IN CONVERSATION WITH RANI
We had the pleasure to talk to Rani, Netherland's new R&B queen, about her new debut album 396, her band and how her musical journey began and continued after her first hit "Post Malone"!
Rani, how did your musical journey start and what inspired you to sing and write songs?
I’m Rani, I grew up in Heerhugowaard , a city in the North of the Netherlands. I started singing when I was six, I sang in local musicals, and went to singing classes. At 16 years old, I met a guy named Olaf Blackwood who released a single with Armen van Buren ,”I Need You”. I sent him a direct message on Instagram complimenting his voice and congratulated him for the song. I really loved it! He also really liked my voice and covers I posted on Instagram so we kept in contact. Sometime after that we met at his concert here in the Netherlands ; that day he asked me if I wanted to go to LA to do a session with him -I had never done that before so I was super excited to hear it – The following summer vacation, I went to L.A with my father, and stayed there for 10 days; everyday I was in the studio with Olaf and we made a lot of songs. I’d say that he is the person that introduced me to songwriting and this whole new world of me music in a way and I absolutely loved it! He's an amazing person. Since then, I kind of never stopped… When I got back to the Netherlands, I signed to a publisher because of the songs we made in LA .A lot of people loved the tunes. I started doing more sessions here ,met more people, songwriters and producers. My first session here was Post Malone actually. A year later,that was released and it turned out to be a huge hit. It was insane! During that time, I also started writing for myself as an artist with Lodewijk Martens, Matthijs de Ronden, and Will Knox. During a session , me and the guys were planning on doing an EDM session because I did a lot of dance and house songs -that was kind of the reason we were brought together – but when we were there, the guys asked me if I already did something for myself. I still didn’t have a project for myself but I knew I really wanted to. So we talked a little about artists and songs I loved. We decided to make something more Rani, we kept doing sessions, and 12 sessions later, we had 12 songs, which is now my album.
Congratulations on the release of your new album 396! The album itself was inspired by numerology, these are three numbers that represent different sides of yourself and your experiences as a young growing adult. How would you describe the creative process of the project? What interesting things can we encounter in these songs?
Our session always starts with a” Shannon (this my first name goes to me Shannon) what do you want to write about?” I’d start talking about something I've been through or something I was thinking about, and then we start talking about it as a group . Will starts playing on his guitar, so every song has a basis of my voice with Will's guitar, he is an amazing songwriter and guitar player. We come up with melodies ,so every session ends up being a song basically. Every song went like that.
Numerology is combined in the whole album story, which is super funny how that went! I wanted to get a tattoo with 396 because I read something about numerology. I calculated my numbers, and those were three, nine and six. I remember the day after I got that tattoo, I went to the studio with my manager that’s also the producer and Sabine, my A&R from Sony, to discuss what the title of the album would be. When I got there, I showed it to them. We started talking and forgot about it of course, and discussed options for titles and about constructing the project – if we wanted to do EPS, bring out a single first, or if we wanted to release a full album immediately- Sabine was thinking out loud, saying that we have 12 songs we could do three songs for each Ep and then at the album , so we had to out three new ones. So that would be three songs, six songs, nine songs, and then we all looked at each other like, whoa, that's crazy, because that was my tattoo. And we said, okay this needs to be the title of, of the album and the EPS. And then we looked into the meaning of each number, and they suited the song so well that it was meant to be!
Who are the members of your band and how did you meet?
Kevin is my guitar player, Andy is on the keys, Rick is on the drums and Willem on the bass. We met last year, when I was the support act at Tabitha’s shows and a couple of them were also playing in her band. My manager and I reunited at Sony and were planning on how the live performances should be built. He had really good contact with Kevin Willem, Andy and Rick so he suggested them.Those guys are amazing, they're so talented and sweet. We have a really good connection and it's so much fun to perform with them on the stage.
What does every song in 396 represent to you?
I can explain it by telling a little bit about the three EPS I've already released. That would be EP3, EP9, and EP6 and the meaning of those numbers kind of represent me and the messages that I put in those songs. So EP3 is about self love, and we have “Love For Me”. “Mind At Ease”, those songs were lessons that I learned and choosing for myself and setting boundaries. I learned that in relationships with people, I needed to put myself more first and that was kind of my, my process of self love, that I needed to experience. EP9, which is about transformation, is about my lessons that I've learned growing up, for example, Knock You Down, is on there. That song is about insecurity, the insecurities I mostly had in the beginning of my high school period, which had to do with the way I looked, but also the way I felt inside . I didn't really look like my friends there because I was one of the few people of color in my hometown and in my school ,so that kind of influenced me. I got a little insecure about what I looked like. The song is basically saying, you don't have to be ashamed of who you are if you're unique. That's your power. EP6 is about love, and all faces of love. Rewind is about heartbreak, “Sugar Rush” is being in love, and having butterflies and “Mr. Perfect” is the love you have for friends and family; a very important part of me and my experiences .
Who inspires you in your daily life?
On a personal level definitely my parents, also because they support me through everything and my music and I think that there aren't many people that have that. I feel extremely grateful. They really inspire me, they work so hard and it is beautiful to see what they've built and were able to give to me and my brother. I'm really thankful for that. It's something I would want to do later for my children, if I ever have them with my partner. There are so many artists that I really like, for example, I absolutely love H.E.R ‘s music and the topics especially in the previous album she released.I love the way she describes things and I totally relate to what she says. I also love Lucky Day, SiR and Mahalia..
What does balance mean to you?
We have to be so many things, as people we work, we have a family, we have friends we have maybe a boyfriend or girlfriend, and then we also have ourselves. I think those things are all super important for one human being. I would say thinking about how you're spending time right now and what you'd like to change, and if you're maybe working too much, it’s alright to take a step back. Finding the right balance between all those things and especially taking time for yourself. I'm a super introverted person ,so I always need the time to reload, in my own bubble and I realized that's super important for me to keep a clear mind to do everything else.