Raphaella: “Love is always messy and never perfect, but you’re never alone in that”
British-Persian artist Raphaella has written for Namie Amuro, and that’s all you need to know about her.
….and, obviously, everything that she says in this interview about her bop “Turn Around” and being a female artist from the UK.
Explain your new single, “Turn Around”.
“Turn Around” was probably one of my most honest singles, because I wrote the topline in the first vocal take when I put myself onto record. A lot of the lyrics came out in that take also, so I really tried to keep as much of the original take in the final as possible because it felt so true to how I was feeling at the time. It’s really the last song before letting go. It’s about that twilight zone in a relationship when you’ve broken up with someone who you know isn’t good for you. Your head has made the decision, but your heart is still not fully on board so you know you could back around and go right back to them at any moment because you don’t trust yourself yet.
At what point in a relationship do you know that somebody is no good for you?
I think the hardest part is that you often don’t realise that someone isn’t good for you until it’s too late.
What do you hope listeners will take away from “Turn Around”?
I hope you’ll take away that love is hard, and always messy, and never perfect, but you’re also never alone in that. I hope “Turn Around” can give comfort to people going through similar experiences and help them to let go of things that are painful and move on.
Where did the inspiration for the visuals in the “Turn Around” music video come from?
It’s actually shot and choreographed by my good friend and old Pineapple Performing Arts School teacher Simeon Qsyea! I always knew I wanted to collaborate with him on a project since I first knew him when I was 16 (!) and it felt like the perfect time. I knew I wanted it to be a lyrical dance but we were playing around with how we could achieve the sense of temptation to turn around, and that impossible inner battle with yourself, when Simeon came up with the brilliant idea of using the amazing Kenji Matsunaga and playing with concealing his face and never fully allowing us the audience/ ‘the other person in the relationship’ see him again.
Will “Turn Around” be appearing on an upcoming EP or album?
I’m going to be releasing a series of singles over the next year, which will culminate into a release with a larger body of work, but I want to think of innovative ways to put that body of work out.
You’ve worked with the likes of Rudimental, MNEK and Gorgon City so far – who else is on your list of people to work with in the future?
I think one of the artists top on my list would have to be James Blake. I adore his vocal tone and his really experimental production style. It’s fascinating to me how he can be so experimental in his production, yet still retain this core soulfulness in his writing and overall sound and there’s emotionally always something you can take away from his songs. I also only found out after I left Goldsmiths University that he was there too, a few years above me! *so sad* I just have a feeling that if we were in a room together with a pile of synths, it would be the most fun, creative experience.
Growing up, how did music influence you? Which female artists made the biggest impressions on you?
Growing up, it was actually quite male dominated in terms of artists and producers I was brought up listening to, like Michael Jackson, Bob Marley and James Brown, which I’d say have really shaped my early love for music. But I think when I first came across Destiny’s Child, when I was about 7 or 8, that was a game changer for me. Everything, down to the female empowerment lyrics, the harmonies and boss like attitude inspired me in a way I’d never seen or experienced before. Then, whilst studying music and history at school, I found Nina Simone and she became one of my biggest idols. Everything she stood for within the 1960s civil rights movement and how she used music as a tangible power to help make a political and social change inspires me every day to use my music as a force for good and to stand up for what I believe in.
What’s your creative process like?
It really changes depending on my mood and session focus, but I’m a lover of words and always carry around a notes section where I write down titles or random lyrics lines that I’ve thought of and like and often start a song from just that one main idea. For me, nothing’s too weird… so I live for finding those sounds or chord progressions that sound so weird but right all at the same time, and just build upon that – usually starting with a really simple but individual 4 bar loop and then I just freestyle on top of that envisioning the sketch/map of the song and topline.
What differentiates you from other female artists trying to make a name for themselves?
I think the super cool thing at the moment is that there are so many amazing and talented female artists coming up at the moment, all with something new and unique to add to the scene, and I’d love to be the one that comes in and is known for fighting the corner for female producers. I produce, write and sing and wish that I met more girls who did that too. I also don’t drink, smoke or do drugs and want to make music that isn’t sold by ‘sex’… I never want to stop people from being themselves, but I just want to give young girls another option when growing up and reaching out for a role model.
Where do you find the most inspiration for your lyrics?
Nothing can beat your own experiences and real life because I think it’s in those moments of true raw emotion that you have some kind of epiphany on certain aspects of life and you’re able to see them clearer. I’m an avid reader of Sufi poets like Rumi and Hafez, and aside from being just beautiful wordsmiths and poets, they just help me to see the world in a completely different way which really helps to translate in my lyrics when trying to say something differently that’s already been said 100 times before.
What’s it like being a female artist from the UK?
It’s actually really exciting. I try not to let the fact that I’m a female artist define me and instead just make the best music I possibly can.
Who are your favorite female musicians from the UK?
Imogen Heap is one of my heroes. She’s just a complete lady boss. I don’t think there’s an instrument she can’t play, and she writes, sings, produces, mixes, engineers and is the first and only woman to have won a Grammy for engineering… I hope to follow in her footsteps and be the second one day!
What’s left for Raphaella in 2017?
Next to be released is a new exciting cover which will be released within the next few months. I’ve also been busy in the studio with Watermat, Armin Van Buuren, Dirtcaps, Gorgon City & MNEK, Rudimental, Friction, Kideko, so hopefully a lot of really exciting collaborations in the pipeline too.
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