Premiere: Indulge in Tessa Rae’s Alluring, Self-Aware “Digital Girl”

Ambient and sultry, Tessa Rae’s “Digital Girl” captures the divide between the real and the virtual in a deep indulgence of the senses.

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To you and anyone who knows me solely via the internet I am a digital girl.

Atwood artist-to-watch Tessa Rae is more than the artist we see or hear through our devices, and she’s well aware that our scope is limited. “I’m this enigma floating around in your mind or on your screen, hopefully a voice in your speakers. But you don’t know me or my world. All you see is what I present to you.”

Tessa Rae "Digital Girl" © 2018
Tessa Rae “Digital Girl” © 2018

Being an artist in the digital age is a tricky business. Fans don’t just want a backstory; often times, they want to feel like they know you. In addition to the now-traditional forms of new media (Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter), artists of all sizes are increasingly utilizing tools like Snapchat and Facebook Live to expand the ways in which listeners can connect with them. There’s this tug-of-war between content creators like Los Angeles songstress Tessa Rae and her “following” – the people who listen to her music, or like her posts, etc. – and too often, it can feel like a bit of a charade. Nevertheless, that’s the game everyone’s playing; if you’re the one to stay “above it all,” are you really going to make it when the competition is so tight, and everyone’s vying for the same ears and eyes?

Tessa Rae’s latest single is not a repudiation of the 21st century music business, but it does strip the glitz from the glam and call it out for what it is. Ambient and sultry, “Digital Girl” captures the divide between the real and the virtual in a deep indulgence of the senses.

Digital Girl - Tessa Rae
Digital Girl – Tessa Rae
Life is lonely I confess
Talking’s hard so let’s undress
Hoping that you’ll be impressed
I’m just a body to caress
Smoke and sorrow i repress
Modern love it don’t make sense
Words I borrow more is less
This life is like a
game over

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering the music video for Tessa Rae’s latest single “Digital Girl,” released 9/14/2018 via Wasted for Life Music. Having first come onto our radar with May’s stirring song “Downtown,” Tessa Rae has deftly risen through the pop world’s fringes with her intoxicating blend of smooth R&B, cool electronics and head-turning trip-hop. “Her voice is seductive, a vessel for dreams and drama alike,” we wrote earlier this year.

“Digital Girl” directly follows “Downtown” as the second single off Rae’s forthcoming sophomore EP. The track finds Rae immersed in a wave of synthetic sounds and moving along a slow, pulsing beat. Her voice dripping with the heavy weight of submission and acceptance, Rae dives headfirst into the notion of her artist identity existing for the whims of her audience:

Baby if i’m breaking your heart
We could restart and you’ll be okay
There’s always a way to recharge
Till it goes dark & all the lights fade, fade
Tessa Rae "Digital Girl" © 2018
Tessa Rae “Digital Girl” © 2018
I’m a sad girl
Lemme be a sad girl
Living in a digital world
I’ll be your digital girl
I’m a sad girl
Lemme be a sad girl
Living in a digital world
I’ll be your digital girl

Make no mistake: Tessa Rae is not one to submit to others’ expectations. By illuminating the dichotomy between reality and its digital/virtual extension, Rae provokes us to recognize the product for the product, and the creator for the creator.

“I had this idea of “digital girl” in my head for a long time but didn’t know quite what it meant to me at the time,” Tessa Rae tells Atwood Magazine. “I used it as an Instagram caption on photos of myself… I would call myself a Digital Girl, [and] had this image of a girl trapped in a box, half real, half digital.”

She continues, “It wasn’t until I was playing on the guitar that I first sang it, and knew what I wanted the song to be about. The chorus I wrote on guitar and the pre-chorus came after… It’s hard to imagine, but ‘Digital Girl’ actually originated on the guitar. I was alone in the studio, so I was just strumming along and freestyling. When my producer got back, I sang it for him and he was hooked. We knew we wanted it to have a trippy post apocalyptic feel in the production from the jump.”

Being a digital girl comes with objectification, sometimes being treated like you’re not real.

Directed by Damien Sandoval and Rae, the “Digital Girl” video depicts the essence of this other reality artists like Rae live with. “Being a digital girl comes with objectification, sometimes being treated like you’re not real. In the song I focus on this phenomenon and also the impact of the digital age on relationships. We forget how to be human. We forget how to be vulnerable. We’ve all caught ourselves settling for relationships that aren’t entirely genuine. Thus, why I’m a sad girl.”

A self-aware perfectionist, Rae worked with Sandoval through revisions of the music video until they came to what we see today: A coalescing of virtual reality and reality that disrupts our understanding of what is, and what isn’t. “Digital Girl” reflects the post-apocalyptic struggle between maintaining one’s identity and a complete surrender of self; by the film’s end, we’re left to wonder whether what we’ve just seen is all virtual, or if some of those visions are of the actual past and present.

Back in the *actual* real world, Tessa Rae has been hard at work on her music and career. In the months since “Downtown” was released, she has finished writing and production of her upcoming EP, and she recently wrapped up her first tour. There’s a lot to be excited about in this talented artist to watch – from her deft self-awareness and punchy lyricism, to her rhythmic wherewithal and slick melodic execution, Tessa Rae is closing 2018 on a high note and entering a 2019 full of promise and potential.

Stream “Digital Girl” exclusively on Atwood Magazine!

Stream: “Digital Girl” – Tessa Rae

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:: stream/purchase Digital Girl here ::

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Digital Girl - Tessa Rae

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? © 2018
dir. Damien Sandoval, Tessa Rae

The Stirring Weight of Tessa Rae’s Heartbroken “Downtown”

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