Growing up in a community surrounded by musicians in Chattanooga, TN, helped nurture folk singer-songwriter Teni Rane’s love and adoration for music-making.
In 2020, Rane released her debut EP, Heart in Tennessee. In the summer of 2022, she took her craft to the next level, as she embarked on a musical residency at Kneippbyn Resort Visby, located on the picturesque Swedish island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea, which led to her collaboration with numerous talented musicians and writers from around the globe.
Naturally, this only strengthened and expanded her songwriting viewpoint, which offers a blend of strength and elegance, skillfully balanced to evoke the emotional essence of her lyrics.
Her latest single, “Goldenrod,” invokes a sense of timelessness and longing, and as the song progresses, the chorus blooms like the titular goldenrods in a field, spreading a sense of hope and positivity.
She has a slew of singles lined up this fall, with her next single, “Cinnamon,” dropping September 1st, which was written with her sister.
We got to chat with Rane to learn more about her new singles, musical expeditions, upcoming album and much, much more.
How has the summer treated you so far? Any exciting highlights?
Having new music on the way is always very exciting. 🙂 This whole year has been a big season of change for us with relocating back to Chattanooga, TN, and there has been a lot of way-finding for me. It hasn’t been easy and I’m glad that I was able to still take time to work on these singles and keep moving myself towards my personal music goals. It was really challenging to juggle all the pieces and parts of planning and managing all the different efforts it takes to bring the vision together and to keep it on track – I’m very proud of the efforts that have gone into it artistically and logistically. Creating brings me a lot of solace especially when there are lots of aspects of life that seem to slip by and away.
I see last summer you took up a musical residency at Kneippbyn Resort Visby on the Swedish island Gotland. That sounds like a one-of-a-kind experience. What can you tell us about what you learned there and how it shaped you as an artist?
It was such a delight to live and work there for the summer! It gave me a weekly schedule that I knew I could count on and opened up space in my days to write and play and read and rest in ways I hadn’t had an opportunity to experience in a long time. My last set of releases (Fall 2022 – “Meet Me in Stockholm” and my 3 holiday originals “Cozy Inside”, “Rosemary & Evergreen”, and “Tennessee Snow”) were all recorded during that time and the structure of the current project and the vision board for many future projects were developed during those 2 months also.
It was an incredible experience and a chance for me to learn more about myself in the performance space both with covers and original music. Two hour solo sets with no breaks can be really grueling and working in that framework gave me a chance to develop new stage presence skills and stamina. Each set was solo from start to finish – even dragging all the equipment out to set up and then breaking it down and hauling it back to storage. Fortunately I always found a helper or two to help me lift the speakers up onto their stands! I’m excited to keep walking down the project paths I started to lay out for myself during that time for this set of releases and many more to come.
Being in Sweden, and specifically back on Gotland, gave me a chance to reconnect with some amazing friends I made while living there and playing soccer many years ago! I also found new friends and collaborators musically – Roger Gustafsson appears on the upcoming tracks on both bass and steel guitar again!
You just released your latest single, “Goldenrod.” What’s the significance of the title and how it pertains to the story and instrumental accompaniment? Is it autobiographical?
A lot of my experience over the last several years was shaped by living very close to the Appalachian Trail. In the late summer and fall there are all these expansive fields of goldenrod (and other incredible flora!) in so many varieties waving in the wind. I’ve done a lot of hiking in that atmosphere and have so many glowing memories of those moments.
“Goldenrod” was written in a time of facing many big changes all at once and feeling that catch in my chest wondering if the changes were going to be unstoppable and rock every single aspect of my life or if I would still be “me” enough to hold onto my happiness and relationships and life-structure. I think the most common human experience is feeling fearful of rejection. I’m no exception to that! So, yes – a little autobiographical. So many people have memories like this – where it is so lovely and wonderful and there is still this nagging worry at the edges of it all that somehow it’s going to slip away forever. I don’t want to float away or be carried off by that and this track is an opening gambit in my navigation of what it means to allow change our external lives to happen (jobs, cities, passions) and still be the same core person and keep “my feet on the ground.”
Instrumentally I wanted to capture the background and context of those memories – the bees floating over the fields, the wind rustling through the blooms, the water sliding and splashing over the mountain streambeds. When I close my eyes and listen back to what we created with the music, it puts me in those environments in the mountains of East Tennessee. We told a full story with how we wrapped the lyrics and instruments together and I am extremely proud of how the vision came to life.
Your upcoming singles, “Cinnamon” and “Caramel,” seem to sound a good bit alike and share a common vein title-wise. Was this intentional, and how might they compare and contrast?
The titular similarities honestly are happenstance. However, the thematic similarities (and differences) of these songs being included in the same project is definitely not! “Cinnamon” is a a special record to me because it features my sister as the primary writer. We used to play a lot together when we were younger – lots of benefit shows for different organizations. She is an incredible writer and guitar player and this original of hers was one of my favorites that we used to play together! The story line is subtle and very clever. The songs occur at different moments in a relationship (and though couched in terms of a relationship with another person in both songs, I really see these as broader than that – relationships with ideas, places, or paths in life).
“Caramel” is that first spark – the intrigue. Have you ever been entranced by the magnetic magic of a full moon rising in a pale autumn sky? It’s sultry, shadowy, and maybe a little wicked. There is light and it illuminates only part of the story – it just barely shows the vibrancy of the colors, barely reveals the very first edge of falling into the mystery of hearts beating and brains whirring. A lot of emotions start like that – half hidden, almost a secret unless you really tune in. Autumn is a slow burn at first and then the leaves all change at once and what was there all the time becomes burningly obvious. This song is the pull of the unknown but the gut instinct that you better track it down and follow it.
The central idea of “Cinnamon” is to challenge the common saying that “what you don’t know can’t hurt you.” There are a lot of things that can hurt us and in a really blindsidingly cruel way. There is sometimes a tension in a relationship that is pulling it apart and moving away for the better. That doesn’t mean it isn’t hard and doesn’t hurt. But it might mean moving forward to something that will be great instead of good. In “Cinnamon” we see two people that don’t know how to communicate, how to talk about where they are hoping to go in life. Instead they stay quiet. That makes the break point even more painful. We think there is so much comfort in simply trying to hold everything just as it is and not letting change creep in. But the reality is that change is always creeping in. So you better have a good plan for it or it can break you. And it might break you anyway.
These songs and their stories are chronologically interchangeable in my mind. They can go before or after each other. Maybe “Caramel” is what she leaves for or maybe “Cinnamon” is the storyline that follows “Caramel” when the sun comes out and the whole picture is illuminated and that place where she finds herself isn’t exactly what she thought it might be.
“Cold Wind (Ghost)” is another intriguing and dramatic folk track you have set for a fall release. What can you tell us about this song and what makes it important to you?
We are all made up of past selves – ghosts that either haunt us or hold our hand as we walk forward into the next set of memories. Some of them we love and are proud of and some we want to trim out and pretend they aren’t part of our stories. It’s a balancing act that I will be practicing for the rest of my life – loving and letting go of deep hurts and fears.
Ghosts always carry these dark connotations. And those nebulous imprints of memories and events can definitely weigh on a person for a long, long time. It takes a lot of courage to stop trying to shore up every little crack to keep them out and instead open the door, reach out a hand, and let the story shift and settle so that it can be carried in a different way. There is so much “new” information to process every day and sometimes it feels easier to pretend that a past story only lives there – in the past. I’ve learned for myself that those stories can become particularly chatty in the present too when I don’t give them the air time they need. “Cold Wind” is a journey from allowing ghosts to hold me apart from others to integrating everything that makes me who I am and leaning into love.
Are there any common themes or motifs that thread these four songs together, and will they all be on an album together perhaps with other tracks?
YES! This collection of songs is the lead off for a full album project I am working on. The album will share the name of the title-track: “Goldenrod.” It’s still in the recording process and will be released in 2024. I’m excited to be headed back up to Bristol in September to work on another set of 4 tracks with Dave, Phil, and Mike. Similarly to the title track, the album “Goldenrod” is an exploration into where I go in times of change and challenge and is largely inspired by the shoulder season between the intense final heat of summer and the eventual cooling into the autumn.
These songs are reactions to events and memories in my life and are integral pieces for me in getting curious about how I react or respond to the past in my present. Even though these songs come from very specific moments in my life, the themes and emotions that I’m dealing with in my writing are so universal: discomfort in the face of change, fear of losing ourselves and our identities, anxiety about all the unknowns in life, the constant effort needed to return to who we are at our core. After the last year of my life and all the messy navigating, this set of songs (both current releases and the rest of the album to come in 2024) feel like an important step in easing some of that tension so I can continue to move forward both personally and professionally as a musician/artist.
What song among these singles might you be most excited to perform live? Do any of them make you particularly emotional?
Most excited? Probably “Caramel” – I love a song in a minor key. There is so much emotional tension in the fabric of the song and the moody and sultry melody line catches in my brain all the time. And it is way too fun to sing!
Particularly emotional? “Cold Wind (Ghost)” is a hard one for me to get out live. Even though deep down I know that my experience of feeling really persuaded and influenced by memories and events in my past is NOT unique, it is still unsettling to admit that on a stage and wonder if everyone listening is going to think I’m off my rocker. That’s where art is important though – really stepping outside to say something that matters and meeting people where they are even if it isn’t always easy or overly pleasant to do.
How would you say your style or approach has evolved in these new singles compared to your previous album?
In terms of the recording phase of the projects, I had a much different approach this time around. We worked in the studio from my own recordings of my guitar tracks and a scratch vocal so that when we stepped into the studio (with bass already sent over from Roger in Sweden) we could jump right in on the additional instrumentation that I was after.
I spent a lot of time beforehand creating parts (both full take and specific spots in the songs) that I also captured with my voice at home. All that info was in Dave and Phil’s hands well before we were ever in the studio. It was really an effective way for us to work together and it allowed me to really feel settled into the producer seat and not be worrying about my own performance as an artist while trying to communicate and bring out what I was searching for sonically with them. They are INCREDIBLE collaborators and I felt we really achieved an amazing balance of pre-discussed specificity with in-the-moment feeling and artistry. There are some really incredible organic and homemade percussive moments from Dave in “Caramel” that speak to that space of creating a container for the track and then seeing what else can happen within it. Mike is a wonderful resource at the board and kept everything rolling so smoothly the whole time!
When we had everything we thought we wanted on a song, then I went back and re-tracked vocals on top which felt really good and brought everything together incredibly cohesively. We’re planning on continuing to work with that structure for the rest of the album as well and I’m excited to see what all we find in the songs during the process.
What else might you have in store for the rest of the year?
There are so many things in the works right now! I’ll be heading back into the studio with 4 more titles in September, I’m working with an incredible videographer for a dance-based video for “Goldenrod” that I hope will be ready in October, I’m taking steps toward another original holiday song being completed, and I have several shows coming up for a “mini-tour” supporting these upcoming releases. It’s a whirlwind of items and I definitely have lots and lots of lists to help me keep track of all the different pieces and parts 🙂 There is an undercurrent of small steps towards many goals and projects right now. It may take several more years to see it all come to life – right now I’m trying to keep reminding myself that it isn’t just about where I’m going but also where I’ve been and about being where I am with as much joy as I can muster.
Upcoming Teni Rane Shows:
8/24 – Chattanooga, TN – House Concert
8/28 – URSA Live (livestream) [6pm EST]
9/02 – Chattanooga, TN – Music at the Acres (1-3pm)
9/15 – Red Bank, TN – Food Truck Fridays (5-8pm)
9/28 – Knoxville, TN – WDVX (Blue Plate Special) [12pm]
9/29 – Abingdon, VA – Tumbling Creek Cider (7-9pm)
9/30 – Emory, VA – WEHC 90.7 – Appalachian Artists, The Basement Sessions
9/30 – Kingsport, TN – House Concert (5-7pm)
10/14 – Chattanooga, TN – Highland Park Porchfest (3:30pm)
Featured photo by Jess Astacio