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A Swift Awakening

My first memory involving Taylor Swift consists of jumping up and down with my cousin on my her bed as fourth graders, practically touching the ceiling as we screamed about short skirts and t-shirts and pretended to know the remaining lyrics of the song.  

As a young kid, I didn’t listen to much “American” music besides what was on the CDs my dad would burn—for a while, I never felt the need to listen to anything else. Once I realized that there was a world of music I had yet to explore, I downloaded a set of eleven songs. Five of these were Taylor Swift songs that I kept on loop until I discovered internet downloads and expanded more. In middle school, I hit the “I Exclusively Listen To Punk Rock” phase, not paying much attention to Taylor Swift besides what I heard about her from friends who’d fill me in on her increasingly long list of ex-lovers. I got to know hits from her pop-exploring album Red, particularly “I Knew You Were Trouble” and “We Are Never Getting Back Together,” but otherwise completely forgot about her until the end of my sophomore year, after 1989 had been released and taken the world by storm. 


Honey, your name is white.

“When It Rains,” “Restless Heart Syndrome,” “World So Cold”…I scrolled through my finished playlist with decided satisfaction, hitting the space bar on my bulky hand-me-down Mac and turning up the volume in my headphones. The soft guitar and choir voices of Yellowcard’s “Paper Walls” title track played through the speakers in my ears, coming to a quiet stop right before the amps kicked in and began to dissolve the churning sensation in my gut.

Let’s take what hurts and write it all down on these paper walls in this empty house. The words echoed in my head alongside those whispered about me earlier that day at school. Gorilla, gorilla, gorilla. I wrote them all down in my current journal. I glanced at my violin sitting in its case at the foot of my bed, then at the computer’s clock. I’ll practice after a few more songs.

I was determined to be conventionally different.

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Ravyn Lenae's new EP "crushes" expectations

Floating colors and the warmest of smiles—that’s Chicago-based singer Ravyn Lenae in a nutshell. I stumbled upon her music a little over a year ago and was fortunate enough to see her in concert when she opened for Noname on her Telefone tour. Lenae’s debut EP Moon Shoes was unlike anything I’ve heard before, and her subtly captivating vocals accompanied my evenings for months on end. Her voice is easy to connect to, and her songs remind me of having late-night conversations with my best friends. Her next EP release, Midnight Moonlight, continued showcasing her honest lyrics; this EP was more like conversations while falling in love. Moon Shoes was yellows and pinks; Midnight Moonlight was deep blue and violet; her new EP, Crush, is scarlet, sticking within a red palette but exploring all ranges of the color.