ASBO Meets: Theia
New Zealand artist Theia has been a rising artist ever since she popped up on music scene in the past couple of years. After released her debut EP last year she is continuing to build her sound and style as an artist with her bright and colourful vibes, she is continuing her rise with the release of her new single 'Bad Idea'. ASBO caught up with the songstress to chat all things about her music and more!
ASBO: How did you first get started in music?
I worked three jobs just to raise enough money to get myself into a studio and start laying down some demos. At first, I really had no idea how to go about getting my music heard by the right people and in the right places, so I worked hard getting to know ‘who was who’ in the industry and I sent off a lot of emails! Eventually, it paid off.
ASBO: Who were your musical influences?
My dad would always listen to an old-school radio station here in New Zealand called Coast, which plays songs from bands like The Everly Brothers, Nancy Sinatra and The Beatles. So I grew up loving stuff like that. Then as I started to develop my own musical tastes, I got into artists like Rihanna and Kanye. But the biggest influence of all has been Amy Winehouse. I adore her!
ASBO: How did growing up in New Zealand impact your music?
I don’t think that New Zealand’s had too much of an impact, to be honest. I think I’d have been making the same kind of music regardless of where I grew up. That said, there have been so many great Kiwi artists blazing a trail and it’s cool to know that such a tiny place, with a small population, at the bottom of the world, has turned out so much amazing music over the years.
ASBO: Was something you always wanted to do or did you fall into it?
Even though I loved singing and writing songs, I wasn’t one of those kids that did music throughout childhood. I went to university and studied a double major in Indigenous Studies and Maori language and it wasn’t until after I’d finished, that I started to think about music as a career. The moment of realisation came when I was bed-ridden for weeks after badly injuring my leg. I vowed that when I was up and about again, I’d get myself into a studio and start recording and that’s what I did.
ASBO: How would you describe your style of music?
It’s hard to describe your own music, but I guess if I had to I’d say it’s alt-pop. It’s often a mix of light and dark. The lyrics can be quite dark at times and they’re paired with soaring harmonies, layered, intricate synths and a grungy bass-line.
ASBO: What is your creative process when it comes to making music?
I don’t have one process that I follow. Every song develops in a different way. Sometimes I’ll go into a studio and start working with a producer on a song from scratch; other times I’ll work for weeks on my own in my bedroom getting down melodies and lyrics before I take it to a producer. It’s different every time.
ASBO: What tends to be your approach when it comes to working with producers or other people?
Some songs, like my first two singles ‘Silver Second’ and ‘Roam’, were started from scratch with a producer. So just the two of us in the room, co-writing and working on the production. But my most recent songs ‘Bye Bye’ and ‘Bad Idea’ were started in songwriting sessions with other people. With 'Bad Idea', for instance, I came from the initial session with only the first verse and chorus. I finished the rest on my own and then took it to a producer to finish.
ASBO: How are you able to express yourself creatively when it comes to working with other people?
Co-writing or working one-on-one with a producer can be pretty daunting because there’s always that pressure to come up with something. So, I’m always pretty anxious before going into a session, and I’ll do a lot of preparation beforehand. Expressing yourself creatively when you’re with another person or in a group, isn’t easy. I think it just comes down to how well you’re gelling with that person or those people. It’s a bit like going on a date, isn’t it?
ASBO: You released your first EP last year, what was that process like?
I had about four tracks, which I knew that I wanted to be included on a body of work. Then it was a case of working out in which order we’d release them. Later on, I went back into the studio and finished two more songs, which gave me six tracks all up. It was a pretty smooth process, to be honest.
ASBO: What was one thing you learned in the process of making the EP?
I did learn about the importance of really vibing with the person you’re working with. Josh Fountain co-wrote and produced five of the six songs on the EP and we worked so well together. I have a lot of respect for Josh and his way of working and I think we created something pretty special.
ASBO: You have now released a new single Bad Idea, what can you tell us about the song?
Bad Idea is a song that draws on my own experiences of self-harm. So lyrically it’s quite dark but there is also a strong message of hope. Production-wise, it’s a balance of a heavy bass and warm, glittery synths.
ASBO: What was the process of making the song?
Oh my goodness! The process was one of the most arduous and difficult things I’ve ever done. No song should ever take this long to finish, but this one was months and months in the making. Also, if something could go wrong, it did! Actually, I can’t even begin to articulate the process. Ha ha ha. Anyway, let’s just say it was a very testing 18 months. But I’m so proud that ‘Bad Idea’ is now out there. And a big shout out to Sean Turk, who’s a New York producer. He helped me bring this song’s soundscape to life.
ASBO: What’s one thing you want people to get out from the song?
Ultimately Bad Idea is a song of strength and hope. I want people to know that they are not alone and that they should not be afraid, or ashamed, to seek help and support. If you’re dealing with self-harm, or if you know of someone who is, please ask for help.
ASBO: You have quite a creative sense of style in terms of your artistry, how would you describe your sense of style?
My style is ever-evolving and I am always on the search for new inspirations in photography, art, fashion and music. I am drawn to the avant-garde and edgy.
ASBO: How important is your style in terms of your artistry?
Essential. For me, tapping into a vibe or creating a particular sound, comes from having a strong sense of what I like and what I don’t like. Also, having an identity is key. I believe it’s important that what you create comes from a genuine place and that it remains true to who you are, rather than chasing trends.
ASBO: How has this evolved over the years?
I’ve always just done my own thing in life, whether it be fashion, the music I listen to, the books I read. Although like most people, my tastes do change and evolve. But I think ultimately, I have always kept that strong sense of self, which is what has guided me in my career in music so far.
ASBO: What do you think makes you stand out as an artist?
I am just me and I can’t really be anything else. There is immense pressure to be releasing songs that fit into a certain box or to look a certain way, but at the end of the day, I can only be true to myself. So, I hope that stands out. I hope that people can feel, through my music, that I pour my heart and soul into everything I do.
ASBO: Who is one artist you would want to collaborate with?
Answering only one is very hard. But Lana Del Rey, Rihanna, Dounia and Tommy Genesis are some of my faves!
ASBO: What can we expect from you next?
I’ll be releasing more songs over the coming months. I’m writing all the time at the moment and working with some really cool and exciting producers. I’m also really hoping to make it to the UK for the first time. I’ve had so much love and support for my new songs from the UK and I’d love to visit and maybe work with some amazing British writers and producers.
Words: Seneo Mwamba