S5 E2: Raveena Aurora: Music Spirituality Sensuality

Masala Podcast
Masala Podcast
S5 Ep2: Raveena Aurora – Music, spirituality & sensuality

Music icon on spirituality & sensuality

Raveena Aurora is a massive music star & the first woman of Indian descent to play at Coachella. And she’s on Masala Podcast! 

A gorgeous mix of music, spirituality & sensuality, Raveena talks about the barriers of being a brown woman in the music business. Her genre-bending style mixes soul, jazz, Bollywood & R&B effortlessly.

Raveena is a gorgeous mix of music, spirituality & sensuality – as you’ll hear in her interview. 

I loved speaking to Raveena about music, the barriers she as a Brown woman has to face and overcome in the industry, and what it was like being the first woman of Indian descent to play at Coachella.  

Raveena’s magical personality shows in her music and shines through her when she speaks.

I hope you love this next episode of Masala Podcast as much as I loved speaking to the magical Raveena.

Music Spirituality Sensuality

Raveena Aurora 0:00

I think because I’m really connected to spirit and realms beyond Earth. It’s given me a source of strength and belief in magic that is wider than maybe what the 3d world suggests for us. And I still need to draw on it because I think still, as a brown woman in music, there’s so many hurdles that I constantly have to deal with and feelings that I think even become more obvious to me as I progress because you realise just how far there is to go for us in culture.

Sangeeta Pillai 0:54

I’m Sangeeta Pillai and this is the Masala podcast. This multi-award winning feminist podcast for and by South Asian women is all about cultural taboos, from sex, sexuality, mental health, menopause, to nipplehair, and more. This season is a US Special, and it took me by surprise. You see, I interviewed these incredible South Asian American women, I expected to hear some angst around identity and belonging. Instead, they told me how comfortable they were with both South Asian and American identity. I confess this is not the podcast season I set out to record. It’s so much more powerful. Raveena Aurora is magic. She beautifully merges sensuality and spirituality. Something I’ve never heard in music before. Raveena found music early on, using it to create a bridge between herself and the traditional Sikh household in the US where she grew up. She mixes South Asian music with modern sounds. The result is a melting pot of various influences. Raveena launched her first EP Shanti in 2017. Then self-released her debut LP lucid, followed by Moonstone in 2020. My personal favourite is her latest album Ashes Awakening, which tells the tale of a space princess from ancient Punjab. And yes, it’s as fun and fabulous as it sounds. Watching Raveena perform at Coachella. She was the first woman of Indian descent to perform there. I find myself just transfixed. Like I said, Raveena is magic.

Raveena Aurora 2:59

My earliest memories are in the living room. Everyone’s singing old Bollywood songs or guzzles. And I think that’s a very common experience amongst us. So I was really first introduced to a lot of Indian music, and then discovered first all the pop stars like Spice Girls and Britney Spears. I think my dad also played a lot of classic rock, like, Eagles kind of energy and Simon and Garfunkel, so I was introduced to all of that. And then I think when I really fell in love with music, in my own way, was being introduced to R&B and soul. And we had gone on a trip to the Apollo Theater, which is a really iconic music venue in Harlem in New York. And I was introduced to Ella Fitzgerald and just like all these icons of soul music from that era, I just fell in love and I had to recreate their voice, and really study it and really understand all the nuances, so I would spend hours in my bathroom just singing and singing and singing to all these soul songs.

Sangeeta Pillai 4:16

When did the music come out of the bathroom and come out to the world? When do you remember the first time you sang or performed for people?

Raveena Aurora 4:23

Yeah, I started singing and experimenting with the voice after that trip when I was 10 and then I did some talent show when I was 11. And then it was… I caught the bug and I have to do this forever.

Sangeeta Pillai 4:43

Did you ever think that this is what I’m gonna go do for a living or was it very, very just it just happened? Do you remember?

Raveena Aurora 4:50

No, I was very hellbent on it being what I did for a living like me. It was the only option from a really young age like Got 11 or 12. As soon as I knew I could sing, I was like, “Oh, I’m gonna”. I had a very hustler mentality as a kid because I really wanted to make my own money. And I really wanted to, like, be independent. And I think it was a lot from me seeing how in Indian, like traditional familial structures, women are not encouraged to work or just put their dreams aside, once they have kids, and I even growing up, all the women in my family were like, you have to support yourself, you have to, you have to have your own job. And there, they wanted that, for me all the things that they didn’t have. So from a really young age, I was like, “Oh, I have to, like start making money as a kid:, and I didn’t make money from music until I was 23, or 24. But I still had that mentality.

Sangeeta Pillai 6:02

I have this little image of us, like 11 year old Raveena, kind of running around saying, right, I’m gonna make money off this.

Raveena Aurora 6:08

No, it was ridiculous. It was crazy. 

Sangeeta Pillai 6:11

No, but I hear the kind of more serious point of what you’re making. I think it was very similar in my family, I was the first woman in my family to have an education and have a job. Nobody did that before. But I remember my mom telling me like, constantly, you have to have a job, and you have to find a means to have your own money, because in her experience, if she didn’t, she didn’t have a life, she didn’t have the choice to ask for anything, or have an opinion that was any different. 

Raveena Aurora 6:38

It’s huge. I think. For us, it literally becomes survival.  It’s like a different kind of drive,

Sangeeta Pillai 6:46

A very different kind of drive. And sometimes I think when you come at it from that survival kind of space, it’s almost impossible to switch it off. You’re like, “oh, I don’t need to fight for my survival. Now, I’m like, no, no, my body’s fighting for survival.” You know what I mean? Because it comes from there. It’s like, you have to do this to kind of get ahead. So I completely get that.

Raveena Aurora 7:04

When did that sense of survival shut off for you? Or it just hasn’t? 

Sangeeta Pillai 7:14

It still hasn’t. So I think, and it’s pluses and minuses of that as well. It’s like, the good thing is, I don’t give up. I’ll keep going. Somebody says “no”, I’m like, “Okay, then I’ll find another way to do this”. And another way, I will keep finding a way forward. So no, as an answer doesn’t exist, so that’s the plus side. And I’m sure you echo you, you wouldn’t have got where you have in your career. If you take in the first No, I would imagine. 

Raveena Aurora 7:04

I would be totally different.

Sangeeta Pillai 7:43

Exactly. Exactly. So what was it like for a young brown woman to want to make it big in the music business? What was that like? 

Raveena Aurora 7:53

I think definitely… delusionally ambitious. Just this kind of, I don’t know, I think because I’m really connected to spirit and realms beyond Earth, it’s given me a source of strength and belief in magic that is wider than maybe what the 3d world suggests for us. I think and I still need to draw on it. Because I think still, as a brown woman in music, there’s so many hurdles that I constantly have to deal with, and feelings that I think even become more obvious to you as I as I progress because you realise, just how far there is to go for us in, in culture in the West, specifically. So I think it’s this, unshaken belief itself, and magic that has guided me through it. But it definitely comes with a lot of challenges.

Sangeeta Pillai 8:56

No, I can absolutely imagine. What were some of the things that you were told by I’m gonna say executives in the music business, because I don’t know what their titles are. But when you turned up and you’re like, Okay, here’s me, I’m this musician. This is my voice. This is what I want to do. What were some of the things they said to you?

Raveena Aurora 9:15

A lot of people were encouraging me to be more of a songwriter because they were just like, there’s no place in the market for you. Who are you going to appeal to? Kind of thing? And there were a lot of questions around branding and, how are you going to reach people with this exterior, which is also ridiculous, because I have so much privilege when it comes to how I present as a, lighter skinned North Indian person, there is so much privilege in that. So if I’m hearing that, I can’t even imagine what other people are told. Yeah, it was a lot about, how is this going to work? Because there’s not many models for it. And I think maybe the one model we did have was MIA. But yeah, the music I make is so wildly different than that. I mean, I love her. She’s such an inspiration, but we just have, we have different stories and a different way of communicating and art. So I think when there’s not a precedent, it’s kind of hard for people to place, but business people usually only rely off of, they can only rely on the past. And what’s really interesting in music is, I think something has to be transformed. Every time something becomes successful. Even if it’s reminiscent of something in the past, something new has to be added to the story and the feeling of it. So you have to trust the artist’s instinct at the end of the day, you know?

Sangeeta Pillai 11:03

And I guess if, in the creative space, you don’t allow for something new in music and writing and whatever your art, you just keep regurgitating the same stuff over and over and over again, in a million variations. Right?

Raveena Aurora 11:18

Yeah. And I think that’s where I’m struggling the most with the music industry right now. Because I think sameness, in many different aspects, is really valued. In this moment in culture, it’s kind of disguised as all kinds of being different. But it’s really selling the same things at the end of the day. And I think that that’s something that we have to fight for, as artists just not letting our sounds and our culture and our stories be diluted by the taking over of technology, algorithms, AI robots, fighting for humanists and culture. 

Sangeeta Pillai 12:06

I mean, this is not a conversation about AI. But I’ve always thought that AI is a tool, it can never take over. It can’t create the kind of music you create that comes from the source almost, or right. I think the kinds of things I’m going to write or paint or whatever, that will never be. 

Raveena Aurora 12:29

Yeah, I really, truly believe that art is just a channel for something higher than yourself and divine. And I don’t know how a robot could really tap into that.

Sangeeta Pillai 12:43

So unless they found a connection to the source, I guess. Kinda scary. But it’s kind of scary. So I know from reading a couple of your articles that it wasn’t easy to kind of become who you’ve become in the music world, right. You’ve done all sorts of jobs from retail to nannying, to all kinds of things to fund your music. That cannot have been easy. Did you have a kind of, I’m making the biggest understatement saying it wasn’t easy, Raveena. Did you ever doubt it, though, in one of those jobs where maybe you had a really crappy day, and you’re like, “Oh, my God, I’m tired of doing this? Did you ever feel that?

Raveena Aurora 13:31

I doubted all the time. I doubted even last night I was going through doubt. But I think you become stronger and better at talking to that doubt and seeing it as just a part of yourself that you have to have conversations with every day and to see where that doubt is coming from because it’s always related to something in childhood.

Sangeeta Pillai 13:56

So true. Absolutely true. I find that as well, a lot. And I think what you just said there, which is to investigate where it comes from, right? These moments were like, oh my god, how am I going to do this thing? And then I have to say, okay, Sangeeta, you’ve done this a million times. Where is this actually coming from? And it’ll be something else. You said, you know, something your mom said when you were five years old or something like that? And I guess, allowing that doubt, some space, but not letting it take over. That’s the balance, isn’t it?

Raveena Aurora 14:30

Yeah, absolutely. I had this really beautiful meditation this morning where I was talking to that doubt. And the words I kept hearing was, I trust in my creations. I trust in that, because I’ve been connecting to this source of energy every day. They’ve been guiding me on the right path with everything I’m doing. Just the word trust because I think so much of what has been robbed of our bodies as brown people is this inherent sense of trust and safety it’s even if we grew up with say, no trauma, its in our genetics, because if our ancestry, which I don’t know if I don’t know many brown people who didn’t grow up with –

Sangeeta Pillai 15:19

Without any trauma, I don’t know anyone, actually. Yeah.

Raveena Aurora 15:23

You have to constantly create this home in your body, a new home for your body that really understands the feeling of trust. And it’s this daily remembering that you’re safe.

Sangeeta Pillai 15:43

I sometimes think about our ancestors, farmers farming wheat in the lush fields of Punjab are growing red rice in the almost psychedelic green paddy fields in Kerala. I think about the sorts of experiences they had, the multiple traumas, they probably faced the births and deaths and lives that they saw. And I think about how much of that is stored in my own DNA. How many of my life choices come from the choices made by my ancestors? Yes, our bodies carry trauma from generations. But our bodies also have the ability to change the trauma narrative. How do we do that in practice in reality? Well, first by becoming aware of our own thought patterns, our core beliefs that may no longer serve us. And then slowly using things like therapy or healing or meditation, so we can begin to change those patterns. 

Sangeeta Pillai 17:05

Growing up, did you see any other brown female artists who you thought “oh, wow, I could be that”. Apart from MIA?

Raveena Aurora 17:14

I think most of my examples were in Bollywood. I think that that’s why it’s been such a big influence for me. I’m trying to think if there’s anyone else, probably Norah Jones, who’s like status, Ravi Shankar. Definitely her. Asha Posley. I came to know about Asha probably more later. So I can’t say it was as a kid. But yeah, I think I actually really just resonated more with R&B and soul artists, because I was seeing other women of colour who were being so strong and honest and beautiful in their craft. So I think honestly, they really had a huge impact on me. People Sha Ray and Billy Ray. All these different women.

Sangeeta Pillai 18:04

What about Bollywood? Who in Bollywood music?

Raveena Aurora 18:09

Definitely Asha Posley, I loved her voice. I did tell her. Definitely just seeing the beauty of Bollywood actresses gave me a lot of comfort, because I was seeing my own features reflected back at me, a bump on the nose and big eyes it’s not erased in culture, which is really beautiful. It’s celebrated and held up.

Sangeeta Pillai 18:40

Yeah, absolutely. I guess, within mainstream American culture or British culture. We don’t really see that so much. I don’t see many women who look like me who are in magazines or on TV or things like that. And I’m guessing it’s the same in the States, which then makes it really difficult for us to believe that we are beautiful, that we are desirable, that we are anything, and that’s really hard. Did you find that as well growing up?

Raveena Aurora 19:13

Oh, for sure. For sure. I think that it’s very just very trippy when you can see that everyone else kind of has examples, but you don’t see yourself. And I think that why what I do becomes so healing for me, but also other people because they’re, they’re starting to see that reflected back at them. But I also think there’s so many other voices needed, and there are starting to be many other voices. But I think there’s even more needed. I think we’re just at the cusp of this cultural revolution for South Asian Diaspora people and I think so many more stories need to be there because there’s so many different types of South Asian people and so many different stories and so many different ways of immigration. Me and my lineage is just such a small drop in that. So I am excited for people to really be able to see themselves reflected in all these different ways and different personalities. I don’t know. It’s exciting.

Sangeeta Pillai 20:21

It is 100% agree with you, I feel like this is that moment where South Asian women are kind of really coming into their own, everywhere I see your work, whether it’s Mindy Kaling, whether it’s Mary Jacob, I’ve been interviewing kind of some more amazing South Asian American women for the series of the podcast. I cannot tell you how excited I get when I’m speaking to you. Because in all your voices, there’s the sense of imminent, you know, things are happening, things are exploding, we’re doing this, and we’re doing that and we’re in the White House. And we’re throwing the valley parties, and we’re doing all the stuff and it is so exciting. Even sitting across the pond watching what’s going on right now.

Raveena Aurora 21:09

And I feel the same thing is happening in the UK. I see it happening there as well. It’s just, I think that we’re probably one of the last major cultures to get our flowers and our space in western global media. But at the same time, I also think that the culture we have, the history we have is so dense, intricate, and beautiful. Even when I go back to India, I’m like, How can I even, I’m just barely scratching the surface of what I can even understand from this, this whole thing is so, I almost don’t even mind if it’s palatable to the west. Who cares about that at the end of the day, it’s our own thing. And if people want to join the party, they will but we’re gonna continue to make art and continue to create no matter what.

Sangeeta Pillai 22:12

 I love that.

Raveena Aurora 22:15

If people, if people want to hop on, they are welcome to.

Sangeeta Pillai 22:17

You’re very welcome. It’s fun. Yeah. Raveena’s music has an Indian soul. When I hear her, I’m transported immediately to scenes of old Bollywood music, playing in dusty Indian street corners, usually out of rickety transistor radios. These tunes with the soundtrack to life in India in the 80s and 90s. Playing in almost every corner shop and barber shop and vegetable store. Old Bollywood tunes have a special place in my heart. My childhood was traumatic. But this old music was a safe haven for me. On many nights around 10:30 or 11pm, I’d be in my bed, listening to this old radio show, called Pinaka Keht Mala, where they played all the old favourites like Mohammed Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar. The soft tones, and soothing music would allow me to sleep. My body relaxing completely. These were perhaps rare times in my childhood, when I felt really safe, that it was safe enough to go to sleep. 

Sangeeta Pillai 23:43

The other question or the other thing I wanted to talk to you about was how a lot of your music comes from your own personal experiences, right? And you’ve explored all sorts of things from identity to pain, to loss, to mental health struggles through your music. Was that something you intentionally set out to do? Or is that something that kind of organically happened?

Raveena Aurora 24:08

I think that because of the way I started writing music that’s just kind of the style that developed this kind of journal, a very  vulnerable style. It’s really because I was kind of going through some hard things while growing up and didn’t really have a space to talk about them. But when I put them in songs, I could release what I was feeling and kind of say my truth in the music. So I’ve been using it as a form of therapy since I was very little. I think that that just kind of progressed naturally. Now, it’s fun because at the core, I really love pop music, and I think that I also have a lot of fun just making pop music that’s a little more Universal are, that everyone would enjoy. And I’m starting to write a lot for other people now too. And I think that’s been a great outlet to get that side of me out too, because I think not every song has to be the most serious. 

Sangeeta Pillai 25:14

Yes, yes, absolutely. I love your last album, which is called Ashes Awakening, which is about a Punjabi Space Princess. I loved that. I read that. And I was like, Oh, my God, what is this, I love the colours. I love the kind of prints and textures of the music. And it’s absolutely amazing. Talk to me about how that came to be.

Raveena Aurora 25:37

It really came out of the pandemic, boredom. I think that there was so much time to just kind of be bored in the same way that we were as children, and really explore our imagination in that kind of way. So that album was a lot about reconnecting with my inner child and having a conversation with my identity that I think I hadn’t really had before. And that was part of the awakening, in a sense. Yeah, that album was really ambitious, and really imaginative and a whole world. And I’m really proud of how deep the world was explored. At how deep the character was explored. I’m very into very, culty things like the gorillas, how they create an entire narrowband or universe. I love doing that for certain projects of mine. It’s really fun.

Sangeeta Pillai 26:44

Yeah. And did that come from that? You were saying this kind of inner child work? Is that where it came from?

Raveena Aurora 26:53

Yeah, I definitely think that it’s a sci-fi story. And it’s a sci-fi story rooted in spirituality. So I think it was, it was definitely partly inspired by sci-fi movies. I love growing up in magic surrealism, but also just spiritual stories. Because I grew up in a very Sikh household. And you’re just told stories that are very magical. You know, he’s kind of his own sci fi. It’s that belief in magic that I think is very inherent in just a lot of people from our region. And I think that when you go, especially when I go back home to India, I can really feel that there’s no questioning of the magic. I think there’s a lot of questioning of magic in the West . When I go back to India, it’s just understood. And it’s just  revered. Yeah.

Sangeeta Pillai 27:55

No, I get it. Absolutely. I came to that point late in life. Funny enough, it’s only now that I’m starting to feel that magic and trust the magic of where I come from, that I can now I have, I think maybe in the last couple of years, I think develop this, what I think of as a connection to the divine that I know, you know, from from my own culture from my own heritage. That’s amazing. Yeah, it’s been incredibly powerful. And magic is exactly what it is. And every time I go back, you, I see how effortless it is for them. Yeah, even in this kind of weather, it’s a little temple that’s the tree becomes a temple in the middle of a road, you know? Yeah, people are worshipping.

Raveena Aurora 28:43

Simple moments that give you a chance to pray and remember? 

Sangeeta Pillai 28:52

Me, as well. And how also, we have the divine in the sun and the moon. We’re seeing Eclipse. And we’re seeing this and we’re seeing Yeah, and all of these are treated as kind of divine occurrences. And they are really but we live here now. In this very rational kind of whelming. Oh, but that’s just the lunar phase of the moon or whatever, you know, and you’ve taken you’ve stripped it of all the magic.

Raveena Aurora 29:21

yeah, absolutely. It’s quite like with all the poetry.

Sangeeta Pillai 29:24

And all the poetry. Yeah, exactly. 

Sangeeta Pillai 29:28

Hey, I wanted to pause this episode for a minute to share something that I’m really excited about. Podcasting changed my life. I went from typing into Google, what is a podcast? Yes, I did that to creating the multi award winning masala podcast. And now I’d like to share some of my knowledge with you. I’m starting podcasting masterclasses on my website, and one of them’s been created especially for women podcasts. Just go to my website, soul sutras.co.uk and look under courses or email me at podcasting at soul sutras.co.uk And I’ll share details with you. I look forward to helping you on your podcasting journey. Now, let’s get back to our guest for this episode. 

Sangeeta Pillai 30:26

Your music, I also find, is very, very sensual. Very soft, very sensual. And it feels very intimate. It almost feels you’re the only person listening. When you’re listening to you.

Raveena Aurora 30:43

That’s really sweet.

Sangeeta Pillai 30:44

Is that a reflection of who you are? Do you think? Is sensuality a big part of who you are?

Raveena Aurora 30:51

Yeah, I think so. I think I’m just a true romantic.I try to see, catch the beauty. In the ordinary. And I want to it’s very, I guess it’s very Libra and wanting to be surrounded by beauty and wanting to be art just as yourself. Not even making art, becoming the piece of art. So I think, yeah, that drive for embodying beauty. And not just beauty like plastic surgery.

Sangeeta Pillai 31:32

But actual real beauty.

Raveena Aurora 31:35

Yeah, something glowing. 

Sangeeta Pillai 31:37

And I guess the idea of beauty in the West is a very western idea. It’s very kind of blonde and skinny, right?

Raveena Aurora 31:45

Yeah. It’s awesome. Changing to be a little different. It’s very manufactured. Yeah. Even beyond blonde.

Sangeeta Pillai 31:52

Yeah, you’re right. Yeah, it is. It is. And what’s scary is that we don’t find that weird. We’ve normalised that.

Raveena Aurora 32:00

Yeah, I think it’s really concerning how much young teen women are on the internet and, I wasn’t exposed to so much surgery, knowledge and talk. I didn’t know any surgery really beyond rhinoplasty when I was 14. But now there’s 3700 surgeries you can get and everyone is exposed to them when they’re 12. I can’t imagine having all the information I had. Yeah, so yeah.

Sangeeta Pillai 32:30

It’s really scary. It is really, really scary. Yeah, and I’m a lot older than you. So I grew up in a time where in the Indian 80s, there was no digital TV, there was no Internet, there was none of that. And in so many ways. I’m so grateful. Because I never looked at myself. It just wasn’t a thing. Wow. You know, I just never did. I was not reading my books, because my head was always in books, when I was a teenager, because there was no one to kind of look at. And it’s only now that I think, oh my god, I’m so grateful for that. Because I never thought about what it looked like. It just wasn’t a thing. Until maybe, when I turned 16. Maybe that’s when I started to kind of be a bit conscious of my body and my looks, but before that I just didn’t really think about it. Because nobody thought about it. What a blissful world.

Raveena Aurora 33:27

What a blissful world. Yeah, I think I didn’t really have that obsession until I was 18. And even then actually, I think, the self consciousness of how I looked in my life really came after I started being photographed a lot. And that was when I really cared about it for the first time. I think before that I was just, I am what I am. I don’t care. And I really take inspiration from that younger self that was just like so

Sangeeta Pillai 33:57


Raveena Aurora 33:58

Yeah, Liberating. Certainly.

Sangeeta Pillai 34:02

Exactly. There’s inherently a conflict between being sexual and being spiritual. I don’t think there is one I actually think they’re the same. I just think –

Raveena Aurora 34:15

Yeah, I think they’re the same.

Sangeeta Pillai 34:17

But we’re not you know, the, you know, when you talk about tantra or yoga, everything comes from the Yoni, you know, creative energy.

Raveena Aurora 34:27

Even creation and sexuality, all come from the same energy centre. 

Sangeeta Pillai 34:34

So it’s the same thing. Yeah, but the outside world, whether that’s Western, Eastern, whatever, has a real problem with that. When being sexual is a different thing and being spiritual is completely different and you cannot have the two together. Where do you think that discomfort comes from?

Raveena Aurora 34:53

I never thought of it in that way, the disconnect there. Whoa, where do I think it comes from? I mean, probably Puritan ideals. Colonial, kind of. 

Sangeeta Pillai 35:10

I don’t know the answer either. I just, I don’t know. Yeah.

Raveena Aurora 35:15

I think it really, absolutely comes from the need to control women’s bodies. I think because women are so beautiful and hold, and they harbour so much magic and sensuality, within themselves, I think men of the past, and probably, still the present too, are really intimidated by that. And it’s, you need to be like, “Oh, well, you’re only beautiful from 15 to 30. And then after that, you’re done.” Yeah. these, dumb ideals when it’s not true. Yeah, some of the most beautiful women I’ve seen are, 60s and 70s. It doesn’t matter, the whole age thing is put on. Yeah, the obsession with the features, the obsession with how we present our sexuality, it’s all an effort to make this thing that’s so wide and expensive, smaller, and a bit available to commodify.

Sangeeta Pillai 36:20

It’s almost like if you can tell a woman to access her own sexuality. She’s gonna spend all this money and all these products, right? And then she’s got to be really, really thin. And her hair’s got to be like this. And that’s when that’s the only time she’s allowed to access something that is within her own body.

Raveena Aurora 36:40

Yes, It’s-

Sangeeta Pillai 36:42

bonkers. It is.

Raveena Aurora 36:43

It isn’t insane. My my really good friend. Bobo has an amazing podcast called Bobo’s void. And she makes these amazing Tiktok videos where she explores questions like this. And she said, I’m probably going to paraphrase really badly, but she was, beauty is unattainable for women. It’s something that you have to work on your whole life. And, there’s no end in sight. And for men, you can attain success after you’ve got the girl and got the money. So there’s an end. But for women, the attainment of perfection never ends. As you age, – 

Sangeeta Pillai 37:29

You’re running on a treadmill trying to catch up. Yeah – 

Raveena Aurora 37:31

Running on a treadmill or running up this hill that’s sand and it’s all falling. And once we realise that, it’s actually all bullshit. That’s when we’ll be free.

Sangeeta Pillai 37:48

Spirituality and sensuality are often seen as opposite things, but they’re not. In fact, they both come from the same source. In some spiritual traditions, the exploration of the sensual is a path to a deeper connection with the Divine. And when we look at our own South Asian traditions, like Tantra, which is born in ancient India. Tantra emphasises the interplay between sexual energy and spiritual awakening. In fact, tantra teaches us to use our own sexual energy for growth in every area of our life, whether that’s work, or relationships, or spiritual growth. So whatever your spiritual beliefs, I feel like it’s so important to develop a deeper connection with our own bodies, so we can live our lives to the fullest. really appreciating the beauty and the richness that surrounds us.

Sangeeta Pillai 39:06

Raveena you talk about being queer. You’re very open with your sexuality. Was it a tough journey to get to this spot where you’re able to talk about it?

Raveena Aurora 39:16

Yeah, I think so. For sure. I think that when I was, I think that kids are coming into their sexuality a lot younger now. And it’s so beautiful, and it’s so normalised. It’s not that different to be gay, everyone is kind of gay. And definitely when I grew up, when I was growing up. That was not the case. And I really only came out when, I think, I was 24 or something. And it came with a lot of, scary feelings, am I going to be abandoned? Am I going to be ridiculed? Mostly by the more traditional brown people in my life, I wasn’t really worried about anyone else. And I think the way I still struggle with it is biphobia. I got both biphobia, I think some people my age are fans. And then I definitely got a lot of pushback from family and a lot of hurtful things that were said, by older generations. But, you know, I’m not gonna expose them. They’re just learning at their own pace. And a lot of, forgiving. They just come from different places.

Sangeeta Pillai 40:28

The way I see it, as you know, they have not had the opportunity to learn and yet we live in.

Raveena Aurora 40:36

Many of them are gay themselves.

Sangeeta Pillai 40:40

It just wasn’t an option, you know. So then, yeah, sometimes the thing you hate about yourself is the thing you hate and other people, I think, yeah. So I think it’s a reflection of them rather than anything else.

Raveena Aurora 40:52

Yeah, I mean, being queer is beautiful, but it’s also a journey. And it requires, I think the biggest thing that it asks of me is asking how the patriarchy makes its way into my relationships. And I think with all my relationships with women, the patriarchy has interfered in some way. And we’ve had to have a lot of conversations about the ways that it does.

Sangeeta Pillai 41:16

Could you give me an example of how patriarchy? –  

Raveena Aurora 41:19

I think, especially as bi women, we just have to really take a deep look at ourselves about why we may want a man in our life. And it’s a thing that I’m still working out in my head, I don’t know if I can still completely talk about it in a way that makes sense. But especially in bi, and poly spaces, dating multiple people, it’s a lot about prioritisation and ways that we maybe take care of men and make excuses for them sometimes, and exploring that, and exploring the ways where we can be more giving to each other as women. And just prioritising those relationships is really interesting. And then, in turn, and having all those conversations I think, helps me have healthier relationships with men, because then I’m able to, really break down, maybe traditional patterns that I find myself in and really analyse, am I exploring something because of daddy issues? Or am I exploring something out of pure love for this person?

Sangeeta Pillai 42:37

Are these daddy issues? Or is it love? Love that.

Raveena Aurora 42:40

Yeah. It’s so complex. It’s really complex

Sangeeta Pillai 42:43

Yeah, it is. And it’s also very difficult to kind of analyse, how much of our behaviour is conditioning that we carry? How much of it is how much of it is me? And how much of it is the world that’s told me it’s this way?  It’s hard. Yeah.

Raveena Aurora 42:58

I think it gets even more confusing when it’s wrapped up in sexuality, which is something that is meant to be pleasure and joy. And I think, you don’t want to question your sexuality or why you’re into certain things. But it’s all connected.

Sangeeta Pillai 43:17

So do you feel like there’s more representation now of South Asian women or brown women in music in fashion and culture in the US? Do you feel like that’s changing now?

Raveena Aurora 43:30

A little bit? I think there needs to be more. I think that, Yeah, I think I think there could be a lot more. I agree. Yeah, I think it’s a good start.

Sangeeta Pillai 43:45

But we need another couple of 100 of us, I think before any change.

Raveena Aurora 43:50

Exactly. I think it’s actually exciting, because I think that our children and our children’s children are going to look back on this time, and be like, “wow”, I hope my children are gonna see so much of themselves in art and culture. And they’re gonna be like, “Oh, wow, my mom was really at the, she’s from the ancient ages. This will be the beginning of all that started.” Yeah. And I wasn’t even there when it started hundreds of years before me, but I think that we’re still very much at the beginning. We’re still…it’s still being shaped.

Sangeeta Pillai 44:34

I think it’s really important, though, that you talk to my children, but I think it’s important for little brown girls in small towns and big cities and to see people like you performing at Coachella on their TV screens, in magazines on their Spotify playlist, it’s really, really important because unless they see people who look like them and have names like them and sound a little bit like them they will never be able to imagine themselves in those spaces.

Raveena Aurora 45:03

Hmm, I think you’re so right. And I also think there’s a really beautiful thing about just something that can be taught more to all of us is confidence and belief in self and belief in one’s creations without the need for, Western approval or global approval. I think that’s something that as women of colour, we can also. Yeah, actually, you have that power inside of you. You don’t need to aspire to something like a wig.

Sangeeta Pillai 45:44

yeah. No, I get that. I get that. I think what you’re saying is you don’t need to be at Coachella to be feeling like you’re a success in the world. Right?

Raveena Aurora 45:51

Yeah. Or, invest in your creations and invest in your art. That’s why I love doing things the grant that I’m starting to do, because it’s just, we should be feeding and encouraging artists of all spaces and all communities, absolutely, art is part of ritual. It’s just part of daily life, it’s part of spirit. And it shouldn’t be reserved to people who make money off of it.

Sangeeta Pillai 46:25

So say, five year old Raveena was sitting in the room with us. And we were having a chat, what would you say to her?

Raveena Aurora 46:32

That’s so cute, I would say you are the magic that you’re seeing, because I used to talk to trees a lot, I would say that the magic that you’re feeling in nature is very real. And that it’s going to be a source of inspiration for your whole life. So go towards that. And I’m just really excited to have my own baby and really help attune them to the magic of nature.

Sangeeta Pillai 47:09

Talking about trees, on Saturday, there’s a forest about an hour from where I live. So there’s a real craving to go to the forest. I’ve been thinking about this for like weeks, I’m like, I really want to go there. And I went there. And I lay on the back of this tree like it was like a dead tree was like an old tree. Wow. And I just lay like head to toe. And I can’t tell you how amazing it felt. And I was there for like maybe a couple of hours. It was like a reasonable day in London, which we don’t get a lot of. But there’s this. I don’t know this feeling of being held by nature. Like that’s what it felt like, I felt like the leaves were holding me. I could see the leaves on the top and the back of the tree was holding me. And I was having a difficult day that day. And I just felt like I felt I needed to be held. And I was held. So that’s what so I completely get what you’re saying.

Raveena Aurora 47:59

I am really just about to build the forest after this.

Sangeeta Pillai 48:02

Lovely. There’s something beautiful there. 

Raveena Aurora 48:05

It’s really amazing. I moved a lot closer to it. So it’s a five minute walk for me. It’s really nice. 

Sangeeta Pillai 48:11

That’s wonderful. So many more forest works for you. Yeah. Finally, anything you’d like to say to listeners, the masala podcast as loads of South Asian women will be listening will be fans of yours.

Raveena Aurora 48:28

I would like to say that your desires and your creativity, like the things that bring you the most joy in the world are the things to chase after and nourish. And whatever that looks like for you. It could look like pursuing it as a career, it could also look like just making time for it consciously in your day. And setting aside 20 minutes or an hour to nourish that part of yourself. I was at a nail salon two weeks ago. This is relevant. I was at the nail salon two weeks ago and it was a really tiny rundown place in some random neighbourhood. And I saw all this incredible detailed art on the wall that all looked like it was from the same artists and I was asking a person who was doing my nails, who made this and she was like “I made these at night. After work is done. I go and work on my paintings for hours and hours and hours.” And I was just so inspired by her. She’s an incredible artist and her husband was just celebrating her in a way by putting them all up on the walls and she sells it to customers. And I was just super inspired by that. Just like how she just gives herself to art. Whenever she can, it was so cool.

Sangeeta Pillai 49:57

Yeah, so everybody go create, is what you’re saying?

Raveena Aurora 50:00


Sangeeta Pillai 50:03

Raveena it’s been the most uplifting, beautiful, joyous conversation.

Raveena Aurora 50:00

Oh, you’re so sweet. That was really nice. Thank you.

Sangeeta Pillai 50:10

Thank you so much for being on the Masala Podcast.

Raveena Aurora 50:16

I’m so grateful. Thank you so much

Sangeeta Pillai 50:22

Thank you for listening to the masala podcast. Masala podcast is part of my platform, Soul sutras, dedicated to celebrating and supporting South Asian women. This is a space for all of us bad betties who don’t do as we’re told. This is where we get to celebrate our culture our way and be exactly who we want to be. I’d love to hear from you. Get in touch via email at soul sutras.co.uk or my website soul sutras.co.uk I’m also on Instagram and Twitter. Just look for soul sutras. Masala podcast was created and presented by me Sangeeta Pillai produced by Anushka Tate, opening music by Sonny Robertson.

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