In the music industry, it’s extremely rare to a radiant voice within R&B offering a unique sound—that is until you meet Rileyy Lanez. With only a slew of releases out, the New York singer is by far one of the most impressive acts to come out this past year. In mid-2019, she made major waves with her label debut single, “I’m Leaving.” Since release, the video has amassed millions of views, collectively gaining a ton more streams. “I wanted to write a song that people around my age could really relate to, she states.” Rileyy’s haunting vocals are used as a vehicle of expression for her past and present, giving listeners something to relate too.
Back in October, Rileyy linked up with Lil Tjay for his True 2 Myself standout cut, “Post To Be.” Reaching over a million views in a matter of days, Lanez shows off a great amount of potential through her personality and lyrics. Now, focused on her first solo project under Columbia Records, Rileyy Lanez is poised to be one of the greatest R&B singers to come out of Gen Z. Her latest single, “Left 4 Me,” dropped this past week and serves as a stellar drop.
In our recent interview, we sat down with Rileyy Lanez to talk about her childhood, singing to Columbia Records, and goals amongst a list of other things.
Walk me through your childhood, how would you describe growing up?
Well, I grew up in the projects. When people hear that word, they think of a lot of violence, but my childhood was good. It was family-like, community-like, we had a lot of fun.
Are there any artists who paved the way for you as a child?
I listened to a lot of people actually. I listened to Alicia Keys, Lauren Hill, and even artists today like Trippie Redd, XXXTentacion, Billie [Eilish], and so on.
What’s the last album you listened to?
Jhene Aiko’s new album, Chilombo. I loved it, it was a very nice project.
Is there anything interesting that people don’t know about Rileyy Lanez?
So some people know this about me, but not many, I used to dance. I started dancing when I was three and ever since then it’s been a passion. I even studied it throughout school. People don’t know that about me, they think I just sing.
What was it like experiencing social media success while you were in school?
Well, I wasn’t really a superstar despite everyone thinking I was. I was just a normal person, trying to get my grades up and trying to graduate. Since people saw that I had a lot of exposure on social media, they really liked it because they loved my voice. I was basically a regular kid in high school.
So “I’m Leaving” is almost at seven million views on YouTube. Where did that some stem from?
I met up with this guy, who saw me on social media. He said, “I love your voice, I want to take you to the studio and I want you to record this song.” So we went to the studio and he gave me this beat. When I hear a beat, I have to listen to it a thousand times to really get a vibe out of it. So once I got that vibe, I wanted to write a song that people around my age could really relate to because I know a lot of people go through a lot of heartbreaks and don’t know how to deal with it.
Where do you go to inspiration and creativity?
Honestly, it all depends on the beat. If you give me a good beat, I’ll give you a good song. Also, the people I’m working with as well.
How about friends and family, do they play a role in your music?
Of course, when I’m in the studio, I always have my manager who’s also my mother. Everybody’s opinion matters, if you want to put something here then we can do that. I’m really open-minded, I like when people are hands-on.
What’s it like having your mom as your manager?
You know, it’s kind of a little tough, but she’s a great manager at the end of the day. She works hard so my dreams could come true, you know? She’s kind of old school so sometimes she plays the mother role forgetting she’s my manager (laughs). I know she’ll always have good intentions for me.
What’s the story behind you signing to Columbia Records and how did it feel?
Well, my A&R Greg saw the video for “I’m Leaving” so he hit up the guy that I was working with at the time and said, “I want to have a meeting.” We had a meeting, I went into the office of Columbia Records and I actually sang an acapella. This wasn’t even planned, but need up singing and he was like “no, I have to sign you now!’
How did you end up working with Lil Tjay for “Post to Be” on his recent album?
This was like a month after I got signed, my A&R said: “do you know who Lil Tjay is?” I said, “Everybody knows who Lil Tjay is.” He sent me this track that Tjay had in one of his folders from a long time ago. He told to write to this and as soon as I got it, I wrote to it. I actually finished that same day. So we went in the studio, made some tweaks to the words, and he loved the song. That’s how it got on the album. It was a great experience that I wasn’t expecting to happen that fast. I literally had just got signed.
Are there any artists you want to work with down the line?
Trippie [Redd], I love artists like that. XXXTentacion, Ski Mask the Slump God, I want to do a song with Tory Lanez. Jhene Aiko. There’s a lot of artists I want to do songs with.
Tell me about the story behind your forthcoming single “Left 4 Me.”
The song is really funny because the first line of the song, I wrote it about pizza. It’s funny, but afterwhile, I did form it to be about someone I recently got out of a relationship. Again, I’m trying to touch on subjects that a lot of people are going through. I want my songs to be relatable where they sit and listen like “wow, this literally just happened to me.”
With your first project on the way, what are some of your immediate goals and long-term goals?
Immediate goals: I hope my EP takes off. I hope a lot of people listen to the songs and the words. My long term goals would be making it on any big stage, BET or any award show. I really hope this EP hits, I put a lot of time into this project.
When people hear the name Rileyy Lanez, what do you want them to know you for?
I want them to know me for the messages I sing in my songs. With a lot of heartbreak and love, a lot of people don’t know how to cope. I want them to know their not the only people going through that in the world. I want my songs to let them know they’re not alone.
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