INTERVIEW: Saint Barae

Gold Coast based rising singer-songwriter Saint Barae is ready for the world to know who he authentically is. Baring his heart and soul through the release of his debut EP ‘Angel Armour’ (out now), he captures the raw intensity and powerful confidence found through his coming of age queer experience. 

Each song on this defining body of work cements the difficult and introspective thoughts and experiences he’s faced in the lead up to being able to be proud of who he is. From a secret love affair on ‘Boys!’, to feeling like you’re too much for someone on ‘Edge Of Nowhere’, to then falling in love on ‘Angels’, he tackles the full spectrum. It feels like a cinematic escapism that represents the journey of self-doubt a lot of queer people go through to find their feet in this world. 

I recently chatted to Saint Barae about the personal and ethereal foundations behind their debut EP ‘Angel Armour’, explored the lyrical stories behind ‘Edge Of Nowhere’ and ‘Boys!’, and discussed the importance of queer representation. Check it out BELOW;

THOMAS BLEACH: Your debut EP ‘Angel Armour’ is a very personal and ethereal collection of tracks that breathes this lightness within darkness. What would you say is the most surprising thing people are going to hear or get to know about you through listening to the EP from start to finish?

SAINT BARAE: Thank you Thomas, I love that description! I think what listeners are going to find most eye-opening about this record is the same thing that surprised me most, which is just how vulnerable and brutally honest I was with myself throughout making it.

I dive head first into a lot of typically controversial topics and held no punches on these songs,  even when it was embarrassing and horrifying to think what my parents would say listening back to some of these lyrics. Everything from religious trauma, to hooking up with boys in the closet, there’s nowhere for me to hide here, and that’s what makes it all so liberating. 

TB: ’Angels’ is a beautiful track about falling for someone and while you know that it may not be forever, you are with them for right now and that’s all that matters. Can you explain the creative process behind this particular track? 

SB: This song was the last one to come out creatively so it made a lot of sense to me for it to be the closer and thematic climax of the project. On the surface yes, ‘Angels’ is a really tender and intimate love song to my partner of four years, but I think on a deeper level it’s a love letter to my chosen family as a whole and beyond that to anyone and everyone who has been a part of my journey as Saint Barae. There’s such an intense love I feel from my audience when I play these songs live at my shows and I wanted to put that lightning in a bottle and return it back. I still feel weird using the words fans but it’s a celebration of my audience, they are my angel armour because they make me feel invincible. 

TB: ‘Edge Of Nowhere’ hears you proclaiming that you think you’re too much for somebody. When you hear the lyric “I said don’t look at me like I’m broken. You said don’t lie to me I’m not stupid” back now, where does it take you emotionally and physically? 

SB: It takes me back to a really messy place in my life where I definitely wasn’t as put together as I am now *laughs*, but honestly that’s ok and I can own that and laugh about it. Those chorus lyrics are actually a direct conversation I had when I was on the brink of a breakdown yet still refusing to acknowledge that anything was wrong with me, which is very typical male behaviour I know *laughs*.

So ‘Edge Of Nowhere’ is important to me looking back because it captures the breakthrough moment I had when I decided enough was enough and I needed to make a conscious choice to work on my mental health and talk to the people I love about my shit. I’m still a work in progress asking for help when I need it, but making this song was a crucial step in the right direction.

TB: ‘Boys!’ is a track about your queer experience with being someone’s secret which is something a lot of queer people do go through. So how cathartic was it to not only write it out, but then release it and see it connect with people who had gone through something similar? 

SB: That last point is still so surreal to me and it blows my mind whenever I get a message from a complete stranger saying how they’ve lived through my same experience, and connected with my music.

Making ‘Boys!’ Was just a really fun self-therapy session, and to be honest I never planned to release it because some of those lyrics get pretty spicy in the bridge section. It’s so gratifying to look back at a part of my life when I was so ashamed to be queer and see the growth I’ve had to where I am now releasing a song that is so queer and so unapologetic about it.

TB: Queer representation is more important than ever before, so who are some queer creatives that you think we need to get acquainted with? 

SB: Thank you for saying that it’s so important, because it is! My fellow angel winged Australian Nick Ward has been killing it this year and just released his epic comeback single Princess which you need to add to your playlists immediately if you haven’t already. 

I’ve also been so inspired by what artists like Vetta Borne and Jesswar have been doing as trailblazers for queer women making waves in the music industry. It’s honestly an exciting time to be around such kickass peers.

TB: What song on the EP went through the most alternate versions to get it to where it is now?

SB: I would have to say ‘Edge of Nowhere’ purely because the first iteration was worlds away from the final take we got. It was still a beautiful interpretation of the story but was a folk piano and guitar ballad called ‘The Lighthouse’. So the version that you hear today is actually all the same lyrics just taken to the world of EDM pop banger instead.

TB: The artwork is very ethereal and sees you wearing a while veil over your head with a pearl necklace and bracelet on. What was the inspiration behind the visual direction for this cover? 

SB: We actually got that shot from doing the artwork for ‘Boys!’ which had a very DIY ethos at heart. I was obsessed with the imagery of bridalwear when making this artwork and how it’s kind of seen as the peak of feminine expression. So I got all these materials like tulle and silk and paired them with pearls to create this really ethereal backdrop, and once I saw that photo back I knew the title ‘Angel Armour’ was the perfect fit. It has this sense of duality: masculine and feminine, light and dark and the idea of the ‘armour’ being see-through like a veil really hit home for me because that’s the whole point of the record. It’s about power through vulnerability.

TB: You are a very confident performer and immediately radiate this calming nature on the stage. So how would you say from performing and playing these songs live has impacted how you approached the creative process of this EP?

SB: I think both came together around the same time as this EP was really being released in a linear sense as each single was being finished. I think the thing I learned the most though was to take that feeling of letting go and completely losing myself in the music and put it into the recording process. There’s an electricity in the air when you perform to a crowd that really connects to your songs and I think if you capture that feeling in a recording you’ve struck gold.

TB: Let’s play a quick game of rapid fire questions, are you ready?

SB: Hit me with it!

TB: The emoji that best describes my debut EP ‘Angel Armour’ is…

SB : The angel face

TB: The lyric on the EP that makes me tear up still would be…

SB: “Maybe our future is entangled, our love a drug for angels”

TB: The song that nearly made the EP but is still in my drafts is…

SB: ‘Call Me By Your Name’. 

TB: The song I would want you to play to your friends if they’ve never heard of me before would be…

SB: ‘Angels’.

‘Angel Armour’ is out now!