Nonfiction by Teen Idle | INTERVIEW
Author: Thommy Delaney
Hey Sara! Congrats on your debut LP, "Nonfiction"! Why did you decide to call yourself
Teen Idle and where did the idea for the name come from?
Thank you. I've sort of had the named "Teen Idle" in my back pocket since high school. At that
time in my life I was sort of fantasizing about starting a band but was way too shy to. So I
promised myself that once I had my own band, this had to be the name. "Teen Idle" is the title of
a Marina and the Diamonds song that I heard about in high school, but the funny thing is I never
listened to that song until 2021 or 2022.
You say that some of your influences are Lindsey Buckingham and The Supremes. Were
there any other musicians or even other types of music that inspired you to become one
The Supremes influence didn't really exist until I started to write my first EP, Insomniac Dreams.
I'd always been interested in the pop melodies and lovelorn undertones of '60s music since I
was younger, but I didn't realize it actually had a sonic influence on me until I started writing that
The Fleetwood Mac influence has been there since I started writing songs, since it was actually
my discovery of the song "Rhiannon" that made me want to write songs in the first place. At 15
years old I was really taken aback by how haunting that song is; once I discovered the rest of
the Fleetwood Mac catalog, I decided that was the feeling I need to evoke with my own music.
The musicians who were the real catalysts behind me pursuing music and fronting my own band
were, funny enough, pop artists like Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson, and Gwen Stefani. As a kid
still living in Queens, NY, I'd come home every day in the first and second grades and go across
the street to my neighbor's house after school to watch hours of MTV music videos. This led me
to buy various pop music CDs, the first Gwen Stefani, to accompany me on the bus to school.
"Birthday Cake," the single that was released before the album was released, is certainly
a catchy song. The song is one that talks about themes of adolescence intertwined with
recklessness that you had observed through your years in college. Why did you arrive at
the idea to call the song "Birthday Cake"?
Yeah, the song is really about a troubled adolescent who refuses to grow up and makes a series
of bad decisions that scare their loved ones. It's definitely an observational song and the
protagonist is a caricature that combines various people I sort of came to know in college. The
title comes from this line in the song - "You like the taste of birthday cake / And all your friends
singing your name". To me at least, that lyric is about how, despite this person's reckless actions
- whether it be drug abuse or running away from home - they still cherish moments of
innocence like celebrating a birthday, recognizing the importance of keeping family and friends
around. So it seemed like the perfect title for a song about reckless adulthood.
Interestingly, the song "Norway" that comes after "Birthday Cake" builds on more of the
ideas of the previous track. Out of all the places in the world, why did you choose
Norway to be the title of the song?
Why not? Norway is a cool place!
Just kidding, I do have an actual answer. I think I actually had the song title before writing this
one, which doesn't really happen to me too often. Actually this song is not about Norway at all!
But I was interested in exploring the idea of someone feeling stuck in their hometown and
adopting a "grass is always greener" mindset, trying to escape their town yet never really feeling
happy anywhere else they live. Aside from really just liking the way the word Norway looks for
whatever reason, I suppose the fact that I lived in Denmark for a few months and have an
underlying love for Scandinavia could have been a subconscious influence. But the lore is that
the word Norway just rhymed really well with the lyric "away". I suppose the song could have
also been called "Taipei". That'll be the remix.
The instrumental "Epigraph" is quite an interesting one indeed. I dug the guitar playing
on this. When did you begin learning to play guitar and what was the idea of putting in a
musical interlude in the middle of the album?
Well, thank you, it's always nice to hear that an interlude serves its purpose. I've been playing
the guitar since I was 9. I started at a tiny little music school by my house that's in a shopping
center in the back of a music store, and became obsessed with the instrument. I would force my
teacher to teach me songs from Green Day, the Jonas Brothers, and Paramore, and then I
would do my own learning on YouTube and come back and surprise him with some random new
technique I learned. I was never really good at following a structured lesson.
I always knew there had to be an interlude on this record. I'm a big fan of albums that do this
skillfully, sort of taking you to another planet on the same record and cleansing your palette at
the same time. On my album it feels like after "Things You Say" there is a marked shift in
ambience and mood, so the interlude does a nice job of bridging that upbeat, intense rock song
into "Spiderwebs", a soft ballad.
Are there any more shows in the works for the future?
Oh yes! There are always Teen Idle gigs brewing. The next one will be December 14, headlining
at Finnegan's Pub in Hoboken.
What other projects are you working on for the future?
Naturally when you release one album you start working on all the new material you've been
writing. I'm pretty sure I already have full demos done for an entire new album, maybe two. I'm
not sure what form these songs are going to take in terms of a body of work but I have so much
music that I'm excited to record.
I'd love to also get Teen Idle to do some shows on the West Coast (Seattle, San Fran, Portland,
L.A.), if I can find band members willing to make the trek, and maybe an East Coast weekender
Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
Thank you for your support and giving me a platform to share my art. If you haven't checked out
my album Nonfiction, I recommend it- you might like it! And I had fun answering these
questions! They were refreshing.
Teen Idle is the musical moniker of NJ-based producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist
Sara Abdelbarry. In middle school, Sara was convinced she would become a cardiac surgeon –
conveniently, her craft still gets to the heart, just with sound instead of a scalpel.
Sara crafts rock music with a pop structure that's an ode to the heartfelt sounds of '60s crooners
like The Ronettes meshed with the gritty influence of '90s rock and abrasiveness of the guitar
sounds of Lindsey Buckingham. Teen Idle's first full-length album Nonfiction is out everywhere
now via label H1 Massive. The record debuted in the Top 150 on the NACC radio charts, just
two positions below the Foo Fighters.
Listen to / Purchase "Nonfiction"
About the Author: Thommy Delaney is a Senior Music Business Major at New
Jersey City University. He is also the lead guitarist and a vocalist in the Bayonne
Indie pop-rock band BreakTime: a four-piece writing modern pop tunes with
generous vintage allusions to artists such as The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Looking for something new to listen to? Be sure
to follow BreakTime @breaktimelivenj on social media and stream their music on