You may or may not have already heard her name before, but one thing is for certain – Riva Taylor is no stranger to the music industry.
The singer-songwriter first rose to fame at the tender age of 12, becoming the youngest artist ever to sign to EMI Records under the name of Becky Jane Taylor.
Over the years, Riva has accomplished a number of extraordinary things, from performing at an FA Cup Final, achieving huge success in Asia, and collaborating with Hans Zimmer for the soundtrack to the hit UbiSoft computer game Assassin’s Creed.
Along the way, Riva has gained support from a string of incredible artists including Sir Elton John, who added her 2018 single ‘My Mouth’ to his personal Spotify playlist.
Now, Riva is back with her latest single, ‘This Woman’s Heart’, a personal offering which marks a new beginning for the talented songstress. A unique ode to the colourful life she’s already lived and the one she continues with, the track is an honest and reflective release full of beauty and strength.
We had the opportunity to ask Riva Taylor about ‘This Woman’s Heart’, London’s influence on her sound, her greatest career highlight to date, and more.
Congratulations on your latest single, ‘This Woman’s Heart’. What’s the reaction to it been like so far?
It always means so much to have positive responses to my songs and people so far seem to have been spreading the word and giving it some nice coverage. I have so many plans for this song, it’s only the beginning, I’ve had some lovely messages professionally and personally too which always means so much when a song I’ve written feels like it genuinely resonates with those who have supported for so long.
Can you talk us through the inspiration behind the track?
The track is written about the people who are there for us in life no matter what. I have a few of those, no matter what life has thrown of me they have been constant rocks. This is a song for them. A thank you. The track nods to my journey once as a kid releasing albums and my journey to womanhood.
What was the creative process like? How long did it take for the song to evolve from the initial idea to the final product?
I wrote this track with Graham Archer and Jools Hinton, who I love working with, it’s always such a relaxed and enjoyable process but writing ‘This Woman’s Heart’ was actually not a straightforward, one session write. It was a bit of a process in fact. ‘This Woman’s Heart’ as a lyric came to me after the song melody and most of the lyric had been written! The song felt solid but the lyric didn’t fully deliver, it was a niggle for a long time as I knew we had a good song….but knew there was more to uncover to make it magic for me. It felt general and not personal. In fact, the song had a completely different title called ‘Iceflow’ for a long time. It’s hard to imagine singing this now as ‘This Woman’s Heart’ feels so right!
What’s your favourite lyric from ‘This Woman’s Heart’?
Tough one! I’m really happy with the way the chorus resolves. But I do like the first line ‘I’m a statue on a tightrope’ in terms of the image it conjures from the start. It helped inspire the video!
You’ve filmed a music video for the track – what can we expect from it?
The song is musically light, but the premise has a darkness…a sadness…the director has captured the juxtaposition brilliantly. I love art, my mums side of the family are artists and in my free time I sketch, I find it really cathartic and a great way of escaping. I was keen to weave an artistic element into the video so we were joined by 4 lovely artists for a bit of life drawing…watch this space!
You’re also working towards an album, what kind of themes/sounds can we expect from it?
Dynamics, heartbreak and bright futures.
What do you hope that people will take away from your music?
I hope they will want to experience it live!
How has your sound developed over the years?
It’s certainly crossed over more and more. The more I hear, the older I get, the more I travel, the more I’m influenced by different forms of music. At uni I studied the exploitation of R&B musicians during the civil rights era. I listened to so much rhythm and blues and rock n roll. And you can definitely hear a bit of the blues coming through in some of my writing on the album.
You started your career in music at the age of 12. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt during your career so far?
Be inspired by your heart. Trust your gut.
You were the youngest person to ever be signed to EMI and achieved a great deal at such a young age. How did you cope with the pressure of the industry?
Fortunately the label were really understanding of me being young and still in school and advised we kept travelling and promotion to a minimum in term time. I had the support of my amazing parents around me, one of them would always travel with me and be there to keep it real. I always say my career felt like a hobby that got out of hand for a long time. As a kid you haven’t many experiences to compare each new one to! So it felt natural and normal and I’d been performing on stage and been on TV before I got my deal so this felt like a natural next step. The tougher time came when EMI Records began facing their challenges, I had hit the age of 17/18 and began to feel pressured to define myself as a singer and realised being an adult in the industry is a very different beast to hiding behind being young and guided by a label machine!
You currently support new and emerging talent through The Writing Round series. What one piece of advice would you give to anyone trying to make it in the music industry?
Make as much noise as you can (what I mean by that is be as proactive as you possibly can!)
What would you say has been your biggest career highlight to date?
I loved performing the anthem at the FA cup final. That was a real buzz!
You’ve worked with and have been championed by numerous big names over the years. If you could pick one dream person to work with, who would it be and why?
It was amazingly flattering to have Elton John endorse my track My Mouth. He’s always been an inspiration, I’d love to perform with him. I hope he’s only teasing us with a farewell tour!
What kind of influence has London has on your music?
London is my home. I draw inspiration wherever I am for my writing. A place, moment. I’ve recorded a lot of the album here too and I love my city. But to keep it fresh I think travelling for added inspo is key. I’ve really enjoyed my experiences writing in Nashville, Berlin and LA. I bring back all the varied approaches to the craft and it keeps it fresh.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
More music….the album is coming! Performing my material live, my favourite place. I’m also excited to be heading back to the US, to what has become a second home – LA. It’s always a place I feel creative and I have written a load of the album there.