentally, songs are songs. Styles change and streams change but all these are just phases. Staying abreast of all these phases is really important in this game.

Do you listen to your own songs?

Haha, to be honest – not really! There are songs that I am prouder of than others. I hope to enjoy all my songs but it doesn’t always work that way.

When James and I wrote ‘You’re Beautiful’, we didn’t even have a publishing deal. We just thought the song was good so never let it die. The rest is history.

I wasn’t quite expecting that answer! Haha, so what song are you most proud of?

Haha, well it’s the truth! Okay, I am very proud of ‘Wrecking Ball’. It was written with pure emotion and meant a lot to my music partner who was going through quite a tough time.

I was in LA and playing the song on a piano when Mozella (my music partner) walked in. Within the first few minutes of listening to the song, she was in tears. She then told me that her fiancée broke up with her and that the song meant a lot to her. We decided to work closer together to finish it and within the next 3 or 4 hours, the song was complete.

Miley Cyrus

What a sad experience. How did Miley Cyrus get a hold of it then?

Miley got a hold of it because Mozella had worked with her before. She knew that Miley was looking for a change in direction and might be interested.

Personally, I didn’t really know much about Miley. I knew about Hannah Montana but wasn’t aware that she was all grown up and a huge international singer now.

Anyway, Miley had a rule that she only listens to new songs at 10 am on a Sunday morning and only people close to her knew this. Luckily, Mozella knew and waited to send the track to her on a Sunday. Within an hour of sending over the track, Miley got back and said she loved it and wanted it.

That’s awesome. So, who is the most memorable artist you have worked with?

I’ve had a few memorable artists. The two that come to mind initially are Lana Del Rey and Adele. It’s so amazing to see the immense talent, yet vulnerability of these big stars. Their combination of being very emotional, very skilful and yet very relatable is always intriguing.

Lana del Rey

That’s so cool. So why do you think funding options like the National Lottery is so important for up-and-coming musicians?

I think it is very important, now more than ever actually. Society needs art, culture and music to get through this turbulent political climate we find ourselves in. Young people particularly need a means of expressing themselves.

In what ways can young musicians use National Lottery funding to benefit their careers?

We can all remember the first stages of being a musician, it’s so tough! Even getting small production tools or recording time can be useful. You know, a career in music is like a steam engine; the hardest part is getting it to start, after that it takes momentum then gets much easier.

What is your career highlight so far?

I would certainly say winning an IVOR Novello Award twice is a highlight. That’s an award chosen by fellow songwriters, so it means a lot. I have also worked on developing artists and bands, so when I see them playing gigs for thousands of people it feels great.

What can we expect from you this year?

I have just finished producing the new Tears For Fears record, which is great. I also have a punk-rock band called Dubè that will be releasing tracks in 2018.

Oh! And I’m working with a kid called Junior Williams who is absolutely fantastic! I am expecting big things from him this year.

It was a pleasure speaking with you! Thanks, Sacha!

My pleasure. Thanks, Big Music!

The National Lottery has invested more than £560 million in almost 15,000 projects for young people, including The Big Music Project. Not only that, the National Lottery funds festivals, special projects and events which enhance the lifestyle of young people throughout the UK.

For more information on how the National Lottery supports young musicians, check out their website. Also, follow them on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.