“I’m a dark, moody writer and I’m not afraid to really express myself authentically that way. I really, really like darkness,” says Raphaelle with a laugh. “I really do.”
An affinity for darkness may not be what you’d expect from the charming 23-year-old Parisian singer-songwriter with a face full of smile, but Raphaelle doesn’t seem to care much for unilateralism.
“To me, happiness is growth. It’s not just living in state of love and euphoria,” she explains. “I think it’s also the really exciting, difficult challenges in life because you learn something from them.”
Born Alison Raphaelle Gieske in Paris, Raphaelle moved with her family to Texas at just two-weeks-old. Then, when she turned 13, she moved back to Paris. Years later, she’s now made home in New York, though her presence suggests she’s still on the search for something.
The air about her is old-fashioned, classic even, contrasted by a wide-eyed curiosity like that of children. She’s a being of contradiction and a singer-songwriter through and through, writing songs granting her the therapy she needs to make sense of it all.
In her new song “Scream For The Light,” she works through worthiness and the numbing devastation of unrequited love. The music video, premiering today on Billboard, finds her musing about cradling onto old flames, fighting for love, and learning from her mistakes. Dewy skin and slicked-back hair, she sings out to canopies, coastlines and skylights hoping to find the words to piece it all together.
“Magic. I think that word is what love means to me. And it was something that happened that whole day. Just magic,” Raphaelle says, recalling the music video shoot which took a single day. “And it was funny because, with light, there’s always darkness that comes with it. And going up to that day, there were a lot of challenges in our way and then the day came and it was just seamless. Everyone was realizing like, ‘Woah, this is like the two paradoxes: dark and light.’ It felt really meant-to-be.”
The video depicts a dreamscape of couples, some queer and interracial, kissing and embracing each other, painted across foggy scenes of nature and domesticity. Alongside director Andrew Jarrett and producer The Lions Studio, Raphaelle envisioned illustrating the song’s spiritual narrative of wading through vulnerability to discover who you are.
“I wanted to show that there’s no race, religion, gender, or sexuality that has anything to do with love. We are all love,” she explains. “And the director felt that when he heard it and then he started throwing out ideas and it was exactly what I had envisioned, which is non-binary, no gender. Just love, self-love and enlightenment.”
“Scream For The Light” is a follow-up to Raphaelle’s debut EP titled Postmodern, a graceful introduction to the songwriter’s sweet spot for soul music and her deep fascination with human connection. She searches for resonance with her music, lacing together lyrics and fluttering around frequencies that feel the most profoundly relatable to her listeners. “Wondering if I was worth it/In a place where I was hurting/Said, ‘Don’t forget me when I’m gone,’” she sings.
“It’s all about feeling something. As humans, we all want to feel something,” she notes. “I think ‘Scream For The Light’ is about going and digging inside yourself and dealing with all of your past and just accepting it.”
That’s precisely why, she says, it was important for her to show all the different types of couples in the video. At the end of the day, the humanity is all the same.
“Each person in the video has their own past, their own individual stories and they all came to a state where they just self-accepted,” she said. “And it was beautiful ‘cause all you saw was everyone there completely baring themselves.”
On her next album, Raphaelle plans on doing just that. Working with Jerry Barnes, current bass player for disco legends Chic, the singer is furthering her focus on authenticity. It’s not just about darkness—Raphaelle is dedicated to showing her whole self in all its mismatched, mosaic glory.
“I also love to have fun. I love light, too. And I love dancing. And I love creating music that makes people move. My new project is going to have a lot of songs that make you move,” she said. “Happy songs. Dance songs. A little bit brighter, but also moody, ‘cause that’s who I am.”
Watch the video for “Scream For The Light” below.