Wednesday 16th August 2017
Following the release of her poweful single “Deeper Than Us” in July; which was co-written with Jamie Hartman, who also co-wrote the stunning Rag n’ Bone Man track “Human,” it’s clear that songstress Riva Taylor is in good hands and that we are in for something special from her upcoming album which is due for release in the coming months. So for now whilst the release is under wraps, I was interested to find out more about Riva and her fruitful background. Being the youngest singer at the age of 12 to ever sign to EMI has certainly put her in good stead; she has since collaborated with many known artists and producers, spent time travelling, touring, and gained herself a degree in History during it all to boot. Intrigued by Riva I caught a moment to find out more about her story.
Please could you tell me about yourself, where it all started and how you came to be a singer/songwriter?
How long do you have!? In a nutshell – I started as a kid on the West End stage. I just loved singing and performing and did it as much as I could, whenever I could! It led to a few TV appearances as a kid and being signed to EMI Records. I always wrote songs for fun, but only in my 20’s did I begin to collaborate with songwriters and record my own music. With age and experience there’s so much more to write about, I’m loving it!
When did you realise you could sing and wanted to make something of it?
I probably answered that above! Its something I’ve always done but I made an active decision to pursue a career as a singer as an adult. After I took a break from the industry between 18 and 22 to go to university.
You have a great story to tell, starting with being the youngest singer to sign to EMI at just 12 years old. How was the experience for you being so young, and how do you feel it has shaped you as an artist today?
Those years have definitely shaped the way I approach my career, the people I work with and my love of exploring new places. I was very fortunate to have been given opportunities to travel and promote my music in all sorts of fun places like Japan and Finland. I also met some wonderful people who I am still in touch with and have been helpful over the years while I have been shaping this last album. One of the most valuable things I learned is that nothing is given, surround yourself with positive influencers and take your destiny into your own hands!
Following this you went to University to study History. How did you juggle this with your music commitments?
I didn’t. It was the first time in my life that I committed myself full time to education, no juggling or putting my pen down to jump on a plane! Of course I missed it and involved myself whenever I could (after the novelty of vodka shots and reading 5 books a week wore thin!) – gigging, theatre and the odd recording session. But music took a backseat, and I needed time to regroup and work out what I wanted from life… a question a lot of 18 year olds ask for sure!
For your dissertation you focused on the exploitation of black US rhythm and blues musicians. What encouraged you to research in to this, and what was it that interested you about this topic?
I had begun to specialise in US Civil Rights History and minority groups in the US and read a book on the subject. I knew I wanted to research the subject in more detail, PLUS – I got to listen to loads of awesome music! Music is written at the happiest times, and the saddest times and the struggle faced by African Americans in the US at the time was often voiced through their music. It also shaped the rock n roll style of some of the best loved white artists at the time like the Beatles and Elvis and should be celebrated.
You’ve recently released your first single ‘Deeper Than Us’ from your upcoming album. How are you finding the response so far?
Had a fantastic response so far. The remixes have charted and been played by Pete Tong on Radio 1 and by Tiesto. Its given me opportunities to perform it live too – which is when I’m my happiest! Excited to see where things take me next.
The track was co-written with Jamie Hartman. How was the experience? Did you already have a narrative in mind when you wrote the track, or is this something Jamie helped you to develop?
Jamie was fab to work with! We had no idea what we were going to write when we began, but when you write a really important thing is being a little transparent and honest about what you’re going through. So Deeper was definitely a product of two people putting their heads together and stemmed from the fact I felt self actualised and positive at that moment in time!
What can we expect from your new album, and how does it compare to your previous material? Are there any notable differences or developments?
It’s very different. I’m vocally different, its darker, it has more edge and its a product of from my own experiences. It’s ‘Deeper’ (excuse the pun!) and that’s all I’m giving you!
How would you describe your music?
Epic, womanly pop.
Finally, if you were invited to perform in the BBC Live Lounge which song would you cover and why?
Imagine Dragons, Believer. Great band and I’m loving their new album…