The rising popstar talks recent singles, the current state of the music industry and the power of feminine artistry.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and no artist has a fury quite like Brooklyn-based popstar rlyblonde. After releasing her debut EP “Fantasy” back in June, the NYC muse has now gone down a more raw and grunge-inspired route with the release of her recent singles. Both serving as A and B sides to one another, “Your Angel” and “Girl in your Story”, respectfully, demonstrate the unique ways in which rlyblonde takes on aesthetics and is so unnervingly hands on with her artistry.
When she isn’t building her career as a popstar, rlyblonde (aka Carina Allen)is a creative director, wedding photographer by day, and former model. She’s also the founder of and photographer for Hot Creative, a New York production company that produced the music videos for both “Your Angel” and “Girl in your Story”.
As somebody who balances many artistic endeavors, rlyblonde says it’s great to have Hot Creative serve as a place where she can display her photography and creative director portfolio while using her social media as a place for strictly her music. While she tries to maintain this organization and limit herself to her website and her socials, rlyblonde says that the current state of the music industry makes this difficult.
“It's hard because I feel like I'm sort of trying to save a sinking ship a little bit, because the music industry and the way social media is now is like, everything is TikTok, everything is the short form video,” she says. “Everyone that knows me knows I hate it. I don't want to be involved. It just makes me upset. It's not in my bones…It's tough because I feel like I'm fighting this industry that’s really rapidly shifting whether or not I want it to or not.”
Although the music industry today pushes for quick content and viral TikTok audios, rlyblonde is not an artist willing to sacrifice her love of creative direction for social media fame. Through her treatments, music videos and photoshoots, rlyblonde is iconic for her creative self-direction.
“I value filmmaking, I value production, I value artistry, and I hope that that's what comes across in my music and my visual work as a musician and as a director,”she says. “I have faith that the more that I [have] been putting out my own stuff and building up my own world that rlyblonde lives in, that other artists will see the potential of what that could be for them.”
The release of “Your Angel” and “Girl in Your Story” is the artist’s final bow before finishing off the year. Since the release of “Fantasy”, rlyblonde has been working on playing more shows and getting more comfortable with performing live. Also, as a fairly new artist who is still balancing a full time job on top of pursuing a life as a popstar, rlyblonde says it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
“Looking back on the year and feeling all sorts of ways about everything…I get very caught up in what I still want to do and what hasn't happened yet,” she says.
Rlyblonde has said that, as a wedding photographer by day and rising pop musician by night, it often feels like she’s living a Hannah Montana-esque double life. When one wears many hats, it’s sometimes hard to remember which one you’re wearing at a given time. However, as she’s played more shows and released more music, rlyblonde says that, at least in the Brooklyn area, she’s becoming more known for her music than her other pursuits.
“I've almost found it harder to be like, ‘by the way, I'm still here, I have a camera,’” she says. “With the production company, it's been helpful to have that separation and be able to remind people there's something else going on on the side without the confusion.”
While she is booked and busy with her photography career, rlyblonde also stays busy with her music. Released on November 29, “Your Angel” was the first release from rlyblonde since the “Fantasy” EP. While the romantically rebellious EP conveyed themes of self-love and creating your own beautiful fantasy as you would like to see it, “Your Angel” goes down a darker and grittier route. The grunge-infused single comes from a place of anger, according to rlyblonde, and is inspired by a relationship the singer was in where she felt controlled.
“It just feels cliche to be all like, ‘oh I went through a bad relationship and I was mad’ you know?” she says. “But that's a lot [of] where this song in particular came from, of feeling like someone was trying to tell me what I was allowed to do and what I was not allowed to do, and places I could be [or] people I was allowed to talk to. I was just like, ‘you don't own New York. You don't get to decide that. I'm going to live my best life.’”
Additionally, “Your Angel” also addresses the double standard of how men and women are treated. While people can treat a woman however they want, the second a woman defends herself or gives back the same energy, then suddenly she should have been the bigger person.
“I always had in my head that my musical journey was going to be in chapters, and the first one was going to be pop punk,” rlyblonde says. “I was going to do my little “Fantasy” thing and that was going to be it. And then in my mind, the next chapter is my indie rock moment. So this is kind of like my slow move into more of a grittier sound, maybe a darker sound. And then I always say I'm going to come back around full circle and go country at the end, so we'll see about that.”
The Brooklyn star has dipped her toes in country already with “Girl in Your Story”, the more romantic B side to “Your Angel”, released on December 15. While “Your Angel” has fuzzy guitars and is fueled by an angry, bitter fire, “Girl in Your Story” is a dreamy tale told by a realistic romantic.
“I think of them as fraternal twins, maybe,” she says. “I keep saying behind every scorned woman is really just a big romantic. I feel like it's two sides of the same coin. So ‘Your Angel’ [is] really me at my most rageful and then ‘Girl in Your Story’ is me at my most romantic at heart.”
When creating the music videos and treatments for both singles, rlyblonde said both videos were shot in the same day in the same studios. Although they’re polar opposites, both music videos are part of the same world.
“I've always played on female tropes, female stereotypes and embodying those different characters in my work…and it's cool now to see it brought to life in this really grand way with the music and with the video and realizing that I've been building on this stuff for years.”
Rlyblonde says it makes sense to her that these are the singles she’s decided to release now.
“A good pop star can embody all of these characters,” she says. “I think that if you're gonna be a true pop star [or] rock star, you have to go through the many eras. You have to be able to adjust and come up with something new to give the girls.”
Another problem rlyblonde has found in the music industry is the pressure to commit to one genre or style. Nobody stays the same forever, so why should they do the same thing for the rest of their lives?
“I just feel like I know there will be many chapters of my life where I'll be making different art, and if it's not music at one point then that's okay,” she says. “For right now it is this, and I'm very excited about it, but I think putting your energy into one thing assuming that it's gonna make you happy for your entire life is really scary because, frankly, I did that with photography. I'm 27 and I hit a point already where I was like, ‘I'm burned out.’ So I think you got to diversify a little bit in order to have some sanity.”
Rlyblonde will continue to play with visuals and styles as she enters the different eras of her popstar career, and she encourages others to do the same. Her two recent singles are the last musical projects she’ll be releasing for a while, and she says it’s her way of ending the year with a bang. While both singles are opposing in their tones and compositions, what they have in common is that they are incredibly cathartic, divinely feminine and beautifully accurate representations of what rlyblonde and her work stand for.
“I think that [‘Girl in Your Story’ is] more hopeful and she's kind of the result of being so angry and going through whatever the fuck I went through and then healing yourself and being like, ‘okay I'm done being mad,’” rlyblonde says. “I want to put my past in the past, and I want to look towards the future, and what could that look like for me and when you take away the heart and shell, who's left, you know? I feel like she's the bloom afterwards or the rebirth afterwards. It does feel appropriate to put them out at the end of the year…‘Girl in Your Story’ is going to ride us into the new year.”