For singer and songwriter Raveena Aurora (better known as Raveena), music has always been a way to transcend the limits of her everyday world. Growing up, the queer Indo-American artist remembers “singing in the bathroom for hours and hours and hours a day” – a passion that ultimately turned into his decision to pursue music professionally at the age of 11. , honestly. Since I was very young, I knew there were no other options for me, ”she recalls.
Since then, the 28-year-old artist has come a long way. After his escape Shanti EP captured public attention with its dreamy soundscape and self-esteem themes in 2017, his debut LP Lucid introduced fans to a new, deeper dimension of the artist in 2019: The ethereal R&B record dove deep into her relationship to sexuality, spirituality, and healing – especially in regards to her intergenerational trauma as child of Indian immigrants.
Although his parents were at first “very hesitant” that Raveena wanted to pursue a career in music, they always supported him in the development of his art. “My father was interested in Indian instruments, like the harmonium and the tabla – we always kept them at home. They were very connected with music, ”she says, adding,“ They were bathroom singers themselves. As a child, Raveena vividly remembers listening to a mixture of Bollywood, jazz and R&B. She took a lot of inspiration from singers like Ella Fitzgerald, Corinne Billy Ray and Billie Holiday – “I’d try to imitate them in the bathroom,” she laughs – and rock icons like Fleetwood Mac and SPICE.
Now, Raveena’s own work merges all the sonic influences that surrounded her as a child, bringing these inspirations together to create a smooth, mellow style that challenges genres to be uniquely her own. It turns out that the feminine energy – especially maternal energy – that Raveena brings to her music is very intentional: “As women we are often told that our gentleness, our vulnerability and the things that are really beautiful. to be feminine are weaknesses. . “For her, the maternal energy of being both gentle and powerful speaks to the“ true meaning ”of the divine feminine.
“This is the ultimate powerful energy that you can embody as a woman,” Raveena continues. “I think that’s kind of what my music has been to me. It was about regaining a sense of power in me and doing it in a way that was true to my femininity – because I think a lot of my loss of power was due to abuse and assault, that aim to demean women. Being such a feminine woman, it was really important for me to tap into that motherly energy and regain the feeling of power that had been lost. “
moon stone, his 2020 four-track EP which features snippets from the Lucid recording session, marked a turning point in that direction: the short EP, which has been widely credited with forging his role as a queer icon, bolstered the Raveena’s commitment to female power in the music video for “Headaches,” a track that describes the emotional roller coaster of the beginnings of a new romance. Self-directed by Raveena, the video introduces her and the influencer Hitomi Mochizuki as the two women dance, paint and kiss while falling in love. In a rare break with the male gaze that dominates Western media, the work is a luminous moment of authentic and authentic representation of Raveena’s identity as a queer Asian woman.
Nowadays, more space is made for Asian representation in entertainment. But even now, the singer still feels limited by the lack of South Asian presence in the music: “It’s still so rare. There has always been a very exciting underground movement of Asian artists throughout history, and it is difficult when it is not validated and seen in the general public. My hope as an artist is to be able to uplift other people in my community. Because while I feel truly honored that people are making room for me, there is so much room for other types of South Asian voices, and I hope these will be heard as well.
From an early age, Raveena saw songwriting specifically as a way to break down those barriers. “Even if people don’t know what you sound like, if they hear a song that is undeniably good, people will want to listen to it,” she says. Since Raveena never saw Native American singers grow up like her, she had actually planned to be a songwriter for other artists – but that path took a left turn after her own music took off. “I wrote hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of songs before my first project. Good songwriting is at the heart of any person’s success, so I felt like the only thing I could do was write great songs to prove myself.
Ultimately, Raveena hopes her trip can inspire other South Asian and queer South Asian women to be completely and authentically themselves: “There is so much of South Asian culture that comes down to be very concerned about what other people think. And I really want to challenge that because I basically feel – as a person, beyond being South Asian – I don’t like living my life that way.
“I always feel like a black sheep and a weird one no matter what I do,” Raveena says. “So I always want to question what I’ve been taught – I hope to inspire others to do the same. “