Rae Leviné, spoken word poet and writer, kicks off 2018 with the release her first EP, titled Tears Fall, Passion Swims.
Leviné has taken on big social issues with her work in the last 18 months, including gun violence and a tribute to those lost in the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower. But on her debut EP, she’s stepped back to reflect on her own journey and her mental health.
Not for the first time, Leviné has bravely fought through depression and anxiety in making this work, which is a positive new reason for others facing hard times to hold on. Leviné told Fringe Frequency a bit about the process of making her first EP and what she hopes listeners take away from it.
“This is for that someone out there who may be afraid to speak out, because they can relate to my story, but are worried they’re alone. I want to let them know they’re not alone at all.” – Rae Leviné
Where did this EP start its life?
It’s always been something I’ve wanted to do, but a lot of things got the better of me. Around early February 2017, the idea blossomed, but, mentally, a lot things were holding me back. So, it stayed an idea until early June. That’s when I started writing drafts of EP titles, creating ideas for the poems and getting in touch with producers, engineers, graphic designers and stuff.
Who produced the music for the EP?
Two of my very talented friends produced the music: Wonda (who’s also known as ‘AyWondaYou’reAnAlien’). I was very happy to get him on this EP. The sounds he sent me represented exactly what I want my listeners to feel. He has previously worked with Cadet, Krept and Konan, Bonkaz and loads more artists.
And Mxllow. He’s a friend from college, I never knew he produced until we got into conversations about the EP and he sent me some stuff. I was absolutely excited about his sound – it fitted perfectly and was the exact vibe I wanted for it.
Poetry has a very different power when delivery face-to-face. But you manage to keep that emotional impact alive in your recorded poetry. How do you keep the essence of your poetry alive in a process like this?
Everything was done remotely. Both producers I know personally, so it was easier to get the sounds I wanted and for us to be on the same page quicker. I described the type of sound I wanted – the ambience, the vibe – and from that, I recorded to a selection of different beats and ended up picking which one worked well for me, and the one I felt happiest with!
As for maintaining focus on my poetry throughout, I make sure my timing and pitch flow correctly, according to the beat. For example, if the beat is fast-paced, I’ll flow with it and follow that lead. However, if it’s slow, I’ll flow according to that. Overtime, I’ve learnt to let the beat just carry my words and not over power it, so that the music is simply a pawn to my words.
What was the toughest challenge in creating the EP?
I think the toughest challenge was the material itself and deciding how honest and vulnerable I really wanted to be, and what I wanted to show to the world, in a sense. I’ve rewritten many drafts to all the poems, some more sugar-coated than others and some more raw, written in my moments of tears, anger and vulnerability. I decided to go with the vulnerable drafts in the end, because I know there’s so much beauty in being honest with our feelings. And someone out there will be able to relate and, hopefully, be thankful that they don’t feel alone in it.
What is the importance of this EP for you?
Mainly to get my message across about mental health – specifically for me, it’s my depression and anxiety – self-love and everything else in between that we, as humans, face. I called it Tears Fall, Passions Swims because that what it was: I was drowning in a lot of negativity, and, more so, self-doubt during the creative process. It was only having the ability to write and finding the strength to express it through poems that made me realise that my passion will always win, and it helps me stay afloat when I feel like I’m drowning and struggling.
It’s almost like a letter to my supporters and fans, letting them know this is something I went through during this period of time, and I’m coming back bigger and better. If there’s anything that you’re going through, understand you’re not alone and you will get through it, step by step.
In a sense, I think the beauty and importance of it, is that. This is for me to understand that my art and gift, that I’ve been blessed with, has a purpose to change my own life and others around me. This is also for that someone out there who may be afraid to speak out, because they can relate to my experience and story, but are worried they’re alone. I want to let them know they’re not alone at all.
Tears Fall, Passion Swims by Rae Leviné is released on January 26, 2018. It can be purchased from iTunes.
Image: Venture Promoter