Premiere: Listen to RENÉ’s Cathartic Single “I.N.T.O.”

Premiere: Listen to RENÉ’s Cathartic Single “I.N.T.O.”

We talked to the emerging artist about her previous releases and proper new single, and the story that ties them all together.

We talked to the emerging artist about her previous releases and proper new single, and the story that ties them all together.

Text: Jake Viswanath

“I don't like the idea of being in a box,” up-and-coming British artist RENÉ announced near the start of our interview, establishing her impressive ambition straight off the bat. “I don't like the idea of being defined by one particular genre. I grew up in a lot of cultures and have a diverse range of genres that I listen to.”

It’s this refusal to define herself that led to the sound of her new single “I.N.T.O.,” an acronym for “I’m Not the One,” exclusively premiering on V. The song, written entirely by the singer herself with production from NOSAAppollo and Sima Kim, takes on a thrilling electronic R’n’B soundscape, with RENÉ’s rich and soulful voice bringing the intensity to another level. But it’s also an experimental take on the genre that tends to veer off in different directions, exactly what she wanted to accomplish.

“I wanted it to feel almost like a different piece of music in each section, and I think we achieved that without going too far down that road where it just doesn't hang together properly,” she explained. “I wanted it to almost be like a shock to the ears, like you have to listen to it again and again to make sure you capture all the different elements.”

Growing up in London, it was obvious that music was her destiny, having been raised in a family full of musicians. “Literally my childhood memories are filled with spending time with the family, bringing out the instruments, and singing.” Naturally, she got an early start, reaching out to producers in London and writing songs at only 16. “Songwriting's definitely a thing that's featured heavily for me, because it’s like a release to me. It’s little things like writing poetry, and even writing raps. I was a really big TuPac fan at the time,” she said with a contagious laugh.

Although “I.N.T.O.” plays like an attention-worthy debut single, her earlier efforts actually resulted in previous offerings “Underwater” and “Voices,” the first parts of a trio of which “I.N.T.O.” is the final piece. The songs were inspired by a relationship in which RENÉ gave her all, but the efforts just weren’t reciprocated. “‘Underwater’ talks about being in a relationship this time, where you understand it's not necessarily the right place for you to be, but for some reason, you just need them around,” she explained. Its sequel, “Voices,” is about finally leaving that relationship and dealing with the initial regrets that plague a big life step. “We have a lot of voices in our head of people, especially when we lie down at night and you take in the day. There's just so many things we wish we could have done.”

“I.N.T.O.” is the final step of the breakup process, where you’re finally comfortable with the fact that you’ve left and showing a newfound confidence. “It’s trying to capture that moment where you actually realize, ‘No, I'm not being appreciated here. I'm gonna remove myself from the situation and I'm good with that. I don't need to surround myself with people who don't value what I bring’,” she explains. “It’s about being in a confident place, being like ‘I'm good with not being the one, or your version of the one,’ especially in a society where the one is supposed to be perfect.”

The latest single is only the first step of RENÉ's debut era, with an EP of new music and live performances on the horizon this year. And she's not holding anything back. "I'm not guarded in any way when it comes to music, so hopefully people feel that open and honest music coming through, because that's really what I want to portray as an artist," she explained.

But for this moment, she's just celebrating the fruits of her labor being put out into the world. “The bonus for me is when they actually realize the loss, and you know they feel the loss when you're out of it,” she remarked, failing to hold back a giggle. “You didn't appreciate me then and I bet you do now.”

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