There’s a lot that’s been written and said about the beautiful pureness often found in young love, but in doing so, we so frequently forget the other side of it. Young love, even at such a tender age, can hurt. It blindsides you; partly from naivety but mostly from the denial that this love—this all consuming love—could possibly end.
It’s this internal struggle L.A. based singer Tessa Rae details in her new song, “Seventeen.” The track finds Rae’s velvety vocals floating over atmospheric R&B production, as she reminiscences about the bittersweet feelings associated with a young relationship.
“Seventeen” is the first release from her upcoming Two Worlds mixtape, which features production from the same producers who worked with The Weeknd and The Neighbourhood. Listen to the emotional track and read our Q+A with Rae below.
UPDATE: This week, Tessa Rae has shared the cinematic video for “Seventeen.” Watch that below as well.
Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get into music?
I wrote a lot of poetry when I was young and it gradually turned into songwriting. I can’t remember exactly when it started…but ever since I can remember I’ve been writing songs on my piano. It was always something that felt special to me, but I never really shared my music with anyone. It wasn’t until my first year of college when I was introduced to my producer, Justin Warfield, that I realized, wait…this is actually something I could make a career out of. I dropped out of college and moved back to LA. Music is the one thing that always makes sense to me in my life. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
There’s an intimacy to “Seventeen” that’s really captivating. How personal is this song (and your other songs for that matter) to you? Do you draw from personal experiences?
Thank you! This song is very personal to me. It’s an intimate look into what turned out to be quite a tumultuous first real relationship. ”Seventeen” grew out of reminiscing on that love, years later, with a sense of clarity about it. The idea just popped into my head randomly one night. I sat down at my piano and the song just flowed out. Almost all of my songs are about personal experiences and I guess just my observations of the world around me. I like to think of myself as a songwriter first and a singer second. I think the more honest and authentic the lyrics are to an artist, the more beautiful a song is capable of being.
You’re working with the same producers behind The Weeknd and The Neighbourhood—was that purposeful or did that come together randomly?
The process of finding the right people to work with has been a really organic one. Basically, if I was sent a track I liked, I wrote to it. If it sounded good, we recorded it. Sometimes the names of producers were even kept a secret to me at first. We didn’t want me picking someone just because of a name…I think I just gravitated towards people who were in those worlds. It just fit with the vibe of music I wanted to create.
I hear some Lana Del Rey-esque influences on your sound. Who are some female artists that have impacted or inspired you?
I remember listening to Mazzy Star all the time when I was younger…I think she was the first artist who I felt could really transport me into another world with her voice. I just love that dreamy mystical element of her music. She and Fiona Apple I would say are my greatest female influences. They’re both really talented songwriters and I’ve always admired that about them. They write and sing what they want no matter what anyone else thinks…I think that’s amazing.
What’s next for you? Are you working on an EP or LP? Tour?
Yes! I actually just finished my first EP! I’m really excited to put it out into the world. I think it will be interesting to see how people react to it after hearing “Seventeen”. There are a lot of different vibes on the project that I think might surprise people. Now that my first project is done, I’m focusing all my energy on the live show! I’ll definitely be playing live sometime in the near future…probably starting in LA!