On November 20th R&B artist Savannah Ré releases her first EP, Opia. Savannah’s arrestingly honest style of self reflection communicates through Opia the importance of openness, honesty, and the strength in vulnerability. HOLR sat with Savannah to talk about the release of her first EP.
Can you tell us about Opia & your inspiration behind it?
‘Opia’ I figured out because of a guy from group called Sonder. It’s not a word I’ve seen before and it’s close to somber but not. It’s a word from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. It’s like the ambiguous entity of someone throwing knives, making you uncomfortable – the feeling of them seeing into your soul. Originally, I didn’t realize there was a word for this feeling or that other people felt this way. This music is so personal and deeply rooted, I’m opening myself up for complete strangers. I definitely wanted to create that feeling with the music – being completely vulnerable and completely honest. With this EP we want to show that there is strength in being vulnerable, rather than weakness.
What do you find most inspirational/powerful about the 2010 r&b/90’s pop that brings focus on those genres as the best way to convert the emotions/message you convey with the song?
One word: Nostalgia. I feel like with that era of music, you hear a song and remember where you were. That song will make you think of some specific memory you’ve attached with the song. A lot of music now doesn’t necessarily need to connect in that way anymore in order to be popular or put out. That era of music, the 90’s-2011, people spent so much time on a song, albums were years in the making – there was so much put into them that you could feel things from the music. For me, I wanted to embody that same feeling – give that same energy, but updated! These genres are parts of the memories of your life – I want to attempt to get that type of feeling back.
Where does this album differentiate from your previous pieces?
This is my first major EP – it differentiates from my other works because it tells the whole story. Singles are snapshots into my life and who I am as an artist. This is the first project you can read like a book; chapter 1 to the end. Homies 2 chapters in, where you are is where I am now – with this EP, people can be on the journey with me.
What was your favourite or most memorable aspect of writing, recording, planning, or producing this EP?
It was so long of a process, with so many great moments. Working on where you are – getting to lock in the studio with Alan was an amazing experience. We ended up starting it out in LA and we finished it here in Toronto, one of our first times completely emerged in a studio like that. It’s very telling in the songs, the perfect blending of what he does and what I do. I am still starstruck when we work together, he’s so humble, he’s always like “stop that”.
How did you know that now is the right time to express the emotions you feel with this EP with the public?
I feel like i’ve been wrestling with it for a long time, it’s my first EP. I felt like when creating the ONE that I would feel it when it was finished & right. We had a lot of these songs for a really long time that we were working on. With the last song “Opia” I was like okay it feels finished – it tells the story. I finished it in summer, but I knew it was going to be a fall project because I wanted everybody to enjoy their summers, have all their fun, then i’d bring them into their feelings for fall.
Please tell us about your inspiration and making of the music video for your latest single ‘Solid’
We spent almost a year planning that video. We met up with the team in coffee shops just to get a feeling for each other. I’m very picky with how I am viewed in film or in photos – at the end of the day there can be issues with how you light black skin, how you show certain things. I so far ended up working with black women as directors for my videos and with that I was more comfortable, so I could focus on the things I want to focus on. Focusing on my performance vs. how it will look: do I like the plot? For a solid chunk of it, we spent a lot of time chipping away at ideas. There is nothing wrong with your standard person-to-person in a relationship dancing in the rain video, but I wanted it to be a little bit more – dystopian than that. People don’t know that i’m really into sci-fi and fantasy, I don’t watch anything else. So for the video I was like “Okay Black Mirror – but make it pretty!”, I was worried people would be like “wtf is this”, but it’s been so well received! The thing when you do a piece of art that’s abstract to some degree, is that everybody will perceive it their own way – which I love. That’s art – its subjective.
What are you hoping/aiming people will get from this EP?
I hope that when they listen to it they walk away with a sense of self, walk away knowing that there’s a beginning to the end, and whatever it is – you can get through it. Part of my brand is to show people that are imperfect, people who have been through things, that there’s a home in me and it’s always going to be that way. I hope when they hear these songs – there’s a strength in vulnerability. I hope they walk away with a whole lot. That’s my duty to do; I have to do the hard work so others can heal or hear something they need to hear in the music.
What are you most proud of about this EP?
Digging deep. I’m really proud of having a full body of work that really is not just on the surface, it’s a deeper level project. I learned a lot and did a lot of healing through this process. I am most proud of digging. I’m proud that it’s real stuff.