An Interview With Sabrina Carmen
A new single release from Sabrina Carmen delivers an atmospheric and massive soundscape that feels like free falling through emotion and color as ethereal synth pads float in the distance and vocals push through with a passion and power.
"Dreaming Wide Awake" is a gorgeous pop ballad that feels indeed like a dream as sounds swim around you and pull you into its textured aesthetic.
The single has a warmth to it that just feels good and it's entirely cinematic tonality is overtaking as you get washed away with it all.
Carmen pushes the boundaries of the pop ballad and brings a floating feeling to everything as her heavily emotional drive boasts such a beautiful style that it becomes quickly addicting.
The song leaves you in awe at times. Not in an overwhelming way but more like staring out into the endless and vast ocean.
It's intense but welcoming at the same time.
Carmen has a natural way of giving such passionate performances and putting together such wonderful and impactful sound that you want more of it even after the song has ended.
This one takes you on quite a journey and does so all in under 4 minutes. It's pretty impressive to say the least and it becomes a feeling you want to dive back into.
With this release, we absolutely had to have a talk with the artist to find out what it means and where it really came from.
Here's what happened.
Hey Sabrina, thank you for being here!
TSWS: So let's start with the "Dreaming Wide Awake" single. This track has a beautiful essence to it
and feels personal and dreamy. Where did this song come from?
Thanks so much! The initial melodic idea for ‘Dreaming Wide Awake’ came as I was watching
an episode of Cobra Kai, which is funny because there isn’t anything remotely 80s about this
song! lol There was a beautiful instrumental playing in the background of one of the scenes, and
out of nowhere, an ethereal melodic idea popped into my head. I quickly recorded a voice
memo right then and there laying on the couch, (always record your ideas!), and the next
morning went straight to the keyboard to begin flowing and writing out a lyrical brain dump. I try
to free-write every morning to keep a creative flow, and just dump whatever is floating around in
my brain onto the page - the key is to do this without judgment or criticism. Just flow. Just write.
Once in a while, you get lucky and your flow creates magic. The phrase “dreaming wide awake”
was neatly tucked into a rather verbose brain dump about moody surrealism and when I shared
it with my co-writers, (Rebecca McBride, Rebekah Wilbur and Jamie Miller), they all said,
“That’s the title. That’s the theme.” From those initial melodic and lyrical ideas, we fleshed out
the rest of the song together and in a single evening zoom write, the first draft of “Dreaming
Wide Awake” was complete.
What’s so fascinating about this song is that my co-writers and I met during the pandemic via an
online music course. Bases in different timezones ranging from LA to Chicago to Virginia didn’t
stop our flow~ we all connected so seamlessly, despite the fact that we’ve only worked together
as a group via zoom and have yet to meet in person! It’s so interesting how you can be in
completely different places from your musical comrades, but if you have a deep connection,
your creativity can be limitless. Working with this team online is as comfortable as writing in the
same room with collaborators I’ve known for years. Needles to say, I’m SUPER grateful for the
TSWS: I'm hearing some passionate and almost angelic vocals on this song. Who are some of your
actual biggest musical influences?
Sooooo many influences! Some artists I absolutely love and admire for the moody ethereal
soundscapes they are able to create are Ruelle, Fleurie, Susanne Sundfør, Aurora, Klergy, and
of course Lana Del Rey and Billie Eilish. I also have a background in musical theatre and jazz~
so love me some Lady Gaga, and of course the timeless classics like Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah
TSWS: So tell us, how did this all start for you?
I was fortunate enough to be born into an artistic family with parents who encouraged me to
pursue my passions. Both mom and dad had a background in theatre, so that played a big role
in my upbringing and the kind of music I sang as a child. When I was thirteen, I lost my mom to
breast cancer, and that’s when the songwriting began. It sort of became my therapeutic artistic
outlet. Everything sort of progressed from there and my musical tastes started shifting as well,
as I started exploring the work of more singer-songwriters, like Carole King, Billy Joel, Fiona
Apple, Sara Bareilles, etc.
The loss of my mom really impacted me, and I also tried my best to honor her in different ways.
From 2015-2019, I took on her name as an artist going under the moniker, MadLyn. During this
era I ended up calling “The MadLyn Project”, I released a series of songs and music videos,
which collectively, surpassed 400k views on YouTube, and entered radio charts, as well as
worked with the National Breast Cancer Foundation to host fundraising concerts with a platform
I created called “The Siren Song.” It was all for the love of music and to honor mom, but when
the pandemic hit in 2020, I came to the realization that it was time for me to take back
ownership of my name, Sabrina, and that I could honor her instead by leading the kind of life
she would have wanted for me.
TSWS: What would you say is next for you as an artist?
Right now I’m enjoying my evolving artistry, as it’s definitely a new chapter for me. At present I’m
creating more music within this cinematic moody pop sub-genre, and plan to share those song
babies and visual content with the world soon.
TSWS: What are you doing when you're NOT working on music?
Hanging out with my hubby, Andrew Benjamin, (who is always a musician/songwriter), checking
out new restaurants and supporting local coffee shops in Long Beach where we live, going to
the beach, having stimulating conversations with friends, pilates and yoga, prayer and
mediation, and wine/whiskey tastings are always good things to indulge in, too. :)
With things slowly getting better, will you be planning any live performances?
Live shows are definitely not off the table, but being in a studio is my happy place. My ultimate
dream is to hear my songs in film, television, and trailers.
TSWS: Who are you listening to right now?
LOVE Ashe. and Sigrid. Also vibing to Sia never gets old.
Not just for this song, but in general, what kind of things inspire you to write?
Truly anything. From a beautiful sunrise/sunset, happy feelings/sad feelings, world events, a
warm cozy cup of coffee, and of course, dreams. :)
This track feels like it was a pretty big undertaking.
TSWS: What kind of advice might you have for other
up and coming artists out there?
Stay open to the creative flow, be curious, find co-writers/collaborators you love, and don’t get
discouraged if it doesn’t work out the way you want after the first try. You can’t always control
the outcome, but you can always control the effort.
TSWS: How do you write your songs? Is it lyrics first? Do you perform everything yourself? It's different
for everyone. How does it work for you?
Each song baby is very different. In the case of this song, it started with a melodic idea. But
sometimes it starts with a captivating title or lyrical concept. I’m a huge fan of co-writing because
for me, more brains are better than one. It also makes crafting a song feel like a team effort.
From start to finish, you have people with you on the journey who you can trust and who all
want the best outcome for the song. For me, co-writing has been such a gift, and the work flow
has been super productive with this team in particular.
TSWS: This was a gorgeous song. Did it come out how you expected?
“Dreaming Wide Awake” ended up going through several changes from the first draft to the final
product, with numerous revisions in-between~ the first version was much softer, and
progressively, the song got more and more dynamic and cinematic as our producer, Matt
Richert, started playing with production elements and I cut new vocal takes to create a steady
build for the song, which resulted in a pretty epic bridge going into a massive last chorus! Even
though it ended up coming out differently than I had first imagined or anticipated (which often
happens if you remain true to the creative flow), I absolutely love it and wouldn’t have it any
other way. “Dreaming Wide Awake” is a song l am so proud of, happy to see complete, and
excited to share with the world.
Also with working remotely, that also came with its own set of challenges. One funny thing that
happened during the production process that did set back our timeline a bit - in the middle of
production, Matt’s computer started sparking and blew up. Literally. Apple had to send him a
new MAC. I’m convinced it’s because of how fire the track is ;)
TSWS: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?
I hope you always dream. May you never lose sight of your reverie.