Rachael Sage aka Poetica transforms her spoken-word poems into beautiful music to please your ears. What delights the soul is the cinematic and seductive style revealing a rich narrative within each track.
The highlights of her unique art can be discovered in this exclusive interview.
1 — When exactly did this music project start?
This project came together within a few weeks of lockdown, during the pandemic. I had just been on a 2-month tour of the US with Howard Jones, along with cellist Dave Eggar (Coldplay, Paul Simon), and then of course everything came to a halt and we were immediately isolated. Eventually, I made my way upstate to NY’s Hudson Valley, while Dave settled in Tennessee. After a few weeks, I started sending him some of my poems, which I’d long anticipated pulling together into a book, and suggested I could record them and then develop cinematic, cross-genre musical accompaniment to support the texts. He was incredibly supportive, and as the son of poetry professors, uniquely equipped to help distill the choices from over 300 poems to the ones that we ended up recording.
All of the music was recorded remotely by myself, along with Dave and various other collaborators far-flung around the world, and I would edit and arrange the various elements into what the listener hears on the album, giving each player a certain direction but also allowing for a good deal of improvisation. It truly became a reflection of where we all were at the time, and in a lot of ways provided a beautiful excuse to stay connected to some of my favorite musicians during a very challenging time!
2 — How does your music differ from other artists?
By nature, spoken word poetry is very different as a genre because the primary focus is necessarily on the words and their performative articulation – but what makes this project unique in terms of the music is its complete freedom from song structure, almost akin to a film soundtrack. Musically, it fuses elements of Jazz, Americana, and classical along with rhythmic elements like body percussion and beatboxing. Musicalizing poetry, while also forging a distinctive artistic aesthetic that can only be called “Poetica”, has been quite a departure myself and all of the musicians involved!
3 — What type of listeners do you always attract?
As this has been a debut project, we’re still very much finding our audience but so far it has been an interesting and lively mix of folks who already appreciated my and Dave Eggar’s solo projects, along with new listeners of Jazz, spoken word, and even classical music. We’ve had quite a bit of support from Folk and Americana radio as well, and even some New Age DJs have been playing the instrumental version of the album which has been a nice surprise!
“How Songs Are Born” from “Poetica” is a very short poem, but in terms of describing my day-to-day as well as the long-term arc of my life as an artist and observer of human nature, it pretty much sums it up! I also have another poem (in the poetry section of my website) called “Since You Asked” that I wrote in 2007 that lists 5 essential things I believe, including my impressions of empathy and soulfulness. I think if someone were to read these 2 poems, they would get the gist of who I am and what I’ve been striving to do as a creative person.
5 — Do you seek inspiration from books or famous writers?
Of course, I have always been inspired by great writers and having had a theatrical background as well, Shakespeare has pretty much always been my #1! I love so many poets and writers – too many to mention – but in many ways, the classics have made the deepest impression on me… from Greek playwrights (I played Antigone in college and am still recovering!) to Yeats, to Chekov. One of my favorite writers is Bulgakov, who I discovered as a teenager when I took a class trip to Russia. I suppose you could say I’m an old soul when it comes to literature and drama, but I also enjoy a good modern romance novel or historical fiction. I love a good story but probably write more about films I’ve seen, typically, than books I’ve read – maybe because I’m such a visual person.
6 — What was it like to record your self-titled, debut album ‘Poetica’?
I recorded the poems by myself under lockdown, so in some ways, it was quite lonely but once I knew I’d be able to share the tracks with other amazing musicians scattered around the country, I had a lot more motivation to step out of my comfort zone and really stretch, compositionally. I also co-wrote music for several of the pieces, which was a first – and in that sense, it was really very exciting to collaborate across so much distance, and to have the excuse to stay connected to my talented friends! As the project evolved, Dave and I really started to feel that we had developed something very unique, and I had the confidence to reach out to some musicians I hadn’t worked with prior, such as renowned klezmer clarinetist David Krakauer, as well as guitarist Gerry Leonard (David Bowie, Suzanne Vega). There is nothing like anticipation to keep one creatively motivated, and knowing they were both keen to be involved encouraged me to really hone in at a micro-level as a producer and arranger, and make sure they had dynamic, emotionally compelling tracks to play on!
7 — What’s the best thing about collaborating with Delia Beatriz on the remix of “Swing Dance”?
Delia Beatriz came to me via our mutual mastering engineer, Alan Silverman – who’s engineered and mastered so many of my favorite recordings. I trust his ears implicitly and he’s just always “gotten” me. I had been unaware of Delia actually, but once he raised the suggestion of us collaborating I dove deeply into her work as Debit and her background as an artist and was wildly impressed! I’m naturally drawn to highly visionary people and have a lot of respect for how she’s truly paved her own way, creating a signature sound that is completely unique. Plus, it’s always just fun to hear how anyone will take the vocal stems you send to them and “play”; I enjoy when people remix or in her case, entirely rebuild an arrangement around my vocals, from scratch. It’s an adventure!
8 — Who would you dedicate “Swing Dance” to?
I know that part of the reason Dave Eggar felt we should include this poem was because the text really does take one on a journey from a sudden “sting” to a very deep emotional delving that becomes a kind of dance… poeticizing various dynamics that choreography necessarily incorporates: stillness, fast and slow movement and explorations of time and space, of dreams and reality. I am apt to dedicate it, therefore, to all of us trapped at home for a year+, who wished with all our hearts we could, once again, “dance” with our loved ones, however far-flung!
I am always more creative at night, and when I am traveling. It’s very hard for me to be home, back in a routine of any kind, and find the same level of inspiration I might while traveling, in another country, or even sitting in the middle of the woods. And if I am home, I have to take myself out of the mundane generally – go for a walk, or just travel internally somehow via meditation, setting a mood… turning my phone off, lighting some candles. Even as a young kid, I don’t think I’ve written many songs in the daytime actually – I guess I’m just a creature of the night. I need the rest of the world to be quiet I suppose, so I can listen more easily…
10 – Lastly, what would you like to do before the year ends?
I am very excited to complete my next album before the year ends! It’s well underway, but I have all the vocals still left to do; then the fun of creating artwork and videos begins – which I also love and find to be very gratifying in a very different way. After so much time being unable to gather with fellow creatives in the same room, it’s a huge blessing just to be able to work in a studio again with musicians, in person. That – and I’d really like to find time to do some more painting, which is something else I love doing, almost as much as making music!
CONNECT WITH POETICA NOW!
Former Miss Tennessee USA Tucker Nichol Talks Debut Album In Interview
Meet Tucker Nichol, a former Miss Tennessee USA who is ready to take RnB music by storm. Her debut album ‘too close to home’ has already received great reviews, find out more in this exclusive interview.
1 — When did your artistic journey begin as a singer?
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t singing. That’s been such a huge part of me for my entire life. I was always singing around the house, at show recitals, talent shows, etc. At 17, I made the decision to go to Belmont University to major in Commercial Music. Honestly, at this point, I actually prefer singing to talking. I feel that I can communicate much better musically.
2 — How did you decide that ‘too close to home’ would be the title of your debut album?
It was initially going to be just an EP of 5 songs. But the chemistry of the whole team I did the whole project was so awesome, that we were like… hey why don’t we turn this into a whole album? The subject line of the album quite literally was always “too close to home” for me to speak about for years, so I felt that it was an appropriate title, to sum up with this project means to me.
3 – Which song of this album can’t you wait to play live? Why?
“Not My Business”… it’s just such a major vibe. Plus, it was the first single that I released on the album rollout cycle… And the first song we wrote on the album… so it’s very special to me.
4 – Was there a song that almost didn’t make the album?
Nope! Every song made it. We wrote and recorded all 10 of the songs you hear on the album in 10 days.
5 – What is it like working with the RnB genre?
A dream, honestly. I grew up listening to so much RnB and it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do… getting to take my inspirations and put my own little twist on it is an indescribable feeling.
6 – What’s the inspiration behind your lyrics?
The lyrics are, essentially, messages that I will never send. I got to the point where speaking directly to certain people was too painful and too pointless to continue to do… so I started keeping notes on my phone of everything I wanted to get off my chest. I knew it wasn’t healthy to engage with these people, so I wrote hundreds of notes and then took some of them into my writing sessions.
The lyrics are all meant to be very conversational. The whole sentiment is “if you want to know how I feel… here you go… listen to this… it’s all here.” I’m speaking directly to someone who will only hear my voice again if they’re listening to these songs.
I co-wrote the entire project with Mary Weitz, Adam Korbesmeyer, and Jerry Lang II. They are all so incredibly talented and we work really well & fast together! Adam and JL also produced the entire album.
8 – How have people received the ‘too close to home’ album? How has been the feedback so far?
Pretty well so far! I love hearing from people who have listened to the album… it’s cool to know which songs are their favorites and why… hearing which songs they can relate to most means a lot to me. This album has been such a massive healing process for me and I hope that it’ll be able to help others in a similar way that it has helped me!
9 – What would be your advice to someone who’s starting a career in music?
Believe in yourself… no one else can do that for you. Second, guessing yourself is counterproductive to the end goal. Be open to constructive criticism… but also learn to spot the difference between constructive criticism and rude distractions. Don’t let anyone else tell you who you are… find your voice, trust your voice… and use it!
10 – I can’t finish this interview without asking you, what did you learn the most from competing in pageants? Is the competition different in the music industry?
My year as Miss Tennessee USA mostly taught me to be more fearless. It also taught me how to be more disciplined and efficient in all of my tasks. The competition is different but also similar to the music industry in some ways. I used to think about “winning” in a much different way. I used to look at others’ paths and journeys and would constantly compare mine to theirs. I would measure my success against someone else’s yardstick…” who’s wearing the crown and why isn’t it me?” But life doesn’t work that way. It’s a combination of preparation and opportunity/timing. Sometimes you win a pageant and sometimes someone else does. Sometimes you get a record deal and sometimes someone else gets it. Win with class, lose with grace. I have learned to stay in my own lane and only focus on myself and the things I actually have control over. I’m not worried about “the other contestants”/“the other singer-songwriters.” Celebrating others’ successes will never diminish any of mine. Everyone is just out here trying their best… and we’re all on a different wave of time. I want to win, of course… but I also want to see everyone else winning too. When it’s my time, it’ll be my time.
CONNECT WITH TUCKER NICHOL NOW!
5 Years Later, Mallive Is Back With Innovative Music — Interview
After an enigmatic five-year disappearance, Mallive has returned and is prepared to take his rightful place among the dance music elite. Find out more in this interview and listen to his newest track “Wish I XX Love U.”
1 – It took you almost 5 years to produce your new music. Is there something that you regret not doing?
I happened to watch a live stream with Jamie XX where he talked about releasing music: the process of releasing work is as much a logistical one as it is an emotional one — feeling ready to put yourself out there. I wish I could have gotten to this moment sooner, and felt ready sooner. But, everyone gets there in their own time. The best time to plant a tree is two hundred years ago, and the second best time is today.
2 – How would you describe the current phase of your work in just three words?
Part 2: Anew
3 – Do you think is it time for producers to rethink the way they approach their music releases?
There’s a lot I could say here, but I’ll simply say: yes. But, you can approach your release however makes you happy. Always be adapting, but be true to what you are.
4 – Do you see yourself as an experimental artist?
To me, “experimental” means trying something new, and by that measure, I do see myself as an experimental artist. I put pieces of what I love together, and see where it takes me. The result isn’t necessarily “experimental music” as the term goes. But it’s something new.
5 – Why do you think your new single “Wish I XX Love U” is synonymous with innovation?
At the moment, I’m focused on combining two elements. As I call them, kineticism & emotionality, or beat & heart: something that makes you move, and something that fills your heart. Your favorite bassy track at the club, and your favorite ballad to listen to on the night bus home. My single “Wish I XX Love U” puts the two together, so you get the driving energy with soaring melody, and quick hits with moving chords. You’ll hear it on the dance floor, and hum the vocals when you’re looking out the window before pulling up the covers and drifting off to sleep.
6 – What do you hope your listeners take away from this track?
A sense of energy & sentimentality. And a hug! Go hug someone.
7 – What is it about? What’s the inspiration behind it?
This song is about intimacy & acceptance.
The lyric is “wish I didn’t love you, but I do”.
To love someone, to become intertwined with another is terrifying. You are responsible to them, and they, to you. But that’s what it’s all about: to be something more than yourself. So be here, be brave, and love them anyway.
8 – How do you go from the Future Bass sound to the fresh vibe that you’re displaying in your present-day music?
Years of writing. I took 2018 off to finish school, and after that, I’ve been churning through hundreds of ideas. I went through many different genres and styles. In 2018, Disco and House like Daphni, then to electronic bands like Roosevelt in 2019, rediscovered piano in 2020. In late 2021 and early 2022, I found a number of producers, mostly from Australia and the UK doing something I’d never heard of before. These artists: Jamesjamesjames, SWIM, Skin On Skin, Duskus, and Salute, helped me solidify a new sound: dance music for your heart.
It’s tough! If you’d talked to me in 2021, I would say social media is bad for your health, bad for humanity, and that no one should have an Instagram. I still sort of believe that, but I also understand that it’s a useful way to share. As an artist, it can help me get the word out. But, as an artist, I am also pressured to make my life and work into content for the algorithm: not good. If there’s something I come back to, it’s this: “a life is not lived online”. Whatever cool thing on your phone is the tiniest slice of what life is: there’s so much more outside the screen.
10 – What else can we expect from Mallive in the next months?
More (-: I’m committing myself make great, moving music. I’ve got more tracks in the release queue (an EP?) club edits that need to find a home off the dance floor, and at least one more show this fall. Stay tuned via Instagram or text HUG to +1 (855) 684-1950.
CONNECT WITH MALLIVE NOW!
Shallou Talks New Song “Us” And The Creative Process Behind It
Shallou took some time out of his busy schedule to speak with us about the creative process behind “Us,” his latest collaboration with ayokay. Read the interview to learn what he hopes listeners take away from his beautiful EDM song.
1 — What truly inspired you to write a song like “Us”?
I’m lucky enough to be in a happy and healthy relationship that feels like I need to cultivate and protect. Sometimes the outside world gets to be too much and causes a lot of stress in your life, and all you want is to go somewhere you can just enjoy your existence with the person you love.
2 — What qualities do you think makes this tune different from your previous ones?
This one is happier and uplifting – it feels like something you would hear in a Kygo set and also has a sweet message. Something about my vocal tone makes it a little less poppy and genuine, but it’s as lovey-dovey (and possibly cheesy) as I can get!
3 — What goals did you want to achieve by working with ayokay?
ayokay is impressive because of his ability to write vocals, produce and engineer all by himself. As someone who likes wearing many hats as well in the creation of a track, there’s no one better to work with than a fellow writer-producer-vocalist who understands the electronic space, and how to balance that with Pop elements. We’ve run in similar circles for many years and I think both our fanbases have been pushing for this collab for a while.
Sometimes an idea will come out of nowhere, or I’ll hear a track that inspires me and I want to hit the studio and make something immediately. Other times I sit down to write with not a single idea and I just start tinkering on the piano or with the voice notes app. The will to create is not always spontaneous, but the flow of taking a track from start to finish always is. Melodies pop into your head as you’re building out a song – same with possible drum sounds or lyric ideas so the song is always changing moment by moment.
5 — How do you find that balance of planning everything and then maintaining a creative self as well?
I honestly delegate a lot of the planning to my manager and label. I’m always paying attention to the overall plan for my music, but I’m always most zoned in on creating. To me, it’s the only way to stay sane and have longevity in the music industry!
6 — How many days or weeks did you spend in the studio while producing “Us”?
Alex (ayokay) and I met up one time and wrote the melody and lyrics but the track wasn’t produced at all, it only had just a synth and voice. I took what we had and produced it out a bunch, and then we sent it back and forth online until we both felt like it was done.
Definitely. Sometimes I like to think of it as an ode to my cat. 🙂
8 — Is there a particular genre that you’re interested to explore in the future?
I’ve been working on a bunch more dancey stuff that still has that Shallou sound to it. I’ve also toyed with the idea of doing an Indie Folk side project.
9 — Are you thinking about dropping remixes for “Us”?
No official ones, but there’s a little remix contest going on in my Discord – I put the stems there and producers have been creating their own versions and posting them there. It’s really fun!
10 — Besides music, are there any other outlets you express yourself with?
I’m working on a couple of short film ideas (I have a full one written) because I’ve always loved the visual space. I still have a lot to learn, but it’s really fun fantasizing about directing something someday.