Serena Ittoo on Vulnerability, Connection, and Her New Single 'Another World'

Serena Ittoo, the enchanting singer-songwriter from Enfield, UK, has a knack for weaving the universal emotions of everyday life into her music. In our candid chat, Serena opens up about her latest single, “Another World,” and the heartfelt inspiration behind it. Known for her authenticity both in her music and her personal interactions, Serena's dedication to her craft shines through in every note and lyric.

Her newest release, 'Another World', is a testament to her ability to capture complex emotions. Serena describes the track as a sentimental journey, highlighting the desire to see the world through another person’s eyes. In our conversation, we dive into themes of curiosity, passion, and devotion that permeate her latest work, as well as her collaborations with industry greats and performances at iconic venues.

It’s so great to catch up with you, thanks for taking the time to answer some of our questions. When did you first start making music? Where did it all begin, and what inspired you?

"Hello! I appreciate you taking the time to interview me. I’ve always had a really strong passion and love for singing since the age of three years old – My Mum noticed this love for singing in me first. She just saw that it made me really happy so always supported and encouraged me with it. So My Mum is the reason and biggest inspiration for where I am today, pursuing my purpose and dream of becoming a successful, happy and balanced professional singer, songwriter, and artist."

"Since an early age, I’ve always been able to pick up on the power of emotion which drives a song to make us feel a certain way. I love how music is a powerful tool in communicating and releasing emotions, regardless of what language you speak. I first started writing songs at the age of nine and naturally started to write more consistently in my teenage years."

"During my experience at University, I focused on developing my songwriting skills and always knew that afterwards, I would want to pursue a solo music artist career."

Can you tell us a bit about your latest project and what it means to you?

"I launched my artist career with the release of my debut single 'Nature Foreseen' in November 2023 and since then, I’ve released four more singles. There’s so much that comes with launching an artist career – especially as an independent artist too, so I’ve taken this time to not only just settle into the process of everything that comes with this, but also to explore with writing new material to find my sound too."

"In regards to what this means to me, I keep saying to my family and friends, this to me is 'living the dream' so I’m just really grateful and proud to be in a position where I can authentically fulfil my purpose as well as embrace and enjoy what has always been a childhood dream of mine."

Are there any artists, moments, or experiences that influenced you when writing the project?

"Over the Christmas period of last year, I wrote seven new songs and 'Believe Again' which was my fourth single marked this new chapter/project for me as an artist. Honestly, I would say my friend Jamie Petersen who teaches me jazz piano has had the most influence on my sound and songwriting style."

"My vocal coach had been encouraging me for quite a while to look into jazz piano because he knew as a singer and writer, this would open up so much more creativity in me when it comes to improvisation as a singer and writing in itself. So the tips and tools I’ve learnt in the sessions with Jamie inspire my songwriting style and sound."

What is your songwriting process? How does it all come together?

"My songwriting process has changed over the years. Again, since I’m aiming to develop/explore in my songwriting style/sound, it doesn’t feel like I’m just processing my emotions/feelings on paper and giving it a melody and some chords anymore. I’m now thinking of ways I can elevate this by musically conveying my emotions/feelings stylistically through other elements such as the types of chords I use, the tone colours in those chords to convey meaning as well as other features such as rhythm, harmonies, vocal decisions, dynamics, structure etc."

"In terms of how it all comes together, It depends. Mostly it’s the melody/hook first then the lyrics however I have been open to new experimentation with my creativity as mentioned. Over that Christmas period, I set myself twenty minutes before each of the writing sessions I planned for myself and simply wrote poetic words and phrases on a page. They were just random and super creative but I did this so I had a pool of creative words/phrases that I could shape into the lyrics of the song I would be writing when I find a melody to get me started on it.

"'Believe Again' is always the example I use when explaining this. On that particular sheet of notes, I was really drawn to a phrase I wrote which said “made me believe again”. The majority of the lyrics of 'Believe Again' are from those twenty minutes of writing; so they did share a common theme. If I had been thinking on the spot to write these in the moment I had the melody ideas in my head….they could have turned out very different. So I feel sometimes it can be great to explore different approaches when it comes to songwriting."

What’s the most important thing when you’re writing a song?

"To KISS which stands for 'Keep It Simple Stupid'. This was the first and biggest tip from Jamie which has proven to be really important when it comes to me writing songs. With this advice, he helped me to see that sometimes simplicity in music can sound so beautiful and is actually the key to being so powerful! Being complex with your writing doesn’t necessarily mean it’s great if there’s no purpose behind it. This links to my previous question in thinking about the intention of each element that goes into the song (lyrically, vocally but also musically too)."

"I’ve also just found (spiritually if anything haha) that this piece of advice was something I needed to hear at that time to help let my creativity just flow without putting too much pressure on whether it's 'good' or anything like that. I look back on 'Nature Foreseen' and 'So Blue' and think some of the lyrics are so strangely written – however, I didn’t want to edit this to give it more meaning than what it was initially on those writing days; because I wanted to remember that 'KISS' was the key in those songs actually being written – as without that wisdom, they both would have been scrapped or unfinished."

There goes my debut single and its follow-up! How long would I have waited to write 'good songs' – you have to start from somewhere. Of course, now I feel in my latest couple of singles, I’ve upgraded the meaning of 'keep it simple stupid' to how I can add meaningful intention (with all the musical features) whilst still obeying the rule, however, it's quite awesome to see how it started and how it's continually helped me to grow creatively as an artist."

How would you describe your sound on your latest release? Has there been a change or evolution in style since you first began?

"Yes – I started to use 'keep it simple stupid' but the next stage of this creatively haha. Inspired by the few sessions I had with Jamie that year, I decided to implement the new teachings in my own music and explore and experiment the use of tone colours in my piano chords, to see how they can spark some new creative ideas and ways of communicating my lyrics/emotions within the chords I choose and how I choose to play them."

So 'Another World' was created from me testing out a new chord progression I hadn’t played before – using my keyboard instead of my guitar. Changing from the guitar to keys shifted a huge new sound for me, and 'Another World’ was the first song that came from this."

Is there a central message or theme you were trying to convey in your latest release? Is there a moment in the release that really captures that idea?

"The actual theme concept of “Another World” stemmed from me singing a random lyric to fit the chord progression I was playing. I kept hearing in my head “I would waste tomorrow to fly away, I would waste tomorrow to fly into another world”. And after that, I couldn’t seem to change the lyric to something else because I had repeatedly been practicing the chords with that lyric. So I decided to base the theme of the song around meeting someone who you believe is amazing in every way and now wanting to really get to see the world through their lenses so that you can understand and be everything they deserve. The aim is not to be this person’s ‘dream partner’ but to instead embrace the vulnerability in wanting to learn, understand and accept their flaws highlighting that this is not a 'make believe' connection. Because it was a free writing day I really didn’t actually have any clear personal intention as to where the song was going lyrically when I wrote it, however it ended up being a song I’m really proud of as well as showing a new side to me as an artist and what I can do too."

"The section which I feel perfectly draws and brings home the theme of the song is halfway through when the chorus hits from “Oh I will show how your worth….” This is done lyrically but also stylistically too. The song does make me smile – as it wasn’t so personally driven by someone I had met. It was more spiritual in my opinion. In terms of like “this is the theme” and “this is how I would be/act in the situation”.

"I did want to write a song based on the difference between spiritual love and physical love and I feel my higher self guided just that when writing. It helped me to accomplish it without knowing I had done that. I can confirm all the lyrics come from a spiritual place, so there’s lessons in there for everyone who
hears it."

What advice would you give to bands and artists who are just starting out and trying to find their sound?

"Let Mr Petersen shine his light on you with his ‘Keep It Simple Stupid” advice as I have mentioned him several times during this interview as to how he’s really helped me to find my sound!"

What has been your best moment as a musician or band so far?

"I think it has been great to see the growth in my songs, the more I’ve been writing and releasing music. I feel really proud. I’ve really enjoyed just sitting with my keyboard and writing songs – it has been necessary for my purpose as a music artist but also just amazing for my mental health and confidence too."

Is there anything you would like to say to our audience?

I have a new song called 'Let You In' coming out at some point during the Summer period. Its definitely the best song in my music career so far… so keep an eye out for it!"

Exploring themes such as curiosity, passion and devotion, the lyrics of her latest single 'Another World' tell a sentimental tale. With pure and raw emotions, 'Another World' articulates this in an authentically dreamy and powerful way. The empowering electro pop track oozes with confidence as Serena’s soulful vocals soar over twinkling, ethereal synths and fast-paced percussion. 

Serena’s dedication to her craft has led to collaborations with Grammy winner Gary Nicholson and notable songwriter Jeff Cohen, and performances at significant venues, including Sir Paul McCartney’s childhood home. Her work has been recognised by Notion, Earmilk, Atwood Magazine, Record of The Day, and more. Serena's music invites listeners to appreciate their individuality and the connections that unite us all.

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