On August 16th, your new favorite indie-pop icon released her debut EP 'Ballerina'. Raffaella is no stranger to self-reflection and witty confessionals, and 'Ballerina' is the epitome of just that. Cover to cover, this is exactly the record you need going into any new chapter of your life. The perfect soundtrack to reflect on the scorching summer days, thinking back on who you were and who you are going to be when the leaves turn and fall. This week, we were lucky enough to have a chat with Raffaella, keep reading for our talk all about the new EP and how she has conjured up her own little universe in each track.
Tuesday: First we want to say thank you for taking the time to chat with us! How does it feel to be giving your first EP to the world?
Raffaella: Thanks for reaching out! It feels like I sent my first born off to college.
Over the years you’ve been submerged into both the life in a college sorority, and the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. How do you feel these contrasting social dynamics have impacted you as an artist?
One side gave me the experience and the other side gave me the awareness. I needed to live in a world surrounded by people whose upbringing differed from mine in order to truly understand my own perspective. In California I lived through systematic trainings in jealousy and patriarchy; in Manhattan I got to study the psychoanalysis behind jealousy and the history of patriarchal social patterns, as well as the women who defied those patterns.
The EP’s title track ‘Ballerina’ is so admiringly self-reflective, and like many of your other songs, bears truths that are often hard to face. Was being vulnerable in your music something you had to learn, or was it always in your nature?
During my junior year of high school, my favorite teacher used to grade our papers by sending us his comments via voice memos. The class was called “12 LP’s that changed the world,” and our final paper was meant to argue on behalf of an album that should be included on the list for the next class. I chose Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life; my thesis was something along the lines of “Wonder uses the contradiction of power and vulnerability to create extraordinary and timeless music.” I started the semester with a fear of participating in class, and ended the semester as the person who wouldn’t stop talking – I’ll always remember what my teacher said at end of his voice memo, partly because it was impactful and partly because I still have the actual recording: “I’ve really seen you grow over the course of the last year…I think that this somehow has something to do your own ability to reach for and express strength amid vulnerability, and, you know, I salute you for that.” That’s when I realized vulnerability and power are the same thing.
As well as self-reflective, ‘Ballerina’ is all around epically beautiful—hypnotic, even—can you tell us a bit about the creative process behind it?
Thank you! I had the opening lyric in my head for a few weeks before waking up with a melody – I was singing it, pretty loudly, in the kitchen at my aunt’s house in LA and I hadn’t realized that one of my cousin’s friends was sleeping on the couch (it’s one of those door-less houses where each room bleeds into the next)… anyway, I woke him up… must’ve been a weird alarm clock, listening to some girl sing about how her body is a relic. I had a session later that day with James Flannigan – the verse wouldn’t leave my head so I sang it to him and he liked it; we built it together from there. I’m very grateful that I could finish writing it with him - he was a wonderful person to work with, very supportive, talented, and creatively inspiring.
In or outside of music, who are some of your biggest creative inspirations?
Diane Keaton, Regina Spektor, Patti Smith, RBG, Agnes Varda, Maurice Sendak, Ezra Koeing, Frank Ocean, Nico…
Your latest single ‘Balaclava’ beautifully displays your ability to tell stories of any genre, and you've said this was your way of exploring fiction in music. Why was it important to you to take a break from reality?
I wrote Balaclava the summer after my fourth year of college – I think I had subconsciously transferred the pressure I put on my academic work onto my creative responsibilities; every experience started to feel like a potentially missed opportunity – in other words, I was sorta suffocating my reality in an effort to exploit it for my music. Balaclava was definitely Billie-Eilish-inspired, she does a really good job of morphing a feeling into a narrative… seemed like a liberating route to writing a song, so I’d definitely thank her for that lesson.
Next month you are hitting the road supporting Sigrid on tour, what city are you most excited to see and bring your live show to?
So tough for me to choose! I’ve never been to most of the states/cities we’re playing... I’m really looking forward to experiencing the America that exists in between the two coasts.
As we know, the music industry is still working to make a more inclusive space for female creatives. What would be your advice for girls who are wanting to get started in the music industry, but are scared of the obstacles that lie ahead of them?
If you are inspired to create, follow that intuition and prioritize that feeling. Obstacles should test your desire, not inhibit your progress.
Be sure to stream debut EP from Raffaella, 'Ballerina', here. As well as keep up with her on Instagram and Twitter.