From time, music has always served as a tool to channel one’s emotions. Be it rage, despair or elation; music offers a suitable medium to relay one’s feelings – for artistes as much as listeners.
For 21-year-old neo-soul singer, Araoluwa Akintunde, music is an outlet; an escape route from the chaotic mess that is her head. Being inexpressive in conveying her thoughts, she found solace in music as a means to make sense of the flurry of emotions camping in her head.
Releasing music under the moniker, donttouchrylie, her debut project, ASTERIA, in its entirety is a depiction of her depressive episodes and how she deals with them, as gloomy as they come. The 4 track EP opens up with ‘IV’, a soulful Trap & B ballad which finds Rylie sultrily crooning lyrics acknowledging her sadness. ‘I wanna fly away from here/Take me home, my love/To the place above’, she sings despondently about dying, sneaking in a Forrest Gump reference.
The project’s title admittedly stems from the Greek mythological Titan goddess of ‘falling stars and nighttime divination’, Asteria. Further pulling reference from this, ‘Love, Phoebe’ is a string of encouraging words from Phoebe (Asteria’s mother) who doubles as a metaphor for Rylie’s own mother, attempting to comfort her in her moment of despair. (‘I know you don’t believe/But there’s people who care’)
‘Light!’, a more upbeat bop, sees Rylie realising that she’s the only key to the end of her depressive episode. ‘But if you come out/Right outside/You might touch the/Touch the light!’, she sings as she comes to terms with what she must do. The track features a catchy verse from Na-Ku, who slides in a cheeky Death Note reference (‘This song is light/I am Ryuk but I got me a Misa’)
The tape is drawn to a hopeful close with ‘Here Now’, marking the end of her episode but for how long ? ‘Don’t know how long I will take/But I’m here now’, she sings, accepting her fate that these episodes will come and go, but she’s well now and that’s what matters.
Overall, ASTERIA, is a graphic journey into the convoluted mind of an artist, simply trying to find her feet through music as she grapples with the tasking mission of understanding her own thoughts. It’s a raw and unfiltered performance yielding in a delicate work of art.
Stream ASTERIA here.