In our interview with Savannah Ré we talk about her new EP “No Weapons”, her latest Juno Award win and more.
KB: So we’re gonna obviously talk about the project, but let’s talk about another JUNO. How was that because we were actually there. We were backstage in the press conference room and kind of got to see everything. How was that feeling of winning that JUNO?
Savannah: It was honestly surreal, like I went there feeling like a winner, because you know what, obviously I had won the year before, and it was in the middle of the pandemic. So, of course, I was grateful for that but I was already like, “Okay, this is gonna be a celebration”, regardless if I take something home or not. So I kind of just went in there with the attitude of like Imma turn up, Imma get to see everybody. I’m excited for whoever wins the award. I’m gonna get up and clap. So I was not expecting to actually take it home but yeah it was so, so amazing. Like how affirming is that right? Two years in a row. So yeah.
KB: When you first started doing music professionally, did you foresee this? Was this kind of the goal? Did you think this would happen? Or was it still kind of a little “pinch-me” moment; a surprise?
S: Yeah, I mean, you can always hope and dream and of course, when you get into anything especially something that’s a creative field, you have massive dreams. So you know as a kid I was like, “Yeah Imma have a driver by the time I’m 16,” like all these outlandish things, but you know, at the top of the list is some of these institutions like the Grammys, the JUNOS and all that stuff. Definitely, when I was making music I wasn’t like “Oh I want the awards”, but of course somewhere deep down you’re like “I hope I get these accolades”. So I definitely didn’t think so early in my career, being that I had only put out one EP, and now my second EP. You know, I got my two awards before I even put out my second EP. So I dont know, my head is just in the clouds with all that stuff because it’s honestly amazing but I still cant believe it.
KB: And you mentioned a Grammy. Is that the next aspiration?
S: Hell yeah, absolutely. You know, again, I feel like I’m just starting to tell my story, especially with my music. So, of course down the line. Who doesn’t want a Grammy?
KB: Well, I’d say if anybody can do it, I think you could do it. Even listening to the new project I was like, “Man, this girl’s so good”. The sound is so polished. When I hear the project I’m like, “Man it doesn’t sound like a Toronto project, a Canada project. It just sounds like a project that people across the board, wherever you are in the world, they’re gonna resonate with. And just your voice, the way you use your voice, if anybody can make it to that level I think that you can.
S: Thank you! I appreciate that. God willing. You know, I’m working really hard and for me this isn’t like, “Oh, I’ve got this, so now I can relax.” Now that means I gotta go harder. I mean, I don’t intend to stop until I get there. God willing.
KB: Before we talk about the project, let’s talk about your consistency. I feel like you drop a lot. Not in a bad way, but I feel like I’m hearing about you all the time. Some artists kind of take the foot off the gas and then they come back again. With you I feel like there’s always a “Savannah Re’s dropping” email, or even another project. Can you talk about your consistency, because I feel like you’re consistent. You’re not taking your foot off the gas. Talk about your mental approach right now with your career.
S: Yeah, yeah, I’ve been on the scene for a while, you know. A lot of people have known about me and talked about me in the city. But I didn’t actually start dropping music until 2020. And if you think about it, my EP, my first one came out in 2020 and I’m only now dropping again in 2022. So I don’t drop that often, but I keep my foot on the gas. So each time we do drop, we make sure there is a lot of things going on around it. So if I do drop a song you know, like prior to this EP I dropped some singles, last one I had was “Fiji”. I had “24 hrs”. For me, I don’t just put out music, there’s so much behind it. There’s what I put into the songs, but there’s also like some sort of visual. There’s also gonna be some sort of…like we just constantly keep going in terms of other things that can help build up my brand and keep that growing without necessarily having to flood the streets with music. You know what I mean?
One thing about me, I really take my time. Hence not having a project out for two years. So with No Weapons, it’s kind of where I’m at right now. And I want to start introducing people to all these different sides of me sonically. You know, Canadian, you know what that means, especially Toronto, we’re all there’s so many cultures here, and so many different sounds and stuff. You know, I’m Jamaican, both my parents are Jamaican, and as much as I do R&B, I don’t wanna be boxed into anything. I wanna be able to do different things. And even the way I present myself too, it’s like you see me a lot, but it’s usually gonna be always a bit different. And just for me, I feel like I can’t take my foot off the gas right now. Whether that be music, whether that be brand deals, whatever it is, right now is the time to just keep piling it on.
KB: I like that. So let’s talk about the title, No Weapons. I guess there’s a bit of a biblical reference there, like “No weapon formed against me shall prosper”. Is that a part of the title? Is that influence in there?
S: Yup, yup, absolutely. I was raised Christian. My mom is a very Christian, God-fearing lady. I wouldn’t say I’m “very Christian” but I’m God-fearing. I definitely would consider myself a Christian. And in a lot of my music, I definitely explore religious themes in my own way, in my own, very human, very imperfect way. And I did that on OPIA as well, when we talk about songs like “Sacred” and so on, so forth. It’s like my view, my lens of living my life in a certain way, especially singing secular music.
So when it was time for the second project, I wait for music to come to me. I don’t force music. I don’t force-create music. It could be that I make a song every day for a month, or it could be that I don’t make music for five months. I go with how I feel. So when it came time and I was starting to feel that itch again to make another project, I was like, “How am I feeling? Where am I at in my life right now?” You know, I write all my music at least in parts, so it always has to be honest and always has to come from me–––where I’m at. And it’s like we were on a tail end of this pandemic––I mean, we’re still in it–––but everything was still locked down. Everything was still so heavy. And I’m like “You know what, my last project was very heavy, I don’t wanna go with that same approach this time around. And that scripture my mom always said it to me, she still says it to me. Every time I’m like, “Oh mom, this happened, oh woe is me,” she’s like “Remember, no weapons [formed against me shall prosper]…no weapons.”
You know, so for me, it’s kind of a long title, so I was just like what part really says what the whole scripture emcompasses, and it was for me like No Weapons. Like that’s it, that’s what this is gonna be called. And the music, it doesn’t focus on similar subject matter. I still sing rhythm and blues, there’s gonna be your blues, there’s gonna be your rhythm, but I definitely wanted to tap more into the rhythm aspect. I wanted to get different spices, and speak about things in a different way where it’s like, even if it’s sad it’s still gonna make you move. Like that was my goal. You could be sad but, you gon’ be moving. Your body’s still gonna be able to keep the mood up. That’s what I wanted this time around.
KB: That’s amazing. So let’s go through some of the songs. So “Caution”. You hear a little flow in the beginning. I was like this girl is almost rapping. You hit a little flow, I was like “Oh man, this girl started to get into that rap flow”. I was like “These rappers are in trouble”. You started to veer into that lane. So talk about that, like did you grow up rapping, or listening to hip[-hop? Beause aside from your abilities with vocals, just your flows, I love hearing you, you getting into these little pockets.
S: (Laughing) Thank you. Yeah, I think people want me so bad to be able to rap, and I cannot rap,. I think it’s cause of my talking voice. I sound like I be like “yeahhh bars,” [but] no. Growing up I listened to a lot of stuff. One of the first albums I ever bought with my own money as a child was 50 Cent, Get Rich or Die Trying. So for me, as much as I grew up listening to 90’s R&B because my older sister played it around me, I also grew up listening to a lot of hip-hop. So as much as I’m not a rapper, when I wanted to approach R&B and figure out what my sound is, a lot of it is very rhythmic. I can always give you them ballads. I can give you “24hrs” I can give you a “Solid”, but there’s also so many other layers. And I don’t like being bored. No shade, I’m not saying it’s boring to do ballads all the time, but that’s not who I am. Which is why you’ll notice even in my ballads, the first verse will give you that smooth singing, but when you get into the second verse it’s like “da-da-da-da-da-da-ba-da-da-da,” like I just like to keep that energy up. My structure is that the second verse always has to be different than the first verse. So I feel like I’ve been running away from going straight up rhythmic, because I know that people want me to do it, so I’m like “Nah nah, it has to happen naturally,” but on this project, especially like “Caution” we really kinda started playing with it”
K: You definitely did it well and if you decided to do more, I’d be happy.
S: Thank you!
KB: The next thing I wanna talk about is…well one of the features on the EP is Dylan Sinclair―an artist that I feel like so many people are excited about. Even when I went to Manifesto, there were people from out of town and they were like, “We’re here to see Dylan Sinclair.” Talk about you having him on the project.
S: He’s amazing. He’s the future. He’s one of the young artists that are the future of R&B music. Not in Toronto, in general, global. And I think he’s so amazing. He’s so humble. His journey is literally just beginning. So it’s really cool that we got to do this together. I also consider us real friends. So for me, I always like to do music organically. So a lot of people were like, “Oh it’s so cool for you guys to do a song together.” I was like, “I agree, but I can’t tell you guys when that’s gonna happen” because I’m a person that likes for things to happen naturally.
When it came to “Last One” I had the demo, and it was super, super, super rough. A lot of times I freestyle songs so I just capture it one time. And we were in LA. What was it? June or July 2021. And I played it for him, and it was us and a bunch of other singers. Myself, SAINT, he’s amazing; he’s coming up from the UK. A bunch of artists, we were just jamming, and I was like, “You know what, let me play this song”. And I played it for him; there was no second verse, and he just started going crazy on the second verse, so I was like “Oh okay! You like this one!” It wasn’t even like, “I want you to get on this”. And then I was like okay, cool we’re gonna revisit this when we’re sober, but yeah when we got back to Toronto I was like “Would you be down?” and he was like “Of course I’d be down” and it all just snowballed and we ended up with a record. As much as I knew people were gonna love it, I’m like “Woah”. It’s at millions and millions of streams now, and it’s one of my favourites that we’ve done to be honest.
KB: I feel like those male-female duets, soulful songs, there’s not enough. I think Ari lennox just did one on her album, but when I heard it, I’m like “We need more of that music”, that male-female soulful duets, so I’m glad that you’ve done that.
And the last song “WTF”. I feel like you ventured into a whole different direction, which I loved as well. So talk about that. Beause I feel like there’s a duality with you, you have that side where you could be very vulnerable, but you have that side where, you’re not a thug but…
S: I’m a thug! You got it right, imma thug!
KB: (Laughing) You have that other side where the f word needed to be bleeped out. I liked it. So talk about that duality. Beause you have the side of you that is very loving, and vulnerable and sweet, but you also have…
S: The WTF side.
S: I think human beings are not one thing. I’m not one thing. You’re not one thing. So for me, it’s hard as a musician ‘cause I feel like, especially in R&B you get pigeonholed into one thing, and it’s also like, but each emotion sounds different. You’re not gonna talk softly when you’re angry. There’s just so many different ways to explore different emotions. It’s like I don’t wanna sing soft and nicely if I’m asking somebody, “What are you wasting my time for? You broke my heart, what was all the love I gave you for?” I’m not gonna be like (speaks gently) “What was all the love I gave you for?” No! I’m gonna be like what the f––and so would most women and most men too. We have those feelings. And you know, I’m not condoning going at screaming at somebody, but sometimes, you need a song that you can scream along to to get that out, and that’s what that record was for me. It’s like, as much as I’m in a happy, safe, stable relationship now, I was not always. So I share in that sentiment. I wanted to make sure that there was something like that there, because I feel like a lot of us need to vent right now and don’t always have a place to do that, especially coming outta this pandemic it’s like “A wu sah” so go ahead and scream along. That was the point of that song to get that out, and to get that off for me.
KB: Definitely, that’s good. And last but not least, your first headlining show, coming up very soon at the Phoenix. September 24th?
S: No the EP is the 23rd but the show is at The Phoenix Concert Theatre on October 14th.
KB: October 14th, sorry about that. So yeah, what can people expect ‘cause I heard that right now you’re still kind of crafting the show, who’s opening and what not, but what can people expect from your first headlining show?
S: They can expect me to leave everything on the stage man, that’s all I know how to do. And I so appreciate everyone who’s been along on this journey with me, so I’m not gonna forget about them early songs and all that stuff. I just wanna, I’m just looking forward to really connecting with everybody and really getting to perform these songs for the first time.
KB: Awesome, well we’ll definitely be there all of us, and we look forward to seeing you do your thing on stage!
S: Amazing thank you so much!
KB: Thank you so much, once again this is your boy KB here with one of Toronto’s brightest talents, JUNO winner, singer-songwriter, Savannah Ré.
S: Thank y’all.
JUNO AWARD WINNER SAVANNAH RÉ RELEASES SOPHOMORE EP NO WEAPONS FEATURING LEAD SINGLE “LAST ONE” FEAT. DYLAN SINCLAIR