Music Through Color

Ravyn
Photo: Courtesy of The Ones To Watch

Indie singer and songwriter Ravyn Lenae associates many situations in her life with colors. In fact, she has very distinct moments of imagining certain shades and tints with songs that she is writing, listening to, or singing. “It’s a superpower kind of.  That is, being able to tap into another dimension,” Lenae said.

Multiple fans on her first and recent tour with the female rapper “No Name” attempted to diagnose the singer with synesthesia, a condition where two senses intertwine.  In this case, they claimed that the singer could hear colors.  Although her fans are probably not licensed practitioners with the proper credentials to make these assumptions, it is true that the singer embraces the influence that tints and shades have in her life.  In fact, she even encourages her fan base to “listen for colors”.

In 2016, the Moonshoes EP put the songstress on the music sphere.  The then sixteen-year-old Lenae showed the world her increased control of her voice, her deeply poetic lyrics and her incredible range.  She kept her sound fresh, mixing R&B influences with futuristic sounds, channeling a mixture of FKA Twigs’ beats and Corrinne Bailey Ray’s soft yet strong.

The EP was very “pink and yellow”, which Lenae shared that she associates with happiness.  She showed her fans what she loved- flowers, spring time, and connecting with people.  Songs like “Blossom Dearie” which featured tropical and natural sounds and “Moonshoes” which has an outer-space-feel were very popular tracks.

Lenae’s second EP Midnight Moonlight features a similarly themed title due to the singer’s obsession with the moon.  The content, however, features a different color scheme.

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Listen to “Midnight Moonlight”

The singer describes the six song Midnight Moonlight EP, which was released in early March, as being “purple and red”.

“The major difference is the color difference,” Lenae said.  “I associate purple more so with powerful women, it is a very feminine color. [Purple] is a color of wisdom and elegance. Red is very passionate and masculine,” Lenae said.

The Midnight Moonlight EP exemplifies all of these characteristics by painting the singer in a new light.  She is more feminine, more daring, and even a little sexy. Along with the playful side of this romantic work, she is also very personal, exploring the different stories found within love.

Her previous EP showcased a younger side of love, more innocent and sweet.  In her song “Sleep Talking”, the singer touched on the vulnerability that happens in between sleep and consciousness.

“Sleeping side by side/Our fingers intertwined/We never seem to find the right things to say/When we are awake I cannot close your eyes”.

Lenae shows us in Midnight Moonlight shows us a straight forward approach to romance. She is owning this new, bolder side of love.  In her song “Spice”, she sings about being sweet, salty, and spicy.

“Take me up, shake shake me up until the mix is right…Take me, take me where I don’t belong…sip me till I’m gone”.

Midnight Moonlight features an overall vulnerability from the singer.  She sings about being lonely, how it feels to be disappointed, and being heartbroken.  In her song “Unknown”, she sings that “nothing can replace”, and that she “cannot move on”.  This is a new territory for the singer, showing her fans a difficult time in her life.

Her growth from her previous work is very evident.  Lenae attributes this to her coming into adulthood, and learning more about herself as an artist.  “It takes a while as an artist to spill into your music.  The growth [in this EP] has been becoming more comfortable with myself,” Lenae said.

When Lenae was named one of the “10 Artists That You Need To Know” by the Rolling Stones on March 15th, the article highlighted the fact that she is still very young.  The eighteen year old singer is currently a senior at the Chicago High School for the Arts, and will be graduating in May.

Making the decision to continue her high school education was important to Lenae upon entering the music industry.  “I think it is important to always keep learning,” Lenae said.

 

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Ravyn and I at her University of Iowa stop on the tour.

Her teachers work with her to create an academic plan for the times where she is away from school for a long time.  If time allowed, she said, Lenae was diligent in getting her work returned via email on time.

Lenae says that staying in school keeps her grounded.  “[High school] reminds me that I am still eighteen.  It is so easy to get consumed in the music industry”.

After graduation, the singer plans on taking a break from her formal education and focusing solely on her music career.  As for overall goals in the industry, Lenae said she is just going with the flow, and letting things happen organically. She doesn’t want anything to feel forced, which can in the end lead to disappointment.

 

“My goal will always be to touch and move people in a way that words cannot.  I like to go with things when they feel right. If the flow is right, I don’t see why I need to change it,” Lenae said. “I think if I had those goals [of simply getting famous], it would be unnatural for me.  I don’t want these expectations of myself,” Lenea said.

 

As for advice to any up and coming or young artists like herself, she tells them to not be afraid to put themselves out there. “The biggest advice I can give is to just do it. A lot of people are scared because of their age because they don’t know anyone in the industry. I felt the same way too.  The hardest part is the first move. If I could tell everyone how beautiful it is [to get past the first step], I would,” Lenae said.  In fact, Lenae says that she has found her inner strength and power through her craft, and that she would not want it any other way.

The Chicago songstress is creating a space for herself in the music industry.  Although she is growing with her music, she has not lost her sense of self.  Her poetic lyrics, angelic voice and colorful ideas are making people take notice.  Pink, red, purple or yellow- people like the music, and it is working.

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