Written by Catarina Ramalho
Ava Raiin’s polymorphic album is set to take you on a colorful multisensory ride. During our time together in the British Capital she shares her journey, debunks hidden meanings in her lyrics, facing her inner demons and landing on her own two feet.
CR: Over the years you’ve shared stages with Dev Hynes, Melissa Etheridge and Solange Knowles, to name a few. I know that you’ve played in London before, but can explain what was different about the gig you played this time around?
AR: I played a female-only event called ‘Man down.’ It was my first solo gig in London. I really felt the love for and from all the people in the room. We were there for the same reason: to support and lift each other up. They made me feel really comfortable and free about doing my thing. I certainly didn’t feel as nervous as I normally am before a gig. Being on stage was the highlight of that.
CR: Did you get a chance to talk with any of the other artists?
I got to talk and connect with all of them. I’m always curious about how people get started and how they do what they do. I was talking with one of the artists about me starting up in New York and doing open-mics, sharing places where to play. I feel like I’ve made friends in this gig and I am looking forward to following their journey.
CR: What would you say that is the biggest challenge during the jump between backing vocals and doing our own music nowadays?
AR: It’s definitely very different from what I have been doing for other people. It’s easier to stay at the back than being in the front. Adjusting to the front has been a process. It still gives me a little bit of anxiety, but I feel like it is making me grow as a person. I think it’s good to have to deal with these demons that I had to hide out throughout my life. Nowadays I just go on stage and do it. I just want to see how far I can go and hopefully one day I can defeat it all the way. I want to grow stronger, keep on making new sonic experiences and expanding my musical pallet.
CR: Were you worried about how the album would be received?
AR: Initially, I was. I feel like an outsider or a loner sometimes, but I think that’s something a lot of people can relate to. This album took a long time to put together. I stretched myself both lyrically and sonically. It is such a personal album and it the style isn’t really something that you can fit into any pre-established category or genre.
CR: What’s the main concept behind this body of work?
AR: This album reflects the complexities and paradoxes of being in love: Falling in and out of love, abusing love and learning from love. It came from a place of me growing as a woman, figuring out my place in this world and navigating different circumstances and events that have come my way. It has always been a dream to have something that people can actually buy and listen to it. One thing is certain; people will either hate it or love it.
CR: I couldn’t help notice the lyrics. There was one in particular verse on ‘Underneath the Stars’, that caught my attention: ‘we’re all searching for constant, the only constant is change.’ Would you like to expand on that thought?
AR: We must embrace the fact that things are always changing, and that no matter how hard we try; we don’t have any control over it. We should find peace in the present, allow for it to unfold.
This year, in particular, was very hard for everybody: US Presidential Election, Trump America, Brexit, War, gun violence, police brutality, on-going systematic racism, natural disasters, etc.. It feels like the world we knew was turned upside out. A lot has changed, and people are starting to put their minds together and think about things. I think it’s about taking the journey inwards together, have faith and confidence, and be fearless. Being honest about these things that are happening around us. I feel that we’re finally getting to a place where we’re allowed to do it. I hope that people can find a little light in my songs.
CR: I couldn’t agree more. What’s next for you? Are you going back to New York?
AR: Yes. I’m preparing for a gig at the Brooklyn Bowl. I’m also going to start to play around with my live sets a little more. I want to tap into the creative direction that we had for my video for ‘Eagle Eye’ and bring that feeling to the live set. We’re looking into different visuals and media outlets to expand the sensory experiences of each particular track. There are some interesting things in the works, but I can’t expand on it for now. Also planning to tour soon, can’t wait!
Photographer: Wolf Gaertner