Launch 🚀 5 Mag meets SaraProblem

Here’s a first impression: two people stand in a glitched video frame, motionless, then swaying, bouncing, shaking hands, dancing both together and dancing alone at the exact spot where house music began.

That’s the video for “Love This House,” a new single from SaraProblem and Khadeeja Grace, a Chicago artist and vocalist who shot the video for the song guerrilla-style outside the original location of The Warehouse in the West Loop of Chicago…

Welcome to Launch, a new feature from 5 Mag spotlighting new producers on the scene. In each episode we’ll be talking to emerging producers (of any age) about the making of their first tracks and sharing their stories and their music with the world.

To get started, 5 Mag meets SaraProblem, a Chicago artist, digital creator and 2D artist and a music producer that “sings if she has to.”

Singing was not required on “Love This House” which features the highly capable Khadeeja Grace on vocals. Khadeeja has appeared on a number of noteworthy tracks the last few years, recently with Jame 3:26 on “Speak Your Love,” “Gotta Paint” on Italian deep house vinyl imprint NICEPEOPLE and now on “Love This House” with SaraProblem.

The video for “Love This House” was filmed earlier this month in the street outside the location of The Warehouse at 206 S. Jefferson Street, which recently obtained landmark status but is still serving day-to-day as an actual law office. “I thought… let’s go when there will likely be no one there, which is why we chose to film on July 4th weekend early in the day to avoid a lot of spectators,” Sara says. “All I can say is if those lawyers were working then… then they probably had a good laugh at Khadeeja and I being so odd outside.”

“Love This House” was released a couple weeks ago as an independent release and is available on Spotify, Beatport, Apple Music and Amazon, or by dropping a line to @therealsaraproblem on Instagram. The Extended Lounge Mix is especially recommended — a highly inventive production in which a frenzied ’80s sax burns through a fog of nodding dubbed-out ’90s deep house.

What should we know about you before we start? Where are you from, what do you do, where might we have heard of you before?

I am from Chicago, which I am so grateful for because it allows me to explore anything I need to creatively. Currently, I am a producer who sings if she has to, digital creator and 2D artist. Some may have heard a few of my tracks through EP’s and singles I released on various streaming platforms or in partnership with my NFT art.

How long were you working on music before your first was released? What, if any, training do you have?

I have absolutely no formal training in sound, in fact I view myself as more of a concept artist. I began my creative life as a painter and overtime I grew accustomed to working on pieces with the intent of sharing them with the world. When I started making music a couple of years ago, I began with these little soundbites that no one would really care to listen to, but a few of them matured into something longer and after 90 days of making “concept sound” I released my first EP “Timeless”. I cannot say it was the best work I’ve ever heard, but through announcing to the world that my creativity extended into a sound space, I began to acquire mentors and collaborators that to this day I am in awe of. One session, phone call or FaceTime with any of them has revealed yet another layer of what I do not know, so I guess it is sort of like cooking by taste as opposed to using a recipe.

What about your collaborator on this?

I met Khadeeja Grace on a dance floor at a House party last October and our introduction was wrapped in the fact that we both were producers. She invited me to come by her studio to listen to her work and I shared the same… and let me say that this has turned into the most blessed of introductions. Now I am working on tracks with her for an upcoming EP and more importantly we are really creative sounding boards to each other everyday. Khadeeja Grace is one of the most wise and thoughtful people I know, she has a crazy beautiful voice and when she said the phrase “I love this house” one day, I said “Say it again, record it right now… I am making a track about it”.

Walk us through the process, from the spark to the point where we’re pressing play on this track. Tell us about the idea behind it, the process of getting it down, the tools you use and finishing it up?

I make no claims to making any particular genre of music, but what I enjoy listening to and dancing to most is House Music. The tales of our violent, dangerous, segregated and corrupt city are all very true, but what the news fails to acknowledge is that in this special place, the actual birthplace of house, there is a community of people who have safe passage wherever they dance. This community does not care where you live, what you look like or who you love. This pure collective heartbeat so passionately dedicated to the music is what sparked me to create this track. I want everyone to know in our community that these magical facts are seen. My process is organic, I usually start with something that inspires me and in this case it was Khadeeja saying “I love this house”. From there, I work on it from a large format perspective, so that I can eventually needle in to play one or two bars on a loop to perfect each moment. Next, I save the file to a private Soundcloud link, where I listen to it obsessively on my commute to work. At this point, I need to put it down for a few days, listen with fresh ears later and start editing again. I love using Abelton, Splice and all of the tools that come with it and I also use Nectar and Pancake… but, honestly as a newer artist I try to really explore the boundaries, features or benefits of one program or plugin before moving onto discovering another. So, I would imagine that if you asked me this next year, I would have more to share.

When do you decide that it’s “finished,” done, there’s no more you can or want to do with this?

I heard once that a poem is never finished, only abandoned and that is exactly what I feel about my concept sound. I have to be at a point with it where I can no longer even hear it. Like I am immune to it, that is usually how I know it is ready to move to a publishing phase.

Demo or self-release: how did you come to this decision?

For now, I have decided to self release, more because my motive for publishing is to display that I feel that I have grown, not so much to say that this is the greatest track out there. At this point my production skills have not yet reached my taste for excellence, so I suppose that when it does I will more formally shop demos.

How did you think up the idea of shooting a video outside The Warehouse and did the attorneys get irritated?

It was sort of a process of elimination, as there are many places that have been so important to House Music, like the Music Box or Smart Bar that we could have tried to film around… but, the insecure artist part of me wanted privacy while we filmed it with a zero budget. So, with all of the movements to make The Warehouse a historical landmark, I thought… let’s go when there will likely be no one there, which is why we chose to film on July 4th weekend early in the day to avoid a lot of spectators. All I can say is if those lawyers were working then… then they probably had a good laugh at Khadeeja and I being so odd outside.

What’s the hype? Who loves this record?

I feel so flattered, DJ’s and producers across the city and beyond are asking for the audio files, offering to remix it to make it an actual house track and I cry tears of amazement every time another inquiry comes in. Khadeeja and I are still meditating on which direction we are going to take the track in its future. For now, it feels like the people who love it most, not only love House, but also electronic music with their coffee in the morning… which makes me so happy to have people begin their day with our sound. Should any 5Mag subscriber read this and would like to receive the audio files, just follow @therealsaraproblem on IG, shoot me a DM and I will be happy to share it for free.

Who is the person that you hope most of all hears this?

Moodymann. Period. The end.