Everyone has a unique story. Whatever your upbringing was, no matter how fanciful or downtrodden, these things make up who you are. Regardless of the circumstances you have found yourself or however unique these circumstances are, these things are uniquely your own and you probably don’t realize how unique they have made you. Take for example Raissa. The 23 year old singer, songwriter and producer certainly has an interesting story. Born in Spain and raised in Beijing, Sydney and Kuala Lumpur, Raissa has certainly seen so much and has so many unique experiences that they couldn’t help but make their way into her art. After moving to London to study cultural criticism at Central Saint Martin, Raissa started to find herself drawn to the poetry of Leonard Cohen, the films of Miyazaki and David Lynch as well as the everyday conversations of her close friends and family. In 2020 she released a handful of singles, accompanied by some inventively self made videos, and caught the attention of Mark Ronson, who signed her to his Zelig Records. Her debut release for the label is the sweeping and gorgeous EP HEROGIRL. The album is filled with cutting, minimal grooves, all buoyed by Raissa’s smooth vocal delivery and infectious melodies. When we caught up with Raissa from her new home in Los Angeles, she explains that her experiences thus far in life have definitely contributed to her work, even though it all felt very normal to herself.
“I think in many ways the consideration of what it was like growing up for me was very normal because it was what I was used to,” the effervescent artist explains. “Even though my parents are European, a Franco-Algerian Father and Spanish Mother, I think in a lot of ways living in places like Kuala Lumpur have had a massive impact on how I see the world. When I moved to London on my own, and it’s so completely different from Kuala Lumpur,” she says with an obvious laugh, “which is warm and sunny and friendly and the people there really enjoy life. London is cold and there is this work and office culture and I didn’t actually realize exactly how massive it was until I moved there. The feelings of alienation kind of started to set in this new place, a place where I’m not really rooted in. I never really felt rooted in London, nor do I really in Los Angeles now, and I don’t mean this in a bad way. It’s always been an interesting thing, my relationship to myself has always been based on my surroundings.” With all the continuous moving, Raissa has found that there is a definite adjustment period, or readjustment period, as she says, when she starts somewhere new and it is in this period that she has been able to really get to know herself and it has helped make her work so naturally her own.
“There is always a readjustment period when I’ve moved where I spend a lot of time with myself,” she explains. “There have been times, several months to a year, where I was able to really focus on who am and what I want to do. I miss those readjustment periods. You can really connect to yourself and you can become really comfortable with yourself. There are always going to be good days and bad days but with this perspective helps make things easier.” You can hear this all in her songwriting. The songs on HEROGIRL do take their cues from the lexicon of contemporary pop production but it never feels borrowed or contrived. In fact, it feels like through listening to Raissa’s work, you are really getting to understand her as an artist and as a person. “When I am writing it all kind of comes down to just wanting to feel understood. I believe that hope is the most powerful thing human beings can have. Writing helps to remind myself to be hopeful and capable and that I’ll be okay and that life is beautiful. If I choose to be kind and beautiful, in the metaphorical sense, it is a massive outlet for my mental health and it helps me to feel closer to people.”
For someone as young as she is, Raissa radiates a kind confidence that is a direct outcome of the work that she has put into herself and has imbued her art. HEROGIRL is a great introduction to a startlingly talented new artist and it is exciting to see how she will grow in her new surroundings and how her art will blossom because of it. While to us, her life experiences may seem so wonderfully exotic, to her it has all been the small steps she needed to take to blossom into the artist she wants to become and it will be exciting to see where else this journey will take her.
Order HEROGIRL by Raissa HERE