“It’s Such A Gift” Raveena Has Reached A Point Of Realisation

CLASH explores the medicine of her Saturn return...

A cosmic alchemist, Raveena has long been a guide for those seeking something deeper, who know there’s more to the physical yet find no shame in indulging in the luxuries of being alive. Both student and master, Raveena is simply happy to bear witness, tasting the delicious and rancid and writing it all into art.

14 tracks that coil through a pivotal chapter of growth, her third studio album ‘Where the Butterflies Go in the Rain’ is an eclectic stew of genres. She celebrates a journey neverending with a euphoria so contagious you can’t help but feel drunk song after song.

One night before the release of ‘Where The Butterflies Go In The Rain’, we caught up for an intimate chat with the songwriter on the medicine of her Saturn return, meeting R&B with traditional Indian instrumentation, and being a vessel for her ancestor’s wildest dreams.

CLASH: You’re always capturing the checkpoints of your life’s journey through music, what lesson did life teach you during the making of this project?

Raveena: When I was in the depths of writing this album, I was going through a lot of tough moments of deep loss. I had a crazy robbery on a tour, I got assaulted on another tour, a lot happened in a few months. It was a hard year and I felt like I was going through the motions and working when I actually needed to be slow and process. I needed to be a baby, I needed to be held. Sometimes we need to afford ourselves the grace of being human and not put ourselves through the ringer of work. That’s where this album came from, wanting ease. Being a baby by mothering myself.

This album is also the embodiment of Saturn return survival. As someone on the precipice of theirs, what’s a piece of advice you would give me?

Surrender. In our 20s we grip really tightly to our relationships, our ideas of success, our careers. We’re just coming into adulthood for the first time and discovering all of these really precious things that are suddenly ours. As a kid you dream of getting to have these things, these partnerships and experiences. You’re living life for the first time and your Saturn return really just humbles you. It’s a reminder that everything is transient, so you have to surrender.

There’s so much meaning in the title of Where the Butterflies Go in the Rain’, needing to find shelter within chaos. It’s very powerful amidst suffering to demand ease, what did that look like for you in real-time?

A big thing was moving closer to the forest. I was hiking and meditating a lot before this album but I took it to a whole new level. I started vipassana meditations once a month where you’re completely silent and meditate for six to seven hours a day. In the process of all of that meditation, so much intuition and channeling came. It’s like bringing the body back to zero. Bringing your body to the space where you ask yourself “What would it feel like if I were a tree or a flower?” Neither joy nor sorrow, just a pulsing energy of life. I think the more in-tune you get with that current, the more magic flows into your life. The more you’re able to let go easily, everything just bounces off of you like water. The self-care becomes a way of survival by then, you just have to take care of your mind to be strong enough to carry out everything in your life with grace and love.

It’s evident that you have a deep connection with your intuitive voice. That can really wax and wane for many women, how do you maintain that sense of awareness?

Listening to how you speak. That’s so important. What words are you saying, what place is your voice coming from? Voice is such a big thing for me as a singer, but this is about your speaking voice. What does your voice sound like when it’s fully embodied?

Your music is a mosaic of so many different sounds. What were you listening to in the back of your parent’s car that awakened your musical sentience?

A lot of Bollywood music and a lot of classic rock. My love for R&B and soul came when I was eight or nine and discovered my own taste for music. Those voices gripped me, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Sadé, people who could express pain and joy in the same breath. Those genres do that so beautifully. But my producers and I listen to everything, there’s 90s R&B, Americana, metal, everything is on there, but we wanted the sound to be guided by the feeling of sunlight. We wanted every song to sound like that moment when you’re lying down in your room and light is hitting your face from the window and life is just good.

You also honour traditional Indian music on this album, what did bowing to your heritage through such subtleties mean to you?

It’s happening more naturally now. We work in such a band family style that we know which Indian instruments feel good with the sounds that we’re going for. The harp is such a big part of this album, ‘Pluto’, ‘Kid’, ‘Lose My Focus’, ‘Water’. We had this man play this super rare instrument he invented called a pushpa veena, which is his own iteration of a veena instrument. That was inspired by some of my favourite collaborations between Ry Cooder and Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, ‘A Meeting by the River’. Indian music combined with jazz, soul, hip hop, getting to do it in a way that solidified my own sound. 

This album is going to soon belong to the world. What are your feelings going into its release? Are you protective of the work or ready for it to serve its purpose?

I did another vipassana meditation a couple of days ago and every time an answer comes. The answer that came this time was “This body of work is not yours.” I just have this belief that our bodies are vessels for ancestral dreams. We’re the Divine observing our body in flesh and the ancestors just want to see dreams through us, that’s where passion and guidance come from. How life paths unfold. I’m realizing more and more that I can’t interfere with their dreams. It’s theirs, I was just a body. I truly don’t think we don’t create anything, it’s all created through us. How can you own something that’s part of the universe?

I believe the same, I think so much of what we do on earth is the ancestors in our lineage who didn’t have the sovereignty, voice, or permission to embody their lives living freely through us.

Absolutely. I think the scariest thing a lot of musicians deal with is getting too close to the industry and its politics. You get really afraid that you’re gonna lose the ability to do it for yourself but I’ve realised more and more that if you become the music, if you sit and study it, if you’re channeling it purely, it can’t be taken away from you. That’s what I want musicians to know. You’ll always have it.

Last question in the nook of this beautiful moment: what does little you think of your life right now?

I think this record has surprised me in ways I didn’t expect. We didn’t set out to make a particular body of work, we just wanted to make music that made us happy. I think the fact that I found this deep sense of peace and relief and readiness to enter a whole new chapter of my life was through this body of work. I just feel grateful. Thank you for coming into my body, thank you for choosing me, thank you for healing me. It’s such a gift to be a receiver and to be a musician.

‘Where The Butterflies Go In The Rain’ is out now.

Words: Jazmin Kylene
Imagery: Poyenchen

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