Tue | Aug 4, 2020

From Senegal to Jamaica, Sevana tracks love

Published:Friday | July 17, 2020 | 12:00 AMYasmine Peru/Senior Gleaner Writer
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A July 8 premiere of Sevana’s single and video for the song, If You Only Knew, has set the singer on a whole new trajectory careerwise, as she stamps her own indelible signature on her musical mission.

She says of the single and the upcoming EP, Be Somebody, “It’s the music I always wanted to make, and it is a big deal for me.”

The EP comprises six completely new songs, and having debuted the first track, Sevana is hugging herself and keeping the rest of the In.Digg.Nation Collective/RCA project under tight wraps.

But this isn’t surprising in the least, as, having made the desired impact with this song about love, and having released the intriguing visual, Sevana is riding an exclusive wave of positivity.

And, to make it even more fascinating, the music video, which already has over 100,000 views, has an interesting backstory.

Trip to the Motherland

It involves Sevana’s maiden trip to the Motherland on an acting jaunt, and then, miraculously, everything seamlessly falls into place.

“I was in Dakar, Senegal, last December with film director Yoram Savion, scouting and networking for an upcoming short film I was meant to be assistant director on. We had a couple of days near the end where our schedules were clear, and after listening to the demo for If You Only Knew to death, he was like, ‘Let’s do the music video!’” Sevana told The Gleaner.

So they quickly drafted a storyboard, and with a skeleton staff in place, in no time, an African head-wrapped, Puma-clad Sevana was riding pillion on a bike through the streets of Senegal, having the time of her life.

The ‘crew’ comprised the male lead Youba, a friend’s cousin, and a taxi driver who was commissioned by the team.

“The premise of the story was to show me using several methods of transport: walking, by car, on a bike, by boat to emphasise the meaning of the song ‘if you only knew how far I’d go for you’. The end of the video, where I’m in a boat, was shot in Jamaica because I became too ill at the end of the Senegal trip to shoot, so I suggested that we shoot the ending scenes in Portland, Jamaica. Yoram had to be in Jamaica [in] February, and so we got it done,” Sevana recalled.

For director Yoram Savion, who speaks with an almost poetic flow, it was a wholesome experience on many levels and he chose to break it down on the personal.

If You Only Knew is about love, it can be literal or a metaphor for something you are passionate about. For me, it means my love of visuals arts, a passion that began in Dakar, Senegal, when I lived there back in 2006. A friend of mine let me borrow her camera and I spent the next few months lost in the process. When I came back to California, I never could let it go,” he shared with The Gleaner.

He spoke of bonding with Sevana “over our love of music and visuals that help tell stories” when he first met her last year on a movie set. Not long after that initial meeting, the two worked on a short film project titled FEAR, which was filmed in Jamaica. According to Savion, when the opportunity to film the follow-up in Senegal came about, they hopped on a plane.

“I will always cherish my memories from that time, my first trip back to Senegal in over a decade. Many things changed, and many others still felt very familiar. As a native French speaker, and a few words of Wolof mixed in, it’s very smooth getting around. We were housed by some good friends, Denise and Romain, in a charming neighbourhood called Ouakam, with sand streets, kids playing outside, and the call to prayer throughout the day. At night, there were outdoor weddings in the street with music and dancing,” Savion said.

In the midst of such a backdrop, it became obvious to the duo at that moment that the visuals for If You Only Knew would fit perfectly with the vibe of travelling in a new country.

“Sevana sings about how far she will go for love and shows it in her actions on screen,” he declared.

Savion continued, “This production was very unique and felt very authentic from start to finish. We relied on local connections. A friend of mine, Junior, assisted me with the camera, our taxi driver Yague drove us around, and a talented musician, Youba, brought his scooter and his kora, a traditional stringed instrument from Senegal. Sevana sings about real feelings, and the video is a testament to how I received these as a passionate artiste and forever traveller,” he concluded.

yasmine.peru@gleanerjm.com