Sabrina Carpenter’s third album “Singular” will be out on Nov. 9.
Photo by Chris Cancio
Sabrina Carpenter is in the spotlight
SUPREMO - Tim Yao (The Philippine Star) - October 20, 2018 - 12:00am

I didn’t know how big a star Sabrina Carpenter was until after I got countless calls from friends whose kids had seen our photo posted on my Instagram account. 

One Saturday, we met at the penthouse of Marco Polo in Ortigas, I was a bit late — my car had broken down in the middle of C5, and I had to take a Grab to that side of town. I was able to sit down with her and do an on-cam interview, accompanied by her collaborator Shanti Dope, for the new pop culture site Alike. “Hey, there,” Sabrina exclaimed, welcoming me into the space like she had been living here for quite some time. 

I looked for an area where we would be comfortable enough and not look like it was a promo setup by a recording company with tarpaulins of the artist’s face and the album cover all around. She was game. “Wherever you want — it’s all up to you!” 

Sabrina has this no-nonsense air about her. When I opened the interview with, “How did you get to where you are now?” Instead of a monologue of a life-slash-career story, she just said, “An airplane.” And she wasn’t being sarcastic. She answers matter-of-factly, direct to the point and straight to you, and the energy she emits is that of an industry veteran. She’s obviously hungry to do more with the time she has to prove to the world what she’s about. 

She had just performed at the VMAs the night before. “J.Lo’s ass was just right there, in front of me!” And the day after her Manila visit, she was off to Vietnam to continue her Asian tour. This is an artist touted as “the next Selena Gomez.” Whether that tag is fair or not to Sabrina, people like to pattern stars after other stars, and I get it. They’re both Disney TV stars turned pop stars. But that’s just it — Sabrina is all her own.  

I make sure to take advantage of these “introductory” tours of these artists, when you can still talk to them. I did so with Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Beyoncé and more — you get the drift. Then when they get super big, all of a sudden, their management doesn’t grant interviews anymore. “Not in the schedule,” or some other reason. With that, I made sure to pinky swear with Sabrina during our interview that after she becomes huge, she’ll still shoot something and do an interview with me, when she returns for her big Arena or Coliseum concert. She said, “Yes, of course!” So I just wanted to put that on record. 

In the conversation that follows, we talk about her process, her songs, how she copes with fame, rejection, social media, her immediate plans, and anything we could think of while talking to each other on that flight of stairs — looking into a future that feels oh so bright. 

How did you get to this place that you are in now?

SABRINA CARPENTER: An airplane.

Exactly, yes — and we walked!

Yeah, and you walked. It’s not too far for you. No... lots of years of working and I personally started posting covers on YouTube when I was around nine, and now I’m 19 and working on my third album so it’s been a journey.

How do you handle that sensory overload when you arrive on the red carpet and people are crazy, calling your name, and then you have to perform. How do you handle all of that?

You just kinda do it. You can’t really process it. There’s really no method of how to get through it. You just kinda do. You enjoy it and you try to make friends in-between all of it because it makes it a lot less scary when you’re having fun with people that you know. I had a lot of friends there so it was good.

Do you still slap yourself and say “whoa”?

Yeah! Especially on days where it’s so crazy. Honestly, what was crazy was that I woke up that morning at 4 a.m. to do Good Morning America, and then as soon as the VMAs were done I flew here to Manila and now I’m sitting on a staircase with you!

Wow! Growing up, was this always your dream?

Yeah, nothing else.

When was the turning point when you realized “I want to be there. This is what I want to do.”

I was probably around six years old when I realized I wanted to do everything. I didn’t really know what that meant or what that entailed as far as everything that I’ve had to do, now that I have learned so much about it. You really learn that along the way. I definitely always knew that I loved to sing and however I was going to get to do that, and write my own songs and be creative, was what I wanted to do.

What is your process like? Because you also write your own songs, so where do you draw inspiration from? How do you find time to write and just stay grounded and focused and then express yourself?

That’s why it takes so long. I’ve been writing my third album now for a year and a half — almost two years. I think that’s why it takes so long is because you need time to be able to experience life in order to have things to write about. Luckily for me, sometimes it comes from the simplest things and exchanges with people. You can literally get it from everywhere.

A lot of people always want something from you — from artists. A photo, a selfie — something out of you. The artist and the market, that’s the relationship. How do you refill yourself when you’re running empty?

That’s a good question! They’re the reason that you’re able to do that so that kind of thing just seems like a “nothing” request. It’s so simple and it’s something that can make their entire day. If that’s the smallest thing that I can do, I’m happy to. But I think the way that you refuel and recharge yourself is really by spending time with people that you love and who remind you that you love what you’re doing. As long as you’re having fun. It sounds so clichéd but really, as long as you’re enjoying it then it makes you want to keep going.

Growing up at Disney — you did work at Disney — what was it like? There’s almost a stigma after that, they tend to rebel.

For me, I was super lucky that that was the starting ground for me because at that age, there weren’t that many opportunities where you could really have a platform with that many people — and different kinds of people and families, like ages old and young. My show specifically was a remake of an old show in the ‘90s so it brought in a lot of older fans to the show. I’ve had a really interesting experience now. You’ll see you have to work a little harder afterwards because it does hold you back. People do have preconceived notions of you, but at the same time it makes everything that much smoother when it does come. I just keep writing and keep staying true to what I want to make. 

Who else do you want to collaborate with, Sabrina, in the future? Let’s make a wish list!

There’s so many great people! (Pauses) I’m a huge fan of Rihanna — I think if I collaborated with her I would forget how to sing. I love Chance the Rapper.

So what is your message to your fans, to the people who are really excited that you’re here?

Mahal ko kayo. I’m so excited! I can’t wait to come back here many more times and meet them all. This is the first time I have the chance to see them in person — for them to hear these songs that I’ve written years ago and some recently, and then they’ll get to hear the new stuff soon.

* * *

Follow the author on Instagram and twitter @officialtimyap and iamtimyap on Facebook.

SABRINA CARPENTER
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