Interview and Photos by Ellen Wines
Singer and songwriter from Vero Beach, Florida, Priscilla Renea has written hit songs such as ‘Timber’ for Pitbull & Ke$ha, ‘California King Bed’ for Rihanna, ‘Worth it’ for Fifth Harmony, and’ Don’t Mind’ for Mary J. Blige.
Renea released her latest solo album ‘Coloured’ in June and has already been commended by NPR, Rolling Stone, and Billboard.
On July 7th, Renea performed at 80/35 Music Festival in Des Moines, but before her set, Fools had the opportunity to sit down and chat with her.
F: What do you think people are going to gravitate towards next? Where do you see the next trend being?
PR: I think I’m seeing a lot of people getting into spirituality, prayer, focusing, meditation. I think it’s going back to a real place. I don’t really know where, cause I think I’m in that phase too, but for me I’m into real connections and real things that are gonna last. Not temporary stuff.
F: Have you found real people in the music industry?
PR: I think each person has their own tribe where they are real with those people.
I feel like I made the mistake of being real with everyone, but I found mine. I’m married, my husband and I do everything together. I’ve known my tour manager for now 12 years. So I’m kind of gravitating towards people I am familiar with.
F: Who are some of your musical influences or support that has been significant to who you are as an artist?
PR: Well I really love Freddie Mercury. I love his stage presence and his voice and his gift is crazy. Just the way he commanded the stage was awesome. I’m really obsessed with Mariah right now. She’s so nice.
F: And you’ve written with her as well, right?
PR: Yeah we’ve worked together a few times. She’s just really sweet, like she gave me hope, you know? I hate to be telling people’s business, but I feel like if it’s my truth and my experience that I should be free to talk about it. A lot of pop stars aren’t nice, they’re really not, and I hate to say that but it’s the truth. They’re not nice. They treat songwriters like poop. It’s not really worth the headache anymore. I used to put up with it. I used to be like, ‘it's ok, I really want this placement,’ but now I’m just like ‘no. I’m helping you live your dream the least you can do is be kind.’
But yeah, so my circle is pretty small, really just my family. I’m actually ok with it. I don’t mind.
F: Do you feel like all your buckets are full?
PR: I’m definitely happy. I don’t need anything, I have everything I want. The only thing I can do is keep creating and inspiring people and lifting people up
F: Do you have a favorite word?
PR: I’ve said before my favorite word is juxtaposition, cause I like hearing things that don’t really fit. That’s kind of how you come up with your own style. So I guess juxtaposition . . . that sounds really nerdy but yeah.
"I never wanna walk out on stage and make people feel like they have to worship me. Ya know? Cause that’s not a good feeling. I’ve been to concerts that felt like that. I just want people to be, like, inspired. So I try to remember that before I go on stage."
F: Are you working on any other projects while you’re touring?
PR: I am planning to release another project on my birthday as a gift to my fans, cause they’ve been waiting for ten years. A lot of music that just hasn’t come out and I just wanna start releasing it so.. My birthday is September 14th, so I will be releasing music on that date. I’m not sure if I’ll be releasing a whole project or maybe a couple songs. We’ll see.
F: Are there artists that you want to collaborate with that you haven't yet?
PR: Yeah, there’s lots of artists. I love Cardi, I’d love to collaborate with her once things cool off a bit, when she's not being pulled at so much. Love A$AP Rocky. I would love to work with Elton John in the broadway musical theater world.
F: Do you think you would ever want to write a show?
PR: Yeah, for sure. I grew up in art schools, being in plays and musicals. So [I am] definitely a musical theater freak.
F: Have you noticed different expectations or treatment because you are a woman?
PR: I definitely get treated differently when I wear makeup and dress nice versus when I don’t. I don’t know, it's really annoying. I definitely get mistaken for somebody’s girlfriend most of the time; or, there’s a general assumption that [if] you’re a woman, you must not be the reason why we’re here. I just kinda don’t care anymore, though. And I let people be who they’re gonna be. I kinda prefer for you to just be yourself so I can see what I’m dealing with. And then if I don’t like you or like what you’re doing then i’ll just be like *tongue pop*.
Yeah, there’s no point in being confrontational or wasting energy.
F: Because that negative energy is just not necessary?
PR: It’s not. I just remove myself . . . I mean I’ve been groped, I’ve had people say crazy things to me. What can you do about it?
F: When you perform, what do you hope the audience gets from your music? And when you think of your career and why you’re doing what you’re doing, what’s at the heart of it?
PR: I just want people to know that it’s possible to accomplish your dreams and follow your heart in whatever you wanna do. It’s really difficult, but part of the reason I haven’t quit is because in the back of my mind, or in my heart, I just get this nagging feeling that there’s some person that needs me to do this. If I quit, they won’t have anyone to look to as a touch stone. And that sounds really corny, but honestly there were times when I would be crying just looking out the window like ‘why is this happening to me? Then I would be like, but I can’t quit. If I quit, what about the other people? You know there are other people that are looking up to me.
So honestly, you have to find a reason to do this that is bigger than yourself, or else you’ll quit a thousand times. I’ve literally gotten in my car and [driven], started driving home to my moms house, and then turned around . . . I can’t quit.
I just hope people know that you don’t have to settle. You don’t have to do things that you don’t want to do. It’s ok to be yourself. It’s ok to fight for your fairytale, go broke, whatever. Just go for it.
F: Do you have any rituals to get you in the right headspace before you perform?
PR: I definitely pray out loud. Just to myself or I’ll pray with my band. I meditate and I listen to frequencies. It’s called solfeggio frequencies. I gargle and I do my voice stuff—like I gargle with salt. [And, I] try not to talk too much or be in anyone’s energy.
F: Do you have to kind of make a bubble?
PR: Right before I go on stage, yeah. I kinda have to be by myself, talk to myself, and be like ‘alright. This is not about you. Go out there, have fun.' I never wanna walk out on stage and make people feel like they have to worship me. Ya know? Cause that’s not a good feeling. I’ve been to concerts that felt like that. I just want people to be inspired. So I try to remember that before I go on stage.
F: Is there anything that you feel is important to know about you as a person and not necessarily as an artist?
PR: In general, I think it’s good for people to know that, artists or celebrities, they’re humans just like you. There’s literally no difference. They just do the same things you do but in a bigger house or in a more expensive car. Everyone’s important. And you just gotta find the thing that gets you going, and do it, and no one can do anything wrong. So just go for it and don’t be afraid.
F: Where do you think you write best?
PR: Actually, my shower. I get a lot of good ideas in the shower. I don’t know why that happens . . . when I’m showering I just come up with stuff and then I’ll write it down and I’ll finish it later—but the shower is definitely like my idea place.
F: What is your writing process like?
PR: It varies. It just depends. Sometimes I’ll have a whole song. Sometimes it’ll just be a bar or just like one sentence. Sometimes it’ll be a hook. Sometimes I’ll write it immediately or just have it in my phone, and I’ll go through it when I’m like in a session. It depends.
F: Do you know if it’s meant for you at first?
PR: I only know if it’s not for me.