Courtesy of Spring Fling

This year’s Spring Fling lineup features R&B artist Ravyn Lenae, French DJ Dombresky and rapper Pusha T.

The Spring Fling music festival will take over Old Campus on Saturday, April 29. The day-long event will kick off with performances by the three student acts that win the upcoming Battle of the Bands on April 8. Ravyn Lenae will open the line-up, followed by Dombresky. Pusha T, this year’s headliner, will close the show. Students will each be allowed to bring one guest to the festival.

“I personally was shocked when [Pusha T] said yes,” said Renée Theodore ’24, one of the four Spring Fling committee co-chairs. “Because he, in my mind, is such a legend. I’ve been listening to him since I was a kid with my parents… It’s a huge honor to have someone like that who is so storied in the world of rap and hip hop come play for Spring Fling.”

The lineup selection process began in September. The Spring Fling committee, composed of 27 undergraduates, sent a survey to all Yale students to gather feedback on last year’s festival and note current trends of student preference in terms of genres and artists. 

This year, committee members built a website that compiled Yale students’ Spotify information. Called “Yale Wrappd,” the database summarized Yale’s top Spotify artists and created a playlist of the most popular songs among students. The committee then used those trends to predict the artists and genres that students were most interested in hearing. The pop and hip hop genres saw the most listeners.

With this year’s three-artist lineup, the committee hopes to create a musical journey for attendees. Tess Levy ’25, committee co-chair, said she envisions people swaying and singing along to Lenae’s “more relaxed sound.” She then hopes that Dombresky will rally the crowd with electronic dance music, followed by a “high energy” performance from Pusha T. 

The opening artist, Ravyn Lenae, is “one of the biggest rising stars” coming out of Chicago, according to committee co-chair Paula Toranzo ’25. The 24-year-old singer-songwriter is signed to Atlantic Records and the Three Twenty Three Music Group. Her music fuses R&B and soul.

“She has a velvety voice,” Toranzo said. “Genuinely it puts you into a trance. Her latest album is literally called ‘Hypnose’ and that embraces exactly what she is.”

To Toranzo, Lenae’s music is about self-love, with songs that promote “being confident in your own body” and “embracing your life.” Toranzo predicts that Lenae will bring together the crowd at her sunset performance. 

The committee judged potential artists based on their ability to connect with their audience, using videos of past performances as a metric, Toranzo explained. 

“Stage presence is huge,” Toranzo said. “And Ravyn Lenae, she has that. She connects with her crowd, she makes them sway, like cry. It’s really beautiful.”

A serendipitous event followed Lenae’s selection: one day, Levy and Toranzo were eating in the Commons Dining Hall when a group of students approached them with a list of Black artists they hoped to see represented at Spring Fling. Ravyn Lenae was one of them. Though the committee had already picked her out for the lineup, this feedback made them feel affirmed that they had made the right choice.

Levy emphasized that when admitting new students to the Spring Fling committee, they aim to create a group that represents the whole Yale community, in terms of both genre interest and identity.

“I think it will be very powerful to bring a Black woman artist onto this campus and really show the communities here on campus that might not always feel seen, that they can be on that stage, that they can be a big name,” Toranzo said. “That they don’t have to follow any typical trend or stereotype.”

Dombresky will follow Lenae with a set of electronic dance music. The French DJ has been mixing and producing music for around 15 years and belongs to the Insomniac record label. 

Levy credited last year’s lineup with EDM’s return to Spring Fling. She recalled students “dancing and feeling very free” during EDM artist Sofi Tukker’s set. Toranzo corroborated this, describing the genre as one with “undeniable energy.”

“One of the big takeaways from last year… was the power of having EDM artists or a DJ where people don’t need to come in knowing any lyrics,” Levy said. “All we need is people to come in with the energy to dance.”

Levy emphasized Dombresky’s knowledge of music production and his popular EDM tracks, “Down Low” and “Soul Sacrifice.” Based on videos of his past performances, she said she’s excited for him to rally the crowd.

Pusha T, the festival’s headliner, has been in the music scene for three decades, ranking as one of Billboard’s top 50 rappers of all time. Compared to previous lineups, which have tended to feature up-and-coming artists, Theodore noted that Pusha T is “very established.”

“I’ve never seen him live, [but] every video I’ve ever seen of him gives me chills,” Theodore said. “When I think about his name up on the screen, I literally start sweating a little bit. I think a big part of the reason we decided to go with him is because there’s an undeniable quality to his music that is pretty much unmatched by anybody working today.”

According to Toranzo, the committee wanted to bring someone to campus whose work they respect and whose legacy was widely known. Zack Hauptman ’25, committee co-chair, praised not just Pusha T but also the artists with whom he collaborates. He cited Lauryn Hill, who Pusha T has a song with, and the Pharrell feature on the rapper’s recent album.

Hauptman, who is also an associate editor of the Yale Daily News magazine, said Pusha T will bring energy like “almost no other artist or rapper” could.

In light of last February’s student movement advocating for Pitbull to headline the festival, the four co-chairs recommended reaching out to the committee with recommendations early, particularly around September.

“It’s really helpful to have that student feedback, and we take it seriously because at the end of the day, our job is not to satisfy our music tastes,” Levy said. “It’s really to make Yale happy and to give them the day that they want.”

The event welcomes all with no specific target audience in mind, said Levy, who praised the event’s accessibility. Students will not have to pay for tickets or food, and ASL translators will be present to ensure that everyone can enjoy the experience.

Throughout the school year, the Spring Fling committee builds excitement for the event through “Tiny Dorms” — a set of filmed concerts that take place in student’s rooms in the style of NPR’s “Tiny Desk” series — and Battle of the Bands. Their goal is to give art the space it deserves on campus, Levy said. 

Theodore said that Spring Fling, as Yale’s biggest student-planned event, comes at the perfect time of year, when classes have ended and reading week has just begun. 

For students less familiar with Pusha T, Toranzo’s message is “trust us.” She said that when Pusha T comes to campus, even if a student enters the festival unable to name any of his songs, once they hear him perform, it’ll click.

“He’s King Push, he’s everlasting,” Theodore added. 

This year’s Battle of the Bands will be held on Apr. 8 at the Yale Farm.

Kayla Yup covers Science & Social Justice and the Yale New Haven Health System for the SciTech desk. For the Arts desk, she covers anything from galleries to music. She is majoring in Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology and History of Science, Medicine & Public Health as a Global Health Scholar.