Though she only just finished high school, Saba Lou already has a long history in music. She released her first 7” at age 6 on Slaughthaus/Rob’s House Records, and at age 8 recorded the song “Good Habits (and Bad)” that was licensed by Cartoon Network to play with the end credits for its TV show, Clarence (later released on a 7” on Wacky Waco Records).
By 15, she was writing music of her own, and soon found herself with enough material for a full record. “I’ve only really been writing since 2015, which means the whole lot is on the album,” she says. “Actually “Lost and Found” and “Waiting for the Bus,” the two first tracks on the album, were supposed to be a single but when that took a little long I decided to try to make it a full LP. So it’s a bit of both; they were compiled over time for the record, but there isn’t a common thread or anything.”
The resulting album, Planet Enigma, is a blend of folk and 60s-tinged rock with smart, introspective lyrics that contrast with deceptively gentle melodies, such as “Marzapan Revenge,” about the temptations of getting back at someone who caused you harm, but ultimately realizing that a few moments of pleasure aren’t worth the potentially sacrificing your personal goals and spirit.
Saba Lou recorded Planet Enigma last year at Berlin’s Moon Studios with her producer / dad A.A. Khan (who garage and punk fans may recognize as King Khan). The sessions captured her minimalist style of multi-tracked vocals over sparse guitar lines played on the half-sized nylon-string guitar she’s owned since she was 5 or 6 (“a tiny guitar like that is really handy and comfortable to hold,” she says) and presents an overall calming, relaxed demeanor. “Since all of this was part of a long process, I had no performance pressure at all because I had no rush. So I never really thought of finding other people to back up the songs (aside from vocals) because I could just record it all on my own and wouldn’t have to play it live. Also, this way I could record everything immediately after writing without having to contact anyone.”
The album will be released on July 14 on Ernest Jenning Recording Co., and though Saba Lou hasn’t played live much yet, she’s certainly in a great city to pursue her art. Berlin has long been known as a hub for musicians from all over the world to live and work and according to Saba Lou, the abundant opportunities extend to the age-ages set as much as anyone else. “Depending on the genre and kind of crowd this attracts, I think you do have a chance as a teenager in Berlin. I think the best shot is probably electro/techno or German alternative rock—the fanbase is huge. The general age of a “scene” also depends on the type of music, so the younger musicians are probably most appreciated by the younger audience. They’ve found their own general concert circuit.”
Check out She Shreds’ exclusive premiere of Planet Enigma in its entirety. The album is available for pre-order now.