'I'm Here': Savannah Ré Is Ready for Her Unapologetic Next Phase

The Toronto singer opens up about recording a new Spotify single, gearing up for the release of her upcoming sophomore EP, and her second Junos win in a row.

Savannah Re in front of a blue wall

Image via Sarah Del Ange

Savannah Re in front of a blue wall

A swell of strings hits me the moment I enter the studio where Savannah Ré is recording. When I spot her, it’s easy to see she has laser focus. Armed with a cup of hot pineapple juice to keep her throat prepped and a purple jacket on, Ré is absorbed in the music as a soaring orchestral snippet is replayed over and over so that she can get the arrangement just right. 

A typical session in the studio consists of several key ingredients for Ré: aquarium footage on the TV to get zen and some music to get her in the zone. These days, it’s Kendrick Lamar’s latest album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers that’s keeping her inspired.

Although she’s grinding away at making music in the studio, only a few days have passed since she won a Juno for traditional R&B/soul recording of the year—for the second year in a row—and she’s still in disbelief. “Not only have like I not processed it, it’s like we’ve just been going and going since,” she says. “I really just haven’t even had a second to soak it in. And I think, like, people think that I’m kidding when I say we were really not expecting it. Like we were genuinely not expecting to win. So I’m just… yeah, I’m grateful, I’m happy.”

“This project is just a lot more of where I am now, which is kind of in this empowered, unapologetic, ‘I’m here’ type of phase.”

Ré took home the golden hardware for her soulful slow jam “24hrs,” a romantic track all about loving love and the entrancing allure of someone special. She dropped the track in 2021, and now with two Junos under her belt and no album out, Ré laughs when I point out that this is highly unusual: “Drag me!” she jokes. But if anything, her success so far has solidified why she’s choosing to make calculated moves, such as not rushing to put out an LP. Instead, she’s playing the long game, building up her fanbase. “You know, I want to put on an album where, people are like, where’s the album?” she explains.

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However, she promises that fans can look forward to new music as her second EP is almost finished, teasing that it will have a drastically different sound than 2020’s Opia. Given that Opia came out two years ago and since then, the world has gone through a pandemic, Ré points out that in the last couple of years we’ve all been undergoing a metamorphosis. “It still has the core of who I am and the way that I write songs, and the way that I tell stories,” she says of her next project. “But it’s coming from a completely different place because, you know, Opia was kind of my journey from my entire life up until that point and a lot of heartbreak and a lot of that type of stuff. And this project is just a lot more of where I am now, which is kind of in this empowered, unapologetic, ‘I’m here’ type of phase,” she explains. “And that’s in every sort of point in my life, like in relationships and how I am in the world and in knowing who I am.”

Savannah Re in front of a blue wall

To put it succinctly, she says it’s on a different tempo. But changing up tempos isn’t something that’s new to Ré, who is a creative Aquarius by nature—she grew up doing dance, visual arts, and music, and now that music is where her focus is, she’s been able to use her other talents and passions to shape her work. Case in point: for her new EP, she’s directing all the videos, a role which she says is tied to her visual arts background. “It comes from being very visual and being able to see something, you know, and of course I—in part at least—write all of my music,” she says.

It’s the same for producing—she likens finding beats to her dance training. “I don’t dance no more, it’s been a long time since I was a dancer, but it’s like you hear beats and you feel them differently,” she explains. “Like the pockets that I choose as a singer. A lot of people think I rap. I don’t. But it’s like people really want me to rap [and] I think it’s because of the pockets I choose. Like it’s not your, I guess, cookie-cutter sort of R&B. So with that, I think that comes directly from my dance background.”

With so much of her time spent honed in on music, she likens it to speaking a language, which according to research, couldn’t be more true. So naturally, it helps that she and her husband, YogiTheProducer, have that in common. “Us creating is very easy. We don’t really do a lot of talking, to be honest. We kind of just… it’s like we finish each other’s sentences,” she says. “He finishes my sentences musically.”

“If there’s somewhere in life that you want to go, you have to do the work.”

Linguistics aside, not conforming to musical expectations is something Ré also has a fondness for, and it’s what she’ll be doing not only with her new music but also with her upcoming Spotify Singles releases—the very reason she’s in the studio today. Ré is one of only 12 Canadian artists recording Spotify Singles this year, giving her the opportunity to increase her international exposure, and one of her recordings will include a reimagined version of one of her songs from her upcoming EP. Although she’s tight-lipped on revealing the name of her upcoming track, she does divulge that because her original track is visceral and aggressive, for the Spotify version she’s doing a complete 180, channelling that impassioned energy into a softer version. “So it’s like the message and the intensity is still there, but [it has] violins and it’s interesting,” she says. “Like once you throw strings on something, it just takes it somewhere else completely different,” she adds.

Re-working sounds and textures is, in part, where her idea to do an open verse challenge on TikTok came from. Ré had fans put their own spin on her heartfelt song “Last One” which features her friend, fellow Toronto R&B singer Dylan Sinclair. She thought it would just be a fun way of promoting the sultry track, but then to her surprise, it blew up. “It’s madness!” she says. “So it kind of has just taken on a life of its own, like I was going to do for a couple of days because I figured we were going to get three [singers]. And then here we are, hundreds later.”


#duet with @iamkaylav LET’S GO WITH THE LADIESSS!! Ate this up 🔥🔥🔥. #duet #lastoneopenversechallenge #fyp #fyp

♬ original sound - kayla v
“I’m not a monolith.”

For the challenge, Ré put up her own funds for the prize money, further proving that she’s always one to invest in herself. “You can’t run from doing the work,” she tweeted back in April. Although it might sound like a motivational quote, she explains that in actuality she’s speaking to herself diaristically via her tweets. “If there’s somewhere in life that you want to go, you have to do the work. There are ways around it, but then it’s still going to meet you somewhere else,” she says, adding that it was a reminder to herself that this is what she wants to be doing.

Ré also attributes her outlook on crafting her work to her Jamaican heritage. Being confident, braggadocious, and supportive of others are all facets of herself that she says are rooted in that culture. “At the end of the day, expression is such a huge thing in Jamaica. The crazy outfits, the hair, the everything, my nails, all of this stuff comes from dancehall culture,” she says, gesturing to her long, beaded set of nails. “So I don’t know, it just it empowers me in a lot of ways. It helps me to be able to be like, yo, I can be more than one thing. I’m not a monolith.”

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