"Be honest with yourself. Seek God in your own way."
For six years, Ravahn performed under the name DUVV, but the moniker always felt like a mask.
Now, she's releasing music using her real name and exploring a more honest identity through her work and her art.
The Things We've Done/The Love We Need her latest two-song EP, allows Ravahn to show off her production skills as well as her vocal stylings. Her soft, breathy voice soars over glittering electric beats, creating hypnotic, cosmic soundscapes. Reminiscent of Grimes and FKA twigs' intricate, cyborgian alternative stylings, Ravahn's EP is a masterclass in world-building, alternatively sultry, subdued, and reverent.
The first song, "Pieces," is a dark and glitchy patchwork of sounds about memory's enduring power. The second song, "Fuse," is musically easy and vibrant but lyrically existential; it's about feeling absent from your own life and seeking meaning in the gaps between who you really are and who you've somehow become. The songs are about rebuilding and reshaping–which makes sense, as they're both informed by Ravahn's recent spiritual awakening, an experience that found her casting off heavy weights in her life and exchanging them for freedom through questions and faith.
We talked to Ravahn about this awakening and how it informs her music and her new persona. She also gave some advice for anyone looking to find God themselves, advice that will apply to even the staunchest atheist seeking a little peace.
POPDUST: You just released a new EP. How are you feeling?
RAVAHN: I definitely did not foresee all this happening when I was planning the release date, but I'm happy that it's out. It signifies a big change. I'm glad that it's out there now, and people have been responding really beautifully to it, so I'm appreciative of that. I'm excited to use this as a jump-off to start making more music.
You recently changed your name from DUVV to Ravahn. What was the impetus for that?
Ravahn is my real first name. I started looking very honestly about what DUVV meant and started to be frank about if there were certain pieces of myself I was hiding behind. DUVV wasn't my real name, and just because you knew her didn't mean you knew me. That distance comes from spaces of rejection in my own life. I used that rejection to justify keeping people at an arm's length, even in my music.
The change was inevitable in that regard, because I think DUVV was a different chapter of my life and I wanted something to clearly signify that I'm not her anymore. This is what I'm gonna be about moving forward.
You worked with Space People and produced some of your album yourself. How was the production process?
Space People works in Manhattan, and he's crazy talented. We were put in touch by his girlfriend. Even though I lived in New York, I hadn't known many other artists, so I was really excited to find a producer that I really clicked with. We worked on the song for months. I like to work on things quickly and put them out, but it was so cool to see how this song morphed and shifted.
I produced "Fuse," which was also a new thing. I didn't start making strides in producing my own work until 2018-ish. I was living in Korea at the time, and that's when I started pushing and producing my own stuff. I felt like I was getting stuck because anytime I wanted to make a song I had to wait on someone else's schedule, but I realized if I learned to do this myself, I could make a song whenever I
want. You've said "Fuse" is referencing spirituality or God. What does that song mean to you?
It's definitely referencing God. A bit of background: I started recording "Pieces," the first half of the EP, when I was performing under the name "Dove." During all of 2019 I didn't release new music, but there was a lot of spiritual growth going on.
"Pieces" is meant to act like an introduction to this big change. I gave my life to Christ in January. All of these events in 2019 just led me to God. It was part seeking and part being thrown into it. A lot of things happened in my life that I wasn't prepared for.
I was asking tough questions, like: What is your purpose? What are you doing? I wanted "Fuse" to highlight that. It highlights the things in the world I would get caught up in—the mundane things, the things you attach yourself to for validation. I started to see those things crumble, and I wanted to understand the true source of purpose and love, not just a source that isn't fulfilling. That song was the first time I've sung so blatantly about God. It's personal, because it was something that was very new to me and I was navigating it still—and the learning doesn't really stop—but I wanted it to be about being unafraid, and about sharing your vulnerability.
How you're feeling doesn't have to be the end of your story. You can overcome a lot of things you thought you didn't have the power to, and you can achieve a lot of things you thought just weren't a possibility for you.
How do you feel your life changed when you had this awakening?
It felt incredible. I don't want to romanticize it in a way that's like, Now everything is beautiful, and it's all easy from here on out—you still have your challenges, you have your moments where you suffer, but you also have your personal experience with God.
There are things you go through that you can't explain logically. You know you didn't calculate everything; you know someone was looking out. Things fall into place. After I had this awakening, I found this peace. My state of being was different. I cut out music I used to listen to. I barely watch television anymore. I've changed what I digest, and it's changed my life. I didn't really have a tug to do that before.
To be really straight, I was really scared. So many thoughts crossed my mind—they're going to think I'm just some Bible-pumping person, she's lost it, this God stuff is not real… I did feel scared sharing this part of myself, but I felt the obligation to share my experience with people because if this can bring someone else peace in their life… I would be so happy if other people could experience what I feel. Other people's potential to reach this peace is more important than my fear.
Still, you can't sit and convince someone into it or prove it to someone. You have to experience it; that's what creates accountability.
I think that's something a lot of people are looking for but obviously it's hard to find, and I'm glad you found your path towards that. What do you think it was that set you on this path?
There were two things that really kicked it off. I had really consistent skin issues throughout my life, and to summarize, two years ago, I pretty much thought I solved it. I went on this three-month detox, and I figured it was the food. I didn't at this time understand that sin in your life can affect you physically and can affect the world around you. When you think about your physical health, you think—if you hit your arm and it hurts, [then] it's because you hit your arm. But as I started this experience, I started realizing certain sicknesses could be tied to the condition of your spirit.
EVER FEEL DEFEATED IN DEPRESSION OR DEPRESSED IN DEFEAT? www.youtube.com
Two years after the detox, I woke up with a crazy rash and a small-sized golf ball in the left side of my neck, which is a very terrifying thing to look at when you have no idea what it is. I felt defeated. I thought I had all the answers, but I was presented with something I could not understand and could not fix. I felt like I was at the end of my rope. I just started praying and asking for guidance and answers. I started watching these mind-blowing services online by this pastor called Stephen Darby. It's not like all the answers came instantly, but I started healing and working on myself.
I realized that I had been using things that I was bitter about—like stuff with my family that had hurt me—to frame my world. I was making decisions out of rejection or out of past pain.
Another big thing was toxic friendships, which were a running theme in my life. People talk about toxic relationships; I did that years ago and learned my lesson, but I was a toxic friendship person. I had to ask, why am I getting into these friendships that are not healthy, where I feel tired or I feel drained, and where it's not a respectful balance?
I started asking myself things like: What is the truth? Are you happy in this friendship? Why do you do certain things? What's hurting you? Seeking those answers is a huge step. It's not about criticizing or beating yourself down, but you do yourself a huge disservice by thinking that you're right in a lot of things. It's not about being right.
To summarize: Be honest with yourself. Seek God in your own way. If you don't know how, just close your eyes; you don't have to raise your hands or pray. Just sit in your room and talk to him. It doesn't have to be a formal thing. You can start by saying: I don't know what I'm doing. I don't even know if you're real, but if you are… Just talk. Just start the conversation.
The internet has so many resources. Be careful what you read because not everything is spot on, I'll say that. [Laughs] And know that you're never too far, never too detached. You're never too lost.
My Testimony of Giving My Life to Christ www.youtube.com
Follow Ravahn on Instagram, YouTube, and Spotify, and purchase a vinyl press of her record to benefit COVID-19 here.
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