Sometimes finding beauty in the chaos can create something special - and that’s exactly the case for R&B songstress Saba Abraha. After emigrating from Ethiopia to the United States and losing her father at a young age, Saba’s sudden vulnerability lead her to a road of self-discovery which is evident in her music and storytelling. Her 5-track sophomore EP Sweet Mirage is a combination of Saba’s admiration for literature and love of music, or as she puts it, “an ode to my shedding skin.” The entirety of the project showcases her growth as an artist and how she has overcome adversity, finding her truth and peace through music.
Ahead of dropping Sweet Mirage, Flaunt had the opportunity to dive deeper into Saba’s mind and learn about her creative process, her upbringing and the vision for her future.
The first song off your EP begins with some poetry. Why did you decide to add that element to your music?
‘Utopia’, the beginning is like spoken word, but it’s actually a combination of my love of literature and music. So the EP is kind of a tall tale of an empress and so we wanted to add narration and page turning things like that to give it a book-like feel. The male voice is Young Guru. He is narrating the EP. He is the one who brought it to life.
Many of the songs on your EP are very vulnerable. You really put yourself out there. How do you feel about being so transparent in your music?
It’s honestly really calming. I think as a creative, it’s such a blessing because it’s an opportunity for me to deal with my emotions through writing. It’s honestly just a beautiful breath of fresh air to listen to myself and listen how I go through decision making without realizing it. It’s kind of like looking in the mirror.
Is there anything about Ethiopia or its music scene that influenced your music?
Absolutely. I think as far as to even say my songwriting. Ethiopian music is very pure. You dont really hear a lot of cursing or scandalous conversations or topics and I think it really shines through in how I write. I can be as honest as I want to be but I also make sure that I’m not kind of, I guess, bringing negativity. I want the youth to be able to hear me and I’m just as comfortable if it was my little sister. We also added drums and tribal sounds in ‘Utopia’ to kind of give it that village feel.
Your song ‘Moons, Mountains, Me and Mirrors’ talks a lot about fear and hurting. Is there any fear in particular that you were addressing in that song?
Yes. ‘Moons, Mountains, Me and Mirrors’ is about realizing that the world is kind of already against you and so it’s important to be kind to yourself. It’s important to let down the barriers that you have with yourself. And not only with yourself, but with people. Let people in because its so important to have somebody that you can trust.
What song on your new EP are you the most connected to?
Thats so hard to say because I think each day it’s like “Oh yeah, thats me.” As of right now, I would say ‘Compass/Endless’. It’s the last record. As ‘Endless’ ends, you can hear the waves. It’s soothing and that just brought me back to when I grew up. I grew up in Senegal and so I moved here when I was around 6. Just hearing the water, it kind of just made everything full circle. De’Jour Thomas co-wrote as well as produced on this project entirely. We just really meshed well and I think for both of us it was like a homecoming type of feel.
How is your new EP different from your last?
First, I would say that I am more honest, or I guess more vulnerable, more open. Sweet Mirage is a blend of my love for literature and music. And behind Sweet Mirage, we’re really focusing on not only sharing our sounds but promoting literature. I really think it’s so important to highlight the cruciality of literature because I came here, I didn’t speak English. It was really hard ‘cause kids are mean sometimes, so I found a safe haven in the library and reading. ‘The Giver’ was actually the first time I realized there’s so much more after I leave school. I read ‘The Giver’ and it was the first time I felt like after high school I could do this, or after I leave school I can become creative as I want to be.
I really enjoy the peaceful, natural sound in your song “Compass/Endless”. Do you use nature as a means of therapy as well as your music?
Absolutely. I think growing up in Senegal, most of my days were spent by the water. I would say I was raised by the water and even speaking East Coast, just a lot of nature, a lot of trees, forests. I always find myself doodling something as I am writing or walking through the forest so definitely.
You’ve worked with really creative artists such as BJ the Chicago Kid and Chaz French. What are some things you take away from working with them?
I honestly would just say the authenticity. We are all from different places but what makes us all amazing as artists is just being able to speak your truth and just helping somebody along the way.
What is your writing process like?
Personally, I write my best when the instrumental is being made in front of me and I’m lucky enough to have De’Jour. We have a production company called 94’s Gold, and so we just go into the studio, it could be a hotel room, it could be a studio. We really can do a lot with little. So usually he just starts making the instrumental and then I just start writing. It’s really organic. It’s like breathing for me.
Where do you see your career within the next 5 years?
I would love to be in a position to not only spread my sounds globally, but to really make an impact with the youth when it comes to literature and things like that. Starting my own book clubs or programs to blend the love for literature and music together. This project was honestly an amazing experience. Having De’Jour Thomas, having an amazing engineer such as Young Guru (he engineered for Jay Z and Drake) and having come in and allow us to create and he just be a legend and speak and you know the narration was amazing.
Written by Allyson Borunda
Photographs by Myles Wright