Raveena's galactic journey back down to Earth On her new album, Asha's Awakening, the artist Raveena sends her protagonist on a thousand-year intergalactic journey of discovery, all in order to better understand her own place on Earth.

Raveena's galactic journey back down to Earth

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(SOUNDBITE OF RAVEENA SONG, "ASHA'S KISS")

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

A new concept album was released today with a memorable protagonist.

RAVEENA: Asha is a space princess from Punjab (laughter).

FADEL: That's right - a space princess. Raveena's new album is an intergalactic tale with a cinematic arc. It starts out bold and gradually softens, until the artist takes us through a guided meditation to close out. It's called "Asha's Awakening."

RAVEENA: She lives in Punjab in ancient times, and she gets transported to a distant planet called Sanataan. And there, the aliens teach her highly advanced spiritual teachings and magic. And she lives there for a thousand years and becomes a princess. And then she comes back down to Earth because she misses human love and sensuality, and she tries to find a lover from the past.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ASHA'S KISS")

RAVEENA: (Singing) You know, you know, you know how to pleasure me like a woman.

The album is about healing and loss and destruction. And it's just, like, an epic journey (laughter).

FADEL: So you came up with this in quarantine. Was this about not having human contact, not being connected to the planet?

RAVEENA: (Laughter) Maybe in some ways. I think it was more just my imagination running wild with nothing to do.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RUSH")

RAVEENA: (Singing) Rush to me, my baby. Come home. Rush when you are hurting. Come home. Hush...

FADEL: Let's talk about the song "Rush." It seemed like you took the Orientalism, the fetishization, the othering, that women of color often face and then turn that on its head with the lyrics...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RUSH")

RAVEENA: (Singing) Heard she's made of music, ready for your ruin - American fantasy.

I love all things Indian culture.

FADEL: Yeah.

RAVEENA: I love Bollywood. I love the brightness of it, the romance, like, the maximalism of it. I love being an Indian woman, and I love, like, sharing that part of my culture. But I also think there is a certain fetishization and exotification that comes with being who I am and a kind of, like, very trope-y (ph) view of that culture and very easily reduced to these kind of stereotypes of what it looks like, what it feels like. It's, like, almost like she's self-aware that she's this character for people. But she has the power because she knows what her culture is, and she loves herself. But she also is like, you know, you want me to be this person, but I'm way more expensive than that.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RUSH")

RAVEENA: (Singing) Rush, make your head go. Rush, makes your blood flow. Rush, makes your heart go - oh, oh. Rush...

FADEL: What does "Asha's Awakening" represent to you?

RAVEENA: I kind of just wanted to, like, really tap into my confidence and tap into, like, my bravery as an artist to take risks. And that was kind of the awakening for me. And I think this character was a beautiful vehicle for that because she's so bold and so fearless, and she goes through so many transformations. And I, like, found a lot of myself in her and found a lot of courage in her.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TIME FLIES")

RAVEENA: (Singing) What if I win? What if I die before I find someone in time? Want to be old, want to be wise. Want to hop on your motorbike and be bad with you.

FADEL: You talked about finding yourself in this character, tapping into your confidence, so let's talk about you now and move away from the character Asha. Your parents are from the north of India, but you were raised in New York and Connecticut. Talk about your upbringing and how it influenced your writing, your music.

RAVEENA: Yeah. I grew up in a very traditional Sikh household. I also grew up in a family of genocide survivors, the 1984 Sikh genocide, and also people who are deeply spiritual, like reiki healers. And my grandparents would meditate for hours. And my mom is, like, pretty lost in prayer a lot of the day as well. So it's like, I grew up around, you know, a very traumatized family history...

FADEL: Yeah.

RAVEENA: ...But then a lineage that was also very powerful and very connected to their source.

FADEL: So is that why healing is such a central theme in your work?

RAVEENA: Absolutely. I think that because I've experienced a lineage that was so recently traumatized and went through these things that I could never even imagine going through at that age, I have a lot of work in my ancestry to do to heal and to make my body a safer and more inviting place for the next generation.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LET YOUR BREATH BECOME A FLOWER (GUIDED MEDITATION)")

RAVEENA: Close your eyes and settle into a comfortable space.

FADEL: You meditate daily, and the album ends in a guided meditation. Can you talk to me about that choice?

RAVEENA: It just felt supernatural because meditation is such a central force in my life. I love to lead guided meditations. I wanted to just offer people a very practical tool for their life (laughter)...

FADEL: Yeah.

RAVEENA: ...And be able to actually use it if they needed it to go to sleep or just to calm down.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LET YOUR BREATH BECOME A FLOWER (GUIDED MEDITATION)")

RAVEENA: Breathing deeply and softly.

I think that a lot of times people don't even know how to sit still and meditate. But we all know how to listen to music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LET YOUR BREATH BECOME A FLOWER (GUIDED MEDITATION)")

RAVEENA: Let your breath become like a flower.

So putting it on an album feels like maybe a way to invite people who don't even know how to do it yet.

FADEL: That's beautiful. They don't know how to sit still, but we all listen to music. That's Raveena Aurora. Her new album is called "Asha's Awakening." Thank you so much.

RAVEENA: Thank you so much. This was beautiful.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MAGIC")

RAVEENA: (Singing) Hold me when I'm hurting. We're magic. We're passionate.

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