Introducing indie-pop solo artist and multi-instrumentalist who plays as a one-person band, and who just recently released the video to her debut single 'Energy', RIA TIMKIN . Ria's mastery of the loop station, beat boxing, melodica, keyboards and harmonized vocal solos has earned her spots at shows across the breadth of the UK with features on national radio stations, including the BBC. I got a chance to learn more about this emerging artist when I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions which she was kind enough to answer and you can read about below:
MHB: Can you introduce yourself? Where are you from; can you touch a little on the music scene there and what you like about it?
RIA: My name is Ria Timkin, I am an indie-pop solo artist and multi-instrumentalist who plays as a one-person band. I was born in Moscow but was very lucky to start travelling from a young age, which really nurtured a cosmopolitan spirit in me. So, I guess I’m an international child in every way. I moved to Bristol, UK in 2014 to do my Master’s in Law and to pursue my music career seriously. The music scene in Bristol is really vibrant and unique. It’s indeed the city of arts with a really strong sense of community.
MHB: How long has music been a part of your life and how did it come to be a part of it?
RIA: I was a very musical child and liked singing a lot, so my mum brought me to a local music school at around six where I learned how to play the piano and became a soloist in a choir, which was very successful in Moscow and together we won multiple singing competitions. Later on I started performing by myself and with the vocal studio that I attended I got a chance to tour in Germany and Greece performing at the international arts festivals for kids, which was a perfect opportunity to learn, gain confidence on stage, and assess if it was something I wanted to pursue professionally.
MHB: Growing up, who were some of your biggest musical influences? What current artists would you say continue to inspire and influence you and your music?
RIA: Despite my parents’ support to learn music, I wouldn’t say that my family has ever been into music in general. So, while growing up I didn’t get to listen to the old good stuff like the Beatles or some old famous Russian bands like a lot of my peers would. Instead, I listened to a lot of classical music as part of my music education. I could easily recognise any classical piece within 15 seconds of playing. Later on, I started performing on my own and got into pop music. I remember at that stage all we wanted was to sound like Christina Aguilera.
Since then my music taste has changed. Most of all I value some innovative and fresh elements in the music that I listen to. My long time favourites include Jack Garratt, George Ezra, Dutch Uncles, Birdy, the 1975, Imagine Dragons, Rae Morris and Lorde. I have a weekly updated playlist on Spotify that’s called “Tunesday With Ria Timkin” where I share my new discoveries.
MHB: Without using any musical terms, how would you describe your sound to a new listener?
RIA: It’s a creative mix of electronic and acoustic sound full of alluring harmonies and catchy lines that explore different topics of self-definition and the ideas of living up to your best potential.
MHB: Did you always know you wanted to be a musician or was there a particular moment when you decided you wanted to make music your life's work?
RIA: I think I always knew that music career was what my heart truly desired, but for quite a long time I had to wait out before I could start actively pursuing it. I had to wait until I graduated from the university and then until I could move away from home. Only when I gained a certain level of independence and was able to account for my own choices, I could throw myself into music completely. I think the reason why in my art I really like exploring the idea of taking things to the extreme when it comes to your dreams and goals is exactly because for a long time I couldn’t do what I wanted. And now it’s almost “all or nothing” if you listen to my lyrics.
MHB: How do you describe yourself as a person apart from being a musician?
RIA: I have a curious mind and I always have a lot of questions to ask. My father always says that it’s not shameful not to know something; it’s shameful not to be willing to find out. I’ve always been adventurous and I can’t pass on a challenge. For a long time I saw things in black and white, but now I slowly start seeing this grey area that I’ve always been told about.
MHB: Can you tell me a bit about your creative process? Is it typically the same or does it differ every time?
RIA: I usually focus on passing along a certain message with each of my songs. However, quite often I don’t say it as it is, I like my listeners to read between the lines, to give them extra space to fill in the blanks… Quite often I take different thoughts, situations and experiences that happen to me or that I witness around and put them together in one song. So, in order to comprehend the lyrics fully, you really need to treat the song as one piece. When I write, I kind of hear the final product in my head and then during the actual writing sessions I try and match instruments to what I’ve imagined beforehand. I’m that annoying person who really likes walking and humming, I do it all the time… For example, for days I kept humming the song ”Visitor” while crossing the bridge on my way to work, and then a few days later I went to a rehearsal space and finished it off with the piano part just like I had envisioned during my walks.
MHB: Let's talk about your single "Energy", how did it come together? What is it about and what was the inspiration behind it? How did the concept for the video come together?
RIA: In 2015 I went to Dubai and was really fascinated by the pulsing energy of the city. I fell in love with its gorgeous illumination, the never-ending vibrancy and the striking contrast between the empty desert and the city that just breathes life. During the trip I had the phrase stuck in my head that later became the chorus: “I feel the energy beating…” I knew it wasn’t grammatically correct because usually you say that energy flows or pulsates, it doesn’t “beat”, but I really wanted to keep it that way because it was how I felt during the trip. However, it wasn’t just the magnificent electric lights that made Dubai feel so special. When I was there, I felt that unexplainable thirst to experience life that emanated from the city. Thus, “Energy” is about feeling alive, testing your limits and wanting something so much that you almost reach “the brink of obsession” because that’s when you feel at your best.
When I started thinking about the video, I knew it should be about lights, glitter and sparkles – something to represent the city that has inspired me without making it too obvious in order to leave room for imagination. That’s how I came up with the idea of using projections. Kerrie Sloper and Anna McGuinness did a great job at bringing it all together; and Jamie McNamee helped with the technical side. And of course, the video wouldn’t be the same without Katie Konstanz who created those gorgeous glittery looks.
MHB: What projects are you currently working on? Is there an album in the works? What can we expect to hear from you in the coming months?
RIA: I have so many projects in the pipeline and it’s so hard to keep it quiet. “Energy” has introduced my listeners to a new, deliciously darker side of my music, and I intend to continue exploring this field more and more. Without giving away any titles, there is a song I have in mind that will become my next single, which you can probably expect to be released midsummer. And as you know, where there’s a new single, there’s probably a new E.P. not too far away. I’m really excited about this sound transition that I’m making, and it’s so hard not to spill the beans, but I really don’t want to ruin the experience for my listeners. I want them to discover everything gradually.
Actually, I have a blog called “The Secret Plan of Ria Timkin” that really helps me connect with my audience and tell them about the lessons that I learn on this crazy musical journey. And since you’ve asked me about new projects, I’m very excited to announce that I’m launching a new video version of it. Everything you want to know about the life of an upcoming musician, all the struggles we go through, all the things we don’t usually talk about – an insider’s view on the music industry in England.
MHB: If you had the opportunity to go back in time and see one artist perform live, who would you choose?
RIA: That’s such a hard question… The first artist that comes to my mind is Amy Winehouse. She was an absolutely amazing musician and I was so moved by the story of her life when I read about it and watched a documentary later on. Though, I’ve heard her family really disapproved of the movie and accused the creators of altering the truth. I’d also really want to see Louis Armstrong because when someone says “jazz”, his name immediately pops into my head. He will always be the king of jazz.
MHB: Can you share one random fact about yourself?
RIA: I’ve developed a new weird obsession with sunglasses: whenever I scratch my pair, I would order another one. Recently it really got out of hand and I ended up with three absolutely identical pairs of sunglasses. The scratches are never that bad, but I always get so upset about the fact that the glass is damaged that I go and order a new pair.
MHB: What does music mean to you?
RIA: Music has always been my most efficient way to sort out my own thoughts and feelings. Sometimes I would be caught in a swirl of emotions and I wouldn’t even know how exactly to identify them and then I would start writing a song and it would all fall into place slowly. The same happens when I listen to music. A well-selected song can really bring out things that I didn’t even know were there. Apart from helping me understand myself better, music also connects me to other people on a totally different level than a normal conversation would. I’ve always had so many things I wanted to share with the world and writing music has opened up an opportunity to do it in a more graceful and beautiful way that really resonates with the hearts of other people. We might not know each other, but we would listen to the same song and we would interpret it in our own unique ways, and then some of those ways might coincide and we would immediately share a certain connection with each other. Those strangers, suddenly they get you, and they are not strangers anymore… I find it really beautiful!
MHB: Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself and your music?
RIA: I think this year has all been about transitions and developments, not just in my music career but also in my everyday life. And I feel so lucky to have this creative freedom to do whatever I want, and it’s always amazed me how supportive and encouraging my listeners have been towards every idea I show them. For a young upcoming artist, it’s crucially important to get a certain level of response and my supporters have been so kind in this regard. I think because I’m so open about my musical journey with the blog that I have and with my active social media presence, it really encourages people to speak about their own experiences. It surely has become a two-way street, and I’ve been enjoying this open communication with my audience so much! Basically, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook, because I really care about what you have to say!
Check out Ria's video for her debut single 'Energy' below: