#SnackChat: Words With Raphaella

#SnackChat #Artist Interviews #Raphaella #In The Dark #Leyla Ava #DJ Target #BBC Radio 1 #MistaJam #Bestival

As she gears up for another year of musical success, we talk to multi-platinum selling songwriter and everybody’s favorite Persian Princess Raphaella about what musical greatness she has in store for 2015, including conversations about her brand new single ‘In The Dark’ and of course that magical re-working of SOHN’s ‘Artifice’ (plus loads more). Catch the full interview here…

Hi Raphaella, thanks so much for talking with me and Happy New Year! Please introduce yourself for our readers.

I’m a singer-songwriter-producer from North London via Esfahan and Dorset, who has a daily internal battle between coffee and Chai.

Describe your musical style in just three words

Alternative - Persian - Synths

Who are your biggest musical inspirations in the game, past or present?

Michael Jackson for his incredible all round artistry and the Persian singer Shahram Nazeri who literally suspends my soul in every note he sings (not to be melodramatic or anything).

Let’s talk about your latest release In The Dark. What was the inspiration behind it? How did the track come together?

It’s the first song I’m releasing that I’ve produced and written 100% myself. So it’s a really exciting yet nervous time for me as I’ve always produced in the background, but it’s the first time I’m beginning to share those productions and songs publicly. The writing process began acoustically on the piano, and for me I find writing an incredibly cathartic process as well as creative. I had just had an argument with someone close to me and was alone at home when I sat down at the piano to clear my head and improvised the chorus, then ran upstairs to my home studio to start recording it down and began layering down this really heavy drum rhythm. I was writing the lyrics late at night and for me, that’s the time where the whole world is quiet and I can think the most clearly, freely and privately about everything & I began thinking that even though I'm losing sleep, it’s the time I actually begin finding myself. One of my favorite poets is the Persian Poet Rumi and there’s a beautiful poem which I adore and wanted to incorporate into the second verse - 'Birds make great sky-circles of their freedom. How do they learn it? They fall, and falling, they are given wings - this to me symbolizes everything I was feeling at the time, of making mistakes, learning from them and having faith in falling into the unknown.

In The Dark – Official Music Video

You unveiled a reworking of SOHN’s Artifice back in December which received rave reviews upon its release, particularly for its fusion of Persian elements that you sprinkled over the track. When it comes to your cultural background and bringing it into the mix with your music, is that something that’s important to you as an artist?

My dual heritage is so important to me, and I think that music should always be an expression of your heart and life, so for me it’s so important to incorporate my Persian influences in my music. I want to create a new genre and bring in new timbres and textures from traditional Persian instruments in a UK alt-electro setting, so that in the first few seconds people say, ‘oh, what’s that sound I’ve never heard that before.’ I play live with a Persian Daf player which is a Persian percussion instrument, so it’s also a lot of fun bringing it to life on stage visually as well as musically too. I’m an avid reader of poetry, especially the Persian poets Rumi and Hafez, and I take inspiration from their poems daily, so a lot of my lyrics either incorporate quotes from their verses, or are inspired by their imagery and themes. Fashion wise, I’m obsessed with the traditional Persian Paisley print too, and love my ear cuffs !

You’ve achieved much success throughout your time, from becoming a multi-platinum selling songwriter with 30 international releases to your name and enjoying features with the likes of MusicWeek,
BBC Introducing and the Guardian for your musical talents, to collaborations with artists including Afrojack, Zed Bias and Ben Cullum as well as taking to the stage at the prestigious 2012 Olympics, The Sundance Film Festival and the Roundhouse (to name a few!). From someone who’s enjoyed a lot of success so far and at such a young age, what advice would you give others looking to follow in your footsteps?

I think success is always measured by the expectations and goals you set for yourself, so for me there is so much more I want to achieve and do and even then, I’m sure I will want to learn and set new goals for myself. I would say work so hard, be disciplined and determined. Every single day is a day that could be used to learn, write and grow. Even though often because music is ‘creative’ you think let me wait for inspiration to come to me, then I’ll write something, I’ve learnt and am still learning that to really write well consistently, you have to be proactive in finding that inspiration for yourself and making yourself write even when you don’t feel like it. Finish things too… I just read an amazing quote which is so true in respect to songwriting - ‘a finished something is better than a perfect nothing.’

There are many aspects of the music industry, or any creative industry for that matter, that can be very cut-throat. What would you say has been the biggest life lesson that pursuing such a career has taught you?

That every one has different opinions, and you have to learn they’re not always going to be the same as yours, but that doesn’t mean what you’re doing or creating isn’t good or valuable. I’ve learnt to learn and grow from negative experiences, get stronger and realise that music will always be a source of discussion – and as an artist you want a discussion rather than silence.

As we all know 2014 has only just come to a close. What were some of your career highlights or most memorable moments of the year?

Being selected as DJ Yasser’s BBC Introducing Artist of the Week with ‘Parallel Lines’ which was just incredible, and all of the amazing support that has followed from him, the Asian Network and the BBC. Jumping up and down in my living room listening to my first 1xtra and BBC Radio 1 plays, being DJ Target’s ‘Targo Embargo’ and MistaJam’s ‘Radio Ripper’ with the Zed Bias Remix of ‘Parallel Lines’, playing Bestival on the BBC Introducing stage, signing to Ed Sheeran’s Live Agent - Free Trade, having my first Guardian article written about me, shooting a Guess Watches episode, launching Focusrite's Scarlett Solo and playing Tour De France in Trafalgar Square with my ‘Kids Count’ charity campaign ‘iStandFor’.

Raphaella performing at Bestfival 2014

And finally, what’s the agenda for 2015? What can we look forward to seeing and hearing from you this year?

Following on from the release of ‘In The Dark’ I will be releasing a series of singles across the year. I also have lots of really exciting features coming out with some huge DJs which I can’t say much more about now, but ‘excited’ is an understatement!

Just a few quick fire questions to round things up: if you had the chance to bring back one artist from the grave to perform/work with who would it be and why?

Michael Jackson, because aside from singing and writing alongside his musical genius, I NEED to learn how to moonwalk.

You’re forming an all-girl super group and have to enlist three other ladies to join you: who do you pick?

Imogen Heap, Beyonce and Jessie Ware

If you could duet with any
UK artist of your choice right now, it would have to be…

James Blake

Sometimes you wish people would…

Give out free ice cream

‘In The Dark’ is currently available on iTunes and can be purchased here