Azure Antoinette and Emily Rex The Illuminate Project Interview
We are celebrating the launch of an inspiring new song and music video release, Illuminate, created to shine a light on the issues facing disadvantaged girls in our own backyard, and in support of charity, SISTER2sister. A collaboration of passion by Grammy shortlisted music duo, Spare Pages, the song calls out to Australians to look at the alarming reality of neglect and abuse affecting thousands of Australian teenage girls.
The social crisis has spurred NIVEA to bring together Spare Pages and charity SISTER2sister to raise awareness of these issues in our communities and empower these young women to break the cycle of poverty, trauma and suffering.
Spare Pages are delighted to be collaborating with SISTER2sister and their life-changing program for disadvantaged teenage girls, aged 12-18. These girls are partnered with professional, positive female role models or 'Big Sisters" to inspire and motivate them to overcome adversity and achieve their life goals.
The Illuminate song and music video personifies the role of a 'Big Sister" going beyond the traditional corporate or sporting mentor, to something far more powerful – the ability to save lives.
Spare Pages' own story was founded on a mentor relationship with The Voice AU's Emily Rex reaching out to one of Forbes magazine's '100 Most Powerful Women in the World" (2012), poet Azure Antoinette to forge a new genre in music – SubSOUL, which is a combination of lyric, melody and poetry.
'Em and I talked about how we want to always tell the truth in our music. The project with SISTER2sister was no different, in fact this was the opportunity of a lifetime. We were given the opportunity to tell young women and girls to keep their hope, no matter the circumstance," said Azure. 'It was a gorgeous chance to use music to uplift and encourage no matter the amount of adversity they are facing. Em told me that she really wanted to give advice that she herself could have used as a young woman growing up."
Upon hearing about The Illuminate Project it didn't take long for Hollywood star and UN Youth Champion, Monique Coleman (High School Musical) to get on board as the director of the music video.
'We're telling the story of two very different young women to show that often times the challenges a girl is facing at home aren't obvious just by looking at her, but they still affect many aspects of her life," said Monique.
'We're aiming to portray the value of mentorship and empower young women to know that everything that they need is already inside of them."
SISTER2sister National Program Manager, Marnee May is one of the driving forces behind the life-changing SISTER2sister program and has all too often witnessed the devastating effects abuse and neglect has on the learning, social development and potential of teenage girls.
'One in four Australian girls will be abused before the age of 18 and it is terrifying statistics like this that drive the SISTER2sister program, to support these vulnerable teens and help them make positive choices towards a better future for themselves and the next generation," said Marnee.
'The moving Illuminate song beautifully illustrates the overwhelming need that exists at home, in Australia, for us to be helping these girls and inspiring them to grow into strong independent women."
Australia can join NIVEA and Spare Pages in supporting the crucial work of the SISTER2sister program by making a donation or downloading the song on iTunes.
Also, women aged 25+ are encouraged to find out how they can help create powerful mentor relationships by becoming a 'Big Sister" themselves. Visit www.theilluminateproject.com.au
Interview with Azure Antoinette and Emily Rex
Question: Why did you decide to partner with the SISTER2sister program?
Azure Antoinette: We were approached by NIVEA to write a song encapsulating what SISTER2sister does overall as a charity. Emily and I both resinated with the cause and the work SISTER2sister does which made us very excited to be involved with the project and keen to do that through a medium of music.
Question: What does this The Illuminate Project campaign mean to you?
Azure Antoinette: The Illuminate Project comes from the title of the song, Illuminate. The goal of the song is to portray a message, as a duo. That message is that -yes, things happen in your life that may be unfortunate or difficult to get through but no matter what there is always hope and a light at the end of a very dark tunnel; you have to continue and persevere'. This message is one that SISTER2sister puts forward with their Big Sister program which involves mentoring young girls who have come from challenging situations; the women are there to listen and help the young girls through the hard times. The Illuminate Project is there to shine light on the work the SISTER2sister program has been doing, tirelessly as an organisation. Our song, Illuminate hopes to dial the message home, in 3 and a half minutes, alongside a beautiful melody.
Question: Are you able to tell us about the Illuminate, film clip?
Emily Rex: We were lucky enough to partner with an incredible actress, Monique Coleman who wanted to incorporate, visually, what we were trying to portray with the song, Illuminate. Together, we were able to be a part of appearing within the video, not only in singing the lyrics but also by looking down the barrel of a camera to tell young girls -it's okay, there is hope'. I know from what I've been through personally, that there is hope and because of this I wanted to show that I really cared what they were going through because I'd gone through it, myself. We worked with an incredible group of people to film this video clip and the message has been captured very well.
Question: What inspired the creation of Spare Pages?
Emily Rex: That is a long story within itself which I will try and keep brief. I was living with a friend who had connected with Azure after the GAP commercial; they connected through Skype and I would pop my head in and say -hello' occasionally and from there Azure and I started talking about my music and how I wanted to do more with my love of singing; Azure extended an invitation for me to fly to America to meet her and her connections so I could learn and ask questions.
The day I arrived in America, I showed Azure my YouTube videos and we discussed how she'd been approached to submit in the Spoken Word Category of the Grammys and asked if I would be a part of that, with her. It was an honour to form Spare Pages and record an album titled First Listen, with 12-tracks, recorded in 13 days, to submit 40-minutes prior to the Grammy deadline.
Question: Can you explain the genre, SubSOUL?
Azure Antoinette: Our genre is the first of its kind to incorporate a complete blend of spoken and sung vocals; after deliberating with our audiences we decided to name the genre, SubSOUL. -Sub' for subconscious because if you listen to our work, Emily's vocals to the songs she is singing have a specific point-of-view and narrative and my whole goal regarding poetry is accent which is underlying underneath the song lyrics; which is highlighted in Illuminate. We consider ourselves a new brand of story-tellers and our music is narrative-heavy; I've been blessed to work with such a beautiful voice which makes the songs very powerful which is perfect to get across strong lyrics.
We're having a really good time and have recently started covering some popular songs in the style in which we do music. Everyone has been super receptive which has been beautiful, for us.
Question: What's next, for you?
Emily Rex: The world (laughs)! Our plan is to write another album to submit to the Grammys, again for the 2018 Awards. We're trying to do as much as we can and we love working with charities to help in the way that we know how, through music and bringing awareness to programs as beautiful as SISTER2sister.
Azure Antoinette: Oddly enough, it's the three-year anniversary to the GAP commercial I filmed for International Women's Day; we want to stay connected to corporations and charities that are focused on lifting and advocating people to find joy. We're hoping to not only record new music but continue partnering up with beautiful organisations. I hope we continue to release music that moves people.
Emily Rex: We came together by collaboration and we've learnt so much through collaborating with each other and looking at different ways of doing things; in saying that we'd like to collaborate with other people and learn from what they do. We're open to sharing our music with other people and we hope to have collaborations in the near future.
Interview by Brooke Hunter
Photo: Noah Lee