Renowned vocalist, recording artist, performer, and songwriter, Rhia, sparks a grandiose explosion of pop music magic on her new single, “Fire.” The Australian-born musician brings 19 years of notable experience to her craft, including work as an engineer and music industry professional, as well as thousands of performances across Australia and the U.S. to crowds of over 400,000 fans. Her voice has been heard by audiences at The Sydney Opera House, Tamworth Music Festival, and alongside Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, Mr. Harry Belafonte. A noted songwriter, she’s written and recorded tracks for her upcoming releases, including a collaboration with highly successful electronic duo Break Science (Grid of Souls, Pretty Lights Music), Chores (Best Electronic Act, Breakthrough Artist of the Year), as well as recent collabs with Simon Cohen (Justin Bieber, Snoop Dogg), and Illy (Anne-Marie, 15 x ARIA Nominated Artist, 2 time ARIA Winner). In addition to lending her exceptional talents to other projects, she’s recently collaborated on further projects with award-winning professionals on her own sound, including highly revered producer and drummer Adam Deitch (Justin Timberlake, John Scofield, The Average White Band), and songs with Borahm Lee (Kanye West, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Matisyahu). She’s also been writing, recording, and performing songs set for another upcoming release, a project that birthed the incendiary new single, “Fire.,” which recently won an ATM Award.
I got the chance to speak to this aussie sensation and talk all things life, love and music;
When did you first discover your passion for music? Was there any artist when you were growing up that inspired this?
When I was around 4 or 5 I got really into recording myself singing along to my Mum’s vinyl. I was recording it to try and improve. Not sure that it was any good though, haha.
Mum listened to a lot of Van Morrison, Donny Hathaway, Roberta Flac, Bob Marley and Led Zeppelin; and my Grandma gave me my first CD which was a live Aretha Gospel album. Soul definitely had an enormous impact on my Artistry too.
What have been the hardest parts in your career?
There have been a lot of challenges that’s for sure. One of the main things that changed my career was caring less about making mistakes. It’s definitely hard to do but being able to let go at least enough to grow really shifted things for me.
If you didn’t become a musician, what would you be doing right now?
I’d be an Actress, I was equally as invested into acting as I was music when I was growing up. I was also into the idea of becoming a lawyer.
What are your fondest musical memories from here in Australia?
I’ve had so many fun shows in Aus! I think one of my favorites was at Tanks. The sound was so, so, good and it’s an honor to play there because it has such an amazing lineage of Australian and International Artists. It was one of those shows where I was able to connect with the audience very openly, and it made the show really special. I have very good memories of playing Tanks and I’d love to do it again for sure.
Who are some artists you are currently listening to? And do they influence your current sound?
I listen to a lot of hip hop, Motown, funk and soul, it’s had an immense influence on my artistry like Gospel, soul and Jazz have. The Pharcyde, Valerie and Simpson, Chaka, Dre, Biggie, Kendrick, Earth Wind and Fire, Stevie, Prince, Sly…Amy Winehouse, André 3000, Erykah Badu, Hiatus Kaiyote… I’m also listening to pop artists and electronic artists too – Billie Eilish and Sia, and I’m still listening to Break Science despite us collaborating haha. Cruise Control!
What are your main influences when it comes to your songwriting? Are your songs taken from personal experiences, and how important do you think that is in creating a track?
If I’m writing for another Artist it definitely comes down to what they’re into and influenced by, and I always put my personal experiences into my music, I think it’s absolutely crucial to do that. If it’s for someone else I just don’t hone in on the personal detail (and that also applies for my own songs too), it feels nice when it’s a personal experience and it’s broad enough for us to all take something from it. My influences as a songwriter are Sia, Max Martin. Amy Winehouse, Kendrick Lamar. So many. There are a lot of great songwriters, lyricists and topliners that I look up to.
Let’s talk about your single “Fire”, what’s it about and who helped you work on it?
It’s about overcoming something that is squashing you or holding you back and finding your strength. Freedom with empowerment.
Samuel PK Smith did the production, mixing and mastering, and I wrote the song, I did co-production, tracking, vocals, vocal editing and vocal production.
Why did you choose this song in particular to be the first single out of your next releases?
I really like how it leads into the next ones. It’s a story. I’m so excited for them to come out…!!!
What can you tell me about your next releases? What can your fans expect from it?
I’m super excited about my next releases! These are my babies! I wrote and recorded them when I was in Australia in 2018 and collaborated with Adam Deitch from afar. They’re pop and electronic songs and I couldn’t be more excited for these to come out!!! The behind the scenes reception so far has been incredible and they mean a lot to me.
Tell me about the creative process that’s currently going on to make the record? And how hard is it choosing the right songs for an album?
For me personally the creative process differs depending on your approach and what you’re doing. With “Fire.,” I started by taking vocal passes on the mic to find a melody. Sometimes lyrics come first, but I tend to focus on melodies then lyrics. It can be frustrating if you find the right melody and then the lyrics you know you want to use just won’t fit. And then the same thing happens if you start with the lyrics. So I just go with whatever feels best or wherever I’m inspired.
As far as choosing the right songs for an album, there are certain questions I might ask in addition to my thoughts above. Is there a natural dialogue between the songs? Where’s the mood and where does it start and end? Are the songs cohesive together? Do they authentically speak your message as an artist? Do you like the music as a listener, or do you resonate with the music as an artist?
How would you describe the music scene in the U.S. compared to Australia, how does it differ?
There are definitely both similarities and differences. Our mainstream media in Australia is very American, and our Indie Artists are pushing the envelope and doing some really unique stuff. There can be a ceiling though (depending on what you’re doing) and our Industry is young and small (and far!). The US industry is rich in musical history.
Any plans for a tour? And if so where can people catch you?
I have a lot of shows coming up in the US, we’re waiting until I can announce the dates!! Please keep an eye out!!
Is there any final words you’d like to say to your Australian fans?
I have seen such an enormous amount of support coming from Australia and I’m genuinely thankful beyond words… I’ve been getting messages from so many people letting me know they bought my song too, and it’s just humbling to know that there are people that want you to succeed. For everyone who has supported this in any way thank you… and thank you for coming to see my live shows and for encouraging me throughout my career. I have so much love for you.