Kids can ask for some pretty wild stuff for Xmas, but 5-year-old Columbus, Ohio, resident Sadie (no last name, please; think Sade and Prince and Sylvester) asked her parents for musical equipment in 2016. Luckily for the music world, she found that Santa had left her a Volca Beats drum machine and a Volca bass synth under the tree. And unlike this writer's childhood ambitions to be a professional wrestling manager and/or mad scientist, Sadie actually threw herself into learning to use these instruments with the healthy sense of disregard for conventions and musical rules that only a child (or Martin Rev) can possess.
By February of 2017, Sadie was prepared to play her first show, opening for two out-of-town techno musicians at a neighborhood venue, Cafe Bourbon Street. And was she ever ready. In the period of just over a month, Sadie had found her sound, which she ominously dubbed "skull rock." It surely ain't Kidz Bop. Based on what we've seen and heard, "skull rock" is like early, raucous Suicide and the Screamers and Little Annie Anxiety and Le Tigre unconsciously stripped to the barest essentials and collaged together in a rush of pure adrenaline and enthusiasm. Sadie's up there alone when she plays, just her and her electronics and usually a leather jacket, belting out songs like "Nightmare Moon" and "Night of Doom." And it's a glorious thing to see.
Kids have made their mark in the DIY musical underground before, from teenage first-wave U.K. punks Eater to preteen Madison, Wisconsin band Old Skull, to 1980s tween NYC post-punker Chandra and even 7-year-old Simon Fair Timony leading the Stinky Puffs in the early '90s (which at one point included the rhythm section of Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic). Sadie is a whole new type of punk mutant – she's doing everything herself and ferociously commanding a spotlight when girls that age are usually told to be "nice" and "not bossy." It's inspiring as hell.
This week, Sadie plays her first Florida show at Stardust as part and parcel of a family vacation to (honestly, where else) Disney. It's a one-off daytime affair, so feel free to bring your own kids along. Gainesville's swamp-synth maestro Algae Guck and Orlando's inimitable Jason Kimmins (aka J.A.S.O.N.) fittingly open.
OW: What made you want to play music?
Sadie: Well, because I saw people doing it and I thought it would be really fun and, like, it would make me super good.
What is skull rock?
Well, like, I saw it in a TV show and I would describe it like a rock that's shaped like a skull that has like little eyes and a, like, a mouth.
- Photo by Danielle Petrosa
So it was on a TV show?
Yeah, that was shaped like a skull. It's Jake and the Never Land Pirates.
And you knew music was called rock, too ...
Are you looking forward more to Disney or playing the show? And you can be honest.
Both. There's not one more than the other. I like both so much. Just say like, it's in the middle for one of them and so the other is right in the same spot too.
Were you nervous at all the first time you played live?
I wasn't because my friend, Uncle Ichie, helped me get my wiggles out. He made me run around and shake myself around and kick some rocks.
And after you did that you weren't nervous at all?
Yeah. I played a game kicking rocks.
And then what was the show like?
I was ... proud.
What are your songs about?
Well, my songs are about, like, what I know, and I get my music from thinking very hard.
Beside this show what else do you have planned for music in 2018?
Doing very rock & roll stuff like being so crazy. Like, I'm gonna jump around and dance so hard and do the best I can to make rock & roll music.
Anything else you want to say?
The music is fun. I love playing music. And someday I bet I'm going to be famous. And if anyone else plays music, I bet they're going to be famous too.
Follow Sadie on Soundcloud at soundcloud.com/user-65389868 or on Instagram at @sadie_official.