On his website The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, psychologist John Koenig defines “opia” as “the ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable.” Throughout her namesake eight-song EP, Toronto singer/rapper Savannah Ré immerses us in this uncanny feeling, using her dreamy atmospheres, twitchy beats, and shape-shifting flow to bring us unspeakably intimate snapshots of the most pivotal moments in a relationship. Where Ré first turned heads back in 2017 with her fierce feminist-rap manifesto “Count’em Off,” she and producer Boi-1da spent the next three years fine-tuning her vision—scrapping an entire other EP along the way—to arrive at the avant-garde R&B ballads, tropical-trap reveries, and orchestral hymns that form Opia’s hazy headspace. “It's been hard to figure out how to blend the different parts of my artistry,” Ré admits to Apple Music. “The hard-hitting drums, the heavily saturated vocals, the live instruments—all of those things are at my core. So we needed to make something where all the songs make sense together. I didn't want to rush the process—you only make a first impression one time.” Here, Ré gives us the track-by-track story behind her long-gestating debut. Highly Favoured “My mom was heavily religious, and she always instilled certain values in us when we were growing up. The things I say in this song are very important to me. It’s the start of my journey—I’m talking about not having much, but still being blessed and still feeling highly favoured. I don't really do long songs; I just go by what the song tells me it needs. And on this one, I felt like I said all I had to say in that one minute and 45 seconds.” Where You Are “I don't do things necessarily the conventional way. When we built that beat in the studio with [producers] 1da and Allen Ritter, it was just so strange to me. It took a while for us to put the song together—it was literally over six months. I just wanted the melodies to be almost as haunting as the beat is. It reflects what I was going through at the time: I was in LA, and my husband had to be in Canada. So this song is an admission: I have to be away from the person that I want to be with, but rest assured, I want to be where you are, I just can't right now.” Nothing Into Something “This is the sweet part of romance, like, 'I'm getting to know you, this is cute, let's turn nothing into something.' This one is a little bit lighter. It has that classic feel with the snaps and piano.” Homies “I was in LA with [producer/writer] Kyle Christopher, and he had this acoustic guitar loop already. He played it, and I just went into the booth and freestyled. It's so honest. When the song came out, so many women reached out to me and were like, 'Oh, this is too close to home.' I'm married now, and I feel like people think because you're married, that means everything's been smooth sailing. And it's just like, no! I've had my share of these situations, so it wouldn't be right for me to not include them in the journey.” Love Me Back “This is probably the oldest song on the project. I wrote this one right before I toured with Jessie Reyez. I like to test music live, to see how the crowd reacts. And this was one of the songs in my set that had the best reaction. After every show, people were like, ‘When is this coming out?’ So after the tour, I was like, ‘Okay, maybe there's something to this record.’ 'Love Me Back' is an unsung part of the story: You've invested your time in this person, and they still don't want to love you back. You're trying to say, ‘It's fine if you don't love me back.’ But then you're also trying to say, ‘Maybe it's not so fine.’ So that's the push and pull on this song, but I wanted to do it over something hard-hitting and upbeat, so it's not just like a slow, begging anthem.” Sacred “I feel like with the right person, sex is a sacred experience—it's different than just hooking up. And that became almost like a mantra. A lot of the song repeats, because there isn't a whole lot to say—it's just sacred. And with the vocals and the violins, it's supposed to feel like that experience, like a private ritual. When I played this for my mom, I was like, ‘Please don't kill me!’ But she reacted differently than I would have thought. She was like, ‘This is nice’—despite the F-bombs!” Solid “‘Solid’ is about the early part of the relationship, when you get to a point where you guys have spent a lot of time together, and you're just basically saying, okay, are we doing this? Because I need you to be solid if we are. Like, can you weather these storms? Because I'm ready. Rome wasn't built in a day, and I'm not expecting us to get married this second, but I do need to know if you are committed. Because when I'm in it, it's 110 percent, so are you gonna be solid or not?” Opia “As much as I wanted to go over relationships and situations with other people, I also really wanted to have a song that was very introspective and just me. This is why it's called 'Opia,' because it doesn't just only mean looking at someone else, it's also about what it brings out of you. I've never written a song like this one, so it was very important to just let it all out. It was an important note to touch on: being scared and being vulnerable. With Black women, we kind of have to put on a strong face all the time. But then people assume you're much less sensitive or vulnerable, and it's not that at all. There's just so much that you have to put on a brave face for. So for my first project, there needed to be a song that's really stripping away the layers.”

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