Named for the various elemental twists that rain storms take — from a light inconvenient drizzle to an unequivocally torrential downpour — rising alt-pop duo RAINNE are drenched in emotional catharsis to their core. A weighted darkness is felt everywhere in the Los Angeles-based duo’s sonic universe: the classically trained pair — comprised of singer-songwriter Annie Dingwall and saxophonist/engineer Justin Klunk — blend a sophisticated pop songwriting prowess (and penchant for ear worms that cut) with a late-night-drive of a West Coast mystique that recalls the introspective bops of Bishop Briggs, Dua Lipa and Lorde — “the dark girls” starter kit. “We wanted something that reflected the darker, brooding, moody, aggressive music that we make,” Annie explains of the band’s fully soaked moniker. “A lot of people like rain. It’s not always necessarily in a negative context.”
Justin was born and raised in Torrance, CA, while Annie hails from outside of Dallas, yet the pair’s shadowy torch songs could easily soundtrack grim L.A. staples like Nightcrawler, Drive, or even David Lynch’s noir masterpiece Mulholland Drive. Their slickly murky sound further nods to early-aughts darlings Evanescence, and pop forces like Sia and Imagine Dragons.
The experimental duo first met during a GRAMMY Camp in Los Angeles, the summer before they both started at USC’s Thornton School of Music. “We quickly became best friends and were always together. We joke that Annie forced her friendship on me, because she told me we were going to be best friends,” adds Justin. “It worked.” The fast friends spent their post-graduation years flexing their solo muscles: Annie honed her skills as a solo singer-songwriter, cutting demos for herself and others with stints recording in Nashville and Los Angeles and earning film/TV syncs on American Crime, The Doctors, and Nude, while Justin toured as a saxophonist for the likes of Lindsey Stirling, Tommy Page, Saint Motel and even Ariana Grande during the pop titan’s first album cycle.
RAINNE played together for years — albeit without an established dynamic — before fully cementing their creative chemistry two years ago. “I was in the middle of a three month run with Saint Motel. We were opening for Panic! At The Disco, and Annie just called me in the middle of the tour and was like ‘hey Justin, I have this crazy idea. Do you want to become a band?” he recalls.
The group’s slow-and-steady origin story provided the necessary time and space to find their niche, which began with an array of covers that stretched their deep music theory expertise. After a bit of careful recon, the group linked up with their production partners Ish, a friend of Annie’s who helped steer their electric debut single “Petty,” as well as their current go-to team of PLAYDED (real name Patrick Ridgen) and Petie Pizarro. Lyrically, Annie pulls from an eclectic pool of inspiration. As a “psychological thriller junkie,” she has a keen interest in all things dark and twisted, from true crime podcasts to murder mystery suspense novels. Her ears have always been squarely fixed on pop’s ever-widening landscape, citing the discovery of acts like The Neighborhood and Grimes early on as instrumental in her own songwriting evolution.
The band’s uniquely horn-tinged pop sound coincides with the saxophone’s own pop resurgence in recent years, which has become embraced by acts like Lady Gaga (“Edge Of Glory”), Macklemore (“Thrift Shop), Ariana Grande (“Problem”), Fifth Harmony (“Worth It”) and The 1975 (“She’s American”). “Justin plays his sax through all of these crazy pedals that a guitarist would have, but he does it on a saxophone,” Annie adds, citing the musician’s use of a Wah pedal and Harmonizer to take the instrument “out of its traditional archetype” to use it in a way that transcends its prior limitations.
The fast rising upstart’s ascent has further dovetailed pop music’s own embrace of edgier, experimental lyrics and concepts, which has given a much needed boost to indie acts thanks to the streaming era. “Our stuff has always been more on the dark, moodier side of pop,” Annie says. RAINNE are fully content to live in the space between genres, allowing their shape-shifting live show to speak for itself. “We’ve gone so far away from people’s pre-conceived notions of what we are doing,” Annie says of the palpable “shock” on their audiences’ faces when seeing their non-traditional set-up in the flesh. “It’s hard to imagine until you see it.”
“The intensity is centered around an industrial and electronic pulse, eloquently wrapped in darker sonic hues which drown the traces of indie-pop during the chorus. Dingwall’s sinister lines and honeydew vocals cross the line of love to a strong, disturbing fixation. The malice aforethought builds with the help of a heavy bass line towards a feverish, yet melodious soundscape.”
“Making the saxophone a core element of their collective dark & experimental ALT Pop sound. Justin Klunk (RAINNE’s co-founder & today’s 1st Song curator) manipulates his iconic brass horn to help bring out a devilish dark side… in the most subtle way possible. Thus fusing the sax sounds organically into the electronic beats underneath Annie’s sultry vicious vocals. Really makes their growing songbook feel quite “Post-Modern Noir”.”
“Los Angeles pop/alternative duo, RAINNE, are literally making it ‘rain’ with some hypnotic tunes to get listeners hooked immediately…there’s never a typical pop moment with these two.”
RAINNE - "PETTY" (Debut Single)
"Maneater" by Hall & Oates - Acoustic Cover
Live Performance EPK 2018