Early Exclusive: Sarabean’s Stunning Debut EP, with Story by John Paul Brammer

March 15th, 2022

Seventeen-year-old producer/songwriter Sarabean unleashes her stunning debut EP please don’t let me be via the collective Seattle-based label Dance Cry Dance Records. Hear the full album, complete with exclusive bonus tracks, by becoming a subscriber of The Dance Cry Dance Break, a new audio magazine available on Substack.

Within the subscription format, each episode of “The Break” pairs a DCD musical artist with a writer who creates a short story or essay inspired by the music. iHola Papi! author and columnist John Paul Brammer joins for Episode 002 with a story inspired by Sarabean’s dazzling EP, followed by a candid conversation between the two moderated by veteran podcast host Moe Provencher. Episode 002 features three exclusive bonus tracks from please don’t let me be, which will remain exclusive to paid subscribers after the album’s public release on April 29, 2022.

Based in Tampa, FL, the self-taught Sarabean explores loneliness in its varied forms through this richly produced EP.  Taking inspiration from trip hop pioneers like Portishead as well as contemporary experimenters like Bleachers and Big Thief, Sarabean wrote and recorded the album alone in her bedroom during the final months of 2021. (“I decided I wanted to write an album, and it was like an explosion,” says Sarabean.)

Tracks like “Intention” and “Belonged” float between starkly strummed elegies and pop hooks, always gilded with a haunting resonance. Sarabean’s laments for lost love, romantic and platonic, are delivered with visceral directness, the dulcet melodies carrying her contemplative musings. The spooky undertones are carried over in the EP cover art, illustrated by Alyx M. (AKA @cherio.kid) an artist Sarabean found on Instagram. A true collaborator, already Sarabean is embarking on her long-term goal to produce for other artists (including an upcoming project with a fellow DCD roster-mate Lindsay Liebro.)

Just as Sarabean’s music encapsulates a distinct feeling of nowness (and the particular strangeness of what it is like to be a teenager at this time), the spirit of the time is mirrored in the unique DCD release model. With unfair compensation to artists from streaming services like Spotify and the acquisition of Bandcamp by Epic Games being topics du jour, these conversations highlight a fact that musicians have known for a long time: traditional models are not working for indie artists.

Based on the ethos that music is art and not content; Dance Cry Dance subscriptions help support independent musicians and writers, allowing them the time and freedom to continue creating, without having to rely on touring or merchandise. To that end, DCD operates as a profit-sharing model, wherein all the artists, writers, contributors receive ownership points on all net profits. Intended for an audience that believes creators should be paid fairly, some episodes of “The Break” feature exclusive content available only to paid subscribers at a rate of $7 per month with the discounted option to pay annually. 

The 2022 release cycle set off with a public mini-episode featuring Softly, to the Night, the fresh EP from south-central Kentucky’s Tiny Tiny, alongside a short story written by DCD owner and founder Natalie Bayne. Subscribers can expect a steady stream of material from the DCD roster in 2022, including exclusive releases from quand il pleut and Lindsay Liebro, and public releases from acts including Cherish DeGraaf, Elhel, MariGo, and more, alongside works from a mix of emerging and established writers.

“I feel like I’m on the cutting edge of something in a way that I don’t normally feel when I’m listening to music. I just enjoyed its take on intimacy, on those small moments.”

– John Paul Brammer