Snow Angel

Snow Angel

One of the toughest things to do as an artist is a feat of transfiguration whereby a songwriter changes the individual into the universal. It’s a rare accomplishment, and even rarer for an artist as young as Reneé Rapp to do it. “I write a lot from specificity,” she tells Apple Music. “So many of these songs have to come from real things that are happening in my life. Friendships end, relationships end. Sometimes you just have to sit with your feelings.” The 23-year old actor and musician blazed through Charlotte, North Carolina’s thriving theater scene before taking on the roles of Regina George in the Mean Girls musical, both on Broadway and in the upcoming movie adaptation, and Leighton on the HBO Max series The Sex Lives of College Girls. Through all that success, Rapp also somehow found the time to develop into a preternaturally talented songwriter. On her full-length debut Snow Angel, she fuses the raw catharsis of Olivia Rodrigo with the scenic storytelling of Maggie Rogers, bouncing back and forth between stadium-ready hooks (“Talk Too Much,” “The Wedding Song”) and intimate, slinky crooning (“I Wish,” “Willow”). Rapp enlisted her longtime collaborator, the Grammy-nominated producer Alexander 23, to work on Snow Angel, and you can sense his guiding hand throughout the record, helping Rapp channel and focus her emotions—heartbreak, anxiety, venom, and hope in equal measures—into personal stories that also feel like they’re for everyone. Below, she tells the stories behind those stories on Snow Angel. “Talk Too Much” “I have a lot of stress dreams, and one night I had a dream that I killed my girlfriend. I was so stressed out and I was so confused. The relationship was very new, and I got really overwhelmed. I ended up confessing and asked her how she felt. They were like, ‘What is wrong with you?!’ Then I just decided to write ‘Talk Too Much’ because I don't think I should have told them that, but also I did tell you this. It’s about the spiraling of being in a new relationship and wondering if it's good or bad.” “I Hate Boston” “This song comes from two different places. It started because I was in a session with some of my friends and I was talking about this show I played in Boston. The fans were just so awesome and it was a great gig by all accounts, but I was sick and I felt like shit. I also wore these faux leather pants and big boots and a fuzzy sweater, and the venue was so hot and I was suffocating. It was awful. The other side was that I wanted to use Boston as an alias because the word sings beautifully. The lyrics are about a city that an ex tainted for me, and I wanted to make sure that it felt really close to the hyper-specific situations that I went through in this relationship. Boston was sort of a cover-up.” “Poison Poison” “This is probably the most sarcastic, cynical song that I have on this record. I had a friendship with another girl that ended really horribly. I think as a woman and as women, it sucks when we get in a fight with another woman. We don't want to be a girl that takes down another girl. I wanted to write a song about it because I cared about this person so much and we were such good friends and I felt really betrayed. I wanted to deal with my feelings in a way that was comedic and sarcastic and kind of coped with it in a different way than how I actually felt about it, which was extremely hurt and betrayed and really confused and very sad.” “Gemini Moon” “This song is so fucking funny because actually I'm a Pisces moon. But I wrote 'Gemini Moon' because I had a really tough breakup a couple years ago which started as us taking a break—this in-between thing where you're feeling two states at once. I walked outside after this happened and I looked up and, of course, it's a full fucking moon. That shit always happens to me on a full moon. I always have full moons on my birthdays, and it sucked. Then I wondered if the moon is in Gemini right now. And through tears, I looked it up, and sure enough, it was Gemini moon. Then I was in the studio one day and fresh into a new relationship and I was experiencing being in love with someone again after having that fallout. I hadn't felt that intensely for someone in a long time, and I was really scared. I was criticizing every little thing I did. So I was like, wow, I wonder if it's a Gemini moon right now. I looked it up and it was a Gemini moon, and I was like, are you fucking kidding? It was almost exactly two years apart.” “Snow Angel” “I went through a really shitty experience in early 2022. I was extremely sad, and I was involved with the wrong people. I had recounted the situation so many times to friends over and over again. It was something that I think I had just stored in a place that I was never really going to process it the way that other people did. Then one day I was sitting with Alexander and he was like, ‘We really should write that snow song.’ And everybody else on my team was like, ‘We're so happy. Oh my god, this is the code for this album, we've cracked it.’ In my brain I'm like, ‘Well, this was one of the worst experiences in my life, so glad that it could turn into something like this.’” “So What Now” “I was seeing this person and we had a really quick in-and-out kind of thing. It was just so intense and I was so mad. So after the situation had subsided, I was like, ‘Are you going to ever speak to me again? Am I supposed to speak to you?’ ‘So What Now’ is just the culmination of this overarching thought of ‘you're treating me like shit’ but also ‘I'm not mad at you, but what are we supposed to do?’” “The Wedding Song” “I was living in New Jersey for work for a few months when I wrote this. I was in a relationship at one point with someone who I thought I was going to marry, and that was the first time that had ever happened to me. And I thought that it would be so just gut-wrenching to be like, ‘I wrote you a wedding song because I thought I was going to be with you forever and I never played it for you, and now you're never going to hear it because we don't speak anymore.’ It's meant to be this really soul-sucking kind of song that's so happy and beautiful in the chorus, then it's just so sad in the verses because it's like, ‘Well, this is what I would've said had you stuck around, but you decided to not and that's just now something that I have to deal with.’” “Pretty Girls” “I think ‘Pretty Girls’ is the universal gay-girl experience, in my opinion. Ever since I became more publicly out, so many straight girls are like, ‘I couldn't be with a girl, but wow, if I did...’ So it's just the gay-girl experience of all these straight girls being like, ‘I am either a closeted gay in a way that I don't understand or I'm just kind of using you as a little prop.’ And that sucks any way you slice it. But in a really sick and twisted way, it’s kind of flattering. I love to be hit on. I'm so sorry, but I do.” “Tummy Hurts” “This was the last song we wrote that ended up making the album. It started because I wrote down in my notes one day the sentence ‘My tummy hurts, he's in love with her.’ It wasn't really about any specific situation, which is usually where I write from. I love this almost childlike way of saying I have a stomach ache and then this really adult feeling of someone is in love with somebody else. I liked how it felt and I liked how it was worded. And it all came from there.” “I Wish” “I wrote this when I was living in New Jersey. I was writing with some of my friends and they had come up with a different kind of concept for the chorus and some of the lyrics. They said, ‘Oh, this is like writing a song to your childhood self.’ But for me, it's reading in a different way. It was more about how I remember my first taste of mortality when I realized my parents were going to die when I was 10. I remember not being able to sleep for such a long time because I was like, holy shit, my parents are not invincible. I was just so shocked by it and I was so confused. I was young and it was really jarring and I struggled with it for a long time. I think I still do. And so I just wanted to make 'I Wish' this sort of love letter to the idea that I wish I didn't know about the concept of death.” “Willow” “‘Willow’ is two things. Frank Ocean is my favorite songwriter of all time. I didn't feel like I had any songs on my project that took any lyrical inspiration from him and his projects, and I really wanted there to be. I also loved willow trees as a kid. As I got older, I also thought there was something so interesting about it being called a weeping willow. I felt like I kind of had a lot of similar qualities to this tree, which sounds crazy, but I just always felt that way. I ended up framing it as my little self sitting under a willow tree talking to my current self. It was me personifying the tree as my younger self, which sounds kind of crazy, but it's one of my favorite songs on the whole album.” “23” “I think it’s the first song that Alexander and I did together. I was having full birthday panic the day before I turned 23. I was like, ‘Wow, it's my birthday, but I feel like all my friends hate me and I feel extremely alone.’ I thought that these feelings would be gone by now, but here I am, a young adult about to be in my Jordan year, and I still feel like shit. It’s a birthday blues kind of song. Then the outro is this hopeful message that I don't feel that same way when I'm 24 next year. So the kind of annual terror that comes around your birthday, it's like wishing that away.”

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