Rhia is an artist to be reckoned with. A renowned vocalist, recording artist, performer, and songwriter, the Australian-born musician has performed around the world to massive crowds at renowned venues like the Sydney Opera House, Tamworth Music Festival and alongside Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, Mr. Harry Belafonte.
Her latest single, ‘Fire.‘ is a beautifully uplifting track about breaking free. Produced by Samuel PK Smith (Bebe Rexha) and co-produced, edited and written by Rhia, “Fire.” uses Rhia’s soaring, fearless vocals to truly embody strength and the feeling of breaking free. Lyrics are creative and beautifully combine imagery of fire and water to create a song that easily comes to life, painting a clear picture in the listener’s mind.
POParazzi recently spoke with Rhia about recording and creating ‘Fire.’, dealing with hard times in life as well as her artistic ambitions.
- Hey Rhia! You’ve just released your latest song, ‘Fire.’ In a heartfelt post on Instagram, you talked about what life has thrown your way and overcoming it. Was releasing ‘Fire.’ cathartic? How did it feel sharing your music?
Hey guys! Thank you for having me!
It was cathartic. Because it was inspired by so many of the different things I’ve been through my heart has been so full knowing that other people can relate to it and take something positive from it. I always wanted to avoid sharing my personal experiences because it can take the focus off your music or be used distastefully e.g. to bring attention to your music, etc. so I was expecting it to feel really weird. But at the same time it’s actually a part of my music, and my artistry is my identity, which includes those experiences. It felt natural and right to be open about it.
Seeing this kind of reception to something I have personally felt and was able to communicate and share has been beyond special to me. I saw one response from a fan in Brazil, Cayla, where she posted emoji’s about what she felt as she was listening to the song for the first time. Everything was spot on, it was exactly what I would have been feeling too, and it was so cute. It made me feel really special to know that it hits home, and I hope that it brings strength to anyone that might need it.
- You have over 19 years of experience in the music industry performing in thousands of live shows and festivals. When did you first realize your passion for music? How have your ideas and work process changed from the beginning to now?
It’s hard to know when I first realized I was passionate about music because I was very young. My first memory of it was playing my mum’s vinyl and recording myself on a tape, singing over it and trying to teach myself how to improve, haha. I was about 4 or 5 I believe. Mum used to listen to Bob Marley, Van Morrison, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, and more. I was heavily dedicated to music by the time I did my first performance.
I think the major change I’ve seen from the beginning of my career up to now would be expanding my critical listening skills and generally developing my musicianship as a whole, but at the same time knowing when to turn off your critical ear so you can create. You can’t be editing before you get it out! As soon as I began to feel okay with imperfection everything started to shift. You just have to figure out how to make both sides of the coin work, they need to complement each other.
- If you could go back and give your younger self some advice about creating music, what would you say?
Definitely my thoughts above – finding balance between being ok with imperfection in order to create to your fullest and being able to critique effectively. I remember my mentor’s telling me to stop caring so much a long time ago. I actually think it’s something you have to learn over time though. Maybe trial and error rather than saying, “Okay! I don’t care if I mess up right now!”
- ‘Fire.’ is such an uplifting and freeing song full of passion. What was it like recording it? Do you have a memorable experience writing or recording this track?
Aww thank you so much for saying that! The sessions were grueling. I was recording a few different songs at the same time, and I was doing 18-hour days at the studio; I had to get it done as quickly as possible because I was juggling a lot for my grandma. Because of everything that was happening outside of my career, it was emotionally draining and that was affecting my voice. It’s hard to sing when you’re feeling tense and tired. But we got it done and I’m grateful for all of the hard work and time that everyone else put in to the recording sessions.
I think the most memorable moments were really just centered around the excitement it gave me and how therapeutic the song was to sing. I remember at one stage, I sent a demo off, and I felt really deflated and disappointed. I’d been so excited about it and then I guess I felt as though maybe I was wrong. And then I didn’t hear anything back, haha! I thought I was right to feel disappointed! But when I did hear back, they loved it! I think those experiences are nice because it reminds you to believe in yourself when the doubt creeps in.
- What artists influenced you growing up?
I listened to a lot of Aretha’s Gospel Albums as well as artists like Mahalia Jackson, Kim Burrell and Whitney Houston. I was also influenced by Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Chaka Khan, Patti LaBelle and Sly. There are so many Artists that taught me about music.
- As someone whose grandmother also had dementia, I really related to your post about experiencing that with her and how it effected you. What advice would you give others who are in a similar situation, people who likely turn to uplifting music like yours to keep them in high spirits?
Oh man, my heart goes out to you and your family. I hope you’re all doing okay. It’s definitely important to talk about it because when you’re so close to someone and you care about them that much, some of the changes that occur can be heartbreaking. Learn about it if you can so you can process it a little better. My grandma is a smart cookie and I love her beyond words, so it really upset me when I would see people speak to her as though she was stupid or if I found out she wasn’t being treated properly. It’s a really emotionally difficult thing to go through. I think a lot of people who step into a caring role are empaths, so you also have to be careful to not let it consume you so much that you start to forget about yourself and your own wellbeing.
The best advice I have is if you’re in a situation that is having a negative impact on you or your life, even if it’s tough, you should remove yourself to the extent that you know you need to. You have to find a way to look out for yourself. In the moment you can feel so squashed, and it’s like pulling yourself out of quicksand. But for me, once I prioritized my own life and I started to see more and more happiness I wondered why I didn’t prioritize it sooner. I know that sounds like an easy answer, but my grandma wanted so badly for me to continue to have a happy and successful life, and she saw how it was affecting me. The problem is we didn’t have any other family to support her. If I had siblings there would have been people I could trust to make sure others were doing the right thing by her, and that’s what kept me involved. But I did meet people who had hearts that were in the right place. You just have to find a way to make it work no matter what.
- What can fans expect from your future music?
I’m so excited for you to hear these songs!! I have another song with a similar concept to “Fire.” coming out which I LOVE, a song about someone who is afraid of their feelings, and a song about finding love, and how it brings color back in to your life. The songs I just mentioned are with Adam Deitch and Break Science, and then I have collaborations with Sam Barsh and Borham Lee, more with Deitch, Samuel PK Smith, and I’m also going to be working with a producer called Jorel Corpus on some music as well. There are so many new songs coming out, and I’m genuinely beyond excited about them. I’ve been waiting patiently to release these songs, haha!
- If you could record a song or perform live with any artist, living or dead, who would it be, and why?
That’s an amazing question!!
I would write and record a song with Amy Winehouse because she was so special. I have a lot of respect for her songwriting and you can see the depth of her love for music which means a lot to me too. It would have been an honor to collaborate with her.
I’d love to sing live with Stevie, Chaka, Patti and Hiatus Kaiyote. I’m obsessed with Hiatus Kaiyote, so it’d be so much fun. I used to sing so much Stevie, Chaka and Patti, it would be a really incredible experience to sing live with them. My grandad couldn’t stand it! I wasn’t singing “Ain’t Nobody” — I was singing songs like “And The Melody Lingers On: A Night in Tunisia,” – that’s musician’s music so he was going out of his mind. He wasn’t a musician. Every time we got in the car I’d sing it, haha.
- When you’re not working on your music career, what do you like to do for fun? Do you have any hobbies that help you with your creativity?
I love catching up with my friends to be honest and travel[ing] is one of my favorite things to do as well. I think both of those help with creativity because they make you think about things that you normally wouldn’t. I’m a big fan of fashion and style too; I’ve been into it since I was really young. It’s definitely a form of self-expression for me, and it’s part of my artistic side. I love good food! And the gym ironically, haha. I really enjoy watching good movies and relaxing too. I was heavily in to acting and my heart is still in it, so I have a lot of appreciation for it.
- What’s one thing you hope people take away from listening to your music?
I just hope that people feel something when they listen to it. If it gives someone strength or it empowers them, or if it validates an experience or provides an escape then that is a massive compliment to me.
- Thanks for your time!
Of course I really enjoyed doing this interview! Thank you so much for having me!