Ravyn Lenae plans to lay a blanket over the globe
So you’re from Chicago?
The south side.
How is Chicago different from New York?
I think New York is Chicago on sterroids. It is times one million. So if you still want to get the New York feel, but be able to go somewhere quiet where it’s not super congested, we have that too.
How long have you been making music for?
Post singing in the shower stage? I would say I’ve been recording for three years now. But prior to that, I was singing in school. I was in choir.
Where do you go to school?
I’m graduating from Chicago High School of the Arts.
And now we need to know your go-to shower song.
Probably ‘Single Ladies.’
I noticed your music has a very eclectic sound. What style would you classify it as?
My friend asked me a while ago, "If you could label your music as one genre, what would it be?" And I said "dreaming." I think I pull from jazz, R&B, pop. It’s really hard to put myself in a box and label it as one thing when I really just do whatever I feel on that day.
Your music personified would look like what?
If my music were a person, she would be a 7-year old girl who dreams of rainbows and butterflies. She lives in a make-believe world that she has created through her dreams. She is beautiful and sweet. She carries a scent of vanilla. Oh, and she hates school.
When were you signed to Atlantic Records?
About a year ago now.
So it’s still sort of fresh, but your audience seems to be growing really fast.
Yeah, and it’s happening organically because a lot of people don’t know I’m signed, not because I’m hiding it but just because I’m not blasting it. I like it better that way because then you’re not force-feeding people, you know? I’d rather people gravitate towards me because they want to.
What is the wildest thing one of your fans has done?
After the shows, I usually stick around to talk to people, hug people, sign stuff. One guy wrote me an entire video treatment, by hand. Every second of the video was noted with a frame. I didn’t know what to say. I keep all of the stuff they give me in my bedroom, but that’s probably the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.
If you had to name one person or group as a source of inspiration for your music, who would it be?
OutKast. If I could collaborate with one rapper it would be André.
Childhood album that you were obsessed with?
B'Day by Beyoncé.
What made you realize you wanted to be a musician?
I see there is a lot of Beyoncé going on here.
She’s a really important figure, especially for women of color, you know? So even if you don’t like her music—which a lot of people don’t—you should be able to respect, or appreciate, what she’s done with her work ethic. She has worked hard.
I also see you have blue eyelashes.
I love color. I love it, a lot.
What do you love about color?
I love color because it can mean anything at any time. Color communicates through all spectrums solely relying on feeling and emotion. I believe color plays an integral role in my life, portraying particular ideas that cannot be articulated through words. Every color has a meaning and feeling, which influences my music. Before I write, I establish the tone of the song by choosing a color. Through the color, I am able to connect words and notes that best represent that hue.
Any idea for your next hair color?
I’m so into the red, I really don’t know.
So you’re playing tonight at Purchase College’s Culture Shock festival. Is this your biggest performance to date?
Anything exciting planned for the future?
I’m very excited to be touring again in August.
Is there somewhere you wish to travel to at some point?
I want to live out of the country for a while. In Europe, maybe London.
It’s interesting you say London because when I listened to ‘Free Room’ off of your first EP, I thought it had a similar London-town sound to Estelle.
Really? I get that a lot. I feel like I have little characters in my head that are from Europe, and I channel them in my music.
I noticed you have a tattoo. What does it say?
It’s a French Proverb: "Rêve ta vie.. vis tes rêves," which translates to, "Dream your life, live your dreams." This specific proverb spoke to me because I was having a hard time believing in my craft. I was faced with the decision of going to college after high school or devoting my time solely to music. A huge part of being an artist is accepting the risks that accompany choosing a non-traditional lifestyle. The tattoo stamped my decision to follow my dreams, trusting all things will fall into place.
It seems like things certainly are falling into place. What is your goal as an artist?
My goal as an artist is to inspire, and to be a source of comfort for people. I was with my friend who had a show the other night, and I was just looking at the crowd from backstage and couldn’t believe how excited and happy music was making them feel. They could have had horrible a day, but this topped it for them. I feel artists play such an important role in people’s lives, and we need to value that. Whenever somebody asks me this, I picture myself laying a blanket over a globe. That’s what I envision all the time.
You definitely have that power. You exude good energy. Any inspiring parting words?
Be you. Don’t be afraid to show the world who you are.