As Savannah Ré looks forward with her latest EP she looks back at her Scarborough roots
Savannah Ré is always moving, always looking forward.
Since the release of her debut EP “Opia” in 2020, she’s piled on a 2021 Juno win for “Solid” as Traditional R&B/Soul Recording of the Year and a nomination for Contemporary R&B/Soul Recording of the Year for “Where You Are.” This year, she won Traditional R&B/Soul Recording of the Year again for her single “24hrs.” Going back to 2017, she’s released a run of singles that have had listeners calling for more.
At the mention of the accolades piling up in her thriving career, Ré was bashful. Every award mentioned was met with a slight squirm and sinking in her chair, while a smile continued to beam across her face.
“I don’t know. It’s so weird. I’m an artist which is very forward facing, but if someone doesn’t say it I’m not going to say it,” she said. “That’s just how I am, I think it’s cool though. Like I’m not the type of person where something great happens and I’m like, ‘OK, I can relax.’ I’m like, ‘Nah, that means we got to go double. We got to work even harder.’”
Seated in a room high up in the Universal Music Canada headquarters in Toronto, sporting a cream-coloured track suit, snowy Air Force 1s and silk pressed tresses, Ré’s looking forward again, to the reception to her latest EP “No Weapons,” which dropped Friday. It’s a six-song taste tester that’s brimming with new sounds.
“People want me to rap so bad. I think it’s just because (of) my talking voice and, like, the Scarborough demeanour. I’m like, I cannot rap guys, but I’m definitely exploring more,” Ré said.
Ré sat down with the Star to talk about Toronto, Jamaican food, her puppy, Milo, and how Scarborough has made her the artist she is today.
On this project specifically, there’s new sounds, more tropical. The first track I wondered to myself, is she rapping? Is this finally happening?
I consider myself an R&B singer, but even in just how I approach R&B music there’s a lot more, like, cadences and flows, which I know is what gives people that impression. I want to kind of lean into that a bit more so, on this one, like you said, there’s more spices and tropical stuff, but there’s also like a little bit more, I’d say hip-hop-leaning stuff as well. I’m Jamaican and I’m also from Scarborough. So it’s like those things are ingrained in me, that’s a part of me.
So what are the things that you miss when you’re touring?
I love to travel, but I also love my bed. So there’s that. But I also miss my puppy. I got him the last time I went on tour with Jessie Reyez. But then also we do a lot of travelling and I’m always, like, FaceTiming my dog. And people might think that’s corny, but dog lovers know, people with puppies know. Now that’s my son!
What’s his name?
Milo. He’s a little toy poodle, like seven pounds, but he’s such a big personality.
Do you ever feel this like this need to represent where you’re from, especially considering your success?
I made it a mission. I think, like, no shade or tea to anybody, but sometimes when people get on as a Canadian artist it’s like they’re almost ashamed to say they’re Canadian. I’m, like, Toronto. Scarborough. If I could wear it at all times, I’d be wearing, like, a Blue Jays jersey. I’m so proud to be from where I’m from. And sometimes I’ll be people’s first Canadian person they’ve met, right? So, I’m gonna be like, ‘OK, cool, let me tell you about it,’ you know? Always reppin’.
When you’re coming back from travelling what is the first place you go back to, to get reacquainted with the city?
I’m spoiled. I like to come home for my mom to cook my mom’s food. If not, Chubby’s. I love Chubby’s. It is a Jamaican restaurant in the city.
I’m Jamaican too. Which is your favourite dish?
Breakfast? Cornmeal porridge. Top meal ever? Oxtail, white rice and plantain. I love all types of food, but Jamaican oxtail is it.
What type of influence has the city had on you as an artist or in your music?
Scarborough was like such a melting pot when I grew up. Like, there was just every ethnicity around. There’s a mosque at the corner, there’s a church beside it. Everybody was just together growing up … So part of the reason why I think a lot of people think I should be rapping is because when you meet me (it seems) I’m just, like, rough. But I love it and I would never change it for anything. It’s the way that I move through the world. It’s the way that I write music and my demeanour.
Paying attention to the landscape and Scarborough you see Boi-1da, The Weeknd, even historically, Deborah Cox. What does it mean to you to be part of that legacy, that explosion that’s happening?
It’s insane. And it’s not lost on me. And, you know, Scarborough is not that big and to have, like, these massive talents before me I got to make sure I tie these shoes and get to it. I really want to go the full way and to also have the support of a lot of these people is insane. Deborah Cox is so nice and I’ve had the pleasure of working with her before, and I’m signed to Boi-1da. So it’s like I got the Scarborough stamp already.
When you were working on this project, was there any particular person that you would lean on or who would mentor you when you were going through it?
1da, 100 per cent. I run everything pass 1da. He’s a hard sell regardless of whether you are signed to him or not, like, if it’s not fire. But also just directionally, that’s someone who’s worked on, you know, diamond projects and records. So I like to get his opinion on where things are at.
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