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.
TALK TOO MUCH by RENEÉ RAPP
DIRECTED by ALYAH CHANELLE SCOTT
EXECUTIVE PRODUCTION by COLLIN DRUZ and AIDEN MAGARIAN
“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.