Artist Spotlight: Summer Pearl

Photo Credit:  Ortiz-Arenas

Photo Credit: Ortiz-Arenas

Talking with the creative-entity that is Summer-Pearl on her latest collaborations alongside upcoming artists Teshay Makeda and Enny; the importance she places on both her visuals and live instrumentation; and the process of creating her first project, ‘Only Child’.

Emily: With a busy year so far, having already released five singles, how has collaborating with your fellow artists been and how have you been staying creative during lockdown?
Summer-Pearl: I like to collaborate with people I genuinely like, so it’s been fairly easy with the artists who’ve featured on my music. Sometimes, I write and listen back and hear someone I’d like to feature on it; sometimes I write a track with a feature in mind.

With ‘The Difference’; that song was finished and then I realised it made sense to have the males perspective on it. I needed an artist who was a good storyteller – enter LEVi. I’ve known him for years, so I knew the chemistry would be there. 

With Enny, we hadn’t known each other very long, but as soon as I heard her, I knew I needed to collaborate with her, it just made sense. She has the rawity I like in an artist and something I pride myself in having. ‘The Boy’ was also the first track I’d written with another woman in mind. 

‘The Only Way’ which features Eerf Evil is quite an explicit track. My verse is actually a freestyle that I’d performed as a little side project for my EP (which was then called ‘Tackling’), but my audience seemed to take to it more than I expected, so I decided to create an extended version. Much like ‘The Difference’, I felt I needed someone who I went way back with on the track and who understood what I was talking about fully, I also needed to get that male perspective – enter Eerf. 

‘Food for Thought’ was probably the easiest to write, in terms of the content and how I saw the track. Myself and Makeda hold conversations on a daily about meditation and the state of the world, so that session when Makeda came in, it was more like a conversation between the two of us. 

Mentally, in lockdown, I’ve been up and down. Good days and bad, which I’m sure everyone’s been having. I’m always jotting things down and recording here and there. I’m using this time more as a time for stillness which is something that we as humans forget to do in this fast-paced city.

How does creative collaboration fuel your growth as an artist?
I’m a storyteller and I know that sometimes my story’s need that different voice or perspective, whether that’s from a vocal artist or producer. Collaboration unlocks parts of myself that I didn’t know that I had.

Is there something you’ve learnt from another artist you’ve collaborated with, that stays in your mind when creating?
“Always tell your truth through the music”.

Your single being ‘Food For Thought’ alongside Teshay Makeda, what was the process of creating that track and what was the overall inspiration for the single?
I wrote ‘Food for Thought’ in early 2019. It came naturally. It was the first song in a while that actually came out from the soul of me. At soon as I’d written in, I called Makeda and told her I’d written this ‘Aretha-sounding’ tune. I knew I needed her a part of it.

Myself and Makeda Sunshine (Teshay Makeda) converse on the state of the world on a daily, so it just made sense. 

What was the process of creating ‘The Boy’, alongside Enny and how was shooting the visuals?
I invited Enny in for a session last year and we just vibed for a couple of hours, really. I had it in mind that I wanted to do a track with a 90’s feel – something about female liberation. Enny suggested we do a Boy is Mine type track and then we ended up flipping it at the end so that we team up and actually go against the boy is mine and talk about all that we could do together as women. I like my music to tell a story; take you on a journey. There should be a message. 

The whole video was shot at mine in Croydon. I wrote the treatment. I wanted the video to have that 90’s feel too but the second half (female liberation part) to change as it does in the music. Alma shot the video; he also produced the track alongside Paya – it was a full-on collaboration.

Your debut project ‘Only Child’ dropped last year, what were some of the main themes of the EP and what do you hope your listeners take away from it?
‘Intro’, ‘Mind’, ‘Body’, and ‘Soul’ are the four tracks with two poems included on the project. ‘Only Child’ is an introduction to me. The four tracks differ but hold an underlying cohesion. 

I see each track as different parts of myself. ‘Intro’ talks about the fake reality we live in, and the idea of being brainwashed if you will; to doing things that you necessarily wouldn’t do without the images being shoved in your face. 

Track two is ‘Mind’; I talk about being in love and constantly having that person on your mind, like something you can never get rid of. Work doesn’t help, keeping busy just makes it worse. ‘Mind’ is also a track that talks of these subliminal messages that we see on a regular; that the mind doesn’t always know how to control – it’s kind of a part two to ‘Intro’. 

With ‘Body’, I really wanted to write something for women to feel proud of. It was also a time for me to exercise that side of me too. Naturally, I don’t really write things that are about appearance, I wanted to write it in a way of feeling proud.

‘Soul’ is all about self-reflection. ‘Soul’ represents that part of me that I need to look at and delve into unconditionally without any judgement. It’s a time to be still. 

I hope my listeners take away the fact that we all feel these things and we are all triggered by something and it’s up to us to realise, reflect and do the work. 

Do you find you have differing influences for your singing and for rapping, if so, who influences those sides of you?
I don’t think so. I wouldn’t even call myself a rapper. I guess artists who I’m inspired by, have a lot under their umbrella of artistry and I’d like to emulate that. 

How important is it for you to create and explore a story or narrative within your projects and how do you go about building an atmosphere in both your lyricism and in production?
I write from personal experiences, so I’m naturally telling a story. It’s important that I work with people that I trust, as I put a lot into my lyricism. It’s scary. 

How important is using live instruments in your music and what do you think it brings to your sound?
I NEED live instrumentation in my music. I pride myself in being more of a live artist than a recording artist so when I do record, I definitely need that element there. I was brought up on Jazz and Reggae where it’s vital to have live instrumentation. I also feed off energy, so being in a session with other musicians brings something else to my vocal and my whole mood. I want my listeners to feel like they are in the room with me. 

What was the inspiration for your track ‘P.G.S’?
I was inspired by a lot, writing this. I had a lot I needed to get off my chest. I think if you listen to ‘Pretty Girl Sound’; on the surface I talk about this pretty girl image in the music industry, pretty girls with no message, who can’t necessarily sing. Yes, that’s part of the song, but a very small part. 

‘P.G.S’ is about the culture vultures. Culture vultures who don’t say thank you and feel like they’ve created something that has come from black culture. 

F*** the system, F*** rules let’s just pull it, a life can just end with a speed of bullet, how would you feel if I stole yours I took it, you best believe that I couldn’t, I wouldn’t

Basically, I’m saying you want to take our music, our fashion, our culture, but when a black man/woman is killed, you don’t want to support. 

I just wanted to make people think for two minutes. 

You always make sure your visuals are vivid and telling an intriguing story, what has been your favourite visual of yours so far and how important are they to your music?
‘War’ (unreleased), I’m excited to release this. All I can say is power, truth and message.

How did you first get into making music and who was inspiring your sound from the beginning?
A variety of people. I’ve always been drawn to people’s talking voices and the manner in which they speak. I’d always try and mimic people when I was younger. A lot of my family and friends inspire me – and then obviously Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Badu, Jill Scott, Winehouse, Ms. Dynamite. 

Which artists are inspiring you today?
Makeda Sunshine, LEVi and Sampha the Great. 

What’s coming up for the rest of 2020?
A lot more collaborations with both producers and artists and I’m going be putting out a lot more music.

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