Even though rienne has only been in the music industry for a few months, they are not afraid to be open and truthful in their music.
For most people in their early 20s, knowing what you want to do or be in your life is not set in stone. There is still that phase where you are still trying to discover yourself and see what you truly want to be. For rienne however, the situation is the opposite. At only 20-years-old, the singer-songwriter, who prefers the pronouns they/them, has already set their sights on creating music that speaks to them and to a lot of young people, music that isn’t afraid to tackle rienne’s own hardships. rienne sat down for an interview with NYLON Manila to discuss their life, their music, and what they want their message to be.
How They Got Into Making Music
Born and raised in Manila, rienne lived in Pasig all their life until September 2020 when their mom, a nurse, was assigned overseas to the US. They then moved to West Virginia and they have been living there ever since. Moving all the way to West Virginia, especially during a pandemic, has actually not been that hard on rienne. “It’s been really good. There’s a lot of nice people here and I like the people around me.”
Musically, rienne started writing since they were 11 years old. By the time they were 13, they were already making their owns songs. Music and singing isn’t something new for rienne as they were born into a musical family, but singing was not natural for them. “I felt like my voice wasn’t that good enough,” they say. “So, I always, like stayed away from the family gatherings when they sing.” They further add, “This whole singing thing is like self-taught. I just tried to sing, and I guess it happened.”
What pushed rienne to start pursuing music more seriously was the support of their friend in school. “I had a friend who loves music, too. So, we both bonded over music and then she really helped me write songs like do poetry and stuff.”
Making Music and Getting Signed
When it comes to writing music, rienne, who knows how to play the guitar, says they take inspiration wherever they can. “I don’t really care [where I write music]. Like, if I find inspiration I write it down, I just keep writing until I have nothing else to say.” And when it comes to what makes for a good lyric for their songs, rienne thinks that it’s in the way the lyrics hit you. “I just get the catchy lyrics that have meaning to me. Because I really have a bad memory. Like, honestly, I cannot remember things for my life. So, yeah, I have to repeat it and make sure it’s catchy but deep.”
They also say that they write songs better when they’re sad. “I feel like when I’m sad, I just focus more on the people’s words. Like, I just get more focused on what happened in the situation. So, when I’m sad, I just get through, like, think about stuff more clearly. And I can say things better.”
rienne’s journey to becoming a signed artist was actually more of a spontaneous moment. “Well, I was not expecting it like at all because I was really about to give up on looking for a record label. Because I tried before and it wasn’t really successful. And yeah, I just saw [Off The Record] on Instagram. So, I asked if they were record label and then suddenly, my mentor Jensen Gomez, he messaged me, and that’s when we started talking about that.” One thing lead to another and soon, rienne was a signed artist for Off The Record PH.
What They Bring As A New Artist
It’s not easy to break out in the music industry. For every Billie Eilish who manages to rise from indie roots to global superstardom, there are dozens of musicians who can’t really make it big the same way. rienne feels though that their authenticity and honesty is what will help them stand out as a musician. “I just don’t really care about what other people think. I just do it for myself. Honestly, I do it for the sake of me being myself and being true to myself. I haven’t been really that honest to other people and myself the past few years. I want to be me so other people can perceive me and respect me because that’s what I feel like what I deserve.”
To be honest and open at the young age of 20 can be scary, especially since most people around rienne’s age aren’t always open to talking about their feelings. But letting the world hear their truth is something rienne is not afraid of. “I mean, for me, it’s like, I want to be open as much as possible…they deserve to know like, the main parts of who I am and like the message that I want to get across.”
That truthfulness includes rienne’s struggles with their own personal demons, such as their battle with depression. rienne was diagnosed with depression in 2017. But what rienne wants people to know that if you really want to sympathize with people who are battling depression, you need to see things in their shoes.
“I feel like being diagnosed with depression sometimes when other people tell me like, you know, other people who aren’t diagnosed when they tell me that you can get through it. And I mean, sometimes I believe in that, but when I’m not feeling okay, it just feels like, it’s insensitive for me. But I get the spirit and like, you know, that they’re going to help,” they explain. “But they should know that, you know, you should put yourself in that person’s shoes first before you guys say anything because it could, you know, be more detrimental to their health, I guess. If you treat them that way.”
Try Again is rienne’s debut single which dropped in April. The first installment in a planned trilogy of songs, the mostly self-produced track is a tender tribute that both delves into one of rienne’s most recent experiences and expresses their perspective on love. The song’s message is in line with what rienne hopes their music to give off; music that provides safety and comfort to those dealing with the same concerns, and builds a sense of emotional closeness and community.
The music video, which was shot by rienne’s dad on their iPhone, sees rienne in different scenic spots around their new home of West Virginia while they play the guitar. The single art, meanwhile, features rienne in a green sweater holding some flowers. But while the cover may look simple, it actually has a deeper meaning. “I wanted the flowers to be like the main, you know, attraction. It’s like me, you know? Like, should I give this to you? Like, should they dry again? Or should they just like, throw it in the trash or something? I actually shot the single cover outside our condo and you can kinda see the dumpster in the back. Should they go to you? Or should they just, you know, stop crying again? Yeah, that’s pretty much while I’m holding your flowers in their face.”
Plans For The Future
In our interview with rienne, it became clear that being a new artist at just 20 years old was not a deterrent for them to be a successful artist. “Honestly, I feel like I’m at the right age, because other people get into it, like really young, and they don’t really have power over their decisions. And they can’t really grow from it that well. But, I’m really lucky to already have the mindset of like, what to do, like, how to navigate things. And thankfully, like, people who helped me out. Yeah, so I feel like I have a good shot and like, doing the right things.”
For the time being, rienne is getting ready to put out more music. But rienne also wants to achieve things any 20-year-old would like to do when they move to a new place. They say that one of their goals for 2021 is to make more new friends since they do not know a lot of people in West Virginia. rienne also, like quite a few young people, also has a second job which is sweeping hair in a salon, but that too is also something they don’t mind. “That pays kinda well, I think better than like, you know, typical. So yeah, I enjoy my job here.” And of course, rienne has an opinion on a question that has divided a generation. “I’m not that picky about pineapples on pizza. But, if that’s the only food there, I wouldn’t mind eating it. I don’t really care.”
rienne adds that they would like to return to Manila soon to do some live gigs. “I’ve gotten messages from people I don’t know. They’re like, can you come to Manila? I really want to hear you singing. I want to do that, yeah. When everything’s like, back to normal.”
As a new artist, what rienne wants people to feel when they hear their music is the feeling of being seen and accepted. “I just want to let people know and have that message in my music that they’re not alone, and that they can do it. Because I have struggled through a lot of attempts of like ending it. And, yeah, I’m still here. And I can still do it. Even though I feel like sometimes I don’t want to. I just want them to know that, you know, they’re better days ahead. Even though you don’t see it.”
“When people see me I just want them to see hope and being true to yourself and doing it for you. Because you know, when you do it for other people, you sometimes won’t be happy. Always do it for yourself and prioritize your self-worth.” rienne says at the end of our interview.