With her debut album ‘LUCID’, Indian-American artist Raveena crafts an intimate and healing world which she invites her listeners into - with songs like ‘Stronger’ highlighting a journey to empowerment.
In a Instagram post about the album’s release, Raveena calls the album a “piece of my soul,” and it’s a powerful piece. Her heritage is also integral within the album, with ‘Mama’ working as an ode to her mother, and her grandmother’s voice featuring on ‘Nani’s Interlude’ after Raveena recorded conversations she was having with her.
We spoke with Raveena a week following the album’s release about the importance of self-belief, unobtainable beauty standards, touring her new album, and more…
...power is in everybody, it just has to be awakened, and you have to believe in it. You just have to have a lot of self-belief that it will work out, and that your vision is strong, and that it can go to these magical places. I think everyone has that potential, but you just have to work really hard at it and believe in yourself - and ignore all the bullshit when it comes at you, because there will be a lot.
COUP DE MAIN: Happy one week anniversary of the release of ‘LUCID’!
RAVEENA: Thank you so much! I appreciate it.
CDM: The album feels like such a healing process for you - what’s it been like to see the reaction from your fans since its release?
RAVEENA: It’s just really overwhelming. I’m normally in such a private space with the music before it comes out, and you have no idea how people are going to react to it, so I’ve just felt very overwhelmed with love and very grateful for everybody that’s been listening to it.
CDM: What do you hope for people to take away from listening to ‘LUCID’?
RAVEENA: That people can empathise with the experiences that I write about, and also I want them to feel healed and embraced, and calmer after listening to it.
CDM: What’s your favourite song lyrically on ‘LUCID’ at the moment?
RAVEENA: They’re all special to me lyrically in their own way. I think ‘Stronger’ and ‘Still Dreaming’ have some of my favourite lyrics from the album.
CDM: One of my favourite lines from the album is in ‘Stronger’ when you sing, “I was so naive / To think a man could be stronger than me,” which is such an empowering line. Why do you think that finding inner strength is such an important part of growth?
RAVEENA: When I was younger, I struggled with finding a sense of inner strength, especially as a woman - I kind of let people tell me that I was weaker and they mistook my softness as a lack of strength, because I am a very feminine person. But I think after going through so much in my life, I realised what it’s like to survive - it’s kind of reminding yourself how powerful that is, that you went through all of that, and came out as just a stronger person. It’s just incredible, and you have to give yourself credit sometimes, because sometimes other people won’t. I feel like when you have a sense of that inner strength, you are better at proving better boundaries with people and choosing better people in your life. I just feel like everything becomes better for you when you realise that you have that strength inside of you, and you can have the power over your life and your decisions.
CDM: It’s crazy that people still associate femininity with weakness.
RAVEENA: Yeah! I think it’s still very hard for people to associate power with femininity. I think even some of the most embraced women in music, they have to present as more masculine - because that’s what’s kind of valued a bit more in our society, being masculine. I want to share the power in femininity and that softness, because there is a lot of power in that divine feminine energy, and you don’t have to be masculine to be taken seriously.
CDM: It’s so refreshing to hear you shout out the "stretch marks on my thighs" in 'Nectar'. As you say, "It’s real / Don’t fear it." Are unobtainable beauty standards a dangerous societal construct?
RAVEENA: Definitely. Especially as a brown woman, coming into this kind of power and understanding of my beauty, and understanding that I may not look like some of the airbrushed people I’ve seen growing up is so important. There’s so much beauty that I can find in myself, and so I want to help to empower others to feel the same, because every single person on this earth has sensuality and sexuality inside of them, so I hope we all can embrace that and enjoy that.
CDM: The strings at the beginning of ‘Salt Water’ are so beautiful! How did you come up with that beginning to the song?
RAVEENA: We worked with a very incredible string arranger, Larry Gold. He's done a lot of the iconic strings on everything from old Philly soul records to Lana Del Rey's ‘Born To Die’.
CDM: I love the line in ‘Stone’ when you sing, “You paint my dreams in sunsets / And places you told me we’d go,” it’s so image-evoking. How does your songwriting process tend to work?
RAVEENA: I collected these songs over a year. Basically how I write, is I write more in a journal kind of style, and I just have different phrases that come into my head and get inspired as a writer before I put it to music. Then I fill out all the scenes and all these words that I’ve been collecting over time and that’s kind of how I arrive at the song! I’ll have a collection of words in my head. ‘Stone’ came out really quickly once I wrote it, it was just about being in a toxic relationship when I was younger, but still really wanting to hold onto it. It’s definitely one of my favourite records on the album.
CDM: In that song you also sing, "We both made mistakes / That’s the price of young love." Do you think it’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all?
RAVEENA: Definitely. I think there’s a space for sadness and enduring in your life - it’s kind of more meaningful when you have waves. I think love is more meaningful after heartbreak, you can understand how bad it can be. <laughs> So when you have something beautiful you can really cling onto it and you appreciate it.
CDM: It’s like a growing experience.
CDM: ‘Mama’ is such a personal song, but the feeling of who your parents were before you were born is such a relatable sentiment. What was your Mum’s reaction to hearing the song?
RAVEENA: She really loved it! I think she was just very surprised to have a song written about her - but she definitely deserves it, she’s sacrificed a lot for me growing up, so I’m just very appreciative to have a woman like her in my life. She’s very strong and she’s also survived a lot. I’m definitely in awe of how much she’s bounced back after experiencing so much in her life.
CDM: It’s also so cool to hear your grandmother’s voice on the album in ‘Nani’s Interlude’. Was it a conversation you were having with her that you decided to record? How did it come about?
RAVEENA: There were many conversations I’d been having with her over time. She’s such a spiritual voice in my life, she has such a healing presence, so it just felt really right to have her on the album. So when I went to record that section with her, I asked specific questions kind of hoping to lead somewhere with it. So it was semi-intentional, but I was so surprised at what she said, because she doesn’t speak very much English, but magically for the fifteen minutes we were recording, she just started speaking really clearly. I think it was fated.
CDM: You tweeted the other day saying, “Don’t sleep on the second half of the album !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Don’t worry, ’Bloom’ is another of my favourites on the album. I love, “I'm attuned to all the bullshit / I’m in tune with earth and rain.”
RAVEENA: <laughs> Thank you so much!
CDM: You seem really connected to nature in your music and visuals. What do you think it is about nature which makes you feel so spiritual?
RAVEENA: I think it’s a sense of that in nature I just feel so much more connected to my body and to the larger universe. I feel like when you’re in nature you realise how silly the things you worry about are. I just feel so much more alive when I’m there, if that makes sense.
CDM: You have to come to New Zealand one day, we have a lot of beautiful nature for you to explore!
RAVEENA: Wow, I can only imagine! That’s definitely one of my dreams.
CDM: ‘Still Dreaming’ feels like one of the most optimistic and romantic songs on the album. What was running through your mind when you were writing that song?
RAVEENA: ‘Still Dreaming’ was actually written in a time of personal crisis, <laughs> which is kind of funny. I was just trying to find myself. It was before I started making money from music, I’d basically moved to Berlin and I saw my producer out there. We were living together - he was going to school and I had just quit my job, and I was like, ‘I have no idea what I’m doing.’ I just had no idea where life was going, I had no idea how long I could continue making music without making money off of it, and I was genuinely pretty afraid of the future.
CDM: It’s so inspiring to see you have such power and control over your vision for you as an artist as a young woman. What advice would you give to other young women who are seeking that same control and power in their creative lives?
RAVEENA: I think that power is in everybody, it just has to be awakened, and you have to believe in it. You just have to have a lot of self-belief that it will work out, and that your vision is strong, and that it can go to these magical places. I think everyone has that potential, but you just have to work really hard at it and believe in yourself - and ignore all the bullshit when it comes at you, because there will be a lot. <laughs>
CDM: I love seeing you direct your own music videos! Do you enjoy being a part of that creative process alongside the creation of your music?
RAVEENA: Yeah! I think I see visions for all the music videos when I’m writing the album, it comes to me as part of the process. So even for the album music videos, I sat back and I didn’t direct it, but I creative directed all of it and wrote the storyline, so that was still really special. I just love picking out every single detail that I can and being very hands-on, because I think it makes for a really original vision when you do that. I definitely love making things that are soft and ethereal, and inherently feminine. I just love presenting whatever is in my head on-screen - which is also inspired by the 70s, that kind of nostalgia and softness to all the visuals.
CDM: Your statement alongside releasing the ‘Temptation’ music video was so powerful - “I hope that for lil brown girls in the future, their queerness will feel nothing short of completely, 100% mundane and normal." Being Pride Month this month, what more do you think can be done to help the queer community?
RAVEENA: I think that we’re getting to a place where a lot has been done, but I really want to see people standing up for trans rights - there’s a lot to be done for trans people of colour, and to learn how to get more involved in helping out that specific community. Because there are a lot of power imbalances even within the queer community and I think there’s work that needs to be done to undo a lot of that.
CDM: In a recent interview you said you missed Jai Paul - and it’s like he heard you! Have you been enjoying the new/old music of his?
RAVEENA: <laughs> Yeah! I love it. I think he’s so incredible, and I’m definitely so excited to hopefully hear an album from him, those new songs are just so romantic and amazing.
CDM: Have you been thinking about how to bring ‘LUCID’ to life in a live setting? I can imagine you creating such a sanctuary of a live show!
RAVEENA: Yeah, we’re planning out a whole stage design - we want to make it a very sensory experience, and engage all of the senses, so people will be into it like the ‘Shanti’ tour, but we definitely want to do it for ‘LUCID’ and try to make it even better. I’m very excited.
CDM: Hopefully you can bring your show to New Zealand one day!
RAVEENA: Yes, I would love that!
Raveena’s debut album ‘LUCID’ is out now - click here to purchase and watch the ‘Stronger’ music video below…