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Renee Rapp_Credit_ Katia Temkin .jpg

RENEÉ RAPP on her debut album Snow Angel

WORDS by Tessa Swantek  TALENTReneé Rapp PR°1824 PHOTOGRAPHY Katia Tomkin  

I exist on a pendulum / Swingin' high or swingin' low - Reneé Rapp, "Gemini Moon" 

When we speak to Reneé Rapp  on Snow Angel Eve, if you will, as she talks about her debut album, she moves in steady motion between ‘positive’ and ‘negative.’ She shares her honest feelings then swings away from that thought, just as quickly expressing the opposition, before anyone can even think of it.

She says, “Some mornings I wake up and feel so feminine. I go through these phases, which I’m sure is not some amazing individual thing, you’re all like, 'yeah bitch we go through phases too are you fuckin' kidding me?' I digress. I also go through phases where I’m on my little boy shit. My style is a wide range that encapsulates my personality day to day.” It’s natural - a metronome of her personality. And her debut album, Snow Angel, carries this personality in spades. It’s the pendulum between emotion and logic, the internal and external, childhood and adulthood, levity and gravity. It’s the pulse of her music that is distinctly Reneé Rapp. While she may feel like a bob on a swinging string, to the audience, she is a balanced guide.

Reneé talks about the sway between delusion and reality as she says, “Delusion is becoming slay. But I think that delusion has helped me because when I say that, I don’t mean ‘delusional’ in terms of something that is not going to happen at all. No matter how much I doubt myself, and trust me it’s a lot, I am going to fuckin’ do it! I don’t know how, I don’t know why, I don’t know when, but I will. That, to me, is delusion. It’s a weird innate belief in myself but a real hunger to do something I love so much.” She continues, “As girls, or non-men, you are taught that if you come across confident, that’s actually not super cool so if you mask it as delusion, we can giggle with you and not be intimidated by you or bothered by your presence. So I think when I say ‘delusion,’ it’s to avoid people calling me a bitch for saying I believe in myself.” It’s what you’re allowed to feel versus what you do feel, what you’re allowed to say versus what you do say. This oscillation is present throughout the entire album. She has a way of ‘breaking the 4th wall’ in both conversation and music. And…Reneé’s innate belief is correct because, as of nearly two weeks after Snow Angel’s release, it has earned the biggest female solo debut album of 2023.

Snow Angel’s first track, “Talk Too Much” sets the tone of the album. It’s about her own battle with talking herself out of happiness, as it starts with pitched breaths, starting and stopping before ever talking. Throughout the song, she explains the way she feels, but also the way she feels about the way she feels (still with me?). She sings, “I'm takin' everything I see as a sign and / I know it's crazy / But what if it's right? / I'm here again / Talking myself out of / My own happiness.” The track’s outro is a ramble that adds even more personality to the track, ending with, “But like, if, if you are then I'm gonna resent you (I don't care) / Okay? I'll forgive you but (I'm gonna resent you) / I'm just wondering, like, okay, like, is this a sign? (I'll forgive you) / Do I actually hate you? (I'm taking everything I see as a sign) / I, I just wanna be honest, right? (I know it's crazy) / Like, do you still love me? (But what if it's right?). If the rest of the album is coming to terms with harmonizing opposition, “Talk Too Much” is the initial unraveling.

As girls, or non-men, you are taught that if you come across confident, that’s actually not super cool so if you mask it as delusion, we can giggle with you and not be intimidated by you or bothered by your presence.


“Alyah directed ['Talk Too Much']. We talked about the music video months ago. We were in constant communication about this fuckin' music video! I think on the eve eve, we were scouting an entirely different location. Alyah was at Staples Center. We were talking about doing a basketball game, like c’mon! It is just absurd. But this is also what you get when you have two best friends who are like ‘yeah we can do anything!’ and a corporation backing them so we were like ‘use their money!’ 

“Poison Poison” has a similar unraveling tone as alarm-like synth sounds play in the background, and an equally funny outro: “You’re the worst bitch on the earth / I hate you and your guts / I think you should shut the fuck up and die / You get on my nerves / Fuck you, you dumb bitch / Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you / Gorg?” Very gorg. Reneé is a highly skilled vocalist, so even when her lyrics are meant to be a joke, they sound beautiful. She shares that her producing partner and best friend, Alexander 23, advised her to make sure the track was lyrically eloquent too, though. She says, “‘Poison Poison’ was written three different times in three different ways and that is because I write very blatant direct lyrics, and sometimes you can’t do that because apparently it becomes a danger to others. We wrote a couple different versions because Alexander was like ‘what the fuck is wrong with you? This isn’t good. You’re just listing facts about this woman.’ And I was like ‘well yeah I’m dragging her.’ and he was like ‘You’re not even dragging her, like it’s not in a beautifully eloquent way, you’re just saying things and kind of being a hater.’ I was like, first of all: okay. Second of all, shut up. But he was super right, it was ass.”

She continues, “When it comes to recording vocals, I take how my voice sounds very seriously. I can’t say I love Beyonce and then sound like shit, that’s not fair to her. We re-recorded ‘The Wedding Song’ so many times. I had breakdowns in the studio, I would cry, I would scream, I would yell. And Alexander is very monotone so he would just sit there and be like, okay. It was quite the time!” One of the last times she sings, You’re the worst person on Earth in “Poison Poison” is one of the most gorgeous runs I’ve heard. Her playful sense of humor is balanced perfectly by her vocals.

Astrologically, Reneé’s is a Capricorn Sun and Pisces Moon. People with this chart are said to be “stable, honest, and with a sharp sense of humor” with the two zodiac signs being “quite opposite, but working together harmoniously to balance eachother out.” Reneé shares that while “Poison Poison” best represents her Capricorn Sun, “I Wish” represents her Pisces Moon. While she’s not a “Gemini Moon,” that track seems to represent her well. The production makes the song sound like it only exists at night, when your most honest thoughts shine through the dark. She sings, “Never know who you're gonna get / We're in love or we never met/ Sour lemons or cinnamon / Every day I'm different / I talk shit, then I bite my tongue / Moving in, then I'm on the run / I exist on a pendulum / Swinging high or swinging low.” At the end of the chorus, she sings, “I could blame the Gemini moon / But really, I should just be better to you.”

Snow Angel oscillates between the levity found in tracks like “Poison Poison,” and the gravity found in “I Wish” and “Snow Angel.” Each track falls somewhere in this range. “I Wish,” as she says, is about her “first understanding of mortality at ten-years-old.” She sings, “How can the person who taught me to breathe / Take their last breath right in front of me? / I know too much now.” Just as you get finished laughing at “Tummy Hurts" lyrics, “I just want some recognition / For having good tits and a big hеart,” you will quickly be crying when “I Wish” plays. “Snow Angel” is equally gut-wrenching, but is the only track on the album that isn’t as blunt. The track ascends into near screams, with the climax of the song being, “I met a boy, he broke my heart / I blame him ‘cause it’s easier / But I still look for him in her / The season’s change, addiction’s strange / I loved back then what I hate today.” The lines send shivers.

When it comes to recording vocals, I take how my voice sounds very seriously. I can’t say I love  Beyoncé and then sound like shit, that’s not fair to her.

With her theater background, starring as Regina George in Mean Girls on Broadway, she is excellent at delivering a vivid story through both what she sings and the way she chooses to sing them. She credits her theater background when talking about storytelling in general as she shares, “I think that amazing theater and storytelling, whether it’s stage or screen, is incredible writing. It services everything. I came from a background of not only incredible lyricists, but also Sondheim and Andrew Lippa. All the girls who are becoming pop stars are musical theater kids. That’s why everyone is super cute and super gay!”  Coupled with her best friend Alyah Chanelle Scott’s vision and direction, shown in the accompanying music video, “Snow Angel” is impeccable storytelling. 


When asked about her team, she shares, “I’m very spoiled, especially by the women who are in my company, and the non-men. I’ve got some good men, don’t get me wrong, but it’s like, okay? I met Alyah through work and she is my greatest confidant in life. She has a really big hand in my personal life and career. Being fortunate enough to work with somebody who is so talented and thoughtful and also is definitely the next big thing makes me spoiled. I feel like, YES, I got her first!” Her team also operates on opposition rather than “yes men” (Now is the time to recall Alexander 23 calling her a hater). In the best teams, even when opinions clash, they also end up re-centering in perfect sync.

Community is important to Reneé, and she has been able to foster fans who not only love her music, but also care deeply about her as a person. She came out as bisexual ten years ago and shares, “I think in being open about [my sexuality], I’ve found the grace to do so within this community. Let’s be clear, it’s not this hyper-angelic, ‘woohoo’ where I’m like, I, Reneé Rapp, a bisexual white woman, am the gay community. But I am very fortunate to have an enormous community of queer people around me who lift eachother up. I like to call people out now for being straight. I’ll get on a business thing with a bunch of old people and be like, who’s straight, raise your hands?! Yeah, how does that fuckin’ feel?” “Pretty Girls” is about her experience as a bisexual woman, dealing with being hyper-sexualized by straight women. It’s a track that she knows many others in the community can relate to. She says, “‘Pretty Girls’ is my most up-tempo song, but it’s a really sad song. It’s about a situation where this straight girl was like, ‘you know babe if I wanted to I totally would.’ And I’m like, that’s incredible, I’m so glad you feel that way and super comfortable to hypersexualize me also in this moment so thank you so much! That really sat well with me.” The song’s music video is directed by Cara Delevingne.


The final two tracks, “Willow” and “23” bring us into the past, present, and future. In “Willow,” Reneé takes us back to her childhood by imagining herself as a weeping willow talking to her younger self, sitting underneath. She sings, “Don't have to use your own tears / Just to grow your own roots / Just keep your passion for flowers / And it'll patch up your youth / And there's a whole lot of rain / But there's a hole in the roof / That makes it easy to swim in the bad attitude.” Then in “23,” she sings “But tomorrow I turn twenty-three / And it feels like everyone hates me / So, how old do you have to be / To live so young and careless? / My wish is that I cared less / At twenty-three.” The album closes with lyrics, “I hope that I'll see twenty-four / I hope I'll understand me more / I hope my bed is off the floor / I hope that I can care less, but I'm afraid to care less.”

I asked Reneé if she came away from creating the album feeling like she had more questions or answers about  herself, and she said, “I think that my answer, honestly, was that I’m always going to have more questions about myself. I try really hard to make sense of everything, and I so desperately want to understand things and I feel so frustrated when I can’t. I start blaming myself and making it a thing of like, ugh why can’t you figure out why you said this or why you feel this why toward this person…I think that the answer has been that I need to start accepting that a little bit more because if I don’t beat myself up for it, it won’t cause me as much harm, therefore it’s just something that I deal with.” As both an artist and person, Reneé Rapp has incredible range, and absolutely nothing feels too far for her. 

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