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In Conversation: Rhianna Keane

After years of experimenting with sounds and tones, Rhianna Keane has made her mark on the UK music scene. Admiring the likes of Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and Amu Winehouse, the 21 year old singer songwriter from Birmingham brings a Neo-Soul, Jazz and RnB approach to her music. Rhianna released her debut single 'Fool' in October 2019 which followed by her debut EP 'Blooming, Yellow Flower' in August 2020. Recently, Rhianna Keane has featured on 'Been Around Me' by Bassboy, which has grabbed the attention of BBC Radio 1 and was also featured on New Music Friday by Spotify.

Photo @amy_xno

What first got you into music, and where has the journey taken you so far?

So, during school I always knew I wanted to spend my time doing music, shows and everything other than academics. I guess I was distracting myself from actually learning! I remember feeling from a young age that I wanted to be in this world of music and creativity, but honestly I had no idea that you could do this professionally. With that, I suddenly began to pursue a love for Musical Theatre. I spent around 2 years studying this in the hopes to go off to a drama school, however things changed, but I am so grateful for the confidence that Musical Theatre brought me, I think I’d be a lot different today without it. I’ve always been around music I guess, growing up my Dad would constantly sing to me (he can’t sing sadly) but I think music is just in my blood!

The journey has been challenging but also very exciting. There’s been a lot of self doubt to ensure my sound and branding is right, but I guess that’s just part of the process! I’m a strong believer that what’s meant for you won't pass you by, and I guess you just have to trust the journey! So far, I’ve managed to release an EP produced by a wonderful producer called Iwan VanHetten, it’s a collective of songs that I’d written as a younger Rhianna - I’m so grateful for it. The journey is still ongoing I guess, I’m still learning, finding myself and becoming a better artist and person as each day goes on. The journey is exciting!

What was the creative process when creating Blooming, Yellow Flower?

During the time of creating ‘Blooming, Yellow Flower’ I was listening to alot of Jorja Smith's ‘Lost & Found’ album, this definitely sparked some inspiration! I was very open in terms of creativity, I wanted to have no limits in terms of experimenting with sounds and pushing my creativity. I guess, when creating this EP it was my first actual professional experience in a studio, and glimpse to the music world. I had no creative boundaries, the whole process was very free and I’m thankful to Iwan for that.

In regards to the process, I honestly went into the studio with the mindset to maybe release one or two songs but as time went on Iwan and I really enjoyed the creative side as it was different for both of us. We have very similar music tastes so studio time was always just a major vibe! We ended up with a collective of songs, with some not making it and the sound of them all blended so nicely together. During this time I had also sadly lost my Grandad and his favourite flower was a yellow rose, so you can see the inspiration. I think the EP was created during a time of major self growth and self realisation and it’s a collective of challenges that I was going through at the time as I wrote the songs at the age of around 18 years old.

Where do you feel most creative? Is there a certain place where you know you will be able to write a song?

I feel most creative after listening to a groovy and vibey album. Most recently I’ve just listened to ‘Magic 8ball’ by Mac Ayres and I was so inspired after it, I literally just had to write down some ideas! In terms of ‘where?’ I’d say in the comfort of my own room, where I feel safe, it’s somewhere personal. I literally just blast loads of groovy beats and record on my voice memos and hope for the best, most of the time I get lost in a little world. I normally find a cool melody within a beat first and then hop to my notes where I have so many songs for every single emotion and begin the writing process.

Photo @amy_xno

You’ve recently collabed with Bassboy on a 'Been Around Me'. How important do you think it is to create with like minded people?

I did indeed, and I’m super grateful for the collab also! I think one of the most important pieces of advice is to always work with like-minded people who are on your wavelength. Creatively, personally, and as friendship, it is crucial in order to make something work. From the early stages of collaborating, Bassboy and literally just worked well together creatively. I don’t think the song would have been as successful without all them good vibes!

As a whole, I think whether you are a musician or not, surrounding yourself with people who lift you up, praise your achievements and make you feel happy is the main thing. Surround yourself with good energy and good energy will be returned to you.

How did you find your experience differed, from writing your own solo material compared to collaborating with another creative?

My experience with collaborating and writing was a challenge, but definitely a good one. I’ve

found that sometimes I tend to do a loop in terms of my sound and I feel some songs I write

often sound the same - this definitely spiced things up for me. Writing ‘Been Around Me’ was fun and very energetic. As an artist, I forget sometimes I am a songwriter too so having the

opportunity to change things up in terms of writing was a breath of fresh air and something I

must remind myself to do more often! Experimenting is good!

Talking of collaborating, if you could collaborate with any artist who would it be?

Ooh dream collaboration! I’d say probably FKJ, Tom Misch, Jacob Collier, Miraa May, Mac

Ayres or Reuben James. I can’t narrow it down and I could list another 20, there are too many

dream collaborations and maybe hopefully one day I’m lucky to pursue one of them!

Photo @amy_xno

On a more personal note, what or who has inspired you the most during the creative journey you have been on?

I’d say what has inspired me is to constantly prove people wrong. The music industry is a tough old place, as it is already so competitive. I’ve found that people will always have something to say whether it’s positive or negative. Pursuing my goals and pushing myself is something I constantly strive to do, making my family proud and making myself proud while I’m there. My family are my greatest fans and they push me in the best way to ensure I’m happy and that’s the main thing, they have taught me so much. My beautiful Grandad was also my biggest fan and always wanted me to go and chase my dreams, he knew that music was my dream so that keeps me going. I want to make the people close to me proud.

In terms of who inspired me in the music world, I’d say Amy Winehouse was a massive one

growing up, I love everything about her. Also, Adele was a big influence. I used to listen to her on my little iPod nano all the time and growing up I started to sound like Adele a little bit, so I was told, as I just listened to her so much.

If you could have any lyric or song title tattooed on you, what would it be?

I’m the most indecisive person in the whole world so I literally can’t pick a famous song or lyric

to pick ah! However, I’d get a small lil outline of a rose to represent my first little bit of music I

released to the world, does that count? It reminds me of being vulnerable and naive in the big

music world and it’s so nice to look back and see how much I’ve grown.

You can only listen to 3 artists for the rest of your life, who do you pick?

I’d pick Amy Winehouse, every album is a vibe, I’d never get bored. D’ Angelo and Erykah

Badu. Just pure vibes.

Who are the next big female artists you’re currently listening to?

I'm obsessed with Chloe Bodur at the minute, her voice is so unreal and just pure groove in her tunes. I'm also listening to an artist called shiv, alot, she’s incredible and her music is so fresh and chilled. Finally, I’d say Eloise, I’ve just recently discovered her and she has beautiful music which I recommended a lot. Yay to up and coming female artists!

Rhianna Keane's Links


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