Australian Singer-Songwriter Rhia has spent the last 19 years perfecting her craft, performing to thousands of people at several notable venues including the Sydney Opera House and Tamworth Music Festival, as well as songwriting for other artists.
Taking the time to write and record her own music, Rhia is now gearing up for the release of a new project beginning with the single ‘Fire’ which recently won an ATM Award.
Here’s what happened when Rhia spoke to us about her journey so far and new single ‘Fire’.
For those who don’t know tell us a little more about how you first got into music
My friends and I were super creative when we were young we would pretend to be radio hosts and write songs together. My first memory of music was of me singing along to my Mum’s favorite artists on a vinyl record player that she owned. I had an old cassette player with a blank tape and I would record it and then listen back in hopes of teaching myself to improve. Then I started lessons for voice, drums, bass, keys and guitar and at 10 I started getting booked for recording sessions and shows as a background and lead vocalist. They were professional shows and sessions at that time, e.g. Australian Idol, and I kept developing my craft and career from there. I was lucky to be able to start learning the ropes in the industry from a young age.
What’s kept you inspired over the past 19 years?
My love for my career and music itself! My goals keep me motivated and when I see positive results and feedback it inspires me to push further. One of the biggest inspirations over the years has been going to shows, and my personal experiences; but especially my mentors. If I respect a musician and my work makes them proud it definitely feels very rewarding. The same thing goes as well for the desire for growth – each time you see yourself achieve something new you want a new challenge, and you realize in hindsight that you’re capable of more than you realized at the time.
With the music industry changing so rapidly is there ever any pressure to conform to what’s on trend?
That’s a great question. It depends what you do and what you’re in to. For me I wouldn’t put anything out if I didn’t like it, and I’m fortunate that there are a lot of genres that I resonate with or have already delved in to. I think at any level there’s pressure to survive though, and being that most of us are committed to our careers no matter what, I can see how that pressure could be felt a lot more in less commercial areas. I read an amazing advocacy interview with Sam Barshby the Recording Academy recently which I’d like to pass on for anyone who wants to check it out. You can read it here.
If you could give any advice to someone just starting out what would it be?
Practice and educate yourself as much as you can. Definitely try and get as much real-world experience as humanly possible and don’t be afraid to make mistakes – in fact you should absolutely embrace that – get comfortable with it and you will eventually see that it’s one of the most valuable tools you acquired!
What would you say are the biggest differences between the music scene in Australia and the US?
Australia has a very rich indie scene, which has some of the most creative and unique artists making music. It’s really cool. One of the most popular radio stations out here plays unsigned and indie artists. It’s a very supportive community.
Our commercial scene emulates the American music industry in my opinion, largely due to the fact that our media is often American as well. Our industry is smaller and younger.
The US scene is filled with much more opportunity (from my experience) and I also hear a lot of people point out the we take music a little more seriously in the US as opposed to Australia, just with regard to the mindset of it being a career. I definitely think there is a difference in mindset, but we do have a whole Australasian industry filled with dedicated musicians.
Your music has allowed you to perform at many incredible places, what is your favourite type of venue to play at and why?
Tanks in Cairns – it’s a massive old oil tank from World War II and you can see lines on the pillars of where the oil was filled to. The sound is incredible at Tanks and it has a long history of supporting Australian Musicians and International Acts. The bill at Tanks is regularly filled with artists like James Morrison, Jimmy Barnes and The Living End and it was an honour to be a part of that.
In addition to writing a lot of your own music, you also write for other artists. What’s been the biggest lesson you’ve learned during that process?
Just that different artists like different things. I try to remove my own artistry from the process and learn about what they are in to because I might like a particular topic or vibe, or resonate with a certain choice of words or themes but it’s nothing to do with you it’s about their artistry, so I want to enhance that in the best way possible.
You’ve just released your new song ‘Fire.’ and you have many more tracks in the pipeline. Are there any particular we should be looking out for?
Yepp the Break Science song is coming out soon as well as collabs with both Adam Deitch and Borham Lee on two more separate projects, which I’m super excited about. More songs with Samuel PK Smith and another amazing producer called Jorel Corpus. I’m also working with Sam Barsh. I’m really excited about it because he’s incredible. He’s worked on virtually every album I’ve ever loved., and I’m about to announce a lot of my US show dates.
How did the collaboration with you and break science come about?
Deitch and I met through mutual contacts years ago, I’d become a big fan of his playing with because I played drums too, and I was super into Lettuce and Break Science. He was doing a drum clinic in Boston so we went and we met there for the first time. Not long after he asked me to collaborate with him but we never really picked the conversation up properly, and then in 2018 my anthems for the whole year were ‘Cruise Control’ by Break Science and ‘The Force’ and ‘Phyllis’ by Lettuce. Out of pure coincidence Adam reached out to me again and asked to work,and the rest is history!
Who is on your playlist right now?
Billie Eilish, Sia, Beyonce and Banks. A lot of hip-hop. The Pharcyde. Jack White, Nicolas Jaar and RÜFÜS DU SOL. So many Artists!
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
The show with Mr. Belafonte. It humbled me,and it was a beautiful experience from start to finish. I am very grateful and honoured to have been a part of it and I’ll remember it for the rest of my life. My Grandparents streamed it too, haha J They cried, it was really sweet. They were big fans of Mr. Belafonte.
What’s the story behind ‘Fire.’?
There isn’t really so much of a story I guess but I wrote it about combination of experiences. I had been in a scenario where I felt really squashed, and I began to realize so many of my relationships had been like that too, and that it can have such a huge effect on you. I sort of lost my voice if you will. It had been a rough few years because my family became just Grandma and I, and she started to have memory problems, so I had taken on a caring role for her. I didn’t have any siblings so it was really hard. There was so much grief in our Family and I needed to also process things myself. I guess it was written almost as though I was saying “no.,”or finding my voice again. I wrote it for another Artist but as it kept developing I decided I wanted to release it.
What did it mean to you to win the ATM award?
It’s really nice to see that it’s experiencing such a good reception, the fact that others feel that too means a lot to me. ‘Fire’ just won two Global Music Awards and two Hollywood Songwriter Awards as well. I’m so proud to see it’s doing so well and that people are taking something positive from it. I’m grateful that my work is being recognized too. I put a lot of hours into it so it’s humbling to see that it’s paying off.
Any Final Shoutouts or plugs?
Yeah actually an incredible dancer called Kash Powell did a choreo video for ‘Fire’ yesterday! It’s amazing.. Samuel Garcia (who is 15 years old…) was the lead with Enya and Pearl Leary from the UK. They created the choreo and rehearsed and filmed the video in 30 minutes. They did it in one take. It’s incredible. I was shocked at the level of emotional complexity and attention to detail that I saw.
I’m also running a little competition which will be starting soon, and you can purchase merch soon too J the details are always posted on my Instagram stories and in the highlights on my actual insta page – so for anyone out there interested please check it out!
I actually really like the merch so I keep making it so I can wear it, haha. Keep a look out for details on insta.
Everything can be found here: stories, highlights and links: