Raven Valentine Isn't Afraid to Take What She Wants

Raven Valentine Isn't Afraid to Take What She Wants

Story by Justin Moran / Photography by Anna Bloda

Raven Valentine started her new single, "Up Now," during the "lowest point" in her life. She had no money, no where to live and therefore had to record early demos in the bathroom of a Salvation Army homeless shelter at 6 AM when everyone else was asleep. "I wrote this song as a manifestation spell for myself," Valentine says on Instagram, shouting out sex workers and other marginalized folks who've also had to fight for their dreams and a better life.

"Bitch, I'm up now," the artist raps on her cocky debut, speaking opulence into existence at a time when she had none. "I just get the money, then I spend it at the club." Valentine teamed up with producer Nick Weiss (AKA Nightfeelings) to create the trap-inflected cut and photographer Charlotte Rutherford for the art. "This song captures the upbeat, sexy energy of my upcoming project," Valentine tells PAPER, explaining how it will lean into more electro dark-pop sounds.

Below, Raven Valentine talks more about the road to "Up Now" and why music needs greater transgender representation.

Who’d you work with on “Up Now” and what was that collaborative process like?

I worked with Nick Weiss, who is the most talented and amazing producer I’ve ever met. As an artist it’s very rare to find someone who not only understands your vision, but also knows how to execute it seamlessly. It was honestly such an easy process. We created the hit in one session.

How do you think this single is reflective of who are as an artist now and who you want to become?

This single reflects the deeper, more primal version of myself — the girl who not only wants to survive, but thrive. She isn’t afraid to say or take what she wants. It’s a manifestation spell for myself and anyone who wants a better life for themselves.

In what ways do you feel you’ve come into your own as an artist this past year?

This past year has been all about rediscovering new parts of myself and deepening roots that needed more watering. It’s been a journey inward that has taught me so much of how to love and thrive in a world and industry that sometimes is lacking.

"We are the culture and the light this world needs."

Have you always wanted to get into music? What’s that journey been like for you?

Music has always run in my blood. My mother and father were singers, but never got to follow their dreams. I grew up in church and school choir. I also played saxophone for my high school symphony and marching band for 10 years. I honestly doubted my self so much growing up because being different made me feel like there wasn’t any space for me, so coming into my artistry took a while.

You’ve previously modeled for everyone from Gypsy Sport to Anna Bolina. What’s your relationship with fashion? Is that something you want to get more involved with?

I have always had a huge passion for runway, print and campaign modeling. Seeing those girls elevated and glamorized was something I always longed for and never really achieved until recently. My dream is to continue in fashion and show people you don’t have to look like everyone else to make your dreams come true. Every time someone tells you "no," they are only leading you to the doors truly meant for you that say "yes."

What do you think music is ultimately missing that you’ll be able to fill?

Music is missing more trans representation. I feel we need more diversity on what a trans artist is. We don’t all sound or look the same. I feel the music and every industry wants to box us in, or wants us to sound or look a certain way. I’m here to say "fuck that." We are so much more then a gimmick during Pride Month — so much more then an Instagram post remembering our life. We are the culture and the light this world needs.

Photography: Anna Bloda