Ravenna Golden Bursts Back Onto the Scene With ‘Ms. Genius’

St. Louis native Ravenna Golden is officially back with her new EP Ms. Genius, a rambunctious and emotional romp through influences like pop-punk, alt-rock, electronica, and classic pop songwriting. I caught up with the talented Ravenna about her vision for the project, writing music about your feelings, and the constraints of genre. Stay tuned for the April edition of Hautepop, which will feature Ravenna’s thoughts about personal style and her signature firey orange locks.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Psychedelic Ravenna Graphic

Graphic by Zoe Axelrod
Photo by Jimmy Fontaine

Ringtone: What is different about this EP than some of the other music that you've done?

Ravenna: Honestly, all the music I've ever made, I've just kind of gone into the studio and been like, all right, “how am I feeling today?” and so I feel like it's just another time capsule.

The last time I put out a project, my first album, was in 2015. So obviously I feel like since then, my vocals have gotten a lot stronger - like on my first album, the vocals are kind of quiet and a lot of falsetto, and I'm moving away from that now that I'm more confident. It's just like a further development of the same idea.

We’ve spoken previously about your love for early aughts, alt-rock pop-punk. How did recording that cover of “Beverly Hills” come to be? What was the inspiration to do a cover?

Well, over COVID I did hundreds of cover songs, but I would do them just self-produced, and they're all pretty bad. I enjoy them, but they're not as palatable for the mainstream as my songs that someone else produces.

So I was kind of showing that to people on my team, and they're like, “no, you have to do a real cover song.” I linked with Dwilly for the “Beverly Hills” cover, and man, that dude really knew how to make that beat exactly what it needed to be. So good.

It seems like this album is very emotional and cathartic. Was it hard to be vulnerable in your music like this, or does it kind of feel like second nature?

It can be hard. I mean, it depends. I feel like, how ready am I to talk about these things? Are people gonna know what I'm talking about? Most of the time, people don't give a shit. You know what I mean? But if I said something super obvious, everyone's gonna know what I'm talking about, and that's what I don't want. But I try and keep it to where it's not hard to write about how I'm feeling, because that's the whole point is for it to be like an emotional fun thing to do. It's not supposed to be a drag.

I want to say that “Big Knife,” in particular, just feels so different to some of your other songs. It is super emotional and the track feels so huge and momentous. How did you go about putting the song together, and what were some inspirations for that?

So the original file for “Big Knife” is kind of old. Like it's new to y'all, but it's gotta be about three years [ago], I wrote that song. I remember how I was feeling when I wrote it, but I don't remember where I was. Umru was pressing the buttons as he does.

It sounded really different for a long time. And it had a couple of lines and vocal runs that I really liked that didn't end up making it on the final cut, which just happens, you know? I feel like that's a little peek inside, one day in the life. I don't know exactly what it was going for.

I feel like all my stuff is speaking for itself, like, it just is what it is, you know? To me, it's like when I sit down in the studio, I'm not like, “okay, today I'm gonna write the next pop-punk anthem, I'm gonna write the next hyperpop banger.” No, I'm just going in there. I'm gonna say I like the sound, or I don't like this sound until it sounds right.

I did want to know a bit about how you feel about the word “hyperpop.” I know it's very contentious for many artists and people are either into it or they're not — do you have any feelings about that?

I wanna like it. I don't hate the word. I mean, as a genre, you know, there's interesting things happening, but I also have such a “not like everyone else” syndrome that, to be put inside a genre, feels so limiting. Like, don’t call me that, I'm just a musician! And especially with hyperpop — the bounds of what sonically makes up hyperpop — there are like four or five really different sounds that go into that. So I don't know. It's a word that I feel limited by, but also I rely on it.

What was it like working with Dylan Brady on this project as one of the big producers? I know that you guys have worked a lot in the past. Do you feel like you two have kind of grown together in your respective music styles?

That’s the broski! He got me into this. I can't even imagine where I'd be right now if he hadn't been like, “you should make music,” you know what I mean? So it's always fun working with him. And it's interesting how much it's changed since when we started, you know? Even since the inception of this EP to what it's become, how much our workflows changed.

A lot of these songs are coming from 2019 sessions. I remember there was this one month where me and Dylan were making song after song after song. And then I sat with them for a really long time. Because I didn't really have a plan. I was feeling kind of discouraged.

And then at the end of that year, I was like, “no, I should make something out of these.” And I'm pretty sure that “Sack of Grass” is one of those that was like the initial batch. That's from 2018 — “Sack of Grass.” Like these have been brewing for years. But I think if you put 'em all in a lineup, you wouldn't be able to tell which were old and which were new, you know?


Find Ravenna Golden's newest EP, Ms. Genius, here!


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