Los Angeles based artist, producer and multi-instrumentalist Lani Renaldo artfully fuses a diverse mix of grunge rock, bedroom pop and experimental sounds for a wildly eclectic and progressive swirl of cathartic ecstasy. Inspired by artists such as Tame Impala, Prince, Fleetwood Mac, Hayley Williams, and SZA, as well as producers Timbaland, Pharrell and Greg Kurstin, Lani shows us an insight into their love of a myriad of genres that permeates into their own music.
Lani’s music often explores themes of hardship, relationships, emotional growth and finding and accepting your true identity. They state,”I think the light at the end of the tunnel has been really finding myself through the music and being able to come to terms with my identity as a non-binary person, wanting to change my name and wanting to physically change things about myself. That was all a part of this journey.”
The singer-songwriter’s passion and talent began at a very early age, when they was chosen as one of six songwriters to attend GRAMMY Camp at Converse Rubber Tracks in 2012. From there, they then went on to study at USC’s Thornton School of Music, which further catapulted their musical education and career. Lani found solace and an outlet for their emotions through music, which became a driving force fueling their passion for music.
Lani Renaldo’s critically acclaimed EP NOHEARTBREAK2020 is an exploration of being in your 20’s. Entirely produced, written, and performed by Lani, the EP is about accepting where you are in the moment and not being so hard on yourself. The EP touches on humanity and queer sexuality, emphasizing the significance of being comfortable with who you are, whatever that may be. Through unbearably honest lyrics, their goal is to show others the importance of self-acceptance and to encourage others to be themselves, be uncomfortable and be truthful.
What’s your story as an artist?
I started off in music at 3 years old. My dad is a drummer, so instruments lined my house. I was always really curious and wanted to learn as much as I could, so I took on four instruments and never looked back! I wasn’t serious about music as a career until I was 16 and that’s when I started writing as much as I could, pursuing music in college, playing any gig I could and meeting a ton of amazing artists. I’ve been really lucky to turn that into a career, where I can perform and work with people I’ve admired since I was younger like Hayley Williams.
What inspired this last release?
Mental health, gender and the pandemic!! I was isolated with my thoughts and found myself needing more help than usual. Emotionally, I felt incredibly heavy going through a break up, dealing with mental health issues like anxiety and challenging my concept of gender. I knew that I needed to ask for help and couldn’t find the words to do it, so I channelled those feelings into this song.
What are some sources of inspiration for your storytelling?
I definitely pull a lot of my songs from my life. Whether that be romantic relationships, struggling with my identity, break ups or even growing up, I think authenticity is really important to me and I strive to show that in my work.
Any funny anecdotes from the time you were recording or writing this?
The funniest moment I had working on this track actually had to do more with the music video. When I was filming the parking lot scenes, I was doing a lot of running towards the camera and the pants I was wearing were pretty long at the bottom. They kept getting caught on my shoes. During one of the takes, I ran a little too fast and completely fell back on my ass! I actually scuffed the guitar I had and totally ruined my back for that shoot…and it lives on Instagram (you’re welcome for the laugh in advance!).
What inspires your visuals ?
I love street art, I’m also a big modern art fan – Basquiat, Barbara Kruger, Murakami. Magazines like FADER and PAPER. Studio 54. DIY and low budgets!! LOL. 90’s MTV. 80’s music videos.
What’s a record that shaped your creativity?
808’s and Heartbreak by Kanye West. That album changed the world for me. The first time I listened to the album, I was floored and I spent most of 7th grade listening to it on repeat. It was crunchy, it had synths, it was a fusion of genres and the production that Mr. Hudson did on the project was really inspiring. Even aesthetically, Kanye was working with Kaws on album art, wearing shutter shades (which I made my mom buy me) and rocking a suit with a heartbreak pin. That album definitely pushed me to lean into producing my own material and exploring how to cohesively brand a project.
Who is an artist or band you look up to today?
I really admire Tina Turner. There are so many people I love to listen to but she is really a testament to believing in yourself in your art. I am blown away by the fact that she completely reinvented herself, musically and stylistically at 40 years old. It really demonstrates to always follow your vision and that success can come at any age. I really look up to that mentality and I love the focus she brings to her music. She’s an icon, great singer and has the BEST LEGS PERIOD.
Any future projects?
I’ve got some more singles up my sleeves. The next one coming out is called “Replay” and I’m super psyched for it to come out. The video was so fun to film and I think people will be very surprised by it!
What is your view on genres and music styles since you mix a lot of them in your music?
I’ve never fit into a genre, which I’ve grown to appreciate. Even in my personal life, I don’t like to be boxed in. People are multifaceted and I think music should be treated the same way. Good artists explore and push themselves, which I think requires a level of freedom to discover and explore new sounds. We definitely have started to shift into a culture that appreciates blending and mixing genres and I love that, because I listen to everything from grime to opera and anything in between. There has to be room to express that and luckily, I’ve been really blessed with an audience that accepts my flexible nature rather than shame or criticize me for it.
What does music and art mean to you?
It’s all about expression! I think music and art inspire, they connect, they occasionally cause discourse. Those emotions and thoughts are what lead to new ideas, styles, identities –
in a way and in my opinion, both help us evolve as a culture.
How would you describe your act in one word?