Interview: Raven Numan “I sat down and got a piece of paper and just wrote down everything that I was feeling.”

If the Numan name is familiar then yes you’re right, Raven is indeed the daughter of synth pop and industrial music icon Gary Numan. She has very much started to forge her own path though with debut single ‘My Reflection’ gaining critical acclaim. Raven chatted to Gary Trueman about her first release, its lyrical content and her aspirations for the future.

Your debut single ‘My Reflection’ is a mix of quite dark music but with your voice coming through like points of light. There’s quite a contrast but it works so well. Where have you got your musical influences from? And what influenced you for the writing of this song?

“As far as musical inspirations go I think Nine Inch Nails, although my music isn’t necessarily similar. And growing up around my dad and stuff like that. I think he has really inspired me musically. It’s difficult with this song because I wrote it during peak Covid when we were basically trapped inside. There was nothing to do. I sat down and got a piece of paper and just wrote down everything that I was feeling. I was very frustrated and very angry with myself, with how I looked. It was writing my emotions instead of talking about them. I think it’s a great outlet.”

So the writing process for you was very cathartic?

“Very much so, yes.”

The lyrics to the song are essentially abut body dysmorphia. Do you think that these days women are expected to reach unrealistic goals set for them by the wider media. What is viewed as beauty, that is unattainable in the real world?

“Yes, absolutely, it’s really harsh. Especially for young girls. I was 17 when I wrote the song so I was very much stuck in that social media hole, comparing yourself to Instagram models. I think this is common for a lot of people though not just girls. I started to feel trapped and incredibly depressed. I didn’t like the way I looked or anything about myself. It wasn’t just my body. I felt very insecure. So I just got incredibly frustrated one day and wrote everything down. Then I took a few hours to turn it into the song.”

We ought to talk about your look a little bit too. You have a very gothic look, certainly in the picture of your on the single cover. That community has always been outside of society to a certain extent. Does that reflect how you see yourself?

“It depends. I wouldn’t say I’m unique or different because I feel this is very common. I mean with body dysmorphia and feeling like you’re some sort of outsider. I feel that there are loads of people like that.”

The alternative scene as it used to be was very fractured. There were distinct groups of people that didn’t mix at best and were aggressive to each other at worst. No though it’s different, maybe partly because of the way music is put out where it naturally encourages people to explore more and like a bit of everything. So the outsiders have at least banded together into what we now call the alternative community. Do you think that this means there’s a bit more acceptance generally from that now wider group of people?

“Absolutely. I think that it has helped me. I like a bit of basically everything. I take inspiration from loads of people. I think people are more accepting and are more open to change.”

How has the reaction been to the single generally? Has it been positive.

“Yes, thankfully. I was scared about that because the song is so vulnerable. Overall everything has been great and I’m really happy about how everything has unfolded.”

Do you write the lyrics first and then fit the music to your words? Or visa versa?

“I write the lyrics first then kind of build the music around that. So let’s say the lyrics are very sad, I’ll bring in some strings and some piano, something slow and off key in a way. Or if the lyrics are happy I’ll write something more upbeat and bring in some heavy drums or something like that. It just depends.”

Now that ‘My Reflection is out have you got plans to follow that up immediately with more singles, or an album maybe?

“Yes, in the very near future.”

Presumably you’re going to tour as well. Do you have any plans to come over and play the UK?

“Oh, I’d love to. It has been talked about. We don’t have any plans yet. But I would love for that to happen. Last year I played at The Electric Ballroom with my dad. I opened for him for three nights. That was the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life.”

You’ve now got a foothold in the music industry and before then you’ll have seen your dad performing and how he works within the industry too. Did seeing how he did things give you an invaluable insight into what some pitfalls are and how to avoid them.

“A million percent! I was actually talking to my dad the other day about how joining him on tour the past couple of years has helped me so much. I saw what goes on, what to do and what not to do. Like if your mic goes out, remain calm and professional. You see people freak out over that, and I would definitely be the type of person to freak out and not know what to do. So growing up around that has been very important to me.”

Where do you see yourself in say two or three years time? What are the places you’d love to play and who are the people you’d most like to share a stage with in the future?

“I don’t know if it’ll ever happen but in three years I’d love to play big places. I’d love to play like the 02 Arena in London if we’re talking about the UK. It’s such a cool venue. Ever since I was nine I’ve dreamt of playing that place. I already feel incredibly happy right now, but then I feel my dream will have come true. And to  play with; Nine Inch Nails a hundred per cent. They’re my favourite ever band. I’d love to perform with them. They are my top for sure, but also Lana Del Rey. I love her too. And The Deftones.”

Finally just to wrap up. People will have seen you on stage with your dad and now more people are discovering you through your newly recorded music. You’re already building quite a fan base. So is there anything you’d like to say to those people?

“Honestly, just thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for the support and the kindness. I really feel it.”

Raven Numan – Facebook

Interview by Gary Trueman

Photograph Credit: Lily Cobbold