Ravyn Lenae Proves That Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number [Interview] BC Artist Profile: Ravyn Lenae
From juggling her classical studies, teenage growing pains, and budding music career Chicago native Ravyn Lenae has her sights set on illuminating the world with her undeniable black girl magic. Adding to her growing resume, Ravyn is a third of talented trio Zero Fatigue and is set to hit the road with fellow Chi-town native Noname on the Telefone Tour. Aside from dealing with a hectic schedule, Ravyn is learning how to let her red mane down and enjoy herself periodically. Introducing us to her artistry with highly acclaimed debut EP Moon Shoes, the teenage superstar continues to pen some of the most melodic gems. Soaring to new heights within the new year, Ravyn Lenae continues to prove that age ain’t nothing but a number.
Being in school full time and pursuing a music career seems to be a bit demanding. How do you balance those two things?
It’s super hard. I go to a performing arts school, Chicago High School for the Arts, so I’m there from 8-5pm. From 8-2pm we focus on academics and from 2-5pm I take music classes. It’s a really long day and I find myself being tired and then having to juggle personal issues, academic issues, as well as career issues [simultaneously] it becomes stressful. So I try to balance my time and energy. [I prioritize] I think I’m getting better it. I try to make sure that I do what’s important first and then have everything else follow.
That’s such a busy schedule. I know for me, self-care is major. Where do you find the time to fit that into your schedule and what are some of the things you do during that time?
I don’t have that time. That’s where a lot of problems come in for me. I do like my weekends; Saturdays especially. I enjoy taking walks, taking myself on dates. I don’t go too many places with people. I do a lot of things on my own because I like to be alone with my thoughts since I’m never alone throughout the week. I value my Saturdays because it allows me to talk to Ravyn.
Do you think your classical studies play a part in your songwriting?
Definitely! Not even intentionally. I do it, and I listen back, and I’m like, “Oh, that was kinda classical.” Or “This requires some classical training.” It’s helped me as far as technique and even [my] style. I’m glad that I have that exposure.
If you could perform in any musical era, what would it be and why?
Um, maybe the 50’s. I like how elegant the women were. They were beautiful with how they presented themselves and their artistic styles were very simple but moving.
Who are some of your musical influences?
I was raised on Outkast, Erykah Badu, India Aire, Jill Scott…the greats! They have a big influence in my music.
Your song “Alive” happens to be one of my favorites. It’s very relatable. Do you find yourself pulling from personal experience or the experiences of others when you’re writing?
For that particular song, it was written from my own experience, but I do pull from other people’s experiences without even realizing that I’ve done it. I think a lot of it is shared experiences, so I’ll touch on mine without even realizing that I’ve touched on yours.
Media tends to depict Chicago as a war zone. With such a negative connotation Chicago is also home to all sorts of talents, such as yourself. Has any of the city’s tragedies ever discouraged you musically?
No, if anything it encourages me. I think as artists we are supposed to be those comforters in the midst of evil. Whenever I’m proposed with this question I envision the city of Chicago and then me placing a blanket over the city. I think my job as an artist is to be that comfort and warmth that people can turn to.
It’s been a year since the release of your debut EP Moon Shoes. A lot of things can take place in a year. How would you say you’ve grown since then?
I’ve grown tremendously. As a person, you develop, and you experience more things, so a lot of things have happened since then. My writing style has changed. My voice has gotten stronger. I can’t wait to see what changes may come in the next two years. It’s fun listening back to old songs or reading old writings. It’s like “Oh, that’s where I was back then, but look at where I’m at now.” It’s like a photograph.
You’ll be touring very soon with Noname on the Telefone Tour. How will that affect your school schedule? What city are you most excited to visit?
We are working some stuff out with school. Putting together a special plan for me to finish my senior year. It’s a performing arts school, so they encourage us to do these type of things. I’m most excited about Toronto. I’ve never been to Canada. I hear it’s super clean. I just want to go and see. I’m really into big cities.
You have this gorgeous red hair. Do you think your hair plays a part in your creative development?
That’s a really great question! I think it’s definitely a part of me. My grandmother told me the other day that my red hair fits me way more than my natural hair color. And I thought about it and it’s actually very true. I don’t feel like Ravyn without red hair. I think it’s a representation of me. I think it’s my trademark and a definite piece of who I am. I don’t think anyone would recognize me without it.
You’ve collaborated a lot with artist Monte Booker. How did your relationship develop?
I started going to Classick Studios and that’s where I met Monte and Smino. We just clicked! We weren’t working on music. We were just friends and I heard some of his stuff. We decided that we should collaborate. Monte gets me like no other producer. I think it was great that we had that bond before we decided to make music because I trust him and I know he trusts me. So it works. We are currently working on some new stuff and doing our own thing.
You mentioned wanting to be a blanket of hope for Chicago, but you have fans outside of your home base. What are you hoping they get from your music?
I hope that they can connect to my music, but also with me as a person. It’s one thing to listen to a song and like the lyrics, but it’s another to take that and dissect me as a person. I think that would mean the world to me. If people can listen to my music and take that extra step to figure out who I am…even outside of Chicago, I want to be that sense of hope.