At just 19 years old, Rileyy Lanez is already a force to be reckoned with in the music industry. Born and raised in the Bronx, the singer-songwriter wears her heart on her sleeve when it comes to creating meaningful R&B music. Her unique voice, sound, style, and originality is one that her ever-growing fanbase can’t get enough of.
In May of last year, Lanez released her standout single “I’m Leaving,” who’s visual hails over 7.6 million views and counting. Serving as her first official release on Colombia Records, she prides herself in penning ballads that peers her age can relate to all across the world. Her vocals would later appear as a rare feature on Lil Tjay’s “Post To Be,” off his critically-acclaimed album True 2 Myself.
2020 is already well on its way for Lanez, releasing “Foul Play” and the music video to “Left 4 Me,” the latter of which was choreographed by Chris Grant (Beyoncé). Rileyy also launched her vlog series titled “LANEZ LIFE,” showcasing her down-to-earth personality and her unwavering love and passion for music. She states, “I’m real diverse with the songs I make.”
Flaunt Mag caught up with Rileyy via Instagram Live, who was quarantined in New York. Dedicated fans the entire time were requesting Rileyy to sing instead of talk… the entire time.
Growing up in the Bronx, what was the household like growing up?
I grew up in the projects. When people hear the projects, they think it’s bad. But when I was growing up, it was a real community. Everybody was family. It was good, I had a lot of friends growing up.
Are you still in the Bronx?
No, I actually moved to Yonkers 7 or 8 years ago. I don’t know people here. I don’t really leave my house like before.
Being from where hip-hop was birthed essentially, who are you bumping coming up?
I was bumping Wiz Khalifa. I grew up listening to a lot of people. If I sit here and tried to name them, we’d sit here for dumb long. I was bumping a lot of rappers, even singers too. I listen to Keyshia Cole, Alicia Keys. I even grew up listening to Biggie. Brooklyn, you know the vibes.
Someone asked do you like Trippie Redd?
Hell yeah, I love Trippie Redd. Don’t get me started, all of his albums are fire.
At what point did the music thing become real?
Around the age of 9. Funny story, I was in the car. It was me, my mother, my father, my sister. I’ll never forget the song I was playing, this is the very first song that I ever sang. It was an Adele song called “Someone Like You.” I was in the car jamming, singing. My father turned the radio off but I’m still singing, so he’s thinking it’s the radio. Turned around, he’s like “oh snap, my little girl could sing!” Ever since then, I did vocal classes. Did a couple of gigs, etc.
What did “I’m Leaving” do for your career?
That’s actually the song that got me signed. It got me a step closer in the door. I’ve been doing covers for so long, for years. When I came out with that song, I had record labels hitting my line talking about they want to have meetings with me. Wow, who would’ve thought It’s just a song. It got me a step closer to my dreams, so I’m thankful for that.
What was your decision to go with Columbia?
I had a lot of meetings with record labels. Columbia really made me feel like home. They really had my best intentions at heart. I knew if something was to happen, they’d make sure I’m straight first before anything. They really gave that family vibe. I’m big on family, so I had to pick them.
What or who inspired “Left 4 Me”?
Everybody’s going to figure this out. The first line of “Left 4 Me,” I wrote about pizza. The part “I can’t get that taste of you out of my mind [sings],” I wrote that about pizza. It was so long ago. Before I even thought about the song, I was literally in my room brainstorming and I wanted pizza. I literally wrote that first line.
Was it some bomb pizza?
Listen, I was in the mood for some pepperoni pizza. Later on in the studio when we started working on the melodies, I formed it to be about somebody who I recently got out of a relationship with. It could be about anything you interpret it as.
I see you dancing in the video. Talk about the dancer side of you.
I’ve been dancing for as long as I’ve been singing. Even with high school, I studied dance instead of singing. I did vocal class outside so I really wanted to keep that dance side of me. I knew in the future, it’d really be beneficial. I’ve been dancing for years since I was 3. My older sister was actually the person who showed me how to dance.
Is it hard to coordinate the singing and the dancing?
It is sometimes. If the audio’s playing in the background and I’m just mouthing the words and dancing, then it’s easier. But if I’m actually singing the song and dancing, it’s a little tough because I have to remember stuff.
How’s quarantine life treating you?
I’m taking it day by day. I miss outside, I think we all do. I picked up on doing Tik Toks.
How’s Tik Tok treating you?
It’s good. [chuckles] It’s fun. You’re going to get addicted, watch.
Favorite song to dance to on Tik Tok?
“Classy, bougie, ratchet!” Meg Thee Stallion’s “Savage.”
Lil Tjay is one of my favorite artists. What’d it mean to be featured on “Post To Be”?
A month into me getting signed, my A&R texted me like “you know who Lil Tjay is?” I said “who doesn’t know who Lil Tjay is?” He sent me the beat like “I want you to write to this.” The same day I got the beat, I wrote to it. A few days later, we went into the studio and mapped it out. He’s so dope. He’s very dedicated to his music.
Talk about your new single “Foul Play” releasing on 4/20.
Well, I had to make a song for all of the weed smokers out there. I had to, mainly for the smokers. It’s something you vibe out to. You’re driving, listen to it. Blast it if you want to. It’s a real chill vibe song.
Is it hard as a singer protecting your voice?
There’s this spray that you spray to help your throat. There’s certain stuff I have to remember to keep my throat safe when I go out. Overall, it’s not that bad.
What advice do you have for singers?
Ooh, this is a good one. You have to love your own tone. I’ve had a lot of people tell me “I wish I could hit this note like this person, I wish I had this person’s voice.” No. If you have a tone, cherish it. I’m telling you. Not everybody wants to listen to the same thing, to the same voice. It’s 2020, you want something different. If your voice is different and unique, love it. It will get you far. Don’t wish for what others have, love what you have.
What advice do you have for songwriters?
I know a lot of people get writer’s block, and that’s okay. Put it down, come back to it later with a fresh mindset. It’s okay to get writer’s block. Everybody thinks “omg, it’s the end of the world. I can’t even write the freaking song.” It’s okay, put it down and come back to it later.
Who’s in your Top 5?
Jhené Aiko, that album she dropped is so fire. I’ve been listening to Trippie Redd, Uzi, this new artist Toosii. His song “Back From The Dead,” he’s so fire. Been listening to him a lot.
Favorite person to follow on IG?
Trippie or Coi Leray. I like them because they’re so different. Their vibe, everything. Even Coi, her whole aura is so dope. She’s so confident. She doesn’t care what anybody says, I love It.
You have over 628K followers, talk about your own platform and how you can be a role model to others.
My platform formed with little kids. Sometimes, I do have to remember about the things that I post. But then again, I’m getting older. I can only stay in the little kids stage for so long. I still try to do stuff where it relates to the older crowd and the younger crowd at the same time. “I’m Leaving,” I even had little kids singing that song. I try to do songs that cover different age groups.
You’re only 19. What are some goals for yourself at this point of your career?
Right now, I have a short term goal and that’s for my EP to take off and do good. That’s one goal I have right now, the only goal on my mind.
What is your favorite quarantine snack?
Nacho seeds. They’re literally seeds, the flavor of it is nachos. It’s mad good, you have to try it.
How do you create a vibe in the studio?
It depends on the track that somebody’s playing. If it’s a dope track, we’ll sit around and play with the melodies. Throw a little rhythms here and there. It really depends on the track that’s being played out for me.
3 things you need in the studio at all times?
My phone. A bottle of Sprite. It’s crazy because I have to have a bottle of Sprite and tea at the same time. I switch off, I need both. When I’m about to hit a big note, I take a sip of the soothing tea.
The people want to know, would you date a fan?
No, I wouldn’t date a fan. I just can’t. I don’t even think I’d date a celebrity. I wish I could meet someone who doesn’t know who I am at all.
How are your DMs looking?
Woof! [chuckles] I’m crying.
Your new EP (Beautiful Mistakes) is out! What can we expect from it?
Just know that you’re going to connect to at least one song on that EP.