Riah | Heartbreak Magic

by Paulette Ely

A song that was born from manic voice memo-ing in traffic, Heartbreak Magic is an ode to true Los Angeles life. Riah was born and raised in LA- technically Whittier, but we can count it- yet her essence and her voice can carry weight worldwide. With an EP coming out by the end of the month, this rising star has not stopped ascending higher. That being said, she remains one of the most grounded artists around town and continues to conceptualize videos and lyrics with the goal of connecting with the world beyond the surface of social media. We have the pleasure of premiering the Heartbreak Magic music video right here as well as a full interview with Riah below so you can obsess over this angel just as much as we are. 

Do you feel that being from LA gives you any kind of preconceived identity as both a person and an artist?

I think people don’t actually know a lot about people from LA. I think it’s very interesting because  so much of LA doesn’t actually represent that true culture of what it means to be here and grow up here. I find that when you find someone or something that is truly LA, it’s very real. There’s another layer of LA that most people see that’s flashy and over the top, and in some ways it can feel contrived. I sort of love being in a room full of people and I’m the only one actually from LA. Im like, “Yeah, I know what’s up.” But I think it’s really cool- the heartbeat of LA is very different than what you see of it.

Do you think your sound would be different if you went somewhere else. Do you ever think about doing that? 

For sure. This is me doing that. When I started I wrote singer/songwriter-y country music. I felt that the only story telling in songs was through country music because it felt so detailed, and I loved that. But I’m talking country at its best. Some is insane and doesn’t make any sense to me since I didn’t grow up riding tractors so I don’t understand. I just do think I’m so affected by every environment that I’m in. When I was in Nashville, I was like, “this is the best thing ever.” And then I moved back home to LA and I was like, “Oh wait no, this is actually what I love.” I went through a huge process of discovering, you do that when you’re growing up. You try everything until you’re like, “Okay, I don’t need to fake anything, I’ll just be exactly who I am and show where I’m from.” Anywhere I am, I want to be that. 

What were your ideas for your newest music video, Heart Break Magic, and how did you put those ideas into action?

So Heartbreak Magic is to me very LA. I was voice memo-ing it in the car. I think it’s so funny because what I do 24/7 is drive and talk about traffic. In general, everything that I’ve written thus far is very much inspired by dreams because I have really vivid dreams. There was a particular season of my life where it was really intense, and I wrote all these songs based on these dreams. The two music videos that I’ve done have been inspired by the dreams. Everything is a very dreamy, weird, tilted view of reality. I think just being able to play with that is super fun, and why would you do a music video if you wouldn't be weird. I want to create something that you couldn't create in reality. 

You have such big accomplishments as an independent artist, do you think completely owning your own brand gives you an edge?

I think there is obviously power in doing something yourself, and it’s very empowering and amazing for other artists to see that and be inspired by that. I also am not tricking myself into thinking that what I’m doing alone is better than doing something with other people. I think it’s a romantic idea to be able to do something alone, but I think the way the universe was created is to be with people. I’ve lived so much of my journey with music with myself, and to me it’s the most beautiful creations that come from doing things with other people. Someone has way better ideas than I can ever had, so being able to have two perspectives as opposed to 1 is way more powerful. I love doing things myself, but honestly there are even so many people that go into being independent. I have so many people that stand with me and decide to be independent with me. I do think there is much beauty in all of it. When you do find the people to get behind you, whether it be a huge label or individuals that come along, as long as they are backing you and not pulling you, it is really important to protect what you’ve created and figure out who you are. You need to remember that every step of the way because it’s really easy to forget it, especially when bigger people come along and bigger opportunities that can help you skip steps as opposed to being really intentional with each step. Pretty much every person that I’m working with is a woman, which is awesome. It’s not not on purpose, but it also happened that way, which I think is beautiful. You kind of see yourself in people and start to gravitate toward them. I think that’s very special as a woman- to see other women really step up and be powerful in what they are doing. 

Will you be making music for the rest of your life?

I hope so. I’ve invested so much of my life at this point, I think I’ve done it for like 12 years, and 10 of those have been processing it and figuring it out. No matter what it looks like- I don’t necessarily need to be in front or need to be seen, I think there are so many amazing roles and aspects of music. It’s healing and it’s beautiful. When you love something like that, you don't necessarily need the platform of it, but you just need it. This is the most fun thing I could do, and it gives me so much life. Performing for the rest of my life would be amazing, so until I’m dead. 

I love your personal style as well. Whats your favorite trend right now?

I will say that my favorite trend always is as bright of a color as I could possibly be wearing. I think that’s my favorite, and I think right now being bright and bold is such a thing. I love it because I love not matching. I’m not necessarily a very loud person, so it’s fun being able to express myself in that way. All of my best friends are all black all the time. They are very chic, but it’s hard for me. Today I tried to find my black shirt and I couldn’t find it anywhere because I literally have one. 

What should we expect from you?

I’m really excited about the EP coming out. I feel really proud of it. It’s kind of the same as loving bright clothes, I love a good sad song all the time but I also love the feeling of being carefree and listening to music and driving and just being happy. I think there is so much lost in joy and being able to see the beauty in life, and I hope that even though all of the song’s lyrics are sad, the essence isn’t. I hope that people experience the highest highs and the lowest lows in it, and that it meets people where they are at. I’m really excited to play the songs and for people to hear them. I’m scared to death, but that’s fun. If I could be afraid of anything it would be that I’m putting myself out there and that I’m proud to do it. It’s a fear that I always want to feel. I’m pushing myself and I’m uncomfortable, and I think that that always feels like I’m locked into something. I’m just excited for all of that. I don’t know what will happen after, I hope that I can keep doing this in this way for a long time and that I get to tour. I think that because it’s all internet based and that every feedback is through social media, to be able to enchant and interact with real people that have been affected by music would be the most amazing thing. It’s all internet, I just think it’s a different level when there are physical people listening and sharing.