‘We’re really grateful to still be doing it and get another bite of the cherry’


The resurgence of Halifax singer Sarah Blackwood’s hometown mirrors that of her band Dubstar, who released their first new material for 17 years this summer.

The Piece Hall, a flourishing craft beer and music scene and various television dramas filmed in the town have helped put Halifax on the national map, while Dubstar are also back with their first album since Make It Better was released in 2000.

“There could be something in the water!” jokes Sarah about the ascent of the place she grew up in and the band that give expression to a childhood dream.

“Halifax ingrained it in my psyche,” she says of her passion for music. “I loved Kate Bush and Wuthering Heights, and I’d go running up Ogden Moor with that sense of romance and emotional hedonism.

“I wanted to be a singer, nothing else mattered to me. There was no plan B.

“I wanted to be in a band since the age of five. I remember writing my list to Santa and getting a record deal with EMI was at the top.”

Sarah grew up in Bradshaw, attending Whitehill Primary School.

“I had a violin forced into my hand at school. I was asked to sing to see if I could reach a pitch and was handed a violin instead.”

Dubstar, comprising Sarah and Chris Wilkie, formed in Newcastle Upon Tyne in 1993, and had eight Top 40 singles and three hugely successful albums in the 1990’s.

Sarah says it is a different Dubstar that has re-emerged time time round with their new album, One.

“We went to parties and didn’t feel like we should be there, we’d be wallflowers rather than part of the scene.

“But we have more perspective now, we’re a little older and wiser.

“We’ve got families and different lives now. Chris has a family and one of his songs is about the school run.

“We’re really grateful to still be doing it and get another bite of the cherry, although it’s probably my 15th bite!

“It all happened so quickly first time round. I just thought ‘how did this happen?’

“It was a slow build-up but then when it happened, within six months we had a record deal. It was just ‘wow, pinch me, what’s going on?’

“After a handful of singing appearances, I was on stage in-front of 5,000 people at Leeds University thinking ‘oh my god!’”

And as for a homecoming gig in Halifax to be part of the town’s thriving music scene, Sarah adds: “I would love it. One of my friends posted some footage of James’ recent gig at the Victoria Theatre and underneath wrote ‘make it happen’.

“I visited the other weekend and it was so lovely, walking round the Piece Hall and Square Chapel.

“Halifax is really spoilt for choice with music venues, with the Victoria Theatre, the Trades Club, which is a fantastic venue, really cool. It’s wonderful to see it thriving.”

Dubstar’s new album One is released on October 5.