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WPGM Commentary: Cilla Raie On The Making Of Her New EP ‘Reconnected’

Hi, my name is Cilla Raie and I’m an R&B singer and songwriter, born and raised in North London, UK. From 14 years old, I was discovering my need to want to do music professionally, recording in various different studios across London. To working with a large network of music producers based in the UK and the US.

This is my second EP Reconnected which has just been released and is a body of work I feel completely proud to have created. I decided to name the project ‘Reconnected’ because it is a testimony to where I came from, to where I am now.

A few years ago, I got very disconnected from music, then during 2020, I found myself slowly falling in love with it again. My core has always been R&B since the beginning of life, I grew up on R&B and favoured some of greats out there such as Aaliyah, Toni Braxton, Brandy, Tamia etc.

Since I started my career, I always tried making different types of music from pop to drum and base, but it was only ever R&B that I truly enjoyed making and made a buzz for me. I felt like the essence of R&B was lacking in the UK so I wanted to make a project that was reminiscent of the 90s/early 2000 R&B era and bring back some of those old school vibes.

My vision for the EP came very early on a few years back in 2018, but I knew I had to wait for the right opportunity to execute this project, as I wanted to do it at the right time. I wanted to make sure i was mentally, physically, emotionally prepared. I also wanted to do things different this time around and be sure that i was ready to embark on this journey of being a musician again.

Having spent the last two years inactive from making music, I was solely focused on being a new mum and navigating this new life I had created for myself. During this time i went through some turbulent and horrible situations, but i also maturing very fast at 24 years old from living on my own with a 2 year old and just managing adult and parenthood life without being co-dependent.

The songs on the EP are a reflection of the things I went through during this period and the major life transitions I had made, to where I am today. I describe the EP as being a 360 and awakening experience. It begins exactly where O am began my journey making this project.

I started at a place full of hurt, despair and unhappiness with the opening track “Oh God”, which I wrote at that time. I cried out to God for help and to give me some type of direction in my life.

At that point I didn’t know if i was meant to be doing music, because I felt like I had been doing it for so long, but i only ever got so far. So I simply asked God, if music is for me, show me that it’s meant for me.

I remember a few nights after, I was invited to the studio at Abbey Road by Pierre Medor (Mary J Blige, Usher, Brandy) and I met and sat in the studio with the absolute legend Tricky Stuart (Beyonce, Rihanna, Mariah Carey). From that point on I just knew it wasn’t by coincidence and I started to believe in my talent.

The moment I decided to leave all of my troubles and despair behind, thats when God started slowly making a way for me. The EP travels through that journey of discovery, finding yourself, making mistakes and getting back up again.

By the end of the project, you feel reassured and confident. With “U & I” which sounds like I’m talking about a relationship, but it’s really my relationship with music, it would have been called ‘Music and I’, expressing how music makes me feel and how happy I am doing music.

Last year at the peak of the pandemic, I was granted funding support from Arts Council England/National Lottery. From the moment they came onboard, I knew I was 100% going to be able to execute this project, because the financial backing was there. I felt ready and I had a splurge of creativity that needed to be released.

I spent all of September recording the newer songs “Oh God”, “U & I” featuring Subten, “Open For Love” featuring Tiffany Evans. I would spend 3/4 hours after 8pm when my child would go bed to write the music. I also re-recorded and re-mastered the older unreleased music at the time “Ain’t No One”, “Motives” and “Yas”, which were all written back in 2016 before I became a mum.

The EP cover had to make sense with the theme of the music on the EP and the title. I knew I wanted to be raw but powerful at the same time. On the cover, I am wearing a golden circular hat. The hat signifies reconnecting and turning 360. The gold colour signifies power. My facial expression shows the strength i endured and being what looks like naked, it’s just showing me in a vulnerable and raw way.

As far as collaborations and producers. The producers on this project are Peddy Pro who is my brother, Joey Dyer, XVR Blck, Serk Le Labo and Walter Ego. All of these producers are extremely talented to me and embodied that R&B sound I wanted people to hear. I am so grateful for the featured artists on the EP, Tiffany Evans (Ciara, T-pain, Fetty Wap) and Subten (Tinchy Stryder, Dizzee Rascal).

Tiffany stepped in when the first feature didn’t line up in the end. We’ve known each other for years since we were teens, and I wanted to bridge the gap between UK and US female R&B collaborations as I don’t think it has been done before. Subten is also a personal friend of mine, who offered to do the verse for me. He has years of experience so learning from him during this process was valuable.

I remember doing trips across the day from dropping my son to school at 1pm then driving from Horney to Leyton 35/40 minutes to record with XVR Blck for 3 hours. Then driving back from Leyton to pick up my son at 6pm with almost an hours drive in traffic and then drive back home with him.

I did this for weeks, it was extremely tough and exhausting but with all of the rewards I am reaping now, if people only knew what it took behind it all. They would be so surprised.

With all of the support from BBC 1xtra, BBC Radio London, MTV, Capital Xtra, Reprezent, Wonderland, Earmilk and more. To now having an EP that reached #2 on the UK R&B/Soul charts and #36 in the overall UK charts on iTunes, is mind blowing to me. It signifies my reconnection back to music and the fact that I am walking in my purpose.

I hope my listeners and all my supporters feel a sense of hope and strength from listening to the EP. My goal is to move people and help people through any situation and thats what i hope i have achieved with this project.

Listen to Reconnected below and purchase it here.

Words by Cilla Rae // Follow her on Twitter + Instagram

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