Sweetly, Softly, Tessa Rae

Tessa Rae dives into the intangible cartels of indie-pop, inspired by the enigmatic journey of falling in love. Embracing the mystique of creativity, she describes her song’s genesis as a divine encounter with the muse, capturing the fleeting nature of romance tinged with hints of apprehension.

Reflecting on her eclectic musical influences and upbringing in LA, Tessa shares how her journey as a musician shaped her sound, culminating in the fusion of folk-tinged indie-pop that defines her artistic evolution. With “Sweetly, Softly,” she navigates the delicate balance between fantasy and reality, intertwining themes of desire and uncertainty.

As she prepares to unveil her upcoming EP, Tessa hints at a sonic exploration that pushes boundaries, promising us a collection of songs that bridges the chasm between cynicism and hopeful romanticism, inviting us into a world where imagination reigns supreme… let’s find out more from our chit-chat below.

Your new single “Sweetly, Softly” feels like a dreamy journey into the whimsical world of indie-pop. What inspired the creation of this tender piece?

This song came from a special place. Call it the ether, call it source. I’d say if there was ever a song written by the ‘muse’ it’s this one. I barely remember the day it was written. That kind of mystery feels somewhat sacred. This song captures the fantasy of falling in love with hints of trepidation. Even the muse knows nothing lasts forever. 

The music video for “Sweetly, Softly” is a visual wonderland! Could you share with us the story behind the artistic choices and the collaboration with Oliver Pearson?

The director, Oliver, was the most giving collaborator. You rarely find someone who cares as much as you do. We took time to get to know one another before diving into filming. He was determined to shoot on film which I loved. He wanted it to feel like my lover was dreaming of me and got really creative with how he portrayed that. 

Your music often blends different genres beautifully. How do you navigate maintaining your unique sound?

I think over time I’ve developed a really keen sense of what I want to sound like. It should feel natural. Even if I tried, I’d never sound like someone else. I’ve never been into singing covers. I’ve always known my voice doesn’t quite sound like anyone else, though I have gotten some fun comparisons. Sixpence None The Richer was the last one I got which was cool. 

From Oakland to LA, your journey as a musician must have been quite an adventure. How has your upbringing and surroundings influenced your music?

Growing up in a small suburban area in LA, there wasn’t a lot to do. We would go to Starbucks and chain smoke in the parking lot. Songwriting would fill up a lot of my time. I would tuck myself away and write songs on my little keyboard. It was second nature. And it didn’t hurt that my dad had the best taste in music. He turned me into a lot of amazing artists.

“Sweetly, Softly” seems to capture the delicate balance between desire and uncertainty. Can you tell us a bit about the emotions you aimed to convey through this track?

I think it’s natural to doubt a good thing. The reality is a lot of the love I’ve felt has been fleeting. It’s easy to become jaded. Even today I try to remind myself to stay in the moment and not fixate on the future when it comes to matters of the heart. But I’m a realist. I think this song is 80% fantasy and 20% reality. 

The lyrics of “Sweetly, Softly” resonate deeply with themes of love and longing. Are there any personal experiences that inspired the heartfelt words?

Believe it or not, this song really isn’t about one person in particular. I think that’s one of the reasons I love it so much. It’s universal. It could describe anyone in the world and that feels really special. 

As an artist, you’ve explored various musical avenues. What drew you to folk-tinged indie-pop and how does it reflect your artistic evolution?

I’ve always been drawn to songwriters like Hope Sandoval, Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan, though it took a while to get back to my roots. It felt natural to explore a lot of different genres. why not?” was my motto. But now I find more excitement within the “why”. Leading with intention can feel very powerful.. When I wrote “Sweetly, Softly” it felt like a turning point. I wanted to show my softer side. At my core, I’m a very delicate person. 

With your upcoming EP on the horizon, what can fans expect in terms of themes and sonic exploration? Any sneak peeks you can share with us?

I think people will be surprised by these songs. They’re unlike anything I’ve made before. I even surprised myself. Sometimes it feels like a “pinch me” moment. It’s been a long journey. I think these songs fill that void in between fantasy and reality. The cynic in me will always lean on the hopeful romantic when she needs to escape. 

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Interview by Izabel Rose