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INTERVIEW: rel

Pic by Antigua Samuelson

Hi r e l, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Hi VENTS! Thanks for asking; I’ve been really good.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Factory”?
I would love to. “Factory” is a song about conformity, consciousness, and happiness.

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

My experiences growing up and those of people close to me influenced “Factory”. This is the second song penned by Carol “Juice” Antoinette and myself, the first being “All That Bite” (first r.e.l. single). Juice and I talked about where we wanted the song to go; it starts out from a feminine perspective:

You wear pink to be that girl / Was that your choice or the world’s?
Stuck yourself in those shoes/ Wish you were a size two.
More girls lined up behind you/ (you)’ve got the latest model
Improved upon, technologized / back in line, back in line

Before switching to a male perspective for the second verse:

You got swoll to be the man / Was that part of your plan?
Joined the forces, joined the crew / All the hoops you jumped through
To be who you thought you wanted / To be where you felt seen
Seems great, simplified / Back in line, back in line.

Conformity is dangerous because most people don’t fit any one given mold, so someone trying to be a certain way often suppresses parts of themselves in the process. Happiness is an attitude, not a thing; People mistake things with happiness so often.

Any plans to release a video for the single?
I’m not sure about this song in particular, but I am working on an album right now with a visual component. I’m directing the videos, with help from a few close creative collaborators. We are shooting the first of the series tomorrow for an unreleased song called “Consciousness (prod. By Robot Koch)”. The second will be for a track called “Intuition,” and then “Factory” and more after. I want the final piece to tell a story.

How was the recording and writing process?
Writing is my therapy. I’ve always preferred it over reading–I love books, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t do the same magic for me, to read. Writing is something else, something very unearthly and very earthly, at the same time.

Storytelling is healing power, magical, necessary salvation.

I write because I have it all made sense of somewhere and storytelling is how I figure it out. I need it–it’s a salvatory magic.

Writing with other people can make me anxious, if I am being honest, but I try to do it as often as I can because it pushes me out of a comfort zone into a focused middle ground where our strengths and weaknesses are visible. Writing with Juice, in particular, is a magical process. Both songs we have written together are inspired, unconventional, fast, imagery-rich and palpable.

Jynjo (Austin Foley) produced “Factory.” I sent him the rough demo from the writing session and within hours he had a sketch of the production done. I remember being at We Will Rock You (the Queen musical) with my parents and stepping out at intermission to listen to the demo Austin sent via text. It felt like I was in a factory and from there we worked on getting the track just right and then recording vocals.

Known for your evocative and exotic sound – where did you find the inspiration for this sound?
What role does LA plays in your music?
I find inspiration in places and faces. Each song is particular to a certain place. I live in LA, so the sounds of the city are in my heart and voice and music. So are the sounds of the Chicago suburbs, where I grew up, and Amsterdam where much of my family lives and Palm Springs where I’ve been going since I was a baby. Other places resonate too, but those are the strongest in my memory.

When I was small, my grandpa would draw faces on the napkins at restaurants. We are the face drawers, my grandpa, my dad and I–we see faces in everything. We see persons in everyone, and it’s important to me that I maintain humanity in the music I share. People inspire me more than anything and I try to avoid appropriating. (There is a difference between appropriation and appreciation.)

Does the new single mean we can expect a new album – how’s that coming along?
It is coming along! I’ve been writing a LOT lately, alone and with other writers. Several songs for the album are finished, some are still in their skeletal stages and some are still to be written.

When she let it ooze out of her fingers, or her eyes, ears, nose, mouth, throat, and soul respectively– those were the moments of true magic. Tears came to her eyes. She was scared. Excited. Anxious. Happy. Knowing. The journey laid out before her, she was claiming it now. And she knew not what she’d see along the way, but knew the general feeling of it. And that it was coming.

This is the type of thing that is conditioned out of a person at a young, very young, age.

When we are small, we don’t second-guess ourselves. The trust is there, trust to be and to create.

Imagine a small, precocious, sturdy, steady, playful being, three-years-old. Small children don’t second-guess themselves.

Three-year-olds will notice the whiskers on a fox, the stubble on a man, the necklace of a store clerk – their observations provide these small, precocious people with perspective. They align the observers with a sense of connection (by the very power of observing) and with awareness of difference. Growing up desensitizes the three-year-old from her self.

The Memoir of an Aspiring Artist
Is one involving perfection / addiction / adhd / sensuality / sadness / soreness / and, magic.

It’s hard to put into words because I’d rather sing about it, she thinks.

Any tentative release date or title in mind?
I turn 21 on September 21st… I’d love to release a project then. If the album is ready, I hope to release it.

I’m weird about numbers. I have a 3 tattooed in white-ink on my left thumb –where hot coffee burned me a couple years ago, leaving a scar that looked like my favorite number, 3. 21 is 2+1 =3 , 21 is the World Tarot and 3 is the Empress tarot. In astrology 3 is associated with Venus, the goddess of Love. Three is an age when we are just beginning to be socialized, and we haven’t lost touch with ourselves yet, we trust our intuition.

The title will come with the finished project; right now I’m thinking of calling it Evoca Pop™. Or September 21st.

A few songs from the album to look out for are: “Consciousness (produced by Robot Koch)”, “Intuition” and “Green Eyes”.

Any plans to hit the road?
Yes! I hope autumn brings a tour of some sort, whether West Coast or national or something else. I’m playing at some LA venues this summer (Dirty Laundry, the Satellite, and a couple others still being finalized) and at Love Festival in August. 



What else is happening next in r e l’s world?
Big things! Projects followed by more projects.

A lot of growing happened this year. It’s still happening, exponentially. I’m getting a handle on my craft, myself, my art, and vision more and more each day. It’s exhilarating.

Listen here

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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