Interview: Raffaella Takes Center Stage in ‘LIVE, RAFF, LOVE (ACT II)’

Raffaella © Danica Robinson
Raffaella © Danica Robinson
Raffaella is all grown up. Though, the growing pains of late adolescence linger. Within her EP, ‘LIVE, RAFF, LOVE (ACT II),’ this indie pop princess questions what it truly means to grow up and leave the past behind — but still have it cling to the fabric of your pink sequined dress with determined fists. 
‘LIVE, RAFF, LOVE (ACT II)’ – Raffaella




I don’t know authenticity without vulnerability. My friends make fun of me because I don’t know how to hide my feelings, they’re always written all over my face. It can be inconvenient, but whatever, I like it that way.

Growing up is seldom an elegant process.

We humans rarely blossom into well-polished adults with fully developed heads on our shoulders after convalescing from the tumult of adolescence. Sometimes it feels as though the ugly duckling turns into a bumbling goose and not a swan.

At age 25, our brains are (supposedly) fully developed, but so many of us continue to scratch our heads and take stabs at doing what might be right with those enlightened frontal lobes of ours. Raffaella, too, is a little perplexed by her transition into adulthood, feeling as though her “flop era” might turn into a flop lifetime.

'LIVE, RAFF, LOVE (ACT II)' - Raffaella
‘LIVE, RAFF, LOVE (ACT II)’ – Raffaella

It has been a little over a year since the release of Raffaella’s EP, LIVE, RAFF, LOVE (ACT I), and now she presents us with its counterpart: LIVE, RAFF, LOVE (ACT II), released today, (Jan. 26) via Mom + Pop. And while a year of growth has occurred, at this point in time, Raffaella insists that she is not emerging as a triumphant phoenix — this indie pop darling has instead chosen to twist the knife, descending into the parts of her brain that are filled with doubt and pain. In channeling what she refers to as “feelings of nihilism and spiritual bankruptcy,” she presents listeners with a reflective project deeply seated in lived experience.

You will find no snooty-upturned-nose-better-than-you-girlbossery ethos here, as Raffaella revels in loserdom and the accompanying emotions. After all, this is coming from someone who will, without hesitation, exclaim to the world: “I hate winning. Losing is awesome; everyone else is happy and not mad.”

Happy — no, eager —  to be on the losing team, Raffaella is unafraid to lose her battles. Life is naturally humbling, so why not accept it and just roll with the punches? Why not dwell in the funk for a while instead of desperately trying to escape it?

Raffaella © Danica Robinson
Raffaella © Danica Robinson



If you are familiar with the theatre, you likely know that it is in ACT II that things often take a turn for the worst.

ACT II of LIVE, RAFF, LOVE follows the same plotline. Where ACT I greets listeners with sweet, candy-coated production, ACT II meets it with a serrated edge; a darker, though still delightfully cavity-inducing tone, that warns of looming tumult.

And so, the intermission comes to an end. With the lights flickering, Raffaella rolls up the curtain, beckoning listeners back to their seats to witness the spectacle that is her life.

Inaugurating this bombastic expression of angst is the track “Millennial,” in which Raffaella throws an intrusive thought out to the wind: “I wonder if I was successful / Would my friends call me more.” Bringing the nature of human relationships under the spotlight, Raffaella pokes and prods at the idea of social climbing being the rickety foundation of some connections. Are her friends genuine, or merely sticking around to reap the benefits of being around someone who seems to be steadily traipsing their way to the top? And does she really want to know the answer? Maybe the question is better off left rhetorical.

Further emphasizing the facetiousness of human relationships is the track “Man of Your Dreams.” A collaboration with fellow songwriter and, more importantly, best friend, Samia, is a song of overly-brazen confidence, complete with snark and sarcasm — and a music video that showcases the biggest pair of fake boobs the two could find.




The track is cocky, bold and brash; a two-and-a-half minute comeback aimed at all of the people who have told the two musicians what women should be. You want big boobies? Oh ho ho —  ask and you shall receive. Samia and Raffaella will happily give you the most gargantuan boobies around and serve them up with a healthy dose of cynicism and biting sarcasm. “I can fit in anything, I can be your remedy / Budget is no object, profit of a prophet / I can pay for everything, let me pay for everything,” the two gloat over steadily thrumming instrumentals.

There comes a certain point in the second act of any production where the plot seems to get tangled in an unforgiving knot, where the characters must find their way out of the tangle or succumb to the tugging. For LIVE, RAFF, LOVE (ACT II), this moment comes in the track “Rowan.”

Rowan, I think it’s time that I talked,” Raffaella sings, “I never told my sisters ‘bout you / But you’re starting to feel like an infected tattoo.”

Where she was once quelled into secrecy, Raffaella now unabashedly speaks up, unraveling memory after memory of the abuse she faced at the hands of a boy. Though the instrumentals are as gentle as a lullaby you would sing to a child, the lyrics are a direct juxtaposition; a cold play by play of the memories she never thought she would share with anyone — let alone voice to the world.

Rowan / You rip me apart / With your manicured thoughts / Stockholm dance / I never asked you to stop / You did a real good job at taking both my hands,” she sings, not muddling the meaning with hazy metaphors but instead plaintively expressing everything in a matter-of-fact way.

Though voiced just above a whisper, “Rowan” is more of a shout; a cry of cathartic rage and a release of the past.




Within LIVE, RAFF, LOVE (ACT II), Raffaella masterfully examines the everyday anxieties that have tainted the mundane — and has plenty of fun while doing so.

In combining her frenetic bubblegum-pop with heart shattering lyricism, she provides her audience with six tracks of emotional whiplash well deserving of a standing ovation.

And thus, while Raffaella might gracefully acquiesce to losing, us listeners can count the release of LIVE, RAFF, LOVE (ACT II) as a massive win.

I am neurotic and stubborn. The cut of my jeans has to be as loose and feminine as the font on the poster or the snares in the mix… if they’re slightly off, slightly too tight or too masculine, I will freak out in a disproportionate way. Neurosis can come in handy when it comes to consistency…  though I am working on my patience.

— —

:: stream/purchase LIVE, RAFF, LOVE (ACT II) here ::
:: connect with Raffaella here ::
Raffaella © Danica Robinson
Raffaella © Danica Robinson

A CONVERSATION WITH RAFFAELLA

'LIVE, RAFF, LOVE (ACT II)' - Raffaella

Atwood Magazine: Hi Raffaella! How are you? What has been going on in your world?

Raffaella: Hi! I’ve been pretty good, thanks. My partner and I just went to his dad’s drive thru wedding in the Wisconsin dells. We played minigolf after, in what felt like Jamaican outer space. I came in last place, which was great because I hate winning; it always makes me feel bad. Losing is awesome, everyone else is happy and not mad.

How does act two Live, Raff, Love build off of the world and themes you built within act one?

Raffaella: Each song in Act II has a younger version of itself in Act I… sorta feels like the year in between gave each one some time to grow up. I.e. in “Drama Queen” it was fun to be angry and that drama turned sour in “Millennial,” leading to feelings of nihilism and spiritual bankruptcy. Oops.

Upon my initial listen to Live, Raff, Love (Act II), the first words that came to my mind to describe it was “whimsy rooted in angst” — you pair a lot of these harder themes with lighter, airy soundscapes. Can you describe some of the decision-making that goes into your sound?

Raffaella: Contrast helps a song feel less two-dimensional, more alive. I wanted the music to have a light and a shadow, so it could stand up on its own and feel real… Plus stuff shines brighter with darkness underneath… ”you’ve got me smiling with tears in my eyes” etc.

Raffaella © Danica Robinson
Raffaella © Danica Robinson

Contrast helps a song feel less two-dimensional, more alive. I wanted the music to have a light and a shadow, so it could stand up on its own and feel real

You have a very distinct aesthetic as an artist, not only in your sound, but in your personal style. Has your personal expression/fashion sense always been this effervescent and vibrant or has being an artist exacerbated it?

Raffaella: I think it’s just that I am neurotic and stubborn. The cut of my jeans has to be as loose and feminine as the font on the poster or the snares in the mix… if they’re slightly off, slightly too tight or too masculine, I will freak out in a disproportionate way. Neurosis can come in handy when it comes to consistency… though I am working on my patience. But thank you for saying all of that, it really means a lot. Effervescent and vibrant! That’s so kind and awesome.

You’ve stated in a past interview that you prioritize authenticity when it comes to your artistry. How do you stay authentic to your audience while also making sure to protect the parts of yourself that may be more vulnerable?

Raffaella: I don’t really feel like I have to protect the parts of myself that are more vulnerable when it comes to authenticity in art. I grew up with an Italian father and a Jewish mother, and I’ve been in therapy since I was 10… being “outspoken” was only ever normal. I don’t know authenticity without vulnerability. My friends make fun of me because I don’t know how to hide my feelings, they’re always written all over my face. It can be inconvenient, but whatever, I like it that way.

You’ve said you learned confidence through Britney Spears and Gwen Stefani; there is a thread line through this EP of not feeling like enough. How do you continue to cultivate this sense of confidence in the face of feeling insufficient?

Raffaella: I never feel insufficient. Just kidding, I feel that way literally all of the time. I feel confident when I’m on tour with my bandmates, they make me feel like I’m a part of something special. I find confidence in camaraderie. I’m lucky to be able to look up to my friends who do this too; they’re my guiding lights.

I know you have collaborated before in your group, Peach Fuzz, but what was it like working with Samia on “Man of Your Dreams”? What makes for a good collaboration with another artist?

Raffaella: Samia’s my best friend so it was awesome to make that with her. It’s easy to write with someone who knows you so well and who is also a genius.

I find confidence in camaraderie. I’m lucky to be able to look up to my friends who do this too; they’re my guiding lights.

“Rowan” is a very personal track for you — thank you so much for sharing it with us. How did you decide the timing was right to release it?

Raffaella: I wrote that one five years ago so I’m glad it finally made its way out there. I think if it wasn’t gonna happen this year, it was never gonna happen. I sang it on tour when I was opening for Del Water Gap last summer, as some sort of a test… I thought people would get bored and talk over it, but they were actually quiet and engaged. A relief!

I really love the first track, “Millennial,” can you share a little bit about the inspiration behind the song?

Raffaella: Thanks! I was deeply depressed for most of 2021 and one day we watched Pixar’s Soul, which actually broke me in half. I wrote the song Millennial after the movie ended.

I’ve heard that you’re a bit of a film enthusiast, is there a certain film you could see your music being the soundtrack for (can be a film that already exists or an upcoming one!)?

Raffaella: For sure – I’ve heard that Lena Dunham is going to direct a Polly Pocket movie. I have the perfect song for it, called Polly Pocket. It’s a pipe dream, but I’m on a mission to somehow send her an email. I don’t know how yet, but hopefully I’ll figure it out and come up with a plea that is both casual and cool.

I like to end all of my interviews on a light note, so I want to pose the following question: What is giving you joy right now?

Raffaella: This guy — Wim Hof’s turning me into Wim Raff and I’m loving it!

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:: stream/purchase LIVE, RAFF, LOVE (ACT II) here ::
:: connect with Raffaella here ::

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'LIVE, RAFF, LOVE (ACT II)' - Raffaella

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? © Danica Robinson

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