True Angel: Reneé Rapp’s Magical Rise

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Pop’s newest starlet, American actress-turned musician Reneé Rapp discusses all things music regarding her freshly released record ‘Snow Angel’. The multi-talented singer-songwriter embarked on her endeavour of releasing pop-toned tunes just over a year ago, debuting everything from heart-wrenching ballads such as ‘In The Kitchen’ to tracks blending elements of synth-pop in the company of smoother R&B elements on uplifting break-up bangers such as ‘Too Well’, on her EP; ‘Everything To Everyone’. 

Reneé Rapp’s debut album, ‘Snow Angel’ – out now – seeks to showcase Rapp’s signature sound in a far more sonically polished and lyrically assured demeanour.  Lead single and title track ‘Snow Angel’ reveals some of Rapp’s most vulnerable song writing yet. As the piano ballad shifts from a more lulling and softer tempo to explosive electric riffs and booming percussions whilst flaunting Rapp’s skilled belting abilities during intervals of the bridge, Rapp shifts lyrically from instead describing her misery to taking accountability for it. 

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The tracks on, soon to be released, ‘Snow Angel’ account for a range of different emotions from ‘Pretty Girls’ celebrating the universal, female experience of letting your hair down with your best friends. Tracks such as ‘Poison Poison’ touch on more solemn topics such as feisty friendship break-ups, something Rapp’s army of twenty-year-old-teenage-girl followers will likely resonate with. When talking to Clash Reneé Rapp did not hold back on the more refined and juicy details which influenced the tracks on her record. 

Upon the approaching release of her debut album ‘Snow Angel’ Rapp describes herself as being “very nervous” but mutually showcased confidence in the contents of the project. “My EP was something I worked with a lot of different people on… finding a producer and writing partner who became A) my best friend and B) someone who really wants to hear what I have to say when it comes to producing or my thoughts in general became a big part of this… (the record) …being as true to me as it is.”

“I also feel like I know myself better musically now than when I put out the EP,” she beams.

That producer/writing partner – so integral to the record – is none other than Alexander 23; he’s been in hot demand as a producer over the past couple of years working with artists from the likes of Tate McRae to Olivia Rodrigo, two acts who have naturally taken on pop radio by storm in the past couple of years. However, it wasn’t just music that coaxed Reneé Rapp into becoming acquainted with her new ‘best friend’.

“Honestly… I didn’t know he was a producer; I just knew he was an artist. Somebody who we both work with was like ‘you should hang out; you guys have such similar humour and when someone has similar humour to me it’s like… this could go one of two ways. I could perceive myself horribly based on who you think I have similar humour to, or I could be like.. best friends with this person and with Alexander we just ended up being best friends. I felt like he really cared about me outside of the work which was important to me because I have a tight circle… I’d never found someone who cared about me outside of the work in such an intense way until we met.”

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Despite Alexander 23 being part of the creative process for many artists other than Rapp, she persisted on praising his efforts to create unique sounds for each artist catering to their own distinct sounds rather than recycling anything from previous cutting room floors. “I love how sonically specific Olivia’s work is and I wanted specificity for my own work… he (Alexander 23) does something specific for each artist’s work and that’s something I really appreciate, and think is a sign of a really great producer.”

‘Snow Angel’ which establishes itself as a sonically stylish and brutally honest body of work, seamlessly blending upbeat pop singalongs with smoother R&B sounds, incorporates a range of Reneé Rapp’s influences without even being aware of it. “My favourite artists are Frank Ocean, Kacey Musgraves, SZA and Beyoncé but I don’t make music like them… it’s little bits that tend to be my favourite things of each one of my influences that I take to interpret into my music. I’m lucky I have such sick artists to look up to.” 

For multi-talented Rapp, who’s spent much of her career within the acting industry, music always felt like the natural next step. “Music’s always been what I really do, and I luckily found a real love for acting… I didn’t think I was going to because I always felt like it was unattainable and something that I wasn’t good at. I remember watching friends as a kid and thinking ‘wow I’d love to be on a TV show one day’ but I’ll have to prove myself in music for that to happen and it kind of ended up being the other way around. The passion I had for acting came as a product of wanting to do music.”

Within the current acting world, Rapp has spent the past few months showing support to the writer’s strikes currently taking place in LA; going onto credit her music in offering a separate creative outlet during a time where she’s valued it more than ever. “Music has always been a really important creative outlet for me and has guided me through probably every shitty thing – and good thing – I’ve ever been through, the last couple of years.”

Before the release of her anticipated debut album, Rapp finds herself nominated in The VMA’s Best New Artist category amongst the likes of rap renegade Ice Spice and British hyper-pop starlet Pinkpantheress. “It’s very affirming,” Rapp described the nomination, going on to say, “it’s also like… major imposter syndrome. When my manager called to tell me, I was like ‘you’re sure?’… I thought it was a mistake!”

“The exciting thing to me is that the category this year is so hot, I feel very weird being in the same category as fucking Ice Spice because she is the people’s princess and my princess… I really hope the main thing to come out of the VMAs is that I become friends with her.” Now that’s a collaboration I think we would all be more than up for!

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After getting the rundown on Rapp’s career which has become increasingly eventful surrounding her debut album release, Clash delved into the territory of juicy meanings behind some of the standout lyrics on ‘Snow Angel’. ‘I Hate Boston’ is the second song on the tracklist following Rapp’s most recent single ‘Talk Too Much’. When asked if Boston is “really so bad?” Rapp let out a smirk before clarifying “the song isn’t actually about Boston, it’s about a city I lived in for a while but I didn’t want to name that city and give attention to a person who doesn’t give a fuck if I live or die. I thought Boston sang really well and I had a show there last year where I was super stressed the whole time, so I just thought I’d use Boston as the alias for the city.”

‘Poison Poison’ a sonically uplifting pop song favouring a chilled acoustic guitar and Rapp harmonizing with herself on an infectious yet simple tune, lyrically tells the tale of a betrayal that leads to bitterness. Rapp appears unapologetically honest when recounting this altercation in the song, leading to what is by-far the most brutal call-out on the album as she sings: “I’m a feminist but you’re making it hard for me to support all women…” Rapp begins to laugh as the lyric is read out and I ask the question “what the hell did that person have to do to inspire that lyric?” To which she exclaimed “some REALLY fucked up shit!”

“Things happen… friendships fall out, relationships fall out… it’s cool, it happens but…  it was someone I loved very much and sometimes you get really comfortable in a friendship but they’re like plotting on your downfall the entire time. The only time they would talk to me and was like ‘how are you?’ I would find out they were going and telling things to other people… I was so hurt by someone I loved so much, and I was also like ‘damn how do you present yourself as a girl’s girl but you’re literally just getting close to me to go talk shit about me to grown men… that sucks. I love ‘Poison Poison’ because it’s really cathartic but also really playful which is the only way I can really deal with the situation because if I think too much about it, I would write a really sad song. I wanted to give it a comedic tone so that I didn’t suffer anymore.”

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‘I wish’, a soft acoustic track which appears towards the middle of ‘Snow Angel’ indicates Rapp mourning a loss; when asked about this she specifies; “my first thought of – oh fuck mortality’ was at age 10… it all of a sudden just hit me that my parents aren’t gonna be with me one day. The first time I felt that was so jarring and I remember not being able to sleep and I would go downstairs and go sleep with my parents. I’d be crying. My mum would ask ‘what was wrong?’ but I couldn’t say to my mother ‘I know one day you are not gonna be with me’. ‘I wish’ is learning my parents aren’t gonna be with me forever and how fucked up that is. It’s mourning the death of my family members before they even pass… which sucks.”

One of the more mellow and R&B influenced tracks on ‘Snow Angel’; ‘Tummy Hurts’ (whilst being a lyrical expression of Rapp’s anxiety) happened to indicate that, she too, is part of the lore that “all hot girls have stomach issues.” When asked if she could confirm or deny Rapp offered a confident “I swear to God YES. When I tell you I have tonnes of anxiety and my stomach when I get anxious is brutal… I can’t stand up, sit down or lay down so yes I would definitely say I’m part of the ever growing cult.”

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Rapp’s most recent artistic release has been the music video for her latest single ‘Talk Too Much’ to which, she revealed to fans, concluded in a hospital trip. When asked to elaborate on the experience Rapp admitted “I was sat in a chair with my ankles tied together and my hands tied behind my back… I was asked to stand up and I couldn’t so then I got frustrated and tried to stand up anyway and I fell to the side onto concrete. I fell on my elbow with my whole-body weight on top of it. I ended up having to go to the hospital for pain killers but luckily didn’t break anything. I didn’t hit my head… it was so fucking lucky but it’s over now so it’s fine.” All’s well that ends well. 

Following the release of ‘Snow Angel’, Renee Rapp is set to make her return to the UK for her ‘Snow Hard Feelings’ tour including dates in Manchester, Birmingham, London and Glasgow (half of the dates of which sold out almost immediately). This will be the pop starlet’s second time playing shows in the UK after her completely sold-out London gig in Kentish Town at the beginning of the year which she described to be “to this date; my favourite show and favourite audience… it was the most surreal experience ever. I’ve never felt more loved in a community in my life, it was very affirming.”

With more dates to come – she’s “very excited to return to Europe” – fans are about to hear a few more affirmations from pop’s all-new triple threat.

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‘Snow Angel’ is out now.

Words: Lauren Hague