Brown skin on brown skin drenched in honey and drowned in milk. Sunflowers, rose petals, and pearls subtly grazing against glossy lips. Slow movements, soft gazes, oozy caresses. Everything in Raveena Aurora’s Honey music video is a celebration of sensuality, of people of colour, of bodies on bodies and soft, sticky skin. It’s a sensory overload wonderfully bizarre when juxtaposed to her smooth smooth voice.
Directed by the singer herself, Raveena’s new video runs along the same thread that exists through her body of work. The New York-based R&B singer for several years now has been known for her jazzy compositions and dreamlike music videos. She is self-love, spirituality, and femininity. Her music is kind and healing, her videos a glimpse into a silkier world and a freer state of mind.
Honey, like many of her other videos, encapsulates the feeling of a home that is make-believe. Her experience of diaspora seeps into her narrative of tenderness in a way that seamlessly marries the two ideas—like displacement and self-love are two doses which must be prescribed together. Every golden, sickly sweet image in the Honey video acts like a portal into a distant and almost imaginary homeland. It’s a feeling known too well to first and second-generation immigrants. To my eyes, the dreamy-ness was a reminder of a familiar wistfulness for a cultural identity that can often be called ‘theirs’, sometimes called ‘ours’, but very rarely and only in moments ‘mine’.
The idea was to “show minority people (i.e. a man with his shirt off in a turban and full beard out, black women, East and South Asian women, etc) who are often not viewed as sexual beings in a sensual, absolutely beautiful light”. By casting well-known faces like Simran Sear, Vish Singh, and Armoogam, Raveena has created a world recognisable to the small group of people who feel inspired, acknowledged, and empowered by their brownness. To understand a little more about the artist, Homegrown sat down with Raveena to talk about her work.
There is an undercurrent of the Indian identity that runs through your visual aesthetics—a wistfulness that is all too familiar to the Indian immigrant experience. Can you tell me a little about how your identity finds its place in your music?
“I grew up very much still surrounded by Indian culture, so I feel like embracing and nourishing both the American and Indian parts of me in my art feel authentic to me. I think when immigrants come to America, they often cling to their homeland and identities there even more, in order to create a sense of familiarity and comfort in such a disorienting and new culture. This was very much the case with my parents, and I fell in love with all things India through them. I have particularly strong associations with the jewellery, the dreamy and colourful visuals, the food.”
Self-love is an important concept in your music. What is some wisdom you’ve gained about practising self-care that you can share? Particularly for your audiences who are women of colour.
“Self-forgiveness. Speaking in kinder tones to myself. It’s a process and I’m definitely not perfect at this. But why do we often direct the harshest criticism and words onto ourselves, when we (and I find this in women of colour in particular) have been taught to be so endlessly forgiving, kind, humble and giving to others?”
Can you tell me a little about the relationship between intimacy and healing in your music (and videos)?
“Healing starts and ends with yourself, but I think somewhere in between we have to learn to have healthy and beautiful relationships with others and the earth in order to be free. In my music, I definitely explore a lot about how being in a healthy, supportive intimate relationship can do wonders for your soul and your healing journey, because it’s something I am going through myself.”
Is there an artist’s whose trajectory you really admire? Why?
“Probably Solange. The visual, the poetic, the physical and the musical side of her seem to all be aligned and parts of herself that she is growing and nourishing every day. And throughout all that, she still keeps the focus centred on amazing, conceptual, soulful albums. I think that’s the kind of career I want to have. My first goal is to create incredible and timeless albums that really stay with people for a long time, but as an artist, I want to push myself and expand in as many different mediums and ways of expression as I can. Let each expression feed the other. I want to be making art in some way, shape or form until I die.”
If you had to describe the safe space your music creates, what would you say?
“A pink cloud above a lush green capitalist free utopia where everybody in the world is accepted and loved for who they are : ).”
How do you feel your music has changed with a coming of age and self-awareness?
“My music has always been a direct reflection of each stage in my life, and I love that I’ve been so honest with myself through my work. I’m definitely making the best music I can right now, and I owe it to womanhood and a stronger sense of self, and more inner peace than I had when I was younger.”
You can watch the music video here.
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