Today’s Featured Artist – INTERVIEW – Raven Shelley

Tell us about:

Your latest single you have released:

It’s a song called ‘Sink in Solitude’, and it’s actually my first single to be released! 

It’s a song about time passing by without achievement, and it has a very special place in my heart because I still remember the time when I was writing it. It was one wet afternoon in Manchester; I’d woken up late, having been out the night before, and was annoyed with myself for wasting most of the day. It was winter, and (as usual) raining. The light was flat and dull, and I stood looking down at the grey urban street, at the litter, the sludgy brown leaves and skeleton trees, at the other houses, wondering about the individual stories and tragedies that could be unfolding just metres away from me. 

I’d been reading Shakespeare’s Richard II, and a lot of Shelley’s poetry, so many lines from the song are influenced by these two great writers. It’s a song I wrote to myself, trying to rouse myself to get on and do something, rather than wasting the time that I have been given. Cheery stuff! But I do think that it’s quite a universal human feeling, in that everyone has felt like that at some point. Whenever I listen back to ‘Sink in Solitude’ I remember that time very clearly. 

Your first single and how you felt when it was released:

As I’ve said, ‘Sink in Solitude’ was my first single to be released. I was a bit nervous before hand, you have to hype it up so much in the run up, and I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to expectations. But it’s had a fantastic response! I was elated when it was finally released. It’s a pretty old song now, and it’s been a real struggle trying to get it out into the world. It’s weird though, it kind of leaves you with a slightly strange feeling in that you’ve now given it an independent life of its own. It doesn’t really belong to you in the same way. You’re sending it out there to make its fortune!

Your favourite song that you have created that is an album track:

I’ve not recorded an album yet, as we’re focusing on releasing a string of singles at the moment. Some of those singles could be album tracks too though, in the future. But I’m writing all the time at the moment, and there are several songs that I think would be great album tracks.

Your favourite song to play live:

It’s got to be ‘Do You Miss Me Yet?’, which is my next single, and will be released in September (stay up to date by following my Instagram, Spotify and Facebook pages!) I wrote it when I was really angry with someone, and I thought ‘What would I really like to say to them? I mean really, if no one was every going to read it, if no one could judge me for how I felt, what would I want to say?’. I had no intention of turning it into a song initially, but once I started I just couldn’t stop, and it kind of wrote itself. I’m very excited for it to be released, because it tends to make people laugh whenever I play it. I was listening to a lot of Dylan at the time, songs like ‘Positively 4th Street’ and ‘She’s Your Lover Now’, and I hope that very Dylanesque mixture of humour and savagery comes across when I sing lines like:

“I mean how are you not bored of yourself
It’s bad enough dealing with you as someone else
But you have to put up with you every day of your life”

I tend to preface it at live gigs my saying it’s for “everybody’s ex” – it makes people listen! At one gig several people came up asking if I had the lyrics with me so they could read them. 

Your most emotional track:

That’s a tough question, and it changes all the time. I find writing is very cathartic, so whilst I write some things that are just a bit of fun, most of them come from some very emotionally honest and vulnerable place. I think ‘Sink in Solitude’ resonates with a lot of people, and ‘Do You miss Me Yet?’ is emotional in terms of being very angry. ‘Ariel’ (released in February) is about Sylvia Plath, and that’s one of my saddest songs I think, though it’s obviously less personal to me. There’s also a couple of songs which I have and which I don’t even tend to perform live very much, because they’re almost too personal.  

The best lyric you have ever written:

That also changes all the time! I have a song called ‘The Scorpion’ which is very lyrically dense; I was reading a lot of surrealist poetry at the time, and ended up walking around one night when the stars were very bright. I stood underneath the constellation of Orion, and this song started coming to me, with verses like: 

“The candle of the day went out

But there were still stars to see

On the edge of my vision was a scorpion

That waited silently for me
And the watch towers slowly breathed release

In the molten night’s heavy heat

And I’m waiting for the scorpion to sting”

I don’t entirely know what the song means myself, but I think it’s certainly up there with some of the best I’ve written, lyrically. 

Describe the feeling you get when you walk on stage to do a show:

Unlike anything else. At first, trepidation, though that has become less and less true the more I’ve played. After a few songs I start to loosen up, and then I really start to enjoy it, especially if it’s a good audience. And then once you finish (and if it’s gone well) it’s euphoria, and a feeling of great achievement. 

The hardest track to play live:

Possibly ‘Bubblewrap the World’, which is another one of my singles to come out at some point next year. It’s quite fast, and there’s a lot of sliding up and down the fretboard. Plus, lyrically it can be tough to remember because the choruses are all slightly different to each other.

Essential items you always take on tour with you?

I haven’t been on tour yet, but I know I would definitely take:

-A guitar
-A notebook
-A stack of books
-A camera

Describe your fans in three words:

With great taste?
(On a more serious note: Wonderful, bohemian humans)

A song by another artist or band you wish you had written:

There’s so many! Most things by Bob Dylan, ‘Untouchable Face’ or ‘Both Hands’ by Ani DiFranco, ‘Take This Longing’ by Leonard Cohen. Songs with incomparable poetry, basically. 

What we can look forward to from your band this year:

Much more music! There’s 4 more singles that will be released, and I’m moving to Manchester in the Autumn, so I’ll be playing loads more venues too. And then who knows? The possibilities are endless!

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