Chicks Chat with….
Simply known as RHEA…Singer/Songwriter from London. Who has spent a long time honing her skills and developing her distinct sound. Her long awaited debut single ‘Dreams’ has just been released. We at Those London Chicks as punch that RHEA has taken the time out of her busy schedule to chat to us. We are sure it’s going to go super crazy once the word gets out!!
Had you always known you wanted to pursue a career in music or had you other ambitions growing up?
Yes, I always had a love for music from a young girl, my Mum & Dad were really into their music & played everything from Motown, to Ska to Jazz & Blues, so I think that got me hooked. I did however really want to be an actress & studied at LAMDA for a while, it’s still an ambition of mine, so maybe one-day!
When an artist breaks into the scene there is always an assumption they just “popped” up. What has been your journey to get this point?
“Haha” I know! That always makes me laugh as the reality of it is very different. I have been working at this for years, honing my songwriting, working with different producers to eventually finding one that gets me, my sound & my vision. I’ve experienced a lot of set backs but I feel like it’s those experiences that gives you your material & enables you to put a piece of your soul into the music. It takes a lot of hard work, and you sacrifice a lot…but I could never not do it, I feel like it’s my soul calling in life.
Where there any challenges along the way if so how did you overcome them?
Oh yes, loads! I’ve not come from a wealthy family, my Mum was a teacher & my Dad was a car dealer, & I left home when I was 17 as my parents moved to Spain, so I was paying my own way from a young age. My Dad was a hustler though & he always instilled in me you’ve got to work hard & hustle to get to where you want to be…So I’ve had to do loads of jobs, and none of them I wanted to do lol! But you’ve got to do it as you’ve got rent & bills to pay. For a long time I was working a full time day job & then writing & recording in the evenings & at weekends. It was full on & when you have those times where you’re tired. You can’t go to out with your mates as you’re in the studio. I’m not gonna lie you do have those moments of doubt where you’re like “Can I actually do this!?”
A friend and mentor then told me, get a plan together, like a full 5 year plan of what you want to do and how you’re going to do it. So that’s what I did, month by month, year by year, then once I did that I had that structure in place, it became so much easier and I stopped hating the other jobs, I welcomed it as I then just looked at the other job as giving me money to facilitate what my heart & soul really wants to do.
“…Now I’m a bit older… I’m so much happier in my own skin.That all comes from self acceptance and self love…”
I always find it interesting to discover various recording artists process from conception to track. What is yours?
I’m writing lyrics like all the time, I notes on my phone full of them, a line will just come to me, or I’ll be feeling in a particular way & I’ll write it down. However when I’m in the studio, the songs usually just come to me. A lot of the forthcoming EP I wrote itself. My producer would be on the piano, play some chords & I’ll say “that… I like that one” then we just start vibing & I’ll have just an SM58 & record what I’m singing, usually the melody of the track comes out there & then, along with some of the lyrics, and then I’ll go back, really look at those lyrics & refine them.
How would you describe your sound as an artist?
I love Jazz, Soul & Hip Hop, so I wanted to make my sound a contemporary fusion of those, experimenting with different sonics & sounds to take it to that other level. There are songs at the core though, little stories that I want to tell through the music, that hopefully we can all relate to at some point in our lives.
Who are your musical influences and inspirations and why?
Motown has had a huge influence on my life, I grew up on my Dad playing all those vinyls, The Isley Brothers, Tempations, etc, those songs are timeless & taught me that good songwriting is timeless, some of those tracks still sound fresh now, like 50/60 years on… I then discovered Jazz and the likes of Nina Simone & Etta James, who’s voices touch you, you can hear the pain & feel what they are singing to you, there’s something really special about that.
Do you think there is a pressure as a female artist to look a certain way, if so how do you deal with the pressure?
Yes, I used to be quite insecure about it when I was in my teens, I’m not a naturally skinny woman, which back then I was always thinking “oh god this is awful, I’ve got big thighs and an ass and what am I gonna do!” as there were all these hot skinny girls around me. Now I’m a bit older, I totally embrace that. I’m so much happier in my own skin. I look at my body as an absolute blessing and I’m so grateful for those curves now. That all comes from self acceptance and self love. Loving what you have and looking after it.
You’ve been doing this for a while, do you think the industry has changed?
I see a lot of artists going the independent route now which is really inspiring. Now everyone can get their music out there to the world. There are a lot more opportunities to grow, expand and get yourself heard which is great. It does however mean that there’s a lot more out there, so you really have to cut though and stand out as an artist. It’s challenging but an exciting time to be an artist.
We at TLC are all about positive thought to realise one’s dreams into existence. What are your hopes for the immediate future?
Oh I love that, I’m all about that! I want to release 2 more singles and then my EP…Plus I want to do Jools Holland, I’m a big fan as I love Jazz. I’m putting it out to the universe that I get invited on. I’ve also just signed a sync deal in the States so I’m hoping to grow more as an artist over there.
You go under the name of Rhea, otherwise known as mother of the gods; goddess of female fertility. Intentional, or is there some other reason for this, as your artist name?
I have Greek (as well as Spanish) in my heritage and I have always been interested Greek mythology and Rhea was one of my favourites, she used to roll with two lions by her side. The daughter of Gaia and Uranus. I thought yeah she’s dope…I loved her feminine presence and power she had. I wanted to embrace that inner strength.
It sounds like it’s all go for you at the moment. What do you do to relax?
I do a lot of yoga, which really helps! It settles my mind & allows me to focus.
If I do get a spare weekend then I try & visit my mum & brother in Spain when I can…& listening to music still, I love Hip Hop & Jazz, people like Erykah Badu & Akua Naru are my favs. Just chilling & listen to stuff I love helps me to relax.
Where can we can we see you sing next, any gigs coming up?
Yes I have my first solo gig coming up debuting tracks from my EP, which I’m super excited about…my band are sounding amazing right now & I am itching to get on stage…My first gig is at Urban Bar on Whitechapel Road on Fri 16th June, I’ll have more coming up over the next few months though too.
Finally, what advice would you give to an up and coming recording artist?
Don’t give up…Everyone is different and their journeys are very different. There’s no set plan of what is going to work and what isn’t. So just create the music that you love and do what makes you happy. That’s all that matters.