w/ Unusual Demont
Doors 7pm / Show 8pm
For as bold and big as Ravyn Lenae’s voice may be, her lyrics suggest an unparalleled level of intimacy—as if she’s whispering her life story directly to you and no one else.
The Chicago-born and Los Angeles-based singer and songwriter channels classical technique through skyscraping delivery, balancing extremes with finesse, focus, and fire. After racking up over 100 million streams and attracting acclaim from Pitchfork, The FADER, Billboard, Rolling Stone, and Nylon, she instantly captivates on her 2022 Hypnos album [Atlantic Records] and much more to come.
“This process has had a lot of natural twists and turns because the journey has been so turbulent,” she says. “I felt like this project needed to stamp what I sound like, so people aren’t guessing anymore. I spent a lot of time experimenting in the studio with friends who I trust. Lyrically, I was more intimate. It’s a product of going through certain experiences as a young black woman like heartbreak, love, joy, sadness, and loneliness, which are all a part of what this project means.”
Hailing from the South Side of Chicago, she honed her voice through intense classical training at Chicago’s High School For The Arts in between listening to everyone from India.Arie and OutKast to Antonio Vivaldi and Reynaldo Hahn. She initially introduced herself on the 2016 Moon Shoes EP, which yielded “Free Room” [feat. Appleby]. However, 2018’s Crush established her as a fan and critical favorite. “Sticky” amassed over 32 million Spotify streams. Pitchfork hailed it as “the sound of a promising young talent maturing into her own signature style,” while The Needle Drop dubbed it “some of her boldest material yet.” Billboard praised it as “one of the most sumptuous, supple, meditative and detailed dispatches from a soulful young singer’s mind in recent memory.” Along the way, she toured with SZA and attracted a devout fan base of her own. Landing a major sync, she also contributed “Rewind” to Insecure: Music From The HBO Original Series, and it appeared during a key moment.
As the world shut down, quarantine left her alone with her thoughts.
“I had a lot of time to peel back the layers of my feelings and growth over the years,” she admits. “Being still allows you to wade through those emotions way more intimately than if you’re moving. It allowed me to open up. I had people around me who encouraged me. When you write and someone relates to it, you’re inspired to keep going. That made me dive into uncomfortable subjects. This is a story of self-discovery.”
After bouncing back and forth between the Midwest and the West Coast, she settled in Los Angeles and reteamed with Crush collaborator and producer Steve Lacy [Kendrick Lamar, The Internet]. Inspired by Brandy, she stacked her vocals on key moments to resemble a towering choir. Additionally, she leaned into a larger vision.
“I wanted to snap people into my world through the sonics, so they can feel how I’ve felt over the past couple of years,” she goes on. “Hypnos is the Greek word for ‘God of Sleep.’ My voice has a trance-inducing element. I’d love it if you felt woozy and hypnotized when you heard me.”
She instantly enchants on the first single “Skin Tight” [feat. Steve Lacy]. Her harmonies flutter over lush guitar and a head-nodding beat as she pleads, “Hold me while you can,” before Steve counters with an entrancing melody.
“It’s an introduction to Hypnos and a reintroduction to me,” she reveals. “It has those hypnotic elements, but it’s very simple, familiar, and fresh. Thematically, it’s about not being in a relationship with somebody, but still having those physical and mental ties. It speaks to sharing kinetic energy with another person, even if time has passed and you aren’t together anymore.”
Meanwhile, the follow-up single “M.I.A.” [feat. Amaarae] pairs an upbeat bounce with glistening piano as seductive intonation skates towards a glossy refrain.
“I wanted something fresh like a summer jam,” she goes on. “It’s very liberating. I’m talking about being confident in my own skin. Whether I’m inside, outside, or across the country, I’m fluid and free.”
In the end, Ravyn has rooted this next chapter in such freedom.
“When you listen to the music, I hope you have a better understanding of me and even catch a better understanding of yourself,” she leaves off. “As artists, we make music as a pathway to help other people understand certain aspects of their lives. I’ve gone through the tunnels and seen the light on the other side. I’m finding my way. I’m clearer on who I am and my power through music and lyricism. I’m pouring more into me, friendships, family, and music. Through all of that, I’m fulfilled.”