QSC Aspiring Interview: RAYVEN talks new EP and her gospel background

Wisconsin-based R&B pop artist RAYVEN recently spoke to Headliner about her musical endeavours and her gospel, jazz and musical theatre background that has influenced her songwriting…

When did you first realise that you wanted to pursue music as a career?

Oh gosh, I am one of those lucky people that has always known what I wanted to do even from a young age. I grew up in the church and my parents were actually pastors, so I was always singing in the church choir. My dad's a musician, so he was always singing, and I was singing with him. The first time I actually performed was in a talent show in kindergarten – I sang something from Annie, and from then I just knew I wanted to be onstage singing and creating, which eventually led me to go to school for musical theatre. I started properly releasing music a couple of years ago, producing and writing myself, but I’ve pretty much known my whole life that I wanted to be a performer and artist!

Who were you listening to growing up, and who do you take the most inspiration from when it comes to your sound?

I grew up listening to gospel the most just from being in church. I grew up in a Baptist church, so Christian contemporary music and gospel was always playing in the car and at home. But my sister actually was obsessed with Michael Jackson growing up, which led me in turn to be obsessed as well. I definitely draw a lot of inspiration and a lot of my sound from Michael Jackson's music. I'd say he's my biggest inspiration musically.

Tell us about some of your recent projects, and how they came together from a creative perspective.

The last song I released was early last month, and it's called Roots. It's actually one of my favourite songs I've ever made. I started making it and producing it in high school, and then I just left it on a hard drive and never came back to it. But then I did a short film for my senior thesis at school, where I created and produced a bunch of songs and a storyline to go with them, and Roots was part of that project. It’s really just an ode to my heritage and where I came from, and what it's like walking through life as the person that I am. So it was really special to me, and it's definitely one of my favourite releases.

I do have an EP coming out early next year, but Roots is not going to be on it. I’ll be releasing a string of singles – some that will be on the EP, some that won't – every month leading up to the EP. I’ve just released a song called Radium Girls which I'm super excited for, and that is super special to me.

Can you describe your songwriting process?

It is different every time. I have this section in my notes on my phone where I'll just write lyrics that pop into my head. Usually it starts with a lyric or a melody, just a short baseline, or something that I find cool or interesting, or that just comes to me, and I'll build off of that. I usually produce about 50% of my music, otherwise I work with some producers in Nashville and Nebraska to help me build the song out. I do most of my recording remotely, and then I'll send it out to get it mixed and mastered or collaborate remotely to produce.

Have you been playing live shows?

Yeah! So I actually had a pretty big live show this year; I opened up for Ne-Yo at Summerfest in July. It was really awesome, and was kind of the catalyst to where I'm at now in terms of connections that I've made in the industry with publishers and label people and such. So I'm definitely looking forward to doing more of that, because that was really a dream come true. I'm looking into doing an EP release party, and a few live performances leading up to that!

What’s next for you?

I have some collaborations that I'm excited to announce soon, and then of course the EP coming early next year. I'm also moving to Milwaukee, and I'll be acting at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre in their new season. So that's really big for me, too. Acting professionally has always been a goal of mine, so this is one of those milestones that just feels really good.

Listen to the full interview with RAYVEN on Headliner Radio, here: