*Photos courtesy of and provided by Rebecca Beralas
Hawaii’s Rebecca Beralas’ has certainly come a long way. From her early days in elementary school, humming her favorite songs, to her later days in her adult years, leading underground reggae bands, Rebecca Beralas has finally released her debut EP album as a solo artist. This incredibly gifted songstress showcases her strong, yet soothing vocals with lyrics that touch on love, empowerment, struggle and self-reflection. Rebecca’s signature sound fuses lovers rock reggae, dub, R&B, pop, island and soul that brings joy to everyone’s ears with her uplifting array of original romantic ballads. Strongly influenced by both Hawaiian and Jamaican reggae, Beralas’ music truly brings positive vibrations from both islands with the power to evoke the happiest memories of your life. With a powerful EP, we cannot wait to hear her full length LP! We recently sat down with Rebecca to discuss her upcoming album, Hawaiian reggae, future live shows and much more.
Congrats on your debut EP! You must be very proud; it sounds wonderful. Where did you gather inspiration for your sound and lyrics?
Thank you very much! It’s been a long road for me up to this point, so I am definitely very happy to finally have some of my original music out.
In general, I gather inspiration for my lyrics from experiences of my own, my friends and family, as well as hypothetical situations (I daydream a lot). My sound fuses R&B, island, and soul with overtones of reggae. I have a love for all types of reggae, and I try to incorporate all of them in some way to my music – whether it’s rock-reggae, dub, roots, ragga, lover’s rock, etc.
For this EP in particular, the theme is largely centered on a woman’s relationship with a man, and the different phases or perspectives that she goes through in that relationship. “Man of Mystery” has an electronic rootsy vibe, and talks about the heartbreak a woman feels when she wakes up from a dream about her ideal lover. “Sweet Kiss” is an island-inspired pop-reggae song about the “honey-moon” phase of a relationship in which a woman is completely infatuated with her other half. “Side By Side” is a departure from the reggae sound and more of an exploration into R&B and down-tempo hip-hop. That song is an empowering anthem for independent woman, as well as an encouragement for them to seek a relationship in which, they are treated equally and fairly, and not as the weaker sex. Lastly, “Perfect Strangers” is another island-tinged lover’s rock song that sings of the unexpected moment a man and woman meet who were seemingly destined to fall in love.
What’s your favorite song from the EP? Why?
It’s tough for me to choose! I’m stuck between “Man of Mystery” and “Side By Side”. I love “Man of Mystery” because it weaves together roots, dub, rock, and electronic elements, and the musical dynamics are so much fun to perform live with my full band. But “Side By Side” is my favorite from a mood/lyrical standpoint. It gives off a really chill, calm vibe and I have received a lot of positive feedback from girls and women alike who have told me that the song gives them encouragement and a fresh perspective on being a strong female – which was exactly what I had in mind when I wrote it. Even guys admit that it’s their favorite song!
Is there a full length LP album in the works for 2015? If so, when can we expect it?
Yes! I am really excited to announce that I am currently working on my first full-length album, which I’m hoping to release some time this summer. Looking In will include the 4 tracks from my EP as well as 7 new songs, for a total of 11 tracks. Sound-wise listeners can expect to hear more of the R&B, soul, and reggae fusion that I love mixing together. Lyrically my full-length album will definitely cover themes of love, but also those of coming-of-age, confrontation, and reflection. I’m really looking forward to releasing it.
Which contemporary reggae artists have the biggest musical influence on your sound?
The contemporary reggae artists that have had the biggest influence on my music would be Tanya Stephens, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Groundation, Cultura Profetica, Seeed, and Rebelution. I really value musical diversity and the meaning behind the music. These artists each have a wide-ranging sound and put a lot of time and effort into their lyrics, chords, arrangements and overall musical direction. When I create songs, I try to make sure each one is distinct in its style, tempo, perspective, and melody. My husband and producer have been monumental in helping me achieve this. With lyrics, I incorporate some wordplay, various rhyming patterns, and focus on both playful and serious topics. Also, each of the artists above has created a niche sound of their own within the reggae scene, which I’m definitely striving to do with my music. It is certainly a challenge to release music that strays from what’s expected, but these artists have helped inspire me to craft a unique sound and push forward with it.
Speaking of artists, whom would you like to collaborate with in the future?
That’s another tough question! It would be amazing to one-day collaborate with any of the artists I mentioned above, since I have been so greatly impacted by them. More immediately, I’d love to collaborate with some of my favorite musicians from my home here in Hawaii – Paula Fuga, Kimie, Jack Johnson, and Kaipo Kapua. Paula and Kimie channel this deeply rooted soul sound which I love, and Kaipo has this amazing R&B voice which I feel would mesh well with mine. I’ve always wanted to do a song with Jack since we’re both from the same town (Sunset Beach on Oahu’s North Shore), have a passion for impacting youth and are both environmentalists. He’s such a humble man, and it would be an honor to work with him and spread such a positive message.
Over the years, Hawaiian reggae artists have developed their signature style of lover’s rock reggae. What does lover’s rock reggae mean to you as a Hawaiian?
Just wanted to clarify – a person is only referred to as a “Hawaiian” if they are of Hawaiian ancestry. Though I was born and raised in Hawaii, I’m actually of Samoan and Caucasian descent. But being from Hawaii, lover’s rock music really resonates with the aloha, or love that we have for our islands, people, and environment. The slow and steady romantic vibe of lover’s rock in particular is synonymous with our beautiful beaches, mountains, and relaxed pace of life.
Hawaii is the only US state to have 24/7 reggae radio stations. That’s amazing! Why do you think our genre is so popular on the islands?
I never really realized that, but I agree that it’s a pretty awesome thing! Similar to why lover’s rock has been so fine-tuned in Hawaii, the reggae genre is so popular here because the ambiance it gives off fits best with how we interact with other people and our surroundings on a daily basis. Most people who were born and raised here would agree that we are generally pretty positive, respectful and loving, and since reggae is generally an uplifting and empowering genre of music, we naturally gravitate towards it.
Why do you think reggae is popular around the world?
I think reggae is popular around the world because it brings a smile to the listener’s face. Whether it calls you into action, makes you dance, encourages more love and unity, or brings you into deep reflection – it will never bring you down. Everyone has or will go through trials and struggles in life, and there is nothing more revitalizing than listening to music that makes you feel good and keeps you pushing forward. That kind of positivity will never go out of style – in fact, I think the reggae movement is gaining more traction as time goes on.
Where can your fans see you perform live?
For the most part I have been performing at local restaurants and bars on my home island of Oahu. I’m doing my first inter-island tour at the end of this month, February 26 through March 1st across the islands of Molokai, Maui, and Kauai, so I am really excited for that! I’ll have the talented Kaipo Kapua joining me for all of the shows, and Inna Vision, Gonzo (from Tribal Seeds), and Star (from The Steppas) will be joining me for the last show on Kauai.
I definitely have my sights set on performing outside of Hawaii in the near future, so stay tuned!
Is there anything else you’d like your fans to know?
Being an independent artist, I just want to encourage anyone with a musical dream to work hard and go after it! Having no financial backing for my project, my husband and I work day jobs to make this dream a reality and we couldn’t not have done it without the loyal support of our families and fans! I also really want to thank the Reggae Around the World Blog for interviewing me! Look out for my full-length album, Looking In later this year!
If you’d like to check out my music or connect with me, you can find me at the following links:
Take a listen to Rebecca Beralas’ songs from her new EP including, “Sweet Kiss”, “Side By Side”, “Perfect Strangers” and “Man of Mystery”. What’s your favorite song? Comment below!
“Side By Side”
“Man of Mystery”