Music Editor Thom Dent attends an exciting night of the best in student underground, amid the atmospheric dinge of Digbeth's MonasteryWritten by Thom Dent on 16th January 2018
Redbrick Meets: Sabrina Carpenter
Madeleine Bourne goes full fangirl in her chat with Disney actress and musician Sabrina Carpenter
And as I’m led backstage at the Genting Arena, on the afternoon of Sabrina’s show with The Vamps, past the crowd of fans hoping to catch a glimpse of some celebs (by the way, that was me circa 2013, waiting for Olly Murs to make an appearance and take a selfie with yours truly) this all felt very surreal. And didn’t help my nerves whatsoever. Take into account the fact that I used to be a crazed fangirl, along with the prospect of talking to an international triple threat who has achieved more in her 18 years than I will in my lifetime, and I was positively quaking in my boots.
Three seconds into Sabrina entering her dressing room and I’m greeted with a 5ft ball of energy that envelops me in the warmest of hugs. She can add to her CV ‘therapist’ as well, because I’m telling you now, Sabrina Carpenter calmed my nerves better than a 40-minute meditation session and had some sage words of wisdom for my own dilemmas, that I, ahem, subtly attempted to weave into conversation.
I asked Sabrina what her best advice would be for someone who wants to pursue their dreams, but feels like they’re just a little bit unrealistic, and boy, did she deliver. ‘I mean, as far as dreams go, they should be unrealistic,’ Sabrina told me (and soothed my ambitious heart with). ‘But I think for me it was just not taking no for an answer, trusting yourself, knowing your capability and what you’re made of. There’s gonna be times where people will try to tell you what’s right or wrong, but, you know, there is no right or wrong. There’s only your own opinion on things, and I think the more you stay true to yourself, the more successful you’ll be.’
“As far as dreams go, they should be unrealistic...
As glam as it all seems, sometimes touring isn’t all fun and games. ‘I think the worst part is probably just living out of a suitcase,’ Sabrina tells me. ‘You have to always be on the go, you might not get a lot of sleep and you just kinda have to run with it.’ However, she’s not giving up that tour life anytime soon. ‘There’s so many better things that outweigh the bad. You know, you’re in front of new faces every night in different places, you’re playing the songs that you love and that people are singing back to you. Every night you just get to dress up and sing; it’s weird to call it a job because it just seems like a party.’
Supporting The Vamps makes the touring process all the more fun for Sabrina; she can’t get enough of watching their performance every night. ‘When you’ve been on tour for a while, after the first couple of shows you’re like “okay, I don’t need to watch anymore”, but I wanna watch The Vamps every night. They have the best energy and stage presence and they’re just all really in love with what they do. It’s cool to find that in young people.’ However, seeing as tonight is her last night supporting the boys, Sabrina let me in on her fears for post-show. ‘They’re pranksters. I’m really scared for tonight, actually. I hope they don’t prank me.’ Plus, Brad likes to tease her on a regular basis. Sabrina tells me that her favourite UK city is most definitely Birmingham, and when I agreed, she got pretty excited about it. ‘I said it right!! Tell Brad that, by the way, if you see him, because he keeps saying that I say it wrong.’
“I wanna watch The Vamps every night. They have the best energy and stage presence and they’re just all really in love with what they do.
Talking of fangirling, I asked Sabrina if she ever still gets star struck when she meets other celebrities. And yes, I did only ask that question to make myself feel better for that 2013 dip in dignity. ‘Yes!’ Sabrina exclaims. ‘When I was 10 I met Miley Cyrus and I was so quiet. My Mum was like, “I’ve never heard you say less in your entire life”, but she was Hannah Montana and I was awestruck.’ Sadly, the Miley fangirl experience didn’t really make me feel better about 2013, considering Sabrina was 10 and I was considerably older when I fangirled to the max. But one chance meeting that really sticks in Sabrina’s mind is the moment she met Queen Bey. ‘Beyoncé was a big one. The thing is, with that one, I just couldn’t believe how I made it through the minute that I was talking to her. I played it, I think, pretty cool. I just don’t know how I was breathing afterwards.’
Keeping it cool in front of Beyoncé is, as I’m sure you can guess by now, not the only massive achievement Sabrina Carpenter has accomplished in her mere 18 years on the planet. I asked Sabrina to whittle down her biggest achievements for me. ‘I would say graduating high school is one, because I just graduated.’ High school, whilst touring the world? Oh, you know, no biggie. ‘I would say creating two albums, because I think that itself, in a singles world, is an accomplishment.’ At 18? Heck yes. Any more achievements? Ones to rival this superstardom scale? ‘I’ve always wanted to go to Paris and I accomplished that on my 18th birthday. Then, when I was a little girl, my biggest dream was to ride in a human hamster ball and I did that.’ Isn’t that just the stuff of what dreams are made of? Sabrina, I salute you. Fair enough, girl.
“When I was a little girl, my biggest dream was to ride in a human hamster ball and I did that.
With that, I press ‘stop’ on the recording, yet Sabrina doesn’t rush to make a move to stand up. We continue chatting about everything from how I used to be (and still secretly am) a little fangirl, to the vintage trousers she is totally rocking. We grab a selfie in her, of course, spotlighted mirror and we part with another hug. As I’m led back off by security, back to reality and rainy Brum, Sabrina hops on a skateboard she has lying around backstage, just because she can.
And yes, I immediately contemplated purchasing not just a swing, but a penny board too. Star struck fever 101.