10 Questions With… Raphael Tate

10 Questions With… A series that delves into fresh new releases from some of our favourite artists. With a focus on our Melodic Distraction hosts and wider community, this lil natter gives us an insight into their musical escapades when they’re in their studio, not ours. 

This week, we chat with ‘Prince of Soul’ Raphael Tate! Cyprus-based but US-raised, Raphael has returned to his reggae roots for new single ‘Blessed’, out now on Tate Love Production. Upon receiving seals of approval from BBC 1xtra’s Seani B, Reprezent Radio and Award-winning producer Jazzwad, we chat to Raphael ahead of the release of EP ‘Patricia Creations, Memorial Project’, a touching tribute to his late mother, Patricia Ann Tate.

Hi Ralph – we’re loving ‘Blessed’, the sound of summer! What’s the story behind it? 

The story behind ‘Blessed’ is to inspire and encourage people from all around the world who are suffering hardships, or have suffered due to the pandemic – particularly to uplift people like myself, who have sadly lost loved ones during this time. To give hope to entertainers and others who have lost their jobs, homes and livelihoods, all while my people of colour are still suffering from discrimination, police brutality and pure systemic racism. So, I wrote this song to spread faith in better days on their way!

How would you describe your sound to someone who’s never heard it before? 

From the heart and soul. I pride myself on being versatile but true to each genre. My favourite genres that allow me to express myself are Gospel, Reggae, Soul & RnB. 

‘Blessed’ is one of the singles off forthcoming EP ‘Patricia Creations, Memorial Project’. Can you tell us a bit about the process of making the record?

I wrote ‘Blessed’ as I was trying to bear the painful realisation that almost a year had passed since I lost my Queen and best friend – my mother Patricia Ann Tate.

As I sat in silence, I remembered what my Mom taught my siblings and I, being believers in Christ. That same spirit that raised Christ up from his grave on the 3rd day will also raise us up to meet each other again, and what a celebration it will be!

My mom always said that if we live right, love and treat our neighbours as ourselves, our future will be forever blessed. So, I captured the essence of her message in the track.

Who have you been listening to a lot whilst making it?

The inspiration for the song came from my solitude. Sitting in a hotel room in London pondering life. When I was sent the music, I knew just what to write. 

Based in Cyprus, do your surroundings have an influence on your music? What is the music scene like over there?

Living in Cyprus has definitely impacted my life in a way of protecting my sound from being distorted. I’ve been able to focus without distraction, being in such a tranquil, beautiful and serene environment. Being a man of colour in America and growing up through systemic racism has caused a lot of emotional trauma and anxiety, and I’ve used the past 7 years of my life to break free from the mental chains. 

This has blessed me tremendously, to be able to focus on who I am as a person and what messages I want to convey as an artist to the world. I can truly say that challenging myself to live abroad has been majorly impactful to who I am today and how I portray myself as an artist.

Would you say your sound has changed much since debut single ‘With Every Beat of My Heart’ in 2017?

I believe my sound has changed exponentially, as since my first release I truly feel that I’ve found my niche with reggae, soul, gospel and rnb. I can truly communicate my message from the heart and soul.

What’s been the highlight of your music career so far?

The biggest highlight of my career will always and forever be when my mom told me how proud she is of me. Even down to our last conversation 2 days before she passed away abruptly, she made sure that she knew I knew how she felt. She smiled and said, “you’re beautiful son, I love your voice and how you sing with so much passion.” I felt elated receiving this blessing from my mom and knowing that I made her heart smile.

Can you play any instruments? What would be your dream instrument to learn?

I can play the tuba, trumpet, percussion and keyboard. I would love to learn the bass and lead guitar!

Are there any up and coming artists you’re keeping your eye on at the moment?

Bren Joy.

What’s next for you?  

What’s next for me is winning a Recording Academy/Grammy for my EP ‘Patricia’s 7th Creation’, dedicated to the life and legacy of my dear mother. I’m also gearing up for the new release of my 1st reggae album.

‘Blessed’ is out now. Check it out below!