Coming out of Arizona, Saiah is taking the present quarantine in stride. Riding the wave of “Polaroid” – their biggest single yet – the Pittsburgh native has dedicated themself to growing and producing the most honest art he can. Known for their alternative take on Rap and R&B they share some insight into where they are from and where they hope to go. Having gained traction playing local shows in the Arizona scene (alongside another rising underground act in “Belaganas”) they achieved even more attention through their collaboration with Polaroid. Now they are looking towards the future and utilizing their newfound free time to learn more about themself and their craft. We had the opportunity to speak with them over video chat and we spoke about how they found their recent success, what led up to that, and what they have planned next.

From your perspective, who is Saiah?

Saiah is Saiah. They are an emotional being. They are the 100% authentic version of themself. Saiah is confused, Saiah is loving, Saiah is confused about loving. Saiah is someone who is learning to be Saiah. I went through an identity crisis all last year trying to figure out who Saiah was and what kind of art and message I wanted to put out.

What can you tell me about the Polaroid single, the video, linking with Guardin’ etc.?

Polaroid…that’s a song right there. The process of making that song was really weird. I was talking to  this one girl and then a few other girls and it just wasn’t healthy. I realized at the end of the day I couldn’t do that anymore and I just had to sit down and figure it out. One day that girl I was talking to dropped me off at the studio and I just had all these emotions floating around and didn’t know how to tell her so I just took all those feelings and put them  into Polaroid. It was just me saying “I hope you find someone better for you because I fall in love way too much.”. Art is the only way I can speak because I’m afraid to speak sometimes. 

All the deep stuff aside though, Polaroid was already made and I was saying “This is gonna be like my country bop.” but over time I felt that I just had to make it some next level shit. I have my boys Danny and Tommy who have been my friends for a while, shout out to Overcast by the way. I showed them Polaroid and they really wanted to shoot it, this was before Guardin’ was even on it.  

Over your career you’ve put out a variety of different sounds, you rap, you sing, you’ve even done some electronic work. Do you have a style that you connect with most?

Anything with acoustic guitar. I love acoustic guitar, it reminds me of being in nature and the trees and all that. Holding a guitar in my hand, it feels like I just have a tree in my hand, making music. I love nature a lot. I love the trees and the sky and the birds and the clouds. I like sunsets and I dislike rain but I can deal with it. I love a good acoustic sound, even beyond a guitar, like wood blocks or any other percussion. It takes me back to where I feel music began, and that’s where I feel more comfortable.

Do you feel like – in this day in age with electronic production being the main style – you have had to compromise some of that?

Oh we are definitely in a digital age so I certainly have done and will do the digital thing with electric guitars and other stuff, but the songs with acoustics in them are the songs that are 100% me for sure. I still put all of myself into any kind of more electronic song, but there is some kind of frequency blockage that you don’t have in an acoustic song. There is a lot you can do with electric sound, but it comes from a code. Like my head isn’t made of 1s and 0s, but I have to hop on a 1s and 0s beat. You don’t have that with acoustic sounds.

How are you finding this quarantine and social isolation is affecting your creative process?

I have been super productive, I’ve actually finished and produced two projects. Before quarantine I had been out in Arizona, and decided to come back here to Pittsburgh just because I had been grinding so hard I needed a break. I got out here and only had a week to hang out and then Corona hit and everyone had to stay inside. I just said fuck it and started producing my own stuff, because I had dabbled and I’m good with melody and drums and whatnot. The biggest thing I needed to figure out was adding bass, because bass is like the sex of the song, it’s gotta make love to the melody you know. 

I’ve been appreciating all the small things since I’ve been out here. There’s trees and woods all around and I just go and walk around; it reminds me of being a kid and building a treehouse or whatever and that is what the music is about. I’m learning to love myself and love again. Polaroid was coming from a really numb place where I was getting around with girls and hurting myself and it just wasn’t very good at all. After Polaroid I decided I just had to start taking care of myself more and that’s what I have been doing.

What is your earliest musical memory?

The first things that I can remember are Gwen Stefani and Michael Jackson. Gwen Stefani and Michael Jackson for sure. I had a little CD player when I was 6 that my mom got me for christmas and I would just listen to that all day, every day like “This beat is bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s” just around my house. My family loved Michael Jackson too, my grandma just had CDs on CDs, he was just always around. I used to look up to him and his starpower and thought “I have to be like him one day.” I had a glove, I would dance around, and it really made me fall in love with music. I didn’t fall in love with his lyrics, but I fell in love with the way his music made me feel and I think that’s super important. The right music can heal you, and that music healed me and helped me in a lot of ways.

Describe your musical influences and the way they show themselves in your work.

This isn’t even a hard question, shout-out to Kid Cudi, Kid Cudder, I love that guy. And it’s not so much as I wanna sound like him but that I love what he preaches what he’s saying. He was always just about being himself, it felt like he couldn’t make a song unless he was being 100% himself. That’s what I get from it: you can’t make music unless you’re yourself. When I first started doing this I was tryna be like Lil Pump on some “Lets go fuck bitches” type shit. That was back in 2017 so I was young and stupid but I didn’t realize any of that shit then. 

Another inspiration is Frank Ocean, because of his aesthetic and the energy he puts out, he has a really pretty aesthetic. It seems like he’s one with himself, and he’s also a loverboy you know. Every song is about loving someone or something and that’s actually where Loverboy Raceway came from. It’s the idea of spreading and experiencing and preaching love, because it’s always okay to preach love.

It is no secret that your fanbase has been growing; “Polaroid” alone has over 100k views on Youtube and over almost 1,000,000 streams on Spotify. What are you excited to show all those people next?

I actually have another project besides the two I made in quarantine, that is supposed to be coming out soon. I can’t say the date, because I don’t even know the date, but it’s a project that’s not self-produced that is going to be next level for me.I’m still leveling up, so this is going to be one level up from Polaroid you know, it’s gonna be crazy. It’s got some folk, some alternative, it’s got everything. I like making things weird bro, it’s fun.