Freya Ridings : « The piano is my therapist. »

Freya Ridings is a British rising star. Her powerful voice lead the media to describe her as the new big voice of Britain and you’ve probably heard her hit single Castles. We’ve met the singer some months back in Paris to talk about her album, tours and Adele :

Hello and welcome to Paris! You are here to talk about your album Freya Ridings. Let’s start with the title, why did you choose a self-title? 

I think because I’ve written so many of these songs over so many different years. It gathers the loves and losses of the last five years of my life in one record. The next album will be written in a much shorter space of time and will have more of a unique beam. This one was about the loneliness of a heartbreak and rising from the ashes of that. The only thing these songs have in common is me, that’s why the album is named after my name. Also lots of artists that I love had a self-titled record as their first album.

This album is your first studio album, even though you’ve released live albums beforehand.

It seems to confuse some people because usually one would wait or hold back some songs to release a studio album first. But for me, because I have such a strong connection with my fans, even though it was the smallest fanbase, I wanted to share the songs early on. And I love lives, they are so authentic.

In your studio album, we can find songs that were also in your live albums from years ago. Do you still relate to these songs? 

I wanted to put on the studio album the songs I was still proud of. Yes, I still massively relate to them. They are like friendships, they evolve over time. There’s something deep because every time I play them, I remember what it was like to play them three years ago. And now I get to play them for way more people so I have to take step back and say thank you to these songs for bringing me to this place where I get to do what I love everyday.

Freya 1
© Feel The Vibe

A first album is a way to introduce yourself as an artist and a person. What did you want to state through this record? 

As I wrote these songs really heartbroken and alone, I never wrote them expecting people to listen to them. When I was recording the album, I had more of an idea of that people are going to hear them and I wanted to keep that intimate, raw, exposed and vulnerable feeling while also nodding to the future that is not all about being in the ashes of that loneliness and heartbreak. It’s about rising and making yourself stronger because of the pain. Like a phoenix.

We get that idea of a phoenix with your album cover and also with the way you alternate between ballads and more upbeat songs. 

It’s two worlds colliding. On half of the songs, I was a different person, I was much more melancholic about love and life and I wasn’t sure if what I was doing was right. The second half were these songs which are like fire and when I felt like I could do this. It’s a rebuilt of your life and who you wanna be and authentically be yourself and have people accept you for that. So there’s this melancholy mixed with this euphoria on that same album.

You talk a lot about piano, how is this instrument special to you?

It’s like a friend. When I was growing up, I didn’t have a lot of friends at school. I was really close to my family but at school, I was so different and I felt super isolated and left out my whole school life. It was so hard because I love people. But the piano room was the one place where I could express who I really was and the piano was letting me do that. So when I sit down at the piano, I feel at home. No matter where the piano is, at a train station in London or in LA or on stage in front of thousands of people. It’s very intimate and also freeing. The piano is my therapist.

You wrote all the songs of the album. Could you give us an insight of what is going through your head when you’re writing?

I never hold a pen. Writing is something constantly absorbing, like a motion,  a feeling, a situation. Especially at time of relationships, I’m so obsessed with relationship dynamics. So if something goes wrong in a relationship or if I feel that distance growing, for me, being able to turn to the piano or the guitar and just sing about it makes sense a bit. I have the feeling, then I sit down and it sort of explained itself to me. I close my eyes when I write, to let my subconscience talk. It’s not thinking, it’s just feeling. The second you’re thinking, you have lost it. You have to allow your subconscience to get it all out and then go back and pick. Like my voice memos on my phone, I go through them and pick my favorite ones and then they become the songs.

Freya 4
© Feel The Vibe

You’ve also been touring. What kind of atmosphere do you want to create in your shows? What can one expect when they come to one of your concerts?

I think from listening to the album, people expect my shows to be just me and the piano but we have electric guitar, full drums, a couple of backup singers. I like it to be more like a celebration, as if we’ve all been through this heartbreak together and we are going to overcome it and feel freaking amazing. It’s a mix of cry and dance. When you go to see a show, you still want a show. It’s not going to be just me singing my songs on my own because it would get people bored. I want people who already know the songs to sing them in a completely new way, in an exciting and explosive way.

If you had to give someone a reason for them to come to your show, what would tell them? 

I’ve honestly never thought of that in my life because I never expected anyone to want to come in the first place. At the beginning, when people showed up, I was a bit shocked. I’d say that you’re going to feel like you’re around people who love you. I can walk into a room full of people I’ve never met and feel like I already have this massive thing in common with them. That’s the best thing about going to live shows, you come together and you sing along. You can sing this song you’ve listened to through your darkest time and feel united and a sense of community of outcasts and underdogs together.

You’ve been compared to Adele, to Florence and the Machine, you’ve been described as the next big voice of Britain and so on, how do feel about this feedback?

Adele and Florence are my absolute idols, so for me even being in the same sentence as them is massive. It’s so humbling. These are the women who have inspired me to write, to play, to perform. I love them so much. It’s a real honor but it’s a lot of pressure as well. I don’t want to let anyone down but at the same time I have to put my blinkers on and make the music I’m proud of. If no one respond to that , it’s not up to me.

When you have all this pressure from good feedback and high expectations, somehow you can lose yourself, especially when you’re making your first album.

Totally! I feel lucky that I’ve written most of these songs before that, I would’ve been so scared. Alongside having that incredible feedback, it’s lovely to have fans who are excited about new music and who want to see your shows. You can’t really bottle it, it’s this magical spark of electricity that happens once in a lifetime. You’re only a breakout artist once in your life, if you’re lucky enough, so I’m just enjoying it at the most. It’s been a lot of firsts to me, first festival, radio, TV, it gets crazier and crazier! I have to keep track on my diary (laugh).

Speaking of first, what new first can we wish you for the future? Do you have any particular goals for your carrer? 

From watching incredible films with amazing soundtracks, getting to write a song for a film would be one of my absolute dreams.

Freya 2
© Feel The Vibe

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