Los Angeles based queer artist Lani Renaldo four-track release NOHEARTBREAK2020 s an exploration of being in your 20’s and touches on women and sexuality, emphasizing the significance of being comfortable with who you are, whatever that may be.
“It’s for 20 somethings that are transitioning and going through a new phase in their life,” Renaldo said.
NOHEARTBREAK2020 is inspired by artists ranging from the likes of Fleetwood Mac and Hayley Williams, to Post Malone and SZA. Also pulling influence from producers including Timbaland, Pharrell and Greg Kurstin, Lani shows us an insight into her love of the 80’s, with the EP emanating big drums and distorted guitars along with a vocoder.
Renaldo put together a track-by-track breakdown of the release for readers of American Songwriter. Push play on her tunes and read the inspiration.
This is my favorite track on the EP. Which is funny because the song was a complete mistake, but I love that it ended up being mine because it’s so fun to perform and it’s been so fun to see people react to it in such a positive way. One of my goals with NOHEARTBREAK2020 was to make more upbeat songs. Lyrically, this song is on a fine line between being really shady and flirty….but musically, while it sounds darker, that baseline is super groovy and to me, infectious. I can’t not bop along to it when I listen back to the song.
There is a point in most dialogues when verbally, no speaking is necessary to understand how a person feels. To me, this song is a bit of a double entendre because on one end, you have body language being used as a method of communication, “Arms crossed, back turned, not into discussion” but towards the bridge of the song, I break down the physicality of the phrase. The song explores a toxic end to a relationship and in this case, I think the couple has run out of things to say so they resort to sex. Sonically, I think it’s also very obvious how inspired I am by Timbaland. From the beatboxing to the choir sample, even the drums I picked, I really wanted to capture his production style.
I wrote this song in 30 minutes. The vocal that made it onto the final is actually the demo track. I re-sang the song later on, once production was finalized, but there was something so piercing and gut-wrenching about the demo take that I couldn’t recreate, no matter how hard I tried. When I wrote the track, I was reflecting on this idea that if I dressed differently or wore makeup, tried to pass in a more feminine way that maybe it would shape my relationships differently. Maybe I would be liked and though I think there have been several times I’ve been made to feel ashamed for how I look or who I love, I forgive those people that made me feel that way. However, I don’t ever forget how it made me feel. I use it as fuel to remind myself how to treat others and to be mindful of who I let in my life. I want to be celebrated and uplifted, not made to feel like a burden.
To me, “Trainwreck” is the glue that holds this project together. When I approached making this EP, I knew that it had to be an exploration of leaving behind the first part of my 20s and moving into a new chapter where I had to unapologetically be myself and love what I did. I needed everything to be intentional and I think writing this song with my partner, Drew Tabor, was such a great choice. Drew is really great at understanding what I’m saying and sometimes can articulate things I’m thinking better than I can, so when I said that I felt the essence of “Stop This Train” and she jumped back with, “But you’re still a train wreck.” I swear – lightening stuck in the room. It’s really an ode to self-deprivation. The worst thing in life that I’ve been told is that I was going to be famous. Which…again, isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it causes you to put a certain amount of pressure on yourself. I think coming off the back of some successful moments in my career, I felt like I needed to constantly outdo what I’ve done…but I’ve realized that leaning into the moment, opening yourself up to all the possibilities and accepting who you are, where you’re at is what makes music and life really worth doing. It isn’t easy to always be that positive and I still am hypercritical, but I put this on the project because I think everyone has felt this way, regardless of what they were trying to pursue…and I hope that people are becoming OK with their situations, just like myself.