Pianist/composer Rafa Selase discusses inspiration behind "Beauty of the Warrior"
Pianist/composer Rafa Selase has already begun receiving critical acclaim for his new single, "Beauty of the Warrior." Free from stylistic boundaries, Selase is a true artist, diving into acid jazz, New Age, and hip-hop with a visionary approach.
Q: What was the inspiration behind “Beauty of the Warrior”?
A: I've been observing everything that has been going on in the world, and this past year it all seemed to come to a head. I kept hearing the political slogan, "Make America Great Again,” and thought deeply about what that means for all people in this nation, and in particular indigenous Americans. I was sitting at my piano when I was meditating on that slogan, and played that song probably 10-15 times without recording it or even thinking about what I was playing. Each time I played it, it was different. Finally, I hit record and captured the song and mastered it as is. As I listened to it over and over, I realized the sound has elements of indigenous Americans. So I named it “Beauty of the Warrior” in honor of all indigenous people of this world.
Q: How would you describe your music?
A: I create from my experience. Rhythm, depth, melody. From a technical standpoint, I believe it’s called jazz fusion.
Q: How have you evolved creatively?
A: Initially I was always focused on the creativity or producing music, but now I am focused on growing and learning. When I do this being creative comes very easy!
Q: What was your introduction to music? How old were you, and how did it affect you?
A: Music has always been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. I don’t remember a time in my life as an adult or child without it. It uplifted me, gave me a better understanding of myself and my environment. It told me a lot about my family, and provided me with those memories that stick with me today. Music to me is life!
Q: Did you grow up in a musical environment?
A: I grew up in a wonderful music environment. My father played congo drums in a band, and he had a great ear for many different types of music so it was always on. Every family memory, from bbq's, birthdays, and all the holidays, always included music.
Q: What styles of music had the greatest impact on you creatively?
A: I can’t really say there was one specific style or genre, but music from the soul is what has impacted me the most. It can be R&B, jazz, classical, neo-soul, rock, roots, folk, new age or hip-hop. If it’s soulful and powerful, I feel it.
Q: What instruments do you play, and how did you learn?
A: I picked up the piano many years ago as a creative outlet, and it grew into something I love. I continue to learn the piano, and I continue to learn from my teachers Jeannante and Justine. I’m always watching videos, tutorials and studying many of the popular classical composers.
Q: What was the first song you ever wrote?
A: "I’m That One"...not out yet.
Q: What artists influenced you the most growing up?
A: Donny Hathaway is probably my greatest influence. I’ve been greatly influenced by the soul and power of Donny. Other artists that have been a big part of my growth include Gil Scott-Heron, Stevie Wonder, Hugh Masekela, Herbie Hancock, Fela Kuti, TuPac - he delivered ferociously without fear, Abdullah Abrahim, Sade, and Lauryn Hill, for her lyrical content and authenticity.