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Brooklyn, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Brooklyn, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Solo Pop Post-punk




"Here's a Piece of Activism From Sa'ra Charismata"

Sweden has had a pretty rough year politically. With the general election held in September and bigoted far-right Sweden Democrats trying to bring down every government prioritising other social issues than immigration, it's hard to avoid politics. And evidently, it's not only Sweden that's had a year of narrow-minded opinions taking place on a wider stage in the limelight. Which is why it's about time we hand over the stage to Sa'ra Charismata, a lady determined to speak up against social and economic injustices. Born and raised in Sweden, with parents fleeing the conflict in Eritrea in the 70s, this lady knows how to speak – ehrm, sing – her mind.

Part-time Brooklyn based Sa'ra's tour staring in January will take place on various colleges in Sweden. Why? Well, Sa'ra says that, "Concentration of young people is a vital component of social change as they tend to have the most freedom to question the moral and spiritual health of a nation." And what better way to involve young people in the act of questioning corporate interests than to make your music available to all? So here you go, listen to "SHEEP (Let me go)" below. - Noisey/Vice


Listen to 'Mushroom', the new single from Swedish-Eritrean-American singer-songwriter Sa’ra Charismata. The song, inspired by a love for Super Mario Bros and Nintendo (and described by the singer as "Militant Pop"), is about life's similarities to a video game - the ups and downs, antagonists, and obstacles at every level. - Afropunk


With slow trippy beats and politically tinged lyrics, Swedish- Eritrean artist Sa'ra Charismata is an outspoken voice that mainstream media may never acknowledge.
Recently, she released the music video for her song “Gold Digga”, a critical assessment of materialistic, promiscuous women. Charismata’s beautiful, sexy gothic outfits and surroundings serve to support the grim world she sings of in verses like, “Cold sweat in an ugly stranger’s bed/Toxic kisses bourbon in his breath”.
- By Latonya Pennington - Afropunk

"Sa'ra Charismata gives a TEDx talk"

Sa’ra Charismata, is the quintessential revival of the modern protest song in pop and alternative music. Sa’ra Charismata is proving that she is not afraid to sing truth to power and she is acutely aware that cultural change must necessarily precede political change.

Her story begins as her parents fled the raging conflict in 1970s Eritrea in the horn of Africa, finding sanctuary in Sweden where she was raised. Growing up across three continents, Sa’ra has devoted her adolescent years influencing challenging issues pertaining to racial, economic and gender inequalities through music and field activism, primarily in the U.S.

She currently resides in Brooklyn, NY and Stockholm where she is wrapping up production of her yet untitled debut EP due for release later this spring. Her body of work is a call for collective reflection in the wake of national and global tragedies, with the insight that peace and equality can only be truly attained when those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who bear the brunt of social injustices. She continuously confronts systemic violence and quite bluntly states “War is a business, we’re funding corporate interests.”

Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and listen to her experiences on YouTube.

Check out Sa’ra Charismata’s TEDxTalk “Use Your Voice Uniquely, As Only You Can” - TEDx Stockholm

"Sa'ra Charismata nominated rookie artist of the year at Denniz Pop Awards"

I slutet på förra året uppmärksammade vi Sa'ra Charismata i vår Fyndet-sektion. Nu är hon, tillsammans med Tove Lo och Sun & The Rain Men nominerade i Denniz Pop Awards kategori "Rookie Artist of the Year". Hennes nominerade låt Woman är inspirerad av den legendariska frihetskämpen Maya Angelous dikt Phenomenal Woman.

– Då Angelou gick bort för knappt en vecka sen så är ju det här väldigt känsligt för mig. Hon var en av mina stora mentorer och inspirationer. Woman, som jag skrev i början av året, hade jag inte tänkt släppa förrän senare i sommar med ordentlig marknadsföring, men när jag hörde om hennes bortgång så kände jag starkt att låten måste släppas som en hyllning till henne och hennes livsverk, säger Sa'ra Charismata till GAFFA.

Dennis Pop Awards prisceremoni är den 12:e juni och det går att rösta ytterligare sex dagar. Lite brådis med andra ord, men gör som vi: rösta på Sa'ra Charismata här. -

"Aqui está o novo nome da cultura pop, Sa'ra Charismata."

Aqui está o novo nome da cultura pop, Sa'ra Charismata. Inspirada por uma das suas bandas favoritas, “Bad Brains”, Sa'ra gosta de misturar os ritmos entre gêneros como pop, punk e hip hop para gerar suas mensagens sociais ao mundo.

Nos anos 60 e 70, na Europa e nos EUA (principalmente) foram tempos de muitos protestos. Nas músicas isso aparecia através de letras fortes com mensagens que influenciavam uma geração. Há muitos que delegam à Sa'ra, a nova voz de retorno as canções de protesto moderno na música pop.

E ela está provando que não tem medo de cantar a verdade e acredita que a mudança cultural deve proceder da mudança política. Com um histórico familiar representativo, ela foi criada na Suécia, depois que seus país se refugiaram nesta cidade saindo da África durante confrontos. Atualmente residindo em NY, Sa'ra conta que durante toda sua adolescência lutou por causas relativas à desigualdades de raça e econômica, assim como as de gênero através da sua música.

E ela espalha seu discurso por aí, aqui tem um Tedx onde ela fala sobre o impacto da música na vida das pessoas. Uma ativista como nos velhos tempos! É isso aí, o mundo precisa de mais pessoas assim!

Ao final desta estação lançará seu novo EP. Vamos conhecer Mushroom, seu mais recente single.

Life is the video game ;) - Play My Tape

"'I was ashamed of not being fully Swedish'"

What’s it like growing up in Sweden when you don’t look like anybody else? Swedish-Eritrean singer and social activist Sa’ra Charismata tells The Local about immigration, peace, and why it’s okay to be scared of other cultures.

In the 1970s -- just as it does today -- Sweden welcomed thousands of refugees fleeing from bloody conflicts in Eritrea.

Sa’ra Charismata’s parents were among them.

“Sweden was very receptive to immigrants at the time,” Sa’ra tells The Local, sipping a cup of tea in a café on the island of Södermalm in Stockholm.

They had no connection to Scandinavia, but at that time you simply went wherever you could, Sa’ra says.

“Sweden didn’t have a lot of experience with immigration, and it was one of the easiest countries to come to. It provided so much for immigrants too. It was easier back then.”

While there were fewer formal initiatives to help with integration, Sa’ra says she feels that foreigners were welcomed more than they are now.

“Now it has become more of an obligation coupled with frustration.”

Sweden takes in more asylum seekers per capita than any other EU nation although it backs new migration quotas to help balance out responsibility.

But Sa’ra says she understands it’s only natural that the mindset has changed.

“When you get too much of something it becomes threatening,” the singer says.

“It’s the same way in other European countries, and in the US, with Mexican immigrants. The feeling of becoming a minority is scary for people who aren’t used to it. It’s a normal human reaction.”

Growing up in Sweden during a time when coloured skin was somewhat of a rarity, Sa’ra says that her childhood was "the very definition of an identity crisis".

“I was ashamed of so many things,” Sa’ra says. “I was ashamed of not being fully Swedish. I was ashamed of my parents. I was ashamed of how I lived. I had no sense of pride as a person.”

So when Sa’ra was 17, she did what many an estranged lonely teenager might dream of: She moved to New York.

“I was done with it,” She remarks. “I left as soon as I was done with school because I felt like I couldn’t be myself here.”

The American ‘over-the-top’ culture appealed to Sa’ra ever since she was a child, and it made sense to choose an English-speaking country since she had always gone to international schools. But she also sought out the US because of a perceived freedom she felt she would enjoy there.

“To me it represented liberation,” she explains. “It was this idea that I could live in the US and no one would ask me where I was from – that appealed to me.”

But New York was no bandaid.

“I’ve been through some shit,” she laughs. “Can I say shit?!”

The young Swede still didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life, and though she did well in law school and was loving life in Brooklyn, she found herself in a downward spiral.

“When you keep making decisions in life that make you feel bad, you get to the point where you can’t live with yourself. Like really can’t live with yourself. And when you do that for a long time you have to change.”

Sa’ra was caught in a pattern of bad relationships, only dating men who were emotionally unavailable. She felt she had no purpose in life, fought with her family, and hadn’t been back to Stockholm for years.

She remembers the day she realized something had to give. She had been rowing with her sister, again, about something unimportant.

“I got off the phone and I was just screaming, screaming and crying,” she recalls. “And something happened that day. I was at that point of hating yourself so much that you have to change, or – I don’t even want to think about what else would happen.”

It was at that point that music stepped in and made all the difference. Sa’ra had always loved singing, but never pursued it fully, focusing on education instead.

“I took small steps,” Sa’ra says. “I started with asking myself what I love to do. I love music, and I love helping people. So why am I not doing that?”

She had also always been involved in activism, even unintentionally. She says she was “that girl” on campus, the one that people went to with problems, when they felt their rights had been infringed.

“I was that field activist, storming board rooms and creating the bias campus response team,” she says. “It made me feel so empowered, helping people.”

But it didn’t occur to Sa’ra to combine her two passions until she read a powerful quote from John Lennon about his song 'Imagine':

“It’s anti-religious, anti-nationalistic, anti­-conventional, anti-capitalistic, but because it is sugarcoated it is accepted… Now I understand what you have to do. Put your political message across with a little honey."

“Ding!” Sa’ra exclaims, indicating an invisible lightbulb flashing on in her head.

“That’s how I knew. I had found my calling. I knew that was how I was going to reach out. I had always been frustrated that there are so many horrible things happening in the world, and that there was no music reflecting what is actually happening.”

But how do you sugarcoat protest music? Luckily, despite her identity crisis, Sa’ra is Swedish – so she did what Swedes are known for.

“Hardcore pop music,” she grins.

Since releasing her first single “Gold Digga” last year, Sa’ra has quickly become a popular name on the music scene in Sweden, and was chosen as a key speaker at the latest TEDxStockholm event. She describes her music style as a “militant” and “underground” form of pop, which gets you dancing but then makes you think.

“I mean, why can’t we be radical about peace?” she says. “Why can’t something cool and fun also contribute to the well-being of the world? Music doesn’t have to just be tits and ass.”

In order to complete her transformation and pursue her music 100 percent, though, she had to return to Sweden.

“I dreaded coming back to Sweden, but I felt like I had to go back to my scared self who ran away,” Sa’ra confides. “I felt like it was connected to me not being able to pursue my music. I had to face my demons.”

To her surprise, Sa’ra fell in love with her country of birth, due to its historic focus on tackling inequality.

“I believe in giving recognition where its due, and Sweden is fantastic,” she says.

There’s still work to be done all over the world, but when it comes to core human rights, Sweden is still doing fairly well, she explains.

“I believe that economic inequality is the root of evil,” she says. “When you have financial stability and don’t have to worry about your next meal, you don’t see so many problems in the world. Violence is related to not having your basic needs met.”

The median of welfare is higher in Sweden than many other places in the world, and while marginalization is still an issue, Sa’ra says that awareness is growing.

“The first step is to talk about it. It’s ok to be scared of someone who looks different and has a different culture. Just be honest about it,” she says.

“When you address economical inequality de jour, then it comes with social change. And when your strides are successful, it inspires more change.” - The Local


No todos los días surgen hits instantáneos, como salidos del microondas. Como cuando te preparas el cereal para el desayuno, con esa deliciosa velocidad. Pues bien, aquí tienen uno. Un hit de la nueva rebelión del pop con influencia hip-hop, de nombre “Mushroom”. La autora es una joven artista de Estocolmo, Suecia, llamada Sa’ra Charismata.

Esta artista-activista que tiene raíces en Eritea (África) y Brooklyn (NY) usa la música pop como su mejor desayuno por la mañana para protestar ante la sociedad y crear conciencia sobre todos esos temas que hacen del mundo un lugar no tan bueno para vivir. “Inspiro mi música en una de mis bandas favoritas, Bad Brains; me gusta mezclar las cosas entre los géneros, como el pop, hip-hop y punk para conseguir hacer llegar mi mensaje social a todo el mundo”, nos cuenta la artista vía email.

Y lo hace bastante bien. Principalmente en este single que se te queda pegado casi inmediatamente gracias a un sonido dinámico que también nos recuerda a los mejores hits de los años ochenta. Bailas o bailas, seguro. La artista comenta que ha sido bastante bien recibida por los escuchas mexicanos de Spotify.

“Las últimas estadísticas revelan que tengo la mayoría de mis escuchas en México!”, apunta emocionada Sa’ra Charismata. Y esto apenas es el comienzo. Le auguramos un éxito mucho más allá de la escena independiente, donde ella nació. Dale play al video para que entiendas de lo que estamos hablamos. Y después, seguramente, le volverás a dar play. - One Heap Wonder

"On The Radar: Sa’Ra Charismata"

All today’s ‘On The Radar’ artists we’re submitted by our friends at Music Times, including: synth-loaded jams from Jimkata to keep you grooving all night, NYC’s Neil Davis shows off his impeccable piano and songwriting skills, and Swedish-native turned NYC-resident Sa’Ra Charismata explores dark, electro-pop beats in combination with her unique yet oddly captivating vocals in her recent release ‘Gold Digga’ (which I must warn is highly addictive from personal experience).

This Swedish-born singer rooted her music career in New York City but is now headed back to her home to work on a new album, which she will release on her own label. She has a trippy, downbeat electro-pop sound tinged with unique vocal stylings — sort of a cross between MØ and Soso. - Music Times


Pop music can play an important role in getting your message of social criticism across. Just ask Swedish artist Sa'ra Charismata. She's got a knack for penning dead-on catchy pop tunes that stick in your ears long after they have faded out – and she is determined to speak up against social and economic injustices. A deadly combination!

Sa'ra Charismata has worked her way up on the Stockholm club scene. Next stop: the world. Charismata is a well-travelled musician, having resided in New York for a number of years.

In 2014 she made the internet prick up its ears with the release of the single "Gold Digga", and she caters to the curiosity of pop fans with her latest single "Sheep (Let Me Go)", channeling the expression of other strong Scandinavian pop acts like MØ, Robyn and Susanne Sundfør. Charismata is currently working on an EP, which will be out soon.

When she plays Roskilde Festival 2015 she's bringing a full band with her. Catch her before she eats up the world of pop. She will make it worth your while! - Roskilde Festival


In a way, the label ‘political musician’ is a sham. In this so-called globalized, border-hopping world, what musician isn’t political? It doesn’t matter anymore if you’re Nicki Minaj rapping about your Anaconda or a small Swedish band disrupting gender binaries in your music. When your career relies on media exposure as much as a musician’s does - especially when that exposure largely exists on fluid online media that knows no borders - every move you make automatically becomes connected to a larger social, economic, cultural or political conversation in the media sphere. Result? Everything you do as a musician inevitably becomes political.

That’s why the boxes used to categorize Swedish up and coming artist Sa’ra Charismata seem almost discriminatory and, well, amateur. For an artist who has only released a few tracks so far, she’s already primarily described in ways that tightly bind her to the political and to the underground. Yes, she’s a mixed-background Swedish woman making pop music. Why should her mixed background and her gender automatically categorize her as political? Yes, she’s talking about economic inequality and conspiracy theories in her music. Why should her subject matter automatically limit her to the underground?

Today, we’re premiering Sa'ra Charismata's latest video for a track called “Big Man”. As you’ll see above, it features in-your-face lyrics rejecting capitalist tropes, guerilla-style aesthetics and men in white suits with alien masks. You can decide if that's political, underground or insane—or if you're going to drop the labeling for a second and become just a tiny bit more open to conspiracy theories. In fact, we talked to Sa'ra Charismata about rejecting the political, embracing the spiritual and indulging in conspiracy theories—and we gotta say, she makes a pretty compelling argument. Determine for yourself below.

NOISEY: Hey, Sa'ra. You’re often described as a politically-driven artist. What’s it like being political in Sweden now given the current political climate there?
Sa’ra Charismata: You know, I always struggled with the definition of being a political artist. I feel I shield myself from politics. I’m political in the sense that I choose not to expose myself to the politics of the time because I believe the advancement we’re going to make – social transformation – won’t come from this fear-ridden media. I’m very into the idea that social transformation is impossible in the absence of personal transformation. So, my political-ness is spiritual. You need to deal with the spiritual aspect of yourself before you can actually tackle the external stuff. What we’re seeing now – war, conflict – is a result of people not having spent time finding resolutions from within.

Is this something you’ve always felt, or has it intensified as of late given the events in the world and in Sweden specifically regarding the refugee crisis?
I’ve always felt that it’s true what they say—the same issues will keep recurring in your life until you understand what’s happening in your spirit. If you blame everything on external aspects – bad people, situations, jobs – you’ll keep having the same problems.
We’re taught from a very young age not to feel our emotions—that being rational is how we should be. We’re doing this on a collective level, so the end result is one big mess of people ignoring the one thing that would actually make a difference. I’ve always had an old soul, so I don’t think spirituality is a bunch of New Age mumbo jumbo.

When people listen to your music, is it important to you that people get your message—or are these realizations more for yourself?
I thought to myself, "how do you communicate this message to people who wouldn’t usually encounter spirituality until they’re middle aged? How do you communicate this stuff to an 18 year old?" So I thought I'd use the same tools the music industry uses to sell all the stuff that doesn’t matter. I’m using pop music in a fun way to communicate very important things.

I’ve heard you labeled as Underground Pop. Why do you think that is?
The reason it’s labeled underground is that it has a message. I never went out and said, “I’m political.” Yet people want to put me in that category anyway. When you call something political, what are you doing? You’re automatically polarizing whatever you’re talking about. If you listen to a mainstream artist, you don’t feel like you’re taking a stand by listening to that artist in the same way you would of somebody labeled as different. So it’s almost as if labeling something as political is putting a stamp of non-approval on it. It’s like I’m a thorn. What would happen if the underground rose to the top—if the mainstream was actually positive? What if it said "don’t take drugs" instead of "take drugs, go to the club and pop bottles"?

It sounds like you’re highly critical of the mainstream.
No, I love the mainstream. I mean, I’m signed to a major label now because I don’t think it’s a bad thing to influence a lot of people. We are living in a material world; there’s nothing wrong with buying or selling. That’s part of what makes life enjoyable. I’m just creating a platform for the type of music I wish I had heard more when I was younger.

Although you're strongly labeled as underground, political, activist, etc, do you view that as an advantage or do you feel pigeonholed?
I think it’s neither. At the end of the day, it’s about how much you believe in yourself. You could do everything that’s ‘right’ and still not reach a level of success. On that level, it’s more about you believing in what you’re doing. That's what people will react to.

You’re also described as being super into conspiracy theories. Is that bullshit or are you actually a believer?
I actually believe in a lot of that stuff. Lately I’ve been really into the idea that there’s a reptilian agenda and that there is an alien race. Over time, I just started seeing and feeling things and started thinking to myself, “Hey, wait a second. Maybe this isn’t complete bullshit.” Because isn’t that how our beliefs start anyway? It’s when we feel something and start to decide for ourselves that it’s true.
When you hear the words “conspiracy theory”, that’s also something that you label and put away. I mean, it’s for the weirdos, right? However, if you really look at it, some of it makes sense.

At the end of the day, it is your personal right to believe in what you believe.
Exactly. Isn’t that what everything is, anyway? Something will start as a belief, then it will become a habitual belief and then it will become your truth. In this case, this happens to be something that I believe in and I feel that what's going to make me different as an artist. I'm going to bring this exact discussion into the mainstream in a way that's never been done before.

Thanks a lot, Sa'ra. - Noisey/Vice


Single releases:
Gold Digga (2014)
Woman (2014)
Big Man (2014)
Sheep (2015)
Mushroom (2015) 



SA’RA CHARISMATA – Protest Music in the Shape of Wonderfully Infectious Pop Songs

”It’s about time we hand over the stage to Sa’ra
Charismata, a lady determined to speak up against social and economic
injustices” –

The 60s and 70s in Europe and even more so in the USA were a time of protest, of songs that not only had a strong message, but whose influence came to embody the countercultural voices of their generation. Some say Sa'ra Charismata is the revival of the modern protest song in pop music. Sa'ra Charismata is proving that she is not afraid to sing truth to power and she believes that cultural change must precede political change.

Her story begins as her parents fled the raging conflict in 1970s Eritrea in the horn of Africa, finding sanctuary in Sweden where she was raised. Growing up across three continents, Sa'ra Charismata has devoted her adolescent years influencing challenging issues pertaining to racial, economic and gender inequalities through music and field activism, primarily in the U.S.

She currently resides in Brooklyn, NY and Stockholm, Sweden where she is wrapping up production of her yet untitled debut EP due for release later this summer. Drawing on the internet love for the debut single "Gold Digga" in which she cleverly took aim at cultural greed and materialism, the new material promises to take on a host of pressing issues facing a youth trying to make sense of a seriously fractured society and the daily struggles therein.

Sa'ra Charismata just released her new single for the summer called “Mushroom” which is now available on Spotify. Sa’ra also recently earned high praise after giving a TEDx Talk in Stockholm where she shared her ideas on the impact of music.

See Sa’ra Charismata and her band live this summer:

Roskilde Festival (Roskilde, DK) - June 29th

Peace & Love Festival  (Borlänge, SE) - July 4th

Nefertiti Pop Planet (Gothenburg, SE) – July 29th

Resource links




Twitter: @saracharismata

Instagram: @saracharismata

Band Members