October 16 2017

Annie O Presents: Råff

New York
We have a secret weapon at The Standard, and it comes in the form of a French-Moroccan music maven named Annie O. After years in the music industry representing such greats as Lou Reed, Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson, Pearl Jam, and Peter Gabriel, we nabbed her to curate The Annie O Music Series, a regular concert series in the airy Penthouse of The Standard, East Village.

On Friday, October 27, Annie O brings NYC's Råff to the Penthouse. The classically trained pianist grew up on the Upper West Side sneaking into jazz clubs, and now she's ready to take the stage herself. Her debut EP's on the way (her first single's out on the 27th), but check out her SoundCloud full of amazing covers, including her gorgeous take on "Life on Mars" below. Get familiar with Råff in her interview with Annie O below.
Annie O Presents: Råff
Friday, October 27, 7-9PM
The Standard, East Village Penthouse
Free with an RSVP to AnnieO@StandardHotels.com

ANNIE O: Where are you based?
RÅFF: I’m based in New York City. Born and raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I’m currently a student at Barnard College of Columbia University studying French Literature and Philosophy. I’ve basically lived on the 1 train for my entire life.

Tell us about growing up as a musician in New York?
I grew up studying classical piano starting at the age of four, playing nursery rhymes in nursing homes around the city and ultimately graduating to performances of Mozart for classical competitions almost a decade later. It wasn’t until my performance as the Cowardly Lion in my middle school’s production of The Wizard of Oz that I really found my voice. I soon fell in love with vocal studies, especially learning how to sing standards; “In a Sentimental Mood” and “April in Paris” were my favorites. I’ve been sneaking into jazz clubs ever since (though now that I’m finally 21 there will be no more sneaking). Also, a childhood of listening to middle-aged men harmonize underground to “Stand by Me” and “My Girl” has left me with a deep respect for heartfelt subway performers.
 
How do you write a song?
During my senior year of high school, I created my own individual study in which I read Shakespeare plays and sonnets and then wrote songs based off of my interpretation of a certain verse or concept. I still use different forms of literature today as inspiration, usually depending on whatever I’m reading in class; it can range anywhere from Baudelaire to Tibetan Buddhist fables. I often even use random excerpts from my own journal. Over this past year, however, I’ve learned that I write best when I collaborate with other artists. Usually we start with some chords, either on piano or guitar; then we play around with corresponding melodies until we feel they’ve landed in the right place. That’s when we can start on the lyrics and my overflowing notebook of random quotes, memories, and photos can come in handy.
 
Tell us about your first single "Sororicide."
The inspiration for Sororicide stemmed from my freshmen year in Southern California. Before transferring back to school in NYC, I lived the life of a Californian sorority girl—the antithesis of my East Coast socially progressive upbringing. It was an emotionally asphyxiating and creatively prolific experience; being around beautiful and intelligent young women who seemed to only care about how others perceived them became infectious. The impossible game of achieving an idealized projection of beauty started to feel like a twisted competition, one filled with profound jealousy, masked with shiny white teeth and feigned loyalty. I wanted to write about my resentment of women putting other women down in their misled search for empowerment, and I felt that the only effective way to accomplish that was to act exactly as they had. This song is essentially my attempt at mocking the girls who usually mock the other girls whilst mocking myself. The word “Sororicide” is actually in the dictionary; it means “the act of killing one’s own sister.” It was a perfect fit for the song’s balance of female antagonism and sisterly affectations.


The Standard
For the past year, you've been collaborating with Bråves. Tell us how that came about.
Bråves came to me like angels out of nowhere. After hearing a few random covers on my SoundCloud, they reached out and asked if I would be willing to meet them in Los Angeles. Lucky enough, I happened to be heading west that week for an acting workshop, so the timing worked out perfectly. We met in April of 2016 and immediately hit it off. I spent that summer in LA writing and recording the EP with them.
 
What's the most important lesson you've learned from collaborating with other artists? 
That collaboration always leads to better results. Communication, debate, stubbornness, and flexibility are only possible if you can share your ideas with other people.
 
Are there any other tracks by other artists you currently have on repeat?
I love St. Vincent. I listen to “Strange Mercy” and “Cheerleader” on repeat, and I’ve re-watched her Instagram interviews far too many times. I’ve also been listening to Moses Sumney so much to a point where I’m fairly certain his voice literally haunts my dreams. Then there’s Fiona Apple and Father John Misty, who blow my mind everyday.
 
If Råff had a superpower, what would it be?
I’d be able to record my dreams and watch them every morning with my coffee.
 
What can we expect from your show at The Annie O Music Series?
Contrast. I love contrast. Most of my music mixes pretty and flighty melodies with heavy and subversive lyrics. I try my best to find the complexity of an experience within a simple way of expression. These disparities – light and dark, complex and simple – end up creating a pretty cool tension (I hope) that leaves people feeling some emotion that is not entirely comprehensible. That’s my favorite thing to do—allow people to feel something without any need to define it.
 
When are you releasing your EP?
I’ll be releasing my first single on Friday, October 27th, the night of my Annie O Music Series performance. My second single, “Vigilante,” will be out less than two months after that, and my EP will be released at the beginning of 2018.