photography by Roxy Lee
Born to Creole Mauritian parents and raised in London, RENÉ was surrounded by music from a very early age. She takes early inspiration from Aaliyah and Timbaland but she epitomises genre fluidity. Her new single ‘Unchartered Waters’ is mind-blowing – soft piano chords blend into René´s magnificient voice. So we are incredibly happy to introduce it to you today and moreover we had a chat with the super-talented singer where she tells us what the song is about and why they chose to record the video on a VHS camrecorder.
Hey dear RENÉ, thanks so much for your time! I am absolutely in love with your new single ‘Unchartered Waters’. I had goose bumps while listening to it. It is so soft and strong at the same time. What is the song about exactly and is it a very personal one?
Thank you for the kind words! Uncharted Waters are the words of an empath, who has fallen into playing the role of the ‘fixer’. It’s the point at which you need to remove yourself from a situation for the good of all involved, or at the very least to safeguard your own mental health and wellbeing. I wrote this 3 years ago from personal experience – feeling depleted and emotionally exhausted, but it’s taken on a whole new meaning with everything we’ve had to endure this year; in some ways, we should all be able to relate and sympathise with each other that little bit more, and yet many feel more alone than ever- forced into isolation and to acknowledge our inner demons that only we as individuals can conquer for ourselves.
That said, the message I want people to take away is one of hope. We can empower ourselves to make the necessary changes for the better and be our own saviours more often than not!
It´s awesome watching you sing in this very raw video. You are so into the song. Can you say in words how you feel when you sing?
I tend to write all my songs from personal experience, so when I sing I really do relive those moments and the emotions felt at the time. With the live recording being so emotive and rough around the edges, I wanted the video to complement that rawness and imperfection. Working with Director, Caroline Hajny, was a dream as she was able to capture that so perfectly, but further to that, we chose to record on a VHS camcorder, which evokes the feeling of nostalgia- longing for a simpler, familiar time.
I also love the piano player – tell us a little about him… and how did this collabo came about?
Ahh, Oscar Moos – he is a music producer here in London, originally from Denmark. We only started working with each other earlier this year, although it’s been a little difficult with the pandemic! He is such a talented musician so I thought it’d be great to do a live version of ‘Uncharted Waters’- a song I’d done with another producer, Nosa Apollo, a few years back. Oscar and I have a few songs in the pipeline ready for release next year.
Do you have any plans for a debut album?
It’s something I’m definitely working towards, but I’m so particular with my music- finding the right combination of tracks for a complete body of work is something I definitely want to take my time with. However, I would hope nearer Summer / Autumn 2021.
“We chose to record the video on a VHS camcorder, which evokes the feeling of nostalgia- longing for a simpler, familiar time.”
Do you find inspiration in solitude or when there is a lot of hustle and bustle around you?
I would say solitude more often- many ideas will come to me in the still of night or when I have time to just sit and be. I’m an overthinker, so I really need space to process my thoughts and translate things, experiences, and art that inspires me into song.
Your first musical memories as a child?
Oh, so many! Most of my earlier memories are centred around my childhood home; we always had friends and family over with music playing throughout the house, dancing, singing, and playing instruments. The house also has amazing reverb and so, probably much to the annoyance of neighbours, I would always be belting-out my favourite power ballads- usually Mariah or Celine!
Later on was there a key moment why you decided on pursuing a career in music or did the direction just grow over the years?
I don’t remember wanting to be anything else as a child and all-throughout my teens; the thought of not being an artist never crossed my mind. I remember saying to mum at about 6/7 years old- ‘I want to be a singer’, she smiled and said ‘I’m not surprised!’ and such a simple response suddenly made me realise it wasn’t unachievable. However, I was also an A* student, so naturally, my parents and teachers pushed me to secure a solid education, but after 1 year at university studying International Business & French, I dropped out to continue to pursue music.
Do you have a professional voice training?
Not as such, I grew up in a musical family, full of singers with all different styles, who I learnt so much from. Also, spending time with other professional musicians has really helped shape and develop my voice.
How would your friends describe you in three words?
Hmmm, I would guess- loyal, thoughtful and ambitious!
“I’m an overthinker, so I really need space to process my thoughts and translate things, experiences, and art that inspires me into song.”
How important is fashion for you?
Fashion is very important as it very much goes hand-in-hand with my music; I love working with talented, upcoming designers or stylists who I trust will bring my artistry to life through fashion. Whether that be Hanger Inc. for I.N.T.O (2017) or Gilliam Svenkov, who styled the ‘Uncharted Waters’ video. It’s another art-form and expression of self, which I respect considerably.
Waking up at peace, excited to start every day because you do what you love to do, and fall asleep just the same.
Being surrounded by people you love and who love and appreciate you + what you give to the world!
Your dreams and goals for 2021?
To present RENÉ to the world and hope that my art finds its way to people who can connect with it, and stay for the evolution.