Reneé Rapp: "I now love my ADHD, it helps my creative process"
If Reneé Rapp isn't on your radar yet, you might wanna listen up.
The North Carolina native, who's already made a name for herself as an actress in the Broadway adaptation of Mean Girls and HBO Max series The Sex Lives of College Girls, is playing in the big leagues as she looks set to claim a Top 5 album with her first full-length release Snow Angel this week.
Today, as she eyes her UK chart debut, we catch up with Reneé to talk the making of the record, her favourite fan interactions and how her ADHD helps her creative process.
Reneé, congratulations - Snow Angel is finally out there. How are you feeling?
I’m so excited, don’t get me wrong, but I always set myself up for the worst possible outcome. That’s just what I do. But I guess anything’s better than two streams!
This is your first full-length release, and you're cramming 23 whole years of life into it. Thematically, what are the common threads running through the record?
Some of the themes on this album suck. It’s really revenge-filled; but an unspoken revenge. Revenge for me isn’t my actions, it’s actually me saying nothing and thinking ‘f**king squirm!’ I’m obsessed with that, I love it. It’s one of my favourite qualities that I have. Revenge is a moment on this record, but it’s mature. It’s, like, I’m not going to say anything – I’m just going to continue moving forward with my life and you can deal with your own sh*t.
Overall, I’m so proud of how I’ve handled every single situation discussed on the album. Whether it be a song like Snow Angel, where something that shouldn’t happen to anybody happens, or Poison Poison. I think I’ve done a good job this year!
You've been refreshingly open about your ADHD diagnosis. How does that affect your creative process?
I didn’t know I had ADHD as a kid, I just thought I was really dramatic! I am, but that’s a separate thing. I didn’t know or understand what it was, but now I do and I really love it. I think it helps me a lot. When I’m writing a song, ten songs are coming out of that concept. My brain is in ten different places. I actually really enjoy it. It’s exhausting, don’t get me wrong, but it’s really fun. If it’s somebody else’s story and a different creative process, I don’t do as well and I might panic. When it’s my thing, though, I’m like ‘wow, I have so many ideas!’
I think it really helps my comedy and my ability to deal with things. Don’t get me wrong, it can get bad and f**k me up mentally, but I do think it’s helpful to me in some respects. I’m always thinking of what’s next, which gives me better lyric ideas and more opportunity. More avenues to go down. I like it right now!
Are there any tracks on Snow Angel you've been particularly excited for the fans to hear?
I was most excited for my fandom, my community, to hear Pretty Girls, and overall for people to hear Tummy Hurts. Tummy Hurts and Willow are most inspired by artists that I actually listen to; those people who actually impacted my musicality growing up. I’m so proud of those songs, I really wanted to write those and not give a f**k how they’re received.
A lot of the time you think ‘this has to be successful, I need a lot of people to listen to it,’ but with these two they’ve become my favourites. From that, I took that you should trust yourself and the artists that you love.
I hated Pretty Girls at the beginning, I said ‘What are we doing? This song isn’t going anywhere, why are we working on this?’
Oh really? What was the turning point?
We played it for my girlfriend, and they really liked it. That didn’t mean a lot to me, but my publisher was like ‘It’s something worth pursuing.’ Then Alexander [producer Alexander 23] went on to produce it, crushed it and I was like ‘This is kind of amazing.’ Now, I love it. I was really afraid of it at first, though, because it was very pop. I tend to hate my most ‘pop’ songs.
You're back in the UK on tour early next year - we can't wait to have you back!
I’m so excited. I say it all the time, my London show was my favourite show ever by far. Also, queer people are more excited when it comes to concerts; mainly because they’re more exciting in general. UK fans are f**king insane. They’re so much fun, so exciting and I really get the UK humour. I can say some outlandish sh*t, and people will like it. I bloody love you b*tches!
Which Snow Angel songs do you think will absolutely pop off in a live setting?
I’m so, so excited to perform 23 and Talk Too Much. I hate Too Well, but performing that song is really fun, so I’m sure Talk Too Much will be even better.
Now, we know you have a 'Blonde' tattoo in tribute to your favourite album of all time [Frank Ocean's Blonde]. Your fans are super dedicated - what's the most memorable thing one of them's ever done for you?
Honestly, the nicest thing is I have a Frank Ocean Blonde vinyl that a fan gave to me at the stage door of the Mean Girls musical on Broadway. I wish I could remember who it was. They even gave me a note and I remember saying ‘this is the greatest gift I’ve ever received.’ It’s the sweetest thing anyone’s ever done for me, and it’s gone from New York to North Carolina to Venice; it’s travelled with me for so long.
On Broadway, I felt very out of the loop as I was still learning. So, when somebody brought my favourite ever album on vinyl – and my first vinyl period – I was like ‘this is the nicest thing I’ve ever received.’ It’s the greatest.
Reneé Rapp's new album Snow Angel is out now via Interscope Records.