Hyundai commissioned Ren, a Salford musician, to create ‘Electric Feels’, released by Bella Union, as part of its commitment to eco-mobility and to draw attention to the possibilities of an electric future, with more alternatively fuelled cars on the road.
About Manchester spoke to her about the new track, the lockdown and the future.
Firstly, if you had to explain your sound to somebody how would you do so?
I would hope my sound is very real. Full of heart and soul and real-life experience. My music is always evolving sonically but the core values are that I always want to be completely authentic and fearless. I’m not afraid to tell the world who I am and how I feel through my voice.
The new song ‘Electric Feels’, what can people expect?
Electric Feels is a bit different for me, but these are different times! It’s a sassy synth-pop track inspired by the sound of the city over the lockdown period, where there have been fewer vehicles on the road, as we were accidentally given a window into a greener city.
I absolutely loved making it and hope you’re into it!
What significance did the fact that the song was commissioned by Hyundai in the lead up to the Mercury Awards have for you?
This is the fifth year Hyundai have sponsored the Hyundai Mercury Prize, so I was really flattered when they got in touch and said that to celebrate that they wanted to commission me to create an exclusive new track.
So that’s how we came up with Electric Feels, just dreaming about this amazing, electric future without the pollution and all the bad kind of noise.
Hyundai seem to be really leading the way on that, I liked that, as well as their Mercury association. We need companies who fight for a better future! I created Electric Feels during the lockdown, inspired by the quieter cities at the time, so it’ll be interesting to see how the changes of this year have inspired creativity within the rest of the music industry. It’s a hard time, but the struggle always makes us more creative, right?
Who are some of your role models or influences in the music industry?
I really admire Fiona Apple.
Her music is really visceral and powerful and free, she makes me want to be braver and she just seems to be someone who is doing this for all the right reasons, because she loves the music and she’s compelled to do it.
What has the creative process been like and has it been more difficult during the lockdown?
I’ve actually found lockdown to be a hugely creative time for me because I haven’t had to deal with any outward distractions, being able to just focus on the music and not everything else that comes with being a musician has been hugely beneficial for me and I’ve had a lot more energy to focus. I feel like I’ve written some of my best songs during this time.
How do you think the live music scene will recover?
I really couldn’t say, but hopefully they’ll be some positive changes out of all this. Maybe the gig experience will become more sacred again after this break and artists and gigs will be valued a bit more. This time has really made me realise how much I miss performing and connecting with the people that come to my shows and I can’t wait to get back on that stage again.
Have your plans for live shows had to change?
We had a whole tour booked for April. Lockdown happened literally the week Revel In the Drama came out, so the whole tour got moved first to September, and now it’s in for March and April next year. We are taking this show on the road one way or another! We’re hoping to do a ‘limited number of tickets’ type live streamed show, where you can watch online as well as a small number of ‘in the room tickets. We’ll announce that soon hopefully. Something to keep us all going.
What did the release of the album, ‘Revel in the Drama’ mean to you after everything you had experienced in the run-up to it?
When the album was released I felt so many things. Huge relief and release, but also a part of me felt very disorientated. I’d spent so long wishing for this day to come and now it was here, and I was stuck indoors with all these emotions and nowhere for it to go. Luckily I was living with a group of friends, we moved in together at the start of lockdown and on the day of the album release we had a party and played music all night, drank rum and danced, which helped.
Hailing from Salford, what are your thoughts and experience on the local music scene?
I don’t really know, I kept to myself a lot in Salford, but Salfordians are on the whole very creative witty souls, there’s always really cool interesting music on the jukebox in the local ‘dive’ pub… people really know their stuff.
What advice would you give local artists, from the Manchester area who are hoping to succeed in the industry?
I would say there’s no rush. Put you first. The music and the world, validation, success all of that can wait. If you can build yourself up and be as happy and confident and content in yourself without any of it it will never own you, and it will never tarnish your soul if you get knocked or rejected. You’ll just get back up. Always remember you are the most important part of all of this.
What is in your future plans?
I’m just writing my next album at home, and I have a few other really exciting projects that I’m working on which I better not say anything about yet!
Check out Ren’s new trach ‘Electric Feels’ here.