In honor of Pride Month, Atwood Magazine has invited artists to participate in a series of essays reflecting on identity, music, culture, inclusion, and more.
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Today, New York City-based queer alt-pop artist RAEGAN shares her essay, “The Artistic Mirror: How Music Reflects My Identity,” exploring how music and art reflect her inner self, expressing thoughts, emotions, and experiences that her words cannot, as a part of Atwood Magazine’s Pride Month series!
RAEGAN’s world is full of contradictions: at once eerie and enchanting, it’s the place where her adult nightmares and childlike daydreams collide. When RAEGAN creates music, she warps her reality into a twisted scene: writing honestly about her experience in an all new, cinematic form. A longtime actor and performer, RAEGAN’s experience in musical theater has lent her writing an epic scope — in many ways she is merely method acting through song, spinning her personality into a sonic form. “For a while, everything in my life felt so controlled and watched over,” she shares. “Music was my only escape to truly be me — to do whatever I want and say what I really want to say.”
Amidst the swirling atmosphere of teenage angst, shadowy harmonies, and spectral self-expression, we find RAEGAN and her strong personality right at the center. Weird, wonderful, and witty, her self-produced soundscapes illustrate the authentic experiences of a 20-year old piecing through a life that is equally as invigorating as it is anxiety-inducing.
RAEGAN often mentions that she thinks through energies, striving to capture her core essence through all new sound waves. Blending disparate styles with breathless ease, RAEGAN’s unique combination of glitchy beats and euphoric strings reveal the inner workings of her mind. “All my music is just my brain in sound waves. Music is the only way I know how to communicate most of the time.”
Her debut track, “TIM BURTON,” reaches into the mind of the famed director, reinventing RAEGAN as one of his gothic caricatures that never made it to the screen. As violins careen in and out of a glitched-out backbeat, her disembodied vocal confesses to fear of failure. “I’ve been wandering in this world alone, I wonder if he finished me,” she sings, in search of purpose, “I guess I wasn’t good enough, I promise I’m trying to be.”
Captivatingly creepy, “TIM BURTON” made waves on TikTok for its witchy and spellbinding energy. Armed with over a million likes and thousands of videos made with the original “TIM BURTON” sound, RAEGAN built on that momentum with follow singles “STALKER”, “HI MY NAME IS” and “STOCKHOLM”.
In an industry overflowing with hyper-curated pop personas, RAEGAN stands out as incredibly self-actualized. Both her aesthetic and music are true reflections of herself — of the many facets of her personality and the wild nature of her unbridled imagination. “Sometimes I’m being serious, but don’t take me seriously,” she challenges, fully in control.
“THE ARTISTIC MIRROR: HOW MUSIC REFLECTS MY IDENTITY”
I am my music and art; they are the truest reflections of my innermost self.
Through these creative outlets, I can express my thoughts, emotions, and experiences in a way that words alone cannot capture. My music serves as a pure imitation of my mind, a sonic landscape that mirrors my state of being and reveals my deepest essence. Every song I create represents a snapshot of my mind state and encapsulates who I am at that exact moment. It is through music that I find the freedom to express myself fully and authentically.
One song in particular holds immense significance to me – “WALTZ.” I wrote this song during my senior year of high school, a pivotal time when I embraced my identity and officially came out as gay. However, this personal revelation was met with resistance from my parents, who struggled not only with accepting my sexual orientation but also with the specific person I had fallen in love with.
One day, I found myself drawn to the studio with an inexplicable desire to create a waltz. The melody and rhythm evoked a sense of nostalgia and elegance that resonated deeply within me. In this music, I discovered a medium that allowed me to express my feelings in a unique and almost old-fashioned, Shakespearean manner. Every word I wrote during that creative process was a metaphorical representation of my emotional state at the time. Through “WALTZ,” I channeled my sense of being trapped and controlled, longing for the freedom to love without restrictions.
In many ways, this song became my voice, speaking volumes on my behalf when I struggled to find the right words. It was through the melody, harmony, and lyrics that I could articulate the depths of my emotions and convey the complexities of my journey. “WALTZ” served as a cathartic release, enabling me to confront and process my own struggles with acceptance and self-acceptance.
Through the creation of “WALTZ,” I discovered the profound connection between art and identity. It became clear to me that my music was not merely an external form of expression, but rather an intimate reflection of who I am at my core. Each song I compose holds within it a piece of my soul, encapsulating the unique amalgamation of thoughts, emotions, and experiences that define me as an individual.
Music has become my most powerful tool for self-expression. It allows me to break free from societal expectations, norms, and judgments, creating a world where my true self can be unveiled without reservation. In this realm of creativity, I find solace, liberation, and a sense of belonging. Through music, I can navigate the complexities of my identity and share my journey with others.
As I continue to create and evolve as an artist, I recognize that my music will always be intertwined with my personal experiences. Each song becomes a chapter in the ongoing narrative of my life, reflecting the growth, challenges, and triumphs that shape me. Through my art, I hope to inspire others to embrace their own unique stories and find the courage to express themselves fully and authentically, just as I have found my voice through music. – RAEGAN
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© Louis Browne
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