SW Sounds: Sarina Haggarty

SW Sounds is Afternoon Drive's weekly feature on the southwestern Ontario music scene. Listen for it Mondays between 4:30 and 5:00pm on CBC Radio One.

After playing in front of thousands at a Shawn Mendes concert, London's Sarina Haggarty is going her own way

London artist Sarina Haggarty's latest single, 'Crazy', is a departure from her country-folk sound into the world of electronic pop. (Submitted by Sarina Haggarty)

SW Sounds is a weekly feature that profiles a southwestern Ontario artist and their new music. Listen for it Mondays on Afternoon Drive between 4:30 and 5:00pm on CBC Radio One.

London's Sarina Haggarty had the unusual problem of starting her career near the top.

One of her early musical experiences was performing one of her songs in front of more than 20,000 people as a special guest at a Shawn Mendes concert in Cleveland.

Since then, the 20-year-old has been cutting her teeth in southwestern Ontario's indie music circuit. She just released a new single, "Crazy," a departure from her country-folk roots.

What attracted you to making your music?

I grew up in a family full of music, all kinds of instruments and genres. I've always wanted to write original songs, and I got to it a couple years ago. From then on I feel like I've been more open about sharing my original music.

A couple years ago, I had brain surgery because I was growing up with epilepsy. I got accepted for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Exactly a year later, when I was 18, I got the chance. I went on a road trip to Cleveland and I played with Shawn Mendes on his tour. Then me and my mom went to Arizona to sing the song that I sang at Shawn's show, and then I went to Toronto and then to Dublin to sing that song as well.

That's not something that I expected to happen, to have such a big, international wish. That kind of inspired me to keep going. I hope to be on a big stage like that again. I went from playing for 22,000 people to ten people and then to two people, and then maybe a hundred people. So it's been all over the place when it comes to small gigs and big shows.

How is your health now?

I'm very healthy, I think! I wake up, have meals...I'm happy. When I had brain surgery in 2016, London health care was amazing. It was all done in London. But unfortunately, the surgery wasn't a huge success and wasn't what I hoped for. I kept having seizures with my epilepsy. In the summer of 2018, I had another brain surgery but I didn't announce it publicly. So far, I've been good, so let's hope that continues! 

Tell us a bit about your new single.

My new song I just released is called "Crazy." I'm a student at Fanshawe College, and I wrote this song with another student who went to the same program. His name is Drake Campbell and his stage name is Bubblegum. He's so talented and it was so cool to work with another student in the Music Industry Arts program at Fanshawe.

It's kind of out of the blue - I went from making a lot of folky, country music to having this awesome, EDM (electronic dance music) pop song. It's just really happy and upbeat.

This interview was edited and condensed. Have a listen to Sarina Haggarty's new single 'Crazy' as part of her SW Sounds profile:

If you know of an artist or band with new music that we should be featuring on SW Sounds, email or reach out on Twitter, @cbcafternoondr.