Ravyn Lenae confesses the pressure around HYPNOS
Artists are pressured to be more than musicians, they are expected to be content creators who weave their specialty, songs, into a bigger content ecosystem.(source The Australian.com)
Ravyn Lenae releases her new album, HYPNOS, carefully crafted and matured during a 4 year hiatus. All these years with no new music, no content, shouldn’t be a burden for the art of hers. However, this journey hasn’t been stress free. She confesses the mental breakdowns, the anxiety and the outside pressures before releasing the album. Part of the pressure was due to the industry chasing after the Tik Tok sensation.
When she was only 17 years old, R&B singer and songwriter Ravyn Lenae signed with Atlantic after the release of her first EP, Moon Shoes. Two years later, she released another one, Crush. In a situation like this, you’d expect her to immediatly put out an album to build on the momentum and cement her place in the music scene: she took the opposite path.
Starting this process I didn’t imagine it would be a 4 year journey but I truly believe in divine timing and allowing myself to take new form freely.Ravyn Lenae on her Instagram
Lenae disappeared for 4 years. Not to enjoy a newly acquired fame while sitting around, quite the contrary : perfectionnist, she paid meticulous attention to each of the 16 tracks off of HYPNOS, going as far as making 10 versions of the same song.
Building a whole body of work takes a significative amount of time and pressure.
Her debut album had to be as true as possible to her vision, doing justice to her greatest inspirations when it comes Neo-Soul: Erykah Badu. And she did the job! Listening experience is a smooth delight. Each and every song feels like a kiss of life, surrounded by cloudy sounds that perfectly suit her voice. This is Black music at its best!
“I want them to know these songs were written for them. In the Black cities like Atlanta, D.C., Brooklyn— being able to share those moments with people that look like me, with songs that were written for them, is out of this world.”Ravyn Lenae
Musicians’ creative process under pressure
There are too many problems to count in the music industry as to understand why young artists feel so anxious during their career. One of them is the drive for nurturing immediate and regular content, going viral and being overly productive; quantity over quality. Working on HYPNOS, Ravyn Lenae implies on taking back control on your own time and creativity management as an artist.
The art of really taking your time is lost, in a way.Ravyn explains (source Pitchfork)
I can’t blame artists, because we have those outside pressures, and attention spans are really short.
That’s how she summed up her stance, going against the grain of a music industry more and more focused on instant buzz rather than long-term creative process.
As witnessed with Florence+The Machine bandleader, Florence Welsch, some time ago, labels are expecting artists to create depending on trends and advertising.
She released a TikTok, with the caption reading « The label are begging me for ‘lo fi tik toks’ so here you go. pls send help ☠️ » , and later told The Times that she was « really frustrated » about that situation.
A feeling of frustration shared by other performers alienated by the pressure of the industry : « It feels exhausting to be constantly thinking of how to turn my daily life into ‘content' » stated electronic-pop artist Chelsea Cutler in a Instagram post where she pinpoints the entertainment business as « confusing to navigate ».
By feeling more and more taken away from their own art, the risk for music makers is of course burning-out. To secure an income, artists are forced to maintain a constant presence in the media, continually posting new material.
Moreover, creative process changes with these imperatives, as Cutler’s label mate Noah Kahan has come to focus more on trying to find a catchy hook that will be as viral as possible rather than carefully crafting whole songs.
HYPNOS: How Ravyn Lenae dealt with that pressure
An insidious psychological impact to the point where one can lose confidence in its qualities. While in the process of producing her album, Ravyn Lenae recounts that she was unsure if she could finish it, to the point, to quote her, that she was « crying in the shower ». Still, she developped her own answer to industry pressure: never stop affirming yourself and your own tempo.
HYPNOS is available on every plateform.