THE incredible songwriter Ina Reni…
is not a new name to me. I have been following her music a while - and am excited there is a new track/video out. She talks to me about her current track, Tiffany, and what comes next in terms of music. I ask about her previous song, I Thought You Were Gay, and how her music embraces the humorous and original. She tells me about her Christmas plans and the music she followed growing up – and working with producer King Kanobby on Tiffany.
Ina Reni lets me into her plans and past; some of the new artists worth our time; details about her her forthcoming E.P., Down to Mars – and what advice she would give to new songwriters.
Hi, Ina. How are you? How has your week been?
My week has been very good!
I came back to London on Tuesday and, since then, I’ve had a few meeting; did two interviews and some other music video promotion stuff.
Overall, it was a calm week: one of the first calm weeks in a very long time.
For those new to your work; can you introduce yourself, please?
I am a London-based singer-songwriter - and I make Pop music with some Alternative influences.
Tiffany is your second single – it was released in October. What is it about? Is it based on personal experience?
Tiffany is about a situation in which you don’t feel appreciated enough by your partner - and then kind of go the extra mile just to make sure he knows what’s going to happen if he doesn’t step up his game. But it’s more of an easy, light-hearted song. I wanted to explore the idea in a kind of funny, exaggerated manner; therefore, I added all the luxury lifestyle references (“Tiffany deliveries”).
The song wasn’t really based on a specific situation or person - but I do know the feeling.
It seems like your songs look at relationships and put a humorous spin on them. I Thought You Were Gay had its tongue in cheek – it seems like Tiffany has a similar approach. Do you think most artists write about relationships in a very literal and predictable fashion?
Well. I’m not sure about ‘most artists’ but there are definitely a lot of songs out there that are written in a very predictable way...especially when the love/relationship topic is involved.
I have been in sessions with songwriters that had quite successful careers and, after we finished the melody-line, they would say: “Okay…and now let’s just write the typical love blah-blah like “Baby I want you, tell me that you want me too”… and then ended up putting something together that had no soul in it/no cleverness/nothing. Don’t get me wrong: there can be a lot of value in simplicity and I can think of a lot of examples where songs have a very strong emotional impact on you - even though the lyrics are by definition quite generic.
But, as a listener; you can just feel when there is nothing behind it…and I’m not a fan of that.
How and where was Tiffany written? What was the process like? Did the record come together quickly?
Tiffany was written in Inglewood, Los Angeles. Me and the producer wrote the song in about twelve hours - because we were scheduled to write one song a day, and, so that’s what we did. My producer has a great passion for weed (which is legal in California) so I recorded the song surrounded by marijuana clouds…
Unfortunately, I’m unable to get high - so it just made me cough all the time! It was a fun session though; one of my best days in L.A.
Who produced the song? What qualities are you looking for in a producer?
The song was produced by King Kanobby; who currently works a lot with the A$AP Mob collective (A$AP Rocky, A$AP Ferg etc.). He is usually more involved with Hip-Hop records but, to me, he seemed appreciative of any kind of genre - as long as it’s a great piece of music.
What I am generally looking for in a producer, apart from the obvious, is a high degree of musicality; the absence of ego-related issues and, also, a certain amount of courage to do things differently. I think it’s very important that everyone involved feels like they have the space to try things out - to make sure the song becomes its best possible version.
I believe your E.P., Down to Mars, is out next year. What kind of themes/stories will you be addressing? Can you give us any details about the meaning of the E.P. title?
Down to Mars is a record that deals with the question: What do I really value in life and what standard am I prepared to settle for? In the songs; I raise those questions in a career-context, but also in a relationship context. To be honest, I have very high standards in both and - especially with regards to my career ambitions - I know a lot of people would rather have me set the bar a bit lower; be realistic etc. That’s where the title ‘Down to Mars’ comes into play. I consider myself quite an unpretentious, ‘down-to-earth’ person - but I made a conscious decision not to limit myself to the boundaries of what society considers normal/ordinary/'the right thing to do in my position'. Not because I’m trying to make a point, but because it’s me who has to live this life I’m building.
So; I want to make sure I’m happy with it…
Can you tell me about your childhood and music? Did you grow up in a musical household?
I did not, per se, grow up in a musical household - but my mother was always exposing me to Classical music. Apart from that; I played the accordion as a child and even had some little concerts with it…for example; in one of Berlin’s most important revue theatres called Friedrichsstadtpalast.
As a music consumer; I have always loved a wide range of genres; especially Pop, Jazz; Classic, Hip-Hop and Funk.
Who are the artists you were fascinated by when you were growing up?
To be hones; I often detached music/songs from the artist. I was fascinated with specific songs - but not so much with artists. Also, you have to remember, I didn’t speak English back in the day but most songs in the German charts were in English - so it was hard to build up a real connection with someone’s artistry.
But, to still answer the question: I guess, as a child, I was mostly fascinated by artists like Britney Spears and their perfect Popstar life.
On a similar note; who are the new artists you recommend we check out?
I think Billie Eilish is a really cool new artist. I like her song, Bellyache, and, funnily enough, she also has a song called I Wish You Were Gay - which has a really interesting concept.
IN THIS PHOTO: Billie Eilish
If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
I am not an album-person; that’s why I’m gonna name the three songs that mean the most to me.
Astrud Gilberto - The Crickets Sing for Anamaria
When I was thirteen-years-old; I had to spend quite some time in hospital because of a severe virus infection. I listened to that record about fifty times every single day - and it made it all much easier.
Jill Scott - Love Rain
The way that song lyrically explores the dynamics of a relationship has always really moved me.
Sufjan Stevens - For the Widows in Paradise
I think this is a religious song at its core and, though I am not religious myself, I find a lot of comfort in it; especially when I need to come to terms with difficult situations. The line “I did anything for you” at the end is a good example for a, by definition, generic lyric that becomes very powerful through its lyrical and melodic context (referring back to what I talked about in the first question…).
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
Release music. Put yourself out there and don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
What tour dates do you have approaching? Where can we see you play?
I think I will do a show in January - when I put out my next single - and one in March for my E.P. launch. I don’t have specific dates yet. If you want to make sure you don’t miss any upcoming gigs, I recommend signing up to my newsletter.
Otherwise; as soon as gig dates are officially announced, you will find them on my website.
Christmas is not too far away. Do you have plans already - or will you be busy working?
Yes. I will go home to Germany and spend Christmas with my family - like every year. I have never worked as hard as I did this year and Christmas is the time when I will finally take a break from all that.
I know you have a make-up/beauty-related YouTube channel. What was the reason for starting out? Will you be releasing a lot more videos in 2018?
I started my YouTube channel in the end of January (2017) because at the time I felt really anxious about the progress of my music career - and I just wanted a side-project that could, maybe, one day help support me, financially. Ironically, this project became way more successful than anything I ever did with music.
I’m usually posting one video a week - and I intend to keep it like that in 2018...
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
The Virgins – Rich Girls
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