Exclusive Interview with Indie-Pop Artist ROYAL

ROYAL might not have initially set out to pursue a career in music, but she was clearly meant to share her talents with the world. Her music is dynamic and emotional, creating tunes that are far more memorable than your average pop music. 

I got the chance to talk with her about the role music producer Jack Lenz played in help her realize that music is what she wanted to do for a living, how she would describe her music without genres, the story behind her song “Vessel”, how Tiera Skovbye and Jordan Connor from Riverdale got involved in the music video for that song and so much more! Keep reading to see what she had to say!

Tell me a little bit about how you first got into making and performing music.

I was a very shy kid who always found comfort in music. When I was around 11 years old, I began songwriting. It quickly became my way of communicating with the world and helped me to make sense of whatever it was that I was going through at the time. I played for my family and friends, who urged me to sing at the local open mic night and that’s when I began to build my confidence with music. At the age of sixteen, I was invited to move to Toronto to record my first album with Jack Lenz, who had seen me perform at a family function and from that point on, I decided to pursue music as a career.

Was there a specific moment or person that made you realize that music is what you wanted to pursue professionally?

I consider Jack Lenz to be the person who gave me the tools to realize that I wanted to make my music a career. While recording my album with him and his team in Toronto, I also worked around the office to learn more about the business side of things, and gain first-hand experience in what it was to be a working musician. I remember holding the competed album in my hands and feeling a wave of happiness crash over me. It was that moment that I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life. 

I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey with their music. Your sound would typically be classified as pop, but if you had to describe it without using genre names, how would you describe it?

Without classifying it by genre, I would describe my sound as moody, emotionally-charged and dynamic. My music is a reflection of my life experiences and the more significant moments that have clung to my heart. I really pour my heart and soul into every song I write, and my hope is that the listener can feel that emotional delivery.

Going off of that, who are some of your musical influences?

I grew up listening to such a broad range of artists and genres – and I still do today. In doing so, I feel that it has had an impact on my own sound and style. In particular, I pull influence from Billie Holiday, Madonna, Annie Lennox, Bob Dylan, and more recently, Lana Del Rey, Amy Winehouse and Lorde. I could go on forever on how so many artists have inspired me in different ways, I love diving into a variety of genres and dissecting all of their different layers.     

Let’s talk about your song, “Vessel”. What’s the story behind this song?

I wrote “Vessel” after going through a very difficult break-up. I lost someone who had been the center of my life for so long that once they were gone, it felt like I had a huge part of me missing. I felt completely empty without them, like an empty vessel with no sense of direction or purpose. I think this is one of the songs that just spilled out of me one night. Sometimes when I write, I can only do pieces at a time, but then there are moments when I can’t get the lyrics and melody out of me fast enough. This song really holds a lot of weight emotionally, and it will forever be like a little time capsule for me.   

I always love hearing about the songwriting process so I was wondering if you could give me a glimpse into what it was like specifically for this song.

“Vessel” poured out of me one night while sitting in my lonely apartment in the city, completely engulfed in my despair. Some songs have a way of swelling up inside you and then suddenly hit you like a strike of lightning. My music is tied to my emotions, so when I’m feeling overwhelmed with something, I turn to lyrics and melodic release. It’s my source of comfort and my own version of self-therapy. 

Are you someone who always has to write by yourself or do you like collaborating with others in co-writes?

I have written with other songwriters, but it is definitely a challenge for me. I’d like to say I enjoy it, but I think I’m more of a lone writer. I think the main problem I have with co-writing is that my music is so deeply personal that I allow myself to be completely vulnerable when I write. That’s hard to do with someone else, especially if you don’t know them all that well. I also believe that it takes a certain kind of confidence and skill to write with another artist. I am working on all of this because I want to write more with other songwriters to broaden my range and sharpen my skills.  

Were there any major changes made to “Vessel” once you got into the recording studio, whether it be in the lyrics or something sonically?

Yes, great question! “Vessel” began as an entirely different animal. The intro kicked off with soft harmonies and overall the song had a much different feel. We had gritty electric guitar instead of the many layers of synths you hear in the song now. I’m very happy with how the song evolved. I think the end result better showcases the song’s emotional depth and the dynamics really build the story.  

I really enjoyed the music video for “Vessel”. First, where did the concept of the girl being an astronaut in space and remembering her heartbreak come from? Second, how did Tiera Skovbye and Jordan Connor from Riverdaleget involved in the video?

Thank you! Producer Aidan Kahn and I developed the idea for the music video through a few creative brainstorming sessions. He really was able to breakdown how these visuals could emulate the emotions of the song. Oddly enough, most of my friends in the city are actors, so I found connections through them to get in touch with Tiera and Jordan and see if they would be interested in the project. I still can’t believe they said yes. I’m so blown away with how well the video turned out — they really were the perfect fit for the song and music video. 

You’re still relatively new to the music game. What are some music industry-related goals or benchmarks that you’re aiming to reach in the next couple of years?

I always set high goals for myself. Some things I would really like to accomplish within the next couple of years are touring around the world as an opener for someone I look up to, and then headlining my own international tour. I would also like to record another album and create more engaging visual content for my listeners to have the full sensory effect of the songs. Finally, I want to grow my team so that I may begin to focus more of my time on the creative, rather than the business. I have endless aspirations for growing my career and getting it to a more established and comfortable place within the industry. I’m looking forward to whatever comes next! 

Last question — we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner nerd so what is something that you’re currently nerding out about?

I’m a huge nerd. Whether it be nerding out about the history of the world, investigating newly discovered sea life, or checking out rocks with the microscope I got when I was ten, I’m always nerding out with something. I guess my biggest thing right now is brain health. Since discovering that I have fibromayalgia, I have been doing a lot of investigating on how our brains work and the different physical effects that it can have on the body. There is so much new research coming out that will blow your mind – it’s fascinating!

You can follow ROYAL  on InstagramFacebook and Twitter or visit her website.

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