Audra Santa speaks to Music Promotions about her newest single ‘Naked’ her latest ep The Boudoir Project, Artist inspirations and much more.
What’s the story of your debut single ‘Naked’?
‘Naked’ is about desire and wanting someone so badly that their voice is nearly enough. I respond strongly to sound (as I imagine most musicians do). For me, sound coupled with desire can become almost as tangible as touch. Naked speaks to this longing:
“let me taste your voice
naked on my lips
leave me with no choice but to beg to breathe you in”
The video is very artistic, how did you come up with the idea for it?
I was walking down my street one day and passed an art gallery with a huge painting of a woman’s face in the window, her lips covered by a sheet of plastic. I went in to find walls covered in the hyper-realistic oil paintings of David Shepherd – beautiful faces dripping in chocolate, honey, bubbles, milk. Although sensual and provocative, the women in each of the paintings weren’t passive subjects submitting to the artist’s will – each one looked like SHE held the power on the opposite end of the paintbrush.
The gallery owner asked to listen to my music. Upon hearing a few seconds of a song exclaimed “Your music matches the art!!”. I was invited to play the exhibition opening that Friday where I met the artist. I told him how moved I was by his paintings, and that “Honey Dust” was my favourite, which then became the single cover art and inspiration for my video.
I had a very clear vision for the video of red lights and honey dripping down my face as a sweet metaphor for desire. Once completely covered I feel the touch of my lover, as though he is actually there.
By the way, honey REALLY stings if it gets in your eyes. There is a shot halfway through the video where honey pours directly into my left eye and I fight to keep it open. You can see a glimpse of fear as it started to burn! I had a panicked thought that it would stick shut and I would end up blind for the sake of my art.
You recorded this song in your bedroom one night, did the lyrics and music come together quite easily?
Oh totally. I found a warm rhodes sound on my keyboard then connected with the energy I used to write the entire Boudoir Project. It all came through very easily. I often write in a stream-of-consciousness, letting the words flow onto a page or even just directly out of my mouth once I hit “record”. Most of The Boudoir Project was like that, especially once I gave myself permission to sing lyrics that were very on the nose. I usually prefer to be more nuanced, but with the lyrics for Naked I’m not hiding what this song is about at all.
What’s the story behind your forthcoming debut EP ‘The Boudoir Project’?
The Boudoir Project is a series of secret songs I wrote in my bedroom during a time of healing after leaving an unhealthy marriage. This music was my diary as I explored my sensuality after years of self-repression. Keeping the project a “secret” allowed me to go places I wouldn’t have gone otherwise – lyrically, emotionally, and energetically. I discovered tantric energy through the process of writing this EP which then led to a profound healing and awakening journey for me.
After I wrote the first track, I sent it to Nick O’Donnell, a producer in Australia I met through an online songwriting club. Because he was on the other side of the world and we never met in person, I felt comfortable sending him one of these “secret” songs.
After I sent him the first demo, he emailed it back the next day perfectly mixed and with a little “sex guitar”. He seemed to intuitively know what I wanted these songs to become so The Boudoir Project was born. Keeping it “secret” allowed me freedom to explore, but now that it’s done I’m ready to share.
How long did you spend writing and recording it?
The whole project took about the course of a year or so. Each song emerged in a single evening but then there was a bit of back and forth with Nick as we built the tracks. I remember feeling so excited every time I saw a new mix in my inbox and it felt like each song built on the last. I felt like I completely transformed during the course of the project. The inner work and exploration of that sensual energy was key to rebuilding my life.
Where does your inspiration come from when you’re writing a song?
I’m used to writing from dark places, so usually the inspiration is brokenness, rage, depression, or the like. I’m used to dark and churning energy driving me to the piano or guitar, as that’s when what I write feels most honest. But as I’ve been healing the different parts of myself, I’m learning to tap into other emotions when I’m writing, but it doesn’t feel quite as natural. Love songs are the hardest to write for me, even when I’m in love.
Which artists inspire you? Any you’d like to work with?
I don’t ever try to write a song sounding like someone else, but I know I am heavily influenced by artists like Portishead, Florence and the Machine, Bat for Lashes and Tori Amos. I find Billie Eillish to be really inspiring – she isn’t afraid to let monsters out of the closet and I find her to be completely authentic in her expression. I’m excited to see how she grows and develops as an artist as she gets older, because she is already creating such incredible work.
I’d love to have the opportunity to work with some electronic/dance producers. CamelPhat have had some incredible collaborations with different vocalists including Jem Cooke and Elderbrook. They once put out an open call for vocalists so if they do it again I’ll try to get in there. Or maybe someone reading this can hook me up?
Having performed across the world, what have been some of your touring highlights?
I played a series of shows in Sweden last year and that was an incredible experience. I brought a drummer and guitarist on the road, and we had the BEST time, staying in a little farmhouse outside of Orebro and hitting a few little regional towns that were part of the Live at Heart festival. I love arriving and having to figure everything out in a new country. It’s such an amazing adventure and I feel like we now have friends and family everywhere we’ve been.
Anywhere you haven’t visited you’re looking forward to visiting when it’s safe to do so?
I really enjoy meditation as a means of travel (especially in this time), and recently I’ve been having visions of Greece during my meditations. I would love to go to Mykonos or perhaps return to Crete, a place I went when I was 17 that still remains one of my favourite places in the world.
Do you have any plans to tour when live music starts up again?
Absolutely! Although I think my expectations of touring will be a little different. I now feel I want to travel leisurely rather than have a series of quick stops on a tour. This pandemic has taught me to slow down a lot, so I imagine as we come out the other side of this my dreams and goals will change. Once I see where The Boudoir Project gets the most traction I will plan accordingly. I’ve learned to just follow the energy because when I live that way the true magic happens!
Anything you’d like to add that I haven’t asked you within this interview?
Thank you so very much for asking such meaningful questions. As an artist, it’s a blessing to have the opportunity to talk about my music and everything that goes into it. Thank you.