By: Shayla Lee
A self-taught musician, Rhea Robertson is an Australian-based artist known for blending her soaring, soulful voice with punchy lyrics and a well-rounded production. If you’re a fan of dark electro-pop in the realm of Lana del Rey, Lykke Li, or Santigold, Rhea Robertson might be your new favorite. By day Rhea brings joy to children’s lives as a Disney Princess at a theme park and by night she has been hard at work honing her craft as an artist. With a new EP on the way later this year, Rhea chatted with us about what fans can expect, her musical influences, and challenging herself.
To people unfamiliar with you and your music, how would you describe yourself and your music to them?
I’m a mother f’n fairy just out here making sounds with my mouth! Haha but seriously I teeter on the edge of being a bubbly goofball and a soul searching feeler of all emotions. My music is my cocktail of sultry alt pop with jazzy undertones, layered on a soundscape of hip hop Tarantinoesque 60’s French pop. A really mixed bag of lollies!
Where do you draw inspiration for your music? Who are some of your musical influences?
I draw inspiration from life and an overactive imagination. My songs have a storytelling element to them, I like to paint a picture for my listeners. Sometimes I’ll take a personal experience or other times I will completely create a whole new character and tell their story as though it’s my own. I love for my music to be cinematic, characterised and move people to feel what I’m feeling. I want to immerse you in the story, seeing it in your mind and resonate with your own experiences. My musical influences are very diverse, I find inspiration from so many elements…like the tone of Doris Day, the storytelling of Fleetwood Mac, the emotion of Led Zeppelin, the character of Lana Del Rey…you feel me?
You are a self-taught musician. What are some tools you used to teach yourself? What advice would you offer to others interested in music but don’t know where to start?
I taught myself because I wanted to learn and was willing to do whatever it took to do better than my best every time. I’m still learning now, everyday! Show up for yourself, make learning a priority, challenge yourself beyond your own limitations, surround yourself with people you admire, learn from them, ask for feedback, don’t judge yourself too harshly.
It’s always hard to start something new, but you just have to push through the experience of being uncomfortable or feeling “not good enough”. Celebrate the wins along the way and try not to constantly compare yourself to others! Everyone’s on their own journey, there’s only one YOU so YOU need to be the best YOU that YOU can be. That’s what sets you apart from the rest!
By day you bring joy to children’s lives working as a Disney Princess at a theme park and by night you are adding the finishing touches on your upcoming EP – quite the juxtaposition! What can fans expect from your EP?
When I’m playing a character I like to let the creativity flow naturally in the moment, which is similar to my writing process. So I don’t really know where the end goal is until I arrive at the destination. Whether it’s an EP, an album, a bunch of singles or a musical! The character has to tell me the story, not the other way around. That’s the exciting part! The art is unfolding the way it wants to, I’m just the messenger.
Favorite lyric from the upcoming EP?
“I wish you were dead, so I didn’t have to hate you and I could just miss you instead”
You recently released a track called ‘Save Yourself’ with Luke Wylde. What was it like working on this track with Luke? Can you tell us more about it?
Working with that guy is always a crazy experience! We work all night, get super hyperactive and have crazy dance battles to keep ourselves pumped. He really pushed me vocally to deliver the most raw, hard hitting version of myself for this one. This song flowed so naturally because it hit home for both of us . For me I’m always the happy go lucky funny girl , which comes with the expectation of being sunshine all the time. So it was always easier to run away and deny the mental demons that would rise in my darkest times. I carried a sense of shame around anxiety/depression, feeling as though I was letting other people down if I wasn’t positive all the time. But in the times that I really let go and hit rock bottom, I found the most growth. The song explains the process when I was down and out, when I stopped pretending I was ok and just felt exactly what I was feeling. Sometimes that’s truly the only way to save yourself.
Mental health is something that is really important to us at Femme Riot and we love hearing about how others maintain balance in their lives. As a busy musician, what practices do you implement to ensure your health and well-being are taken care of?
I practice yoga, spend time with uplifting/inspiring people, take time to reset myself in nature, nourish with healthy plant-based foods, adorn myself in fabulous relaxing oils (clary sage and lavender I’m looking at you), interpretive dance breaks in the supermarket and singing just for fun. I also let myself feel whatever I need to feel, bottling up my tears is no use to anyone!
What is the biggest piece of advice you could share with a fellow female in the music industry?
Oh I have a few!
-What other people think of you is their business. Pay no attention to the petty minds of jealousy and rise above!
-Being female in a masculine dominated industry can be intimidating, but you don’t have to harden yourself to make it work. Being sensitive is not a weakness. You can be tender and strong, loving and fierce, intuitive and courageous. Be honest with yourself, know when to speak up, be kind to yourself and do it because you love it!
-Encourage, support and empower other women!
What songs are currently listening to?
Currently I’ve been listening to a lot of YéYé music. It’s chirpy 60’s French Pop that takes me to another world of daisy chains, psychedelic colours and kisses that taste like wine.
Just to name a few!
Anything we haven’t asked that you want to add?
Support is so key to our industry, so if you’re an original artist reach out and let’s connect on social media! We can be the ones in control of fostering a supportive online community and lift each other up! When you rise, I rise, we all rise!