We caught up with London-based singer-songwriter RAENE — the newcomer talks about her come up, latest single “Inventory” and creating music in quarantine.
Having been surrounded by music throughout her life, singer-songwriter RAENE first began writing as a way of expressing her emotions through times of adversity. Her music is a seamless infusion of alternative R&B with sprinkles of pop music. Her reflective lyrical content is often complimented by her sweet R&B vocal abilities which you can hear on the excellent new single “Inventory”. Emerging artists such as RAENE are always a breath of fresh air here in the UK and it was only right to get to know her. Read our conversation below:
How are you doing RAENE?
I’m all good thank you, how are you?
I’m good too thank you! Where are you based?
I’m normally based in London but I’m staying with family through the lockdown. I was born and brought up in the Midlands then moved to London when I was 18 years old for the music scene! I always knew London was where I wanted to be.
Nice! When did you start pursuing a career as an artist?
I’ve been writing music since I was 7 years old but as a solo artist I have only been officially released since the first week of April this year! I started working on the project about a year ago, writing an album’s worth of music and getting everything ready to release.
Wow, that’s amazing! Growing up, what artists were you listening to?
Growing up I was really into Beyoncé and Christina Aguilera. I loved those huge ballad songs and would endlessly push myself to sing them – determined to hit the big notes! Around my mid teens old however I realised I’d lost what I loved listening to and was uninspired by the Top 40 UK. When I went to study music at 16 years old, the students around me held their favourite genre and artists with pride, the more obscure the better, defining them as musicians. They had spent time digging around to find these secret gems and they associated it with part of who they were. I felt embarrassed that I didn’t have this and so decided that it was time for me to find my genre, my sound and started digging myself. That’s when I found R&B, Alternative R&B and Pop R&B. I felt so excited about what I was listening to again and it all fell into place — writing in the genre felt right and came so naturally. The style also suited my softer voice well. My voice wasn’t made for the big ballads and I’d finally found what fit. That’s when I started listening to Frank Ocean, Justin Timberlake (his older albums), Ariana Grande, BANKS etc. Sorry that was quite a long winded answer haha!
I know exactly what you mean, we’ve all been there. I’m glad you found genres that became a part of who you are now. Did any of those artists inspire you?
My writing is definitely inspired by those influences and also artists such as Kehlani. I’m a big fan of H.E.R also!
I can definitely hear the Kehlani influence. If you were to collaborate with one of those artists, who would it be and why?
Oh how to pick one?! I’ve always had a little dream of doing a duet with Justin Timberlake since I was younger so I’ll choose JT to appease my younger self!
You’ve just dropped your new single “Inventory” — in your own words, what message are you trying to convey on the song?
“Inventory” is for every individual reclaiming their voice post a break up. In my eyes it’s a song of empowerment, a reminder to know the worth of yourself and your own happiness and to never settle for any less.
Love the message. The song has alternative R&B and dark pop vibes, are these the genres you want to be associated with as an artist?
Definitely, I’m really enjoying exploring the different sides of R&B. My songs go through R&B, to Pop, to more alternative and I find that really exciting to explore depending on my mood or what I’m inspired by at the time!
Were you nervous about releasing this during quarantine?
Yes definitely — but I was nervous for my first release full stop! It took me a while to take the plunge (convinced by friends to finally take the leap) and once I’d committed to that and set everything up about three weeks before lockdown, I was determined to see it through. It was all so unknown, I didn’t know what would happen but now I see that through this time people still need music and always will!
That’s so true. Do you have any expectations for this release?
Everything is so new that I’m just taking things a day at a time, finding my way and celebrating every bit of engagement! If people hear the track and enjoy listening to it then I’m happy!
Furthermore, as it’s Mental Health Awareness Week and I know how hard it’s been for independent artists during lockdown. What have you learned about yourself in quarantine?
That I’m a complete workaholic! My friends and family already know that about me but quarantine has definitely sent it into overdrive! I think it’s super hard as an independent musician to know when to stop — to feel like you’ve done enough. There’s a feeling that you should always be onto the next creation or you’re trying to make sure those pieces of work are heard! It’s a lot of responsibility and there’s always something to be done but I do it because I love it. I’m just trying to be a bit kinder to myself and tell myself day to day that I’ve done enough.
Has it affected your creativity at all?
I’ve been quite reflective in lockdown, the new environment has actually set off sparks of inspiration and I’ve written a couple of songs especially that I’m really excited about. It’s hard not having the stimulation of every day life’s experiences but as a songwriter I find there’s something to be taken from every environment and emotion.
What’s your daily routine been like during lockdown?
After breakfast I do a home workout or go for a run, have a shower and then do my vocal warm ups. I’ll then spend most of the day doing music, go out for a walk, do a yoga session and then have the evening off to make dinner and have some family time.
Nice! There are so many challenges artists face that many people may not know, how do you keep yourself motivated?
Definitely reminding myself regularly that it’s a marathon and not a sprint. I celebrate every small achievement, every listen and know that this is something I’m growing and that takes time. I’ve always been told that nothing worth having comes easy! You need patience and a lot of self belief but if you love what you’re doing then you’ll enjoy the journey and no matter the outcome, that’s the most important thing.
Well said — that’s a great mentality to have. What can we expect next from you?
I have another release on the 4th June called “DNA”! It was written only a couple of weeks ago, inspired by the current events and my wonderful friends which is why I felt the need to share it so soon after my last release. It’s to celebrate every individual who gives so much of themselves during these difficult times and always. I’ll also be playing a Livestream set on the 25th May with Notion, Spinnup, BBC 1/Introducing and Jamz Supernova!
Connect with RAENE
Photo Credit: Yasmin Rona Photography