This interview with Risa Binder, is part of a new series we’re using to reconnect with artists from the past. Since we first connected with Risa back in 2016 after she had been touring with country legend Ronnie Milsap, her career has taken off and emphasising her name in the country scene. Now, we can see how her life has progressed in the music industry as well as everything else she has been taking on!
How has your music developed from the start of your career, till now, working in theatre, moving from Maryland to New York to Nashville? How has the process been?
It’s been… hmm how’s it been (laughs). It has been a rollercoaster ride, anything creative is a rollercoaster ride, right? It has been awesome because no matter who you are, if you are doing what makes your heart happy and following that, then no matter the rollercoaster ride there is an underlying happiness.
In music, there are times when things are popping and times when things are quiet. It has been awesome because music and performing are in my blood. I grew up in the theatre in Maryland, with New York I still have a small space that my cousin is living in I have not let that go. There is a part of me that’s still there, obviously I have not been there in a year it is driving me insane, I’m ready to go back. As you grow as an artist, as your tour, as you are doing live shows you are influenced by everything. Your audience is your truth, you work out your sets to what they want to hear, you don’t want to play six sad songs in a row, your audience came to escape for a second, it’s fun figuring out the sets. I feel like covid really challenged every person and said do I still love what I am doing? And for me, I feel most alive when I am singing.
How has it been balancing motherhood and music?
I waited a long time to become a mum, I found out I was pregnant in a cup of coffee. I am a huge sign person, I was on the road touring when I am in Nashville, I go to the same coffee shops, this particular one is called three brothers, whenever I would go, they would give me a latte with one heart in it. I was performing at the CMA fest in June, I stopped for coffee, but I had been praying and praying for any signs of me becoming a mum, and this particular morning I got my coffee and sat down, and, in the coffee, there was a heart and a line with a baby heart attached to it. I was like I’m pregnant.
I was so freaked out as I know it was telling me I was pregnant. When I went on tour, one week I did not test myself, I was so freaked out, when I did the test and saw it, I was so happy. I think what I have learned with balancing is your time is truly limited, so you absolutely do the things you love, for me writing songs, music, and performing. It changed me because it makes you more confident, now that Lielle is here I want to show her she can do whatever she wants to do.
What is the new single “A lot like home” about?
OMG, we just filmed the music video! It is about firsts and when we wrote it, my husband and I bought our first place in Nashville. I wrote this song with four people and one of the guys was about to have his first kid the other two were friends but starting to date. So, the first verse is about buying your first place, the second verse in reality is about Benji getting ready to be a dad and that song was written roughly 4 or 5 years ago and now I have a kid and the people we wrote it with are married now. Like life has moved on. It shows what the power of music truly is, it’s magic. I am so excited to see the video. I haven’t seen any edits so far and the industry basically shut down for a year and to have a day like that day was, made me love that day much more.
Was that one of your favourite songs?
We wrote the song “A lot like home” thinking it would be a theme song for a house show. I am obsessed with home shows. I sent the track to CMT here in Nashville, literally, this was like 4 weeks ago they said, oh are you making a video to that because we’re going to put it on CMT, so I was like great I’m making a video! It was really cool to bring that song to life.
What is it like writing for TV and how does it differ from the usual writing process with music?
I think writing for TV is really cool, it’s a puzzle piece you’ll get some parameters like they say don’t use these words or we need a song that’s about friendship. Co-writing in town especially if you have not met the person is a lot like dating but writing for TV you have some goals already, this show is looking for this and you’re not even guaranteed that the song will be played but you have at least written along the parameters asked for. That’s how it’s different but it is still super fun. I always say a life of a song is so long, you write it for one thing but may be used for something completely different.
What did you do in your 2-year break?
I wish I could say it was a break, but I became a mum, when Lielle was born we filmed the music video for “You came along” which was the last real video we did before this past Saturday.
The break seemed slow when I was in it but it actually fast, I did some live performances, but I was learning life as becoming a mum and asking what I want to write about in the next phase of my life, and it feels so good to be back and be doing it again. We toured a little bit; we were asked to do shows in August, I hope it goes ahead. But those 2 years were me learning to be a mum every day.
How did you know you were ready to return to music?
Well, I never really left, as soon as Lielle was born I was singing to her musical theatre songs, I never really truly left it. Seven weeks into her being born we had a tour, I always wanted to be a mum on the road 100 %. We converted the car, so it was easier to tour with, it was something that I always wanted, what was cool was touring with Ronnie Milsap and opening with him and his band has been together for 25 years, same people, that’s old school and awesome.
My band is my family and that’s how I knew. We have a Livestream coming up on June 17th, when we get together, I am literally with my brothers. My goal is to continue to tour and watch my brothers develop and have families, I think being on stage and singing your material is the freest you can be in that moment. Being thankful that my team can bring my music to life.
What is your Instagram series “the amazing dose of happy”?
I am dying to grow it! It has been coming together in the past few months, I feel like on days that are hard we can look and find something good. Not every day is lollipops and unicorns, but you can find a little bit of a unicorn in a day. I think I am put on this earth to literally make people find little simple things that make you happy.
That’s why I started the series and it can only grow from here, I’m hoping it can develop and other people join, and we can all talk about the simple happy stuff. The world desperately needs to be reminded you can choose to be happy and find ways to be happy.
Listen to Risa’s latest track out now!