It was the works of Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan and Aretha Franklin that inspired the early learning?s of the young Michael Stafford. But now, aged 21, under his thesaurus-inspired moniker, Maverick Sabre is garnering acclaim for his wave of hip-hop inspired soulful folk vocals.
Having already won over a diverse fanbase, from the crowds at SXSW in Texas to the DJs at Jamaica?s infamous Irie FM, where he performed an impromptu gig in the car park, stints on recent national tours with Plan B and Chase & Status tour haven?t gone amiss either.
Maverick?s musical escapade began when, aged four, his parents decided to leave their home in Stoke Newington, London, hoping for a better life in Ireland?s sunny southeast, Wexford.
It was on hearing Ben E. King?s ?Stand By Me? that Maverick fell in love with music. Accompanying his dad to performances and enjoying sets before bedtime, once he?d mastered four chords on the guitar it was enough for Maverick to take the initiative and teach himself the rest. Aged eight, he wrote his first song. Recording sessions with his dad ensued but it was Maverick?s older sister?s love of R&B and hip-hop that opened his eyes to a wider range of music and took his homegrown formula to the next phase. Tracks like So Solid?s ?21 Seconds?, The Streets ?Lets Push Things Forward? and More Fire Crew?s ?Oi?, the only CD he was allowed to buy in the Harrods sale because it was ?1, became key influences.
?By that point I?d lost touch with myself and it was Tupac and Dizzee that made me sit up again. Tupac bought a really key element to music for me, he made me want to write and write better??
On hitting his teenage years Maverick also found the confidence he?d previously been lacking and began performing on the Irish hip-hop scene. Through groups like Rap Ireland and Urban Intelligence, support slots ensued for The Game, Lloyd Banks, Lethal Bizzle and Plan B, an artist he can now call his friend.
Welcomed onto the capital?s hip-hop scene with the help of DJ Snuff (Speakers Corner) and a set at YoYo?s, it was Plan B (on hearing Maverick sing) who suggested a move to London should be on the cards.
Maverick moved over to London and began living with an aunt where he then joined the dole queue for over a year. The singer, Plan B then opened his doors to Maverick and a flat mate he became.
Plugging away on the acoustic circuit, having been encouraged to focus on his singing, it was at one such booking that he met his now-manager and together they started from scratch.
Recent studio sessions with Chase & Status and Footsie have given Maverick a new take on his folk-like songs, reigniting his love for all things dark, wobbly and bassline related. Where his dream session?s concerned, envisage 9th Wonder on production, Erykah Badu and Adele on vocals, with Mike Skinner as creative director.
?Now what I?ve got to do for my album is capture that live element of what I do, but unite it with my love of dubstep and a soulful undertone. I don?t want my album to get lost, I want it to be something that?s picked up in years to come??
Tracks like the Virginia Tech Massacre inspired ?They Found Him A Gun? and ?Look What I Done?, his forthcoming single about the perils man inflicts upon woman, while sonically different to his dubstep-inspired collaborations, equally showcase the voice that won?t leave you alone long after the records finished.
Anyone looking for evidence need only check his mixtape, The Travelling Man, a 10-track strong free download for anyone with a penchant for the kind of folk tales you won?t find in the average storybook. Pirate radio favourite ?Inside?, featuring Footsie from Newham Generals (Dirtee Stank), further showcases Mavericks ability to switch from his guitar to a lyric slinging rave champion. Similarly, the Starkey produced heater ?Run To The Roof? has gained support from MistaJam, Zane Lowe, Annie Mac and Huw Stephens.
Sealing his position as one to watch on the vocal scene, Maverick?s feature on Professor Green?s latest single ?Jungle?, a dubstep monster produced by True Tiger, has become the sound ringing on mobile phones up and down the country.
?I feel comfortable as myself for the first time ever. I want to be that artist people come together for, connecting audiences and genres. And I want to show all young people especially young Irish people it doesn?t matter where you?re from, how small the place, or how little the opportunity, you can only be kept down by a small mentality.?
Thankfully that?s something Maverick Sabre certainly doesn?t have.
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