Choosing to out her vulnerabilities through super sexy beats and vocals that rock, listening New York-based Raveena often feels like divinity. Within her music, she has found a place to take care of who she really is — nurturing the bits that bring power and privilege and ditching the bits that are ultimately repressive.
With a debut album due in the coming months, we found it a perfect time to ask her about her recent single ‘Temptation’ and how she stays free from the funk of day-to-day. Super dedicated to every aspect of being a performer (not just the bit where she writes songs from an ever-relatable heart), Raveena also directed and produced the below shoot with photographer Munachi Osegbu. New queen? We think so.
Hi! So I love your track ‘Temptation’. Can you tell me about it?
Thank you <3 I think it can be interpreted in a number of ways, and the lyrics can represent many different types of lust. For me personally though, I wrote it about a girl I had liked and the song is about daydreaming of taking our relationship further.
There is a very certain sexuality to your music — it’s not explicit, but it’s in the sway of your voice and the humidity of your music — how would you describe how you present yourself as an artist?
Sensuality is definitely a big aspect of my music! Since I grew up in a sexually repressive culture, I try to embrace all the sensual/sexual motifs in my music in this very validating, healthy, and positive way. I really seek to approach female sensuality devoid of the male gaze and also devoid of expectations of Western standards of beauty. I’m really blessed to have a team of producers, publicists and managers around me who don’t look at me like a sex symbol, and I’m really happy I don’t have anyone whispering in my ear right now to portray myself in a certain way. I definitely had people around me like that when I first got into the music industry, and it feels so liberating to approach my sensuality in a way that feels super liberated and authentically myself. I want the people listening to my music to feel like their pleasure is this positive and healthy thing for themselves, that they are absolutely beautiful naturally as they are, and that they can embrace the full spectrum and ‘weirdness’ of their tastes or wants. I want my music to be a very safe space <3
Also, on sexiness, my favourite comment on your YouTube is: “Her music makes you want to apply coconut oil on your entire body.” Walk me through your reaction to this…
LMAOOO. I see comments and tweets that are much more bold than this and they just make me laugh. Thank you so much.
Do you read all your comments?
I used to keep up with them more because I think when you are holed up alone in your bedroom, or in the thick of the creating process, and doubt kicks in, it can be easy to forget the impact that the work you do has on people. It can be easy to use the positive comments as a self esteem boost. But I’m really not reading them as much anymore. I think I’m realising that I need to have more boundaries with reading messages/comments as things grow. It’s too many thoughts/feelings/opinions about myself for one little body to take in.
Does social media bug your out? Or are you more affected by a critic’s review?
These days, I’m just really enjoying falling in love with this body of work we have made, and being in a cocoon of creativity, before I deliver this album to the world. I am really emotionally preparing myself right now for the release and making sure that no matter what people say, good or bad, I can look back at this time and remember all the positive feelings I had while making this project. That I can hold onto that feeling of how incredibly therapeutic and important writing these songs were for me. Nobody can really take that pure joy of creating away from me. It was harder to regulate my emotions with my first release because I had never had that much attention on my music before, and I realised there is even something dangerous about having too much positive attention. While the internet can definitely connect people and is super revolutionary, I think it also has the power to make us less connected with each other’s humanity and more likely to say awful things to real people. With this release I really want to learn how to be less swayed by what anyone says, attach less of my ego and self-worth to the opinions of others. I think as long as I’m making an effort to be kind and sensitive to others and self-aware on what I am putting out into the world, only my opinion really matters on myself and my art.
You’re big on self-care and self-love. Is it tricky to keep a check on yourself the more and more popular you get?
I think I’m in a position of more privilege than I ever had before, so I feel like I have less things stopping me from making time or spending money on self-care. I really just feel fundamentally happy to be here and grateful for everything that has been manifesting in my life right now. I think the challenges that I see happening in front of me are more mental than anything else — they involve not letting my ego get out of check, learning to be more still and balanced when I have to interact or absorb a lot of different energies of people, surrounding myself with people who uplift and inspire me, and giving myself time to stop in a world that demands us to always be productive. I think being an artist can definitely lead to a crazy unbalanced and negative lifestyle, but there is so much beauty and joy in being a creator that I think that finding balance and serenity within the madness is definitely possible and my ultimate goal as I grow.
What are some rituals you perform to make sure you’re happy and grounded?
My self-care routine these days includes gratitude exercises, morning meditations, eating healthier and being more in tune with my body’s needs, pacing myself, and figuring out more ways I can give (financially and emotionally) to those with less resources.
Who instilled this kind of practice or thought into you? Do you remember when you first kind of realised you needed to take care of yourself?
My grandparents and mum are really spiritual people and they healed a lot of their pain through religion. I saw them use reiki, natural medicines and meditation to heal their trauma. Those were the first models of self-care that I saw while growing up. On the flip side, both the patriarchal and traumatised parts of Indian culture and the competitive and success driven parts of American culture don’t really allow much space for self-care. I realised I needed to take care of myself when the people who I looked to take care of me couldn’t or didn’t want to anymore, and I had to rely completely on myself to pull myself out of a depressed and unhealthy lifestyle.
What kind of way does listening to your own music make you feel?
Old music that’s already released — nostalgic, and this feeling of excitement cause we have progressed so much as writers and musicians since making that music. New music — whole, giddy, and happy.. but also very nervous!
Which tune best gets you out of a funk?
‘For the Love of You Pts 1 and 2’ – The Isley Brothers, ‘Provider’ – Frank Ocean, ‘One Step Ahead’ – Aretha Franklin.
I want to ask you what you’re working on for this year, but I already hear you have something coming in a few months — can you give us a scoop? What can you tell us about it that no one else knows yet?
Yes! We are putting out our debut album this year! I can’t tell you much but I can tell you that it’s my favourite project I’ve made so far and a bit more emotionally dense than Shanti 🙂 I’m very excited for people to hear it.