Written by Keriena Choy
Renay (who sometimes goes by "Razteria") is based in San Francisco, California but she’s been all over the world and shared her music journey with us. Her multicultural roots are reflected in her music as she incorporates powerful messages in her art using a variety of languages.
We had the amazing opportunity of meeting Renay and getting to know more about her and the journey she’s been through for her music career. She keeps an amazingly optimistic mindset no matter the struggles she’s faced and strives to inspire others to make a positive impact on their lives.
I was originally born in New Jersey and moved to France, where I was raised. I started writing music when I was 12 and since then, it’s always been a part of me. When I turned 21, I ran into issues with my visa and had to move back to the U.S. so I took a backpack and traveled to San Francisco, sight unseen.
I attended UC Berkeley and earned my Master’s degree in public health but my passion was elsewhere. San Francisco provided numerous opportunities to sing at open mics and eventually, I started collaborating with other artists, which helped take things to the next level.
Music and singing have always been such an integral part of my life. However, the tipping point was in 2016 when I didn’t get into the Ph.D. program at Berkeley for the second time.
I felt like I would be more useful as a musician and knew I would be happier if I invested in myself as an artist instead. I continuously push myself because I’m still at the beginning of everything and don’t want to stop discovering new parts of myself which is what I express in my music.
My experience in the music industry has been a labyrinth of sorts and when I first started out, I just kind of threw myself into it and had no idea what I was doing. I kept trying out different things and ignored the realities of the music industry until fairly recently when I decided to focus purely on production until I generate enough mass appeal to go on tour. One of the biggest struggles is that many people are trying to take advantage of artists and I realized that there are so many people just trying to take your money.
Another struggle is having to go against my instincts and into a genre that wouldn’t be my first choice. I’m currently in the electro-pop genre but what comes naturally to me is world music, Latin, or reggae - groovy music. I decided to go into pop because I recognized the current reality where pop music is the mainstream appeal. It feels as if you’re playing to the reality without using your essence, essentially. Getting my music licensed in TV or movies is one of my immediate goals which I hope to garner more appeal with my current musical direction.
Maybe the better word is purposeful, I strive to make it purposeful not only for me but for others as well. Most people have shut off their valve of expression but I’m lucky enough to be in this position in life that has monetary value but allows me to do what I love in creating art.
I don’t like the notion that the amount of money I make determines the success of what I do. My music inspires many of those around me, whether I know them or not, and that’s all I need to know to make me happy about creating and sharing my art.
We couldn't agree more. Money is not the measure for success when it comes to music, but at the same time, money is necessary to survive in our society. That's why hope our new approach to the music market provides a better avenue for artists like Renay to earn an income from their work. We're so grateful for Renay for her time and her music.