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Discover What Makes Poetica So Unique In Terms Of Music — Interview

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Poetica

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!


4 — If you could pick one poem to describe your life, what would it be?

“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!


9 – Where do you get your best writing done? Day or night time?

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!


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By Erick Ycaza

Hi, my name is Erick Ycaza. I have a BA in Advertising & Graphic Design. This blog is to provide you with daily music news and share my personal style.