After writing a lot about heartbreak, the sweet-voiced R&B singer is leaving New York—and ready to explore a fuller range of emotions.
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You can hear R&B singer Raveena Aurora working through her thoughts and feelings in her music, becoming more attuned to what she wants and deserves with each successive release. In 2018, the artist, who releases music under her first name, dropped a video for a song called “Temptation”—a loving ode to female desire, and her Indian-American heritage, that saw her come out as bisexual. Her 2019 debut album, Lucid, tells the story of her healing process after leaving an abusive relationship. And this past February, she released the Moonstone EP, a bittersweet recollection of the intense relationships she had in her youth.
Tender and vibrant, her songs radiate love for herself and those around her. The clarity of her voice, from the slight catches of breath to the vibrating hums, can make it sound as though she’s singing directly into your ear. That closeness is amplified by Raveena’s willingness to be vulnerable in her music. At times— such as on “Stone,” where a wistful Raveena mourns the dissolution of a relationship and the emptiness that follows—it can feel almost overwhelmingly raw.
When AdHoc caught up with Raveena in February, she told us she’d just moved out of her apartment in New York, the city she’s called home for ten years. It was the start of a period, she said, where “I think I’ll be all over the place for a bit.” Where Lucid and Moonstone saw her finding her way back to herself after ending a relationship, she said she’s now “trying to fall in love with being alone.” She spoke to us about the strength in vulnerability, coping with heartbreak, and wanting her music to feel like being wrapped up in a hug.
Lucid and Moonstone are out now on Raveena’s label, Moonstone Recordings.
AdHoc: You recently tweeted that the Moonstone EP was about saying goodbye to your youth. Knowing what you know now, what would you say to a young Raveena?
Raveena Aurora: I think I’m in this place where it’s really about coming into my power and going through this rebirth as a woman. I feel like a lot of that involves taking agency in my life. Knowing that I’m okay with who I am—that I’m okay with being alone. That I’m beautiful and loved and that I don’t need anyone else to complete me in that way. I think I would tell my younger self that I’m way more powerful than I give myself credit for.
There’s a distinct tenderness to your singing. Can you talk about what softness means to you and how it can be a strength?
I think my softness is what keeps me connected to my inner child. It’s interesting because that part of my personality has been used by other people to say that I’m weak, or that I need to be protected. What’s powerful, for me, is that I can stay true to myself—to the childlike and soft parts of me—while also being a powerful woman. Just because I’m strong and I have all this power within me, doesn’t take away from the parts of me that make me who I am.
On “Starflower,” from the Moonstone EP, you sing about women who have to carry the weight of other people’s emotions. Do you ever feel that pressure as someone fans look up too?
I try not to think about that too much. My hope is that every day, I become further into this being that is an embodiment of love. That’s my goal in life. I think it’s beautiful that people love and relate to my work, but I’m trying to do a lot of boundary- and healing-work to feel like I’m not responsible for everyone’s sadness and pain. I feel blessed to be a part of that journey, but I’m still trying to work it out in my head and set boundaries.
You went on tour for Lucid this past Fall. What are some of your favorite memories from being on the road?
I think, truly, the people who attend the shows are what makes it special every night. It wouldn’t be the same show without the energy of the crowd coming back to you and the people you hug after. I don’t think I could even pick one memory; it’s this collection of energy and people that I met along the way. I felt very uplifted by that; I felt like I was on a high after.
There was this girl who wrote me a thoughtful letter and created this little care package of small gifts and wrote all these little affirmations to read to myself. That was very special. I keep all those things; I look back on all of it, and it reminds me why I do this in the first place.
I know you are very intentional when it comes to what happens on stage. How do you create an environment that’s welcoming?
I try to keep the lighting warm, very soft. I also do meditation, which is probably the most known part of my set. I ask the crowd—at least the good ones—to be silent with me for a minute or two, to breathe together and meditate together. It’s such a beautiful part of our show. It’s amazing to me when that many people can be quiet together. I try to curate my shows in a way where people feel safe, loved, and a part of this community. I hope I can continue doing that, because it’s only going to get harder as the shows get bigger. I hope that feeling remains.
How did you strike a balance between talking about trauma on Lucid and keeping the sound bright?
It was really interesting because I was writing about those topics for a long time before I finished Lucid. But every time I wrote about them, the soundscape never sounded right—it sounded too harsh, too angry, or not serious enough. But with Lucid, I think we found that balance; it felt like the songs leaned into the emotions, but it was still a sound that you could heal to and feel wrapped up in like a hug. I wanted to create this album where I was empathizing with survivors’ experiences. I wanted this to be an album that people in pain could pray to, [where] they could feel pain in a way that wasn’t retraumatizing for them, but healing.
I think I’m going to explore a brighter and more joyful sound. I have a lot to say and a lot to express. Lucid was such an isolated project in that way; it served a really specific purpose and intention. But I want to delve more into every emotion of mine. I’m not always feeling healed and peaceful; I have a wide range of emotions. I want to explore different sounds and different ways to use my voice.
Since you often write about your relationships, are you ever worried about people confronting you about your lyrics?
If we’ve kissed, I’ve probably written a song about you, whether it’s come out or not. People just have to take that with who I am as a person. I think a lot of the way I express love is through music, and it’s why I often fall in love with other musicians. A lot of the time, we can have conversations simply through sending music back and forth and me writing about my feelings. I definitely use my lyrics as a way to communicate with the people I love. I think the most obvious example of that was “Mama,” because there were all these things I wanted to say to my mom, but they were just conversations I never got around to.
You’ve mentioned before that you take a journaling approach to writing music. When do you find you get the most inspiration?
The time [when] I have the most to write [about] is right now. I’m going through a breakup, and I’ve been writing more songs than I ever have, about so many feelings. I think I write the most when I’m going through heartbreak, through these significant changes.
I usually end up being in the role of the person who is giving a lot. That might just be the kind of person I end up falling in love with—a more avoidant or fleeting kind of person. I’m trying to make them love me, even when they don’t want to. But I think that’s a lot of us: We end up falling for people who maybe don’t love us back as much.
I know that nature and your relationship to it is a huge theme in your work. Where do you go in New York City to take in nature?
I just moved out of New York, literally yesterday. I love this park that was near my house: Socrates Park. It has these beautiful sculptures and it overlooks the Manhattan skyline, which is gorgeous.
I don’t know where I’m based anymore, but I was in New York for ten years. I’m a bit lost right now; I don’t know where I am. I can’t give any one location. I think I’ll be all over the place for a bit.
With Lucid focusing so much on self-love and self-care, how are you planning on spending Valentine’s Day?
I think I’m going to spend it not thinking about it. I bought these chocolates for myself—Valentine’s Day chocolates. I’m probably just going to eat those and watch a good movie, be with my friends. I don’t care too much about Valentine’s Day. This is my first Valentine’s Day single in, like, six years, so I’m trying to enjoy that. I’m trying to fall in love with being alone for a second, because I always have someone.
I saw that you painted the backdrop for the “Headaches” video yourself. Is it important for you to have creative control like that?
I had co-directed my videos and done creative planning around them, but this was my first time as a director. That was exciting; I delved into so many parts of the styling and casting. “Headaches” has so much of myself, and I hope people feel that. I’m trying to grow my voice as a director. I want to direct almost all my music videos in the future, and I want to direct for other people. It’s just something I’m very passionate about right now—exploring that part of myself.
Is there any memory you can think of that always makes you smile?
I think probably one of my happiest memories happened kind of recently. It was in Greece, and the sun was going down, and [a friend and I] were playing this song called “Beautiful Baby,” by William Onyeabor. We were on this side of the island that wasn’t very populated, and we had just laughed a lot. It was a very perfect moment. We were wearing all the colors of the sky: pink and orange hues.