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A romantic at heart, there wouldn't be any other day more fitting for LA-based singer-songwriter Tessa Rae to release her latest single "Sweetly, Softly" than on Valentine's Day (February 14th). The track possesses a delicate and ethereal feel, reminiscent of a lullaby that transports listeners into a dreamlike, timeless realm - a sentiment echoed in the accompanying video directed by Oliver Pearson.

F Word's editor-in-chief, Maisie Daniels, had the opportunity to delve into the creation of "Sweetly, Softly" and understand why this indie-pop artist holds onto this song so dearly, along with exciting discussions about an upcoming EP, and much more!


Maisie Daniels: Hey Tessa, welcome to F Word! Talk us through a typical day in LA?

Tessa Rae: I love waking up to my dog and my cat. In an attempt to stay sane I like to journal first and clear my head - these morning pages are inspired by the book The Artist’s Way which I recommend to any creative. I love a good workout before escaping into a music session.

MD: What’s been bringing happiness to your days lately?

TR: I’ve been getting better at clearing my physical space which helps with mental blockages. Things as simple as burning incense or lighting a candle can work wonders! I’ve also recently taken a music course with the songwriter Adrianne Lenker of Big Thief which has been incredibly inspiring. 

MD: Congratulations on the new single “Sweetly, Softly” why did you choose Valentine's Day for its release? 

TR: Though I can be quite cynical when it comes to love, I am a hopeless romantic at heart so Valentine's Day felt like a sweet way to set the tone for a song about pure romance. 

MD: The single is beautifully cinematic and is calling out to be in a coming-of-age Indie film! What film would you have loved to see this track feature in growing up?

TR: Thank you! Wow, I could envision this song in a film like Brokeback Mountain - there is so much internal and external conflict when it comes to love in that film which is very potent in “Sweetly, Softly” - it's all about the juxtaposition of desire and fear that come along with such extreme intimacy. 

MD: The video is wonderfully dreamlike with a nostalgic feel throughout. Can you expand on the decision to shoot it on film?

TR: I met the director, Oliver Pearson, through a friend of a friend. We got together for a smoothie and some vintage shopping and quickly became fast friends. Oliver was really set on shooting the video completely on film which I admired. He wanted to evoke a dreamlike feel as if my lover was dreaming of me! I thought it would help evoke the timelessness within the song so I was all for it.  It felt very meaningful in the moments we were filming, we had to be very present because footage was limited! 

MD: At what point in your life did you realise you wanted to write this song? And was it a long process from start to finish?

TR: I love that question! When I wrote this song I was at a fork in the road and felt I had to choose what kind of artist I wanted to be. This song really spoke to me - there’s an innocence there and a longing that I had been feeling in my life and in my music - it just felt right. I thought “this is what I want my project to feel like - this is me” 

The process of writing this song was almost as dream like as it sounds. I have vague memories of writing and recording this song because it feels as if it was created in the blink of an eye, which is rare for me - I really cherish that about this song. 

MD: What do you hope that people take away from “Sweetly, Softly”?

TR: There is something about its energy that I think is very honest and poignant - It captures the “will we/won’t we” moments in between falling in love - it’s a scary yet beautiful time and the juxtaposition of those emotions I hope will feel familiar to the listener.  

MD: What did you learn from making this track?

TR: Not every work of art need be overthought.

MD: Not only is the single sweet and soft, so is that voice of yours - when did you release you could sing, and that this was a career you wanted to progress with?

TR: I have some cliche videos of myself singing as a young girl - there was something so innocent and pure about that girl and I try my best to hold onto her. I was always writing poetry in class and would sit down at the piano when I got home from school - it’s always been in my DNA. 

MD: What advice would you give to your younger self? 

TR: Wow, so much. I would tell her to journal and write a song every single day. And remind her baby steps are important too. Oh and travel! 

MD: What can we expect from you in 2024?

MD: This single led me down the road of creating my upcoming EP of the same title so I’m excited to share. I’ve also started dreaming up the next chapter…we can call it a rebirth of sorts. Stay tuned! 

MD: Let's finish with a LOVE related quick fire round! Complete the following sentences:

MD: An object I love…

TR: My father’s paintings hung up in my bedroom 

MD: Something I love to do…

TR: A good tarot reading led with intention 

MD: Something I wish I didn't love...

TR: Reality TV…those real housewives got me hooked

MD: Love would be better with… 

TR: More freedom, more self love, more phone calls 

MD: Love would be better without… 

TR: Jealousy - it’s a useless emotion 

MD: And finally, finally... What's your favourite F-word?

TR: Faith! Always have faith in yourself and your journey. 


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