Lily Rayne isn’t here to impress you. She won’t drone on about how great her sound is. She won’t try and astound you with how accomplished she is. Of course, her music is great, and she is shockingly talented. You’ll know it after a single conversation with her. However, you won’t learn about these talents or her impressive resume by what she says. Rather, her skills will radiate from her. You’ll catch her performing one of her many incredible songs, you’ll see her name grace a Spotify playlist, or you’ll even just know from her aura as she walks into the room, dressed in a style that is perfectly unique to her.
Her style of speaking is as straight to the point as in her music. She makes it a point to highlight her identities, first and foremost identifying herself as a “queer female” musician in person and, in her music, writing female-centered albums while naming her latest album Femme. The Femme concept came to her over a year ago and resonated with her desire “to kick down the doors” for herself and other women in male-centric circles. On the cover of that project, she exists front and center, nonchalantly posing atop a stool dressed in an orange t-shirt and overalls against an orange backdrop. While this might seem like a typical stylistic choice, Rayne explains that she has a specific reason for using the color orange: “I love the way orange looks on my skin, honestly. It just brings out darker tones, and I wanted to really capture that.”
Rayne;s demeanor demonstrates her comfort and love for her skin and herself. In terms of fashion, she wears the clothes that feel right to her rather than anything forced into a category of ‘female.’ From a young age, she knew a purely conventional way of dressing wasn’t right for her. “I’ve noticed that when I was a kid, my mom or grandmother would buy things for me, and I’d just think, ‘This is not what I want to wear.'” As she grew up, she discovered her own identity more by going to the mall and “picking out [her] own stuff.” Through that, she was able to access a branch of her identity that felt important and reveal “the tomboy that had always been there.” However, don’t think her style is solely boy-centric; she also enjoys acknowledging her womanhood and “being fluid with it.”
Lily’s fluidity isn’t meant to confuse or be for anyone but herself. As she says, “I’m very straightforward, I feel. I just try to be myself the best way I can.” That straightforward nature seeps into her music, which she describes as “just based in a moment in time and a feeling I felt at that moment.” While she understands this quality might make her sound “unpredictable,” that spontaneous nature to her music is what makes it the most genuine. This aspect of her work emanates from her tracks which, despite being individual sonic experiences, come together to create a crafted experience that perfectly matches the woman who sings them.
Understanding Lily Rayne requires going back a bit further than her album releases or visuals. Growing up, music was abundant in her household. She credits her mom for first turning her onto music. She says, “My mom grew up in the ’70s and ’80s. I was put onto, like, Teena Marie, Slick Rick. She also put me onto SWV, TLC, and Guy… She really shaped and molded me as the artist I now am.” More currently, her influences cover names from Missy Elliot to Rihanna to Pharrell, who she jokingly says she might be related to.
Yet, as a child, she didn’t seem to think music ran in her blood as much as it does now. When asked about her childhood, she shares that she initially wanted to be an actress. From there, her ambitions changed many times. She wanted to be a producer for a while, and, later, wanted to write songs for other people. However, she eventually realized none of these careers were the right option for her: “Eventually, I realized I could just put everything into myself. I’m glad it worked out that way.” Looking back, she notes that she always wanted to do something creative; she shares stories about “writing songs at five, six, 0r seven about boyfriends [she’d] never had and relationships [she’d] never been in.” Yet, only recently has she fully realized her current trajectory.
Now that she knows her path, she’s dead set on it. She says, “My friends. I used to tell them, ‘One day, I’m just going to be an artist and something big is going to happen. I’m going to get rich and famous.’ And I mean, it’s happening, slowly but surely.”
In truth, she’s right. The world hasn’t been sleeping on this rising star. Recently, her song “Girl’s Night Out” was featured on Spotify’s iconic Mellow Bars playlist. This is a huge accomplishment for the local celebrity. Yet, it’s not enough to grant her complete satisfaction: “I know it’s a good thing, but I feel I need to do more, way more.” Rayne has no visions of stopping or getting complacent with stagnant fame, occasionally taking trips to LA “just to work and link up.” While she’s “appreciative” of the successes that she can “add to [her] resume,” she views this, as well as her other accomplishments as “stepping stones.” This quality, particularly, gifts her a unique drive that not every musician possesses; her initial successes motivate her further forward rather than pacifying her into a soft level of fame. What she seems to be aiming for is less literal and more founded in her motivation to persist as far along as she can. Knowing her, she is nowhere near the end of that journey.
Lily Rayne fully realizes the risks of creativity, noting, “Artists can be crazy and creatives in general. We lose our minds every single day.” Yet, she also deeply acknowledges the luck of her own position, saying, “I’m just grateful to be able to express myself and for people to enjoy it and accept me for me.”
With this mix of dedication and awareness of the industry, Lily Rayne is a new, genuine force in music that isn’t leaving anytime soon. When asked about upcoming projects, she shares, “I’m writing every day, recording every day. Just keeping the ball rolling for new projects. I’m dropping an EP with my homeboy Dee Gomes. It should be coming out before the end of the summer. I’m doing more shows. I got a show in Boston at the Sonia on August 3rd. I’m trying to lock down a show in Atlanta. Really, tryna have a mini Femme Tour. So yeah, stay tuned.”
If anything, I’d recommend you follow her own advice here and stay tuned to this rising Providence star. In addition, check out some of her music here and find the music video for “Girl’s Night Out” below.