May 03 2019

Annie O Presents: Raffaella

New York-Standard Sounds
Born and raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Raffaella is quick to rattle off Billie Holiday, St. Vincent, and Regina Spektor as her biggest influences. She spent the early days of her career collaborating with the band Bråves who encouraged her to begin releasing original music. Raffaella's experience as a student in California inspired her breakout single Sororicide, featuring bright piano bubbles and a homage to Heathers. Following her debut, Raffaella’s tracks, Bruce Willis, and NASA's Fake continued to develop her clever and catchy dream pop sound, giving us another peak at her forthcoming EP. Raffaella is back in NY and Annie O caught up with her before her show at The Standard, East Village on May 6.

Can you tell us about what you’ve been working on lately? Are you recording new music? 

I’ve been trying to write at least a couple songs a month, though I did take my yearly February-depression-hiatus (apparently, I’m allergic to the month of February?). It’s been interesting creating music over a long period of time; my songs have become a sort of sonic diary–I probably won’t ever release most of them but I’m excited to listen to them years from now and hear where my 22-year-old head was.

What’s your writing process like? 

Different every time… if I’m writing alone I’m hunched over my piano with bottomless coffee and scattered snacks. Sometimes it’s a concept that starts me off, other times I try to make sense of a random collection of words that pop into my head after playing a certain chord progression. If I’m collaborating, I might share something that inspires me, like the arpeggiated jewelry box chords in Monkey Man or the funky guitar slide in Crawling King Snake, then just follow where that takes us.

What do you get your inspiration from? 

Pretty much anything can inspire me. One time it was a recording of Candy Darling I heard at the Warhol Exhibit, another time it was a middle-aged Pakistani man fixing his patch of hair on the subway. Most of the time it’s a book or an album or a boy.

How does having New York City as your backdrop affect your writing or sound? 

My demos always include car honks and the sound of buses coming to a stop, sometimes shouts from the neighborhood crazies if I get lucky. The business of the city can mirror the business in my head a little too much, so I like to take writing trips to LA where everything outside is just a little bit duller (and where I can work alongside some of my favorite producers and writers). I land and I’m immediately twice as smart and half as good-looking.

What is the story you want to tell with your debut EP?

It’s basically an attempt at making sense of my mid-youth identity crisis. A lot of the EP explores the concepts of “truth” and “adequacy,” which seem to have generally gone awry, or maybe social media has just erased them. I found my way to honesty by way of hypocrisy and contradiction–i.e. “Ballerina” exposes and celebrates my fear of inadequacy; “Sororicide” and “NASA’s Fake” exaggerate and diminish my bruised ego; “Balaclava” indulges in and escapes from my perceptions of identity…

What is the most exciting thing that has happened in your career this past year? 

I can’t tell you yet.

Who are you listening to these days?

Spotify is telling me that Weyes Blood and Sparklehorse have been in my heavy rotation. I’ve also just crawled out from under the rock and saw the sunshine that is Ariana Grande–I just bought a pair of slippers in Chinatown that say “Thank, u Next” (she patented “Thank u, Next” because she is a baller).

Why did you call a song Bruce Willis? 

Click bait. I could make up a reason… but honestly, I just felt like calling it that. 

What can we expect from your show at The Standard, East Village, as part of the Annie O Music series?

Eight of my songs and one cover. Other than that, your guess is as good as mine.

INTERVIEW BY
Annie O