Born and raised in London but currently living in Berlin, singer-songwriter Reema delivers a beautifully mystical neo-folk track with her new release ‘What the Whisper Said’ out now via LowSwing Records. The song echoes a traditional ghost story but has strong and personal emotional core that resonates through Reema’s enchanting vocals. The single is a collaboration with producer, composer and arranger Guy Sternberg as part of his analogue label initiative, and combines Reema’s minimal folk approach with enveloping jazz-influenced arrangements. Taken from the Lowswing Sessions, the performances were recorded entirely live, and range from 14 musicians at the same time to the minimalist honesty of Reema singing by herself.
GIGsoup caught up with Reema to talk about her inspirations, her new single, and future plans…
When did you start writing music and who were your main influences?
I started writing songs when I was 7. My mum had inherited a piano that I was already loving to make noise on but when our close family friend, Chris Bishop taught me a few chords on the guitar I was totally hooked on writing songs. I didn’t have a lot of friends, no brothers and sisters and was quite shy so writing songs was a way of communicating. I had many inflences and music-loves but Fleetwood Mac was definitely up there and love The Cranberries too. I loved that otherworldly vibe that took me out of my life into someone else’s magical world.
Why did you decide to focus on folk-inspired music?
Folk is such a great way of telling stories. I’m fascinated by the passing of time and folk has a timeless ancient quality. The melodies are like something on the edge of memory and can bring back an enormous level of emotion.
Are you thinking of incorporating different genres in the future, like you incorporate jazz on ‘What the Whisper Said’?
Absolutely! Music’s like cooking and combining flavours – it’s fun and exciting. As a very young teenager I sang in a punk band for some years and it was so liberating. It didn’t feel far from what I do now even though it sounded very different because it was basically just a massive outpouring of feeling.
Can you talk about the story behind the track?
‘What the Whisper Said’ is a story of an old man who kept a dark secret that died with his former lover. He has been unable to say a word since. His memories and who he once was are all that’s left. It’s based on a wonderful man that lived near me and my mum when I was little. He’s sadly not around anymore. He didn’t say much but his flat was so full of treasures, photos and collections of things.
How was working with producer and composer Guy Sternberg?
Guy and I are good friends and share a love of capturing moments in the music we make. Working with analogue recording methods not only means an incredible sound quality but a different way of looking at the recording process. No edits, totally live and the search for a special performance. Guy asked for some demos and created the score for the arrangements. I was totally blown away. I feel very lucky to have been able to work with him and the amazing musicians that played the songs live with me.
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What role does your artwork play in your music?
I love the idea of the music being a world to escape into. The artwork is the visual window into that world. The music is very personal so I felt like doing the artwork myself fit best.
When will we have a chance to hear a full-length project or EP?
Next year! There will definitely be more new stuff to hear at the start of the year but later on a full-length project should be ready. I’m excited about it! Watch this space.