Five Questions with Raneem Imam

We’ve been wearing out Raneem Imam’s newest single “Feel Bad” and we bet y’all have, too. Good news: it’s the first single from an EP of fresh music from Raneem coming your way in June! We caught up with her ahead of the release to learn more about how she’s transitioning from the college music scene to the Memphis music scene, her songwriting process and of course, critical topics like her dream festival line-up.

You are a Rhodes College grad – we love celebrating our Memphis colleges and universities and especially all the fantastic music that is getting made on campus. What’s it been like for you transitioning from the Rhodes music community into the Memphis music community?

Transitioning from the college music scene into the city music scene has been a lot easier than I anticipated! I actually had so much support from my college and my peers that helped me get virtual gigs around the city to begin my career. I’ve also made some great friends in the music community from working in the studios around Memphis like Royal Studios and Young Avenue Sound. Even though the pandemic was isolating, I connected with so many local artists virtually and we support each other on and offline! It’s been super fun making those relationships online and then meeting them in person as we begin live gigging again.

So, obviously we love “Feel Bad” – and we hear more is coming soon! Tell us everything about your new project.

I am so glad you love “Feel Bad”! It’s one of the first songs I wrote for the project back in April of 2019. My new EP is called Peace of Mind and it’s been on this journey with me for the past two and half years as I developed as an artist. The four songs featured on this project follow a theme of searching for peace and what that feels and sounds like. The title track comes first on the track list and sets you up with moody, reflective lyrics and a nostalgic beat. Then, “Feel Bad” follows and really puts you in your feels, like holding up a mirror to your flaws and mistakes in life, and trying to take back control. One of my favorites on the EP is a song called “Flame” which is a dance-pop song that I wrote and produced in the middle of the pandemic. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever made before and I am so proud of how it turned out. The EP ends with a soft, R&B bop I wrote that serves as the uplifting, women-empowering happy-ending to the search for peace – it’s been with you all along. I can’t wait to see everyone’s reactions to this project! It’s so special and I am so fortunate to have worked alongside my creative friend Calvin Lauber from Young Avenue Sound. He really helped me get this project across the finish line.

 

You drop some wise words in your songs, for real. Tell us about your songwriting process – where do you get your inspiration and how did you get so smart??

Thank you so much! I’m such an empath and I feel EVERYTHING. Sometimes very intensely. I cry for the world. So, I really just take inspiration from my experiences and the experiences of others around me and try to artistically turn those into something others can feel as well.

My songwriting process is pretty fluid. Lyrics come to me randomly. I’ll be cleaning up around the house and – BOOM – song idea. Driving to school/work/party/grocery store – BOOM – song idea. I also have days where I just sit at the piano and play my heart out and find a cool progression in the process that I’ll save and begin to write over. Other days I will be producing a beat and just loop it until I write a verse/hook that I like. One thing I love about my style of writing is that I can do it anywhere and at any point in the music process. It’s always been about feeling it. Doesn’t matter when the words come or when the music comes, there’s no right or wrong. It’s all about the experience.

If you could build your dream Memphis festival stage – including you! – what artists or bands would you want on the line-up?

Oh, I love this question so much. I know I’m an artist but I’m such a stan. I would love to see headliners like Doja Cat, SZA, Abir, BROCKHAMPTON, CHIKA, Chloe x Halle and Thundercat mixed with Memphis artists like Talibah Safiya, Jordan Occasionally, The PRVLG, Southern Ave, Goldlawdina, AWFM, the Poet Havi, MonoNeon, YEBBA… like there are way too many talented Memphis artists to list that would absolutely KILL a festival performance.

What do you hope the next five years look like for you? What’s next?

The next five years are going to involve lots of songwriting, producing, and finding my place in the music industry. I tell people this all the time, but all I want to do is write songs. Create beautiful, adrenaline-rushing music that makes others FEEL something. I can see the next chapter in my life so clearly and the main feature is MUSIC.

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