Posted On 06 Apr 2017
Meet pop singer, RENAE! RENAE is doing something completely different, having created an entire album based on the metaphors of each chakra, written after a very difficult time in her life and how she then turned to spirituality in order to better her mental health and lifestyle.
“WILD” is the first single of the batch, representing the first chakra.
On the album titled “ALIGN” you’ll find 7 songs, each crafted to lyrically and musically embody the metaphor of each chakra. Each song is also written in the chakra’s musical key to really enhance the mind-body experience. These songs are RENAE’s stories and ultimate reminders to herself of how to come back home to her true nature.
Signed to Universal Music Publishing and Arthouse Entertainment, RENAE (aka Cristi Vaughan) has worked with some of the world’s biggest pop music players, writing and placing songs with artists such as Meghan Trainor, 5 Seconds of Summer, Troye Sivan, Aluna George, Leona Lewis, and Little Mix, as well as penning many placements on TV and film. RENAE’s primary team member, producer, and husband (Matt Naylor) has achieved thousands of placements including tracks in Gone Girl, X-Men – Days of Future Past, Django Unchained, Lincoln, and has engineered projects for Selena Gomez, Casting Crowns, and Jason Mraz.
Learn more about Renae in the following All Access interview:
Thank you for interviewing with us RENAE, we are happy to learn more about you! I hear you have a very special project you are going to share with us today… let’s dive in!
Hi there, thank you so much for having me! Yes, yes we do, happy to share with you!
Can you tell us how you came up with the idea for “ALIGN”, an album encompassing the seven chakras? (Which I love, by the way) What does this album mean to you?
Thank you! We love it too. (Laughter) Well, a few years ago I started going through a sort of quarter-life-crisis, while everything on the outside seemed to be going okay, on the inside I was feeling sort of unhappy and unfulfilled. So I began a journey of soul searching — I took some time to myself, started reading books on psychology and spirituality, started doing yoga — and at some point came across the concept of the 7 chakras. I thought it was so interesting and beautiful that each of the chakras represented a certain aspect of who we are, and when I learned there was a musical note associated with each of the chakras, I instantly was like, “Oh my god we need to make an album about of this!” What does the album mean to me — well it means a lot! It’s an expression of my higher self – telling the stories of how I’ve experience fear and darkness and come back home to love and light.
Will you be going forward with “WILD”, as the lead single for your album?
We will actually be releasing all 7 songs as singles for this album. I believe the lead single will be “Ripples” or “Human,” which will be available in the next few months!
Which song from “ALIGN” is your personal favorite? What makes it special to you?
l think “Ripples” might be my favorite. “Ripples” is the metaphor for the crown chakra, which represents our connection to the larger whole. I wrote it when a friend of mine was going through a tough time, he was actually considering suicide, mainly because of how messed up he felt the world was and how he couldn’t do anything about it. I came to the session that day pretty upset and cried to my co-writers, we ended up writing “Ripples.” The title was inspired by my favorite Disney movie, Pocahontas, in the scene where Grandmother Willow touches the water and explains that any change you want to see in the world, starts with you and ripples outwards. That’s really what the song is about. I think, especially now, at a time where our country feels so divided, “Ripples” is a beautiful message to put out into the world.
I’d love to understand more about how you wrote each song in the corresponding chakra’s musical key; will you share a little bit about that with me?
Sure! In the chakra theory, it’s said that each chakra resonates with a certain musical frequency— the 1st chakra, C, the 2nd, D, the 3rd, E, and it continues up the scale until the crown. For most of the songs, we went in with the intention of writing a song for a certain chakra, for example, “let’s write a song about intuition and what that feels like for me.” It usually started with the title or concept, the melody would come into my head, then we’d lay it down with instruments and a track, in the key of that chakra. A few of the songs though, we had written before we had this concept album idea, but they ended up aligning perfectly with the concepts, intentions, and even the keys! I love how every musical key is represented on the album, I think it further enhances the metaphor of inner balance.
Can you tell us about this leap from writing for other artists to recording your own work?
After graduating college, I got signed to a publishing deal with Universal Music and spent a few years writing for other artists, TV & film, and company brands. It was an amazing experience, I was in the studio 5 days a week co-writing with other amazing artists, pop writers, and producers, and really grew as a songwriter. Like I said earlier though, I came to a point where I felt something was off inside – while the experience was cool, I was feeling really overwhelmed internally and was getting physically ill. So I honored myself, took a break, and in my confusion and self-exploration found a way to express it through art. Soon enough, RENAE and our first album was born.
Do you feel like you have improved as an artist after recording this album?
Definitely, when I was a songwriter behind the scenes, I often felt really timid and afraid to express myself fully. This project has actually been a tool for my own confidence and embodiment of my true artistry. Listening back on demos from a few years ago, I actually noticed my voice has changed too, it now feels freer and my vibrato is faster!
What is the overall message and vibe that comes with your music? How do you hope listeners feel when they hear you?
I hope listeners feel free to be themselves and are empowered to do what they want in life. For me, this project is my way of expressing who I really am, the more I sing and dance through the songs, the more aligned and embodied I feel. I think being in that state and sharing the process is what helps others do the same. I think when people are living in alignment, they live their best lives and make the world a better place at the same time.
Who are some of your most inspiring musical influences? What is it about them that most enthuses you?
I love Taylor Swift. I’ve always been enamored with the joyful, feminine, confident energy she has on stage and in her writing. She’s also such a trailblazer, she’s always followed her own intuition and path throughout her career.
How would you describe the relationship between your emotions and your songwriting experience? Where do they lyrics come from?
I see emotions as being multidimensional — a mishmash of words, feelings, and stories — so using music is one of the best ways to express them. For me, the feeling of the story inspires the music and melodies, then the lyrics sort of of trickle out on top. Music is such a powerful tool to convey messages and stories to the world, I’m excited for everyone to hear what we’ve been working on!