Beloved western Jamaican songbird Sevana took time out for a tête-à-tête with OAJ. The young but sophisticated vocalist is delighted at the upcoming release of her major label debut, before delineating the nuances of shooting most of the video for her latest single, If You Only Knew, in Senegal. Jamaican tourist hotspot Portland was the other chosen venue.
The young siren recounted the video being a labour of love and expressed being grateful, and proud, for being afforded the opportunity to produce most of its visuals on the continent of Africa; specifically on an impossibly tight schedule with a nonexistent budget and a barebone crew of two, including herself.
Sevana’s signature sound effortlessly augments the classic Brit-influenced lover’s rock instrumentation of If You Only Knew, much like the aurora borealis paints the Icelandic sky in cosmic wonder. The track, the singer said – in a recent Instagram live session – was inspired by the intricacies of romantic love.
The artiste, who is intimately involved with the direction of most all aspects of her recording career, eagerly looks forward to the release of her first In.Digg.Nation-RCA project, Be Somebody, at the end of July.
The wait is over! Your new single and video is here. You have now commenced your RCA journey with If You Only Knew. Where was the video shot?
Sev: We shot [mainly] in the town of Ouakam in Dakar, Senegal.
Nice! Senegal is a long way from Jamaica, how did that come together?
Sev: The location was chosen because that was the area myself and director Yoram Savion were being hosted. We went there [Senegal] to network and scour for a film I was mean to be assistant director on, and had some time near the end of the trip so we shot the video. Didn’t have a budget or anything.
The director knew his way around the community of Ouakam, and had scouted a few spots on a video he shot that same week. Other than that, we just drove around and pointed out spots that could work on the days of the shoot.
Who is your male lead, and how did the link come about?
Sev: The male lead’s name is Youba Cissokho, he’s the cousin of a friend I met while in Dakar.
Cissokho also provides a musical element to the video. What is the instrument he plays, in the video, called?
Sev: He’s playing the Kora, I was told it is the national instrument of Senegal. He taught himself to play it, which I thought was pretty impressive.
How do you describe your time in, and your impression of Senegal and its people?
Sev: The trip to Senegal was an immersive experience. I was received like I was Senegalese. I got a lot of compliments, they kept speaking to me in Wolof and French, thinking I was from there [laughs].
One of the things I noticed, while in Dakar, is that the people were pretty opposite [to] Jamaicans in their energy. They were [not] as loud, and the energy was quite graceful.
I reasoned that it was because Senegal is a Muslim country and they have calls to prayer several times a day. It must prompt reflection and in turn a more measured approach to life overall. The country, itself, is unfiltered in its beauty and [doesn’t] pretend to be anything else; their lifestyle is pretty subsistent. I appreciated that.
Who wrote the single?
Sev: I wrote and arrange the lyrics; Kelsey Gonzales, of Free National, produced and arranged the instruments.
How do you describe the single?
Sev: It’s a warm hug from me to my people.
What do you want people to take away from the project?
Sev: I don’t like to dictate that. I know that it means everything to me, in the sense that every bit of it was intentional and unapologetically me, but I don’t wish to direct anyone’s feelings on it.
This single is your first major label release, how do you feel?
Sev: Pretty F**KING excited! It’ll be the first time, in my musical career, that I would have had so many eyes on me, and it’s due to the opportunity of working with RCA. I’m grateful and happy and super motivated!