“Truth Is My Main Writing Process” – Interview With Raphaella

by Lucy Lerner

19th June, 2019

We’re over six months in and ‘Happy’ is Raphaella’s first release of 2019. Filled with an 80s synth soundscape, a dark-pop feel, Raphaella’s dreamy vocals, and gritty lyrics, it’s definitely worth waiting for.

The multi-talented singer, songwriter, and producer sings about trying to be happy for an ex who has moved on despite not feeling in that place herself yet,

“you said you found somebody just like me, I hope she makes you happy. I hope she makes you happy.
She even wears her hair just like me, I hope she makes you happy.”

Raphaella comments, “‘Happy’ is about that moment when your ex tells you they’ve met someone new and you have to pretend you’re happy for them when deep down you can just feel your heart drop. I think sometimes we have to literally fake it till we make it, and will ourselves to be happy until we actually are.

‘Happy’ follows Raphaella’s legendary 2018 ‘Imagine‘ EP.

We caught up with Raphaella to find out more about her latest release and what she has in store…

Tell me about your new single ‘Happy’
I think we’ve all probably been in this situation before, where you hear your ex has moved on and you have to pretend that you’re happy for them before you really are. You literally feel your heart drop to your stomach. I sat down and started writing ‘Happy’ right after I got off a similar phone call.

Walk me through your writing process – do you need to be in a particular place or mood?
Truth is my main writing process. As long as it feels really honest to me the creative process flows quite easily.

Who or what is inspiring you musically at the moment?
I’ve recently moved my home studio in North London to a studio complex in East London, Shoreditch and it’s been so great for my music. Just the commute into work makes me inspired and ready to push the music I’m creating. Shoreditch is such an arty, free and fun place to work and gives you a sort of fearlessness to try new things.

How do you know what will make a good song?
I think half the fun is that you never know! Sometimes songs that you love when you start, you end up hating by the time you’ve finished writing them, and some you didn’t really take too much notice of end up creeping up on you and being the ones you always come back to. I think though, honesty is always the thing that makes a song successful, there’s a flatness to a song that was written just to be written, not because it meant something.

Is there a particular message or theme in your music you would like to get across to listeners?
Just that whatever you’re feeling, whatever you’ve been through, there will always be someone who has felt that too. If my music can make someone feel a little less alone even for just 3 and a half minutes, that makes it worth it. Life can feel so lonely sometimes and music is one of those amazing things that reminds you that you’re not.

Who were your musical influences while growing up?
I’m from a mixed heritage, my mum’s English and Scottish and my Dad is Persian so that really affected my musical influences while growing up. One minute there’d be Peggy Lee and Simon & Garfunkel played in the car, the next Shahram Nazeri and all these amazing traditional Persian classical musicians playing quarter tones and singing Persian ghazals. Now I try to even if subtly, put in those Middle Eastern inflections and poetry into my music because it feels authentically me.

Is there a song stuck in your head at the moment and what it is?
I usually have a rotation of about 10 songs depending on my mood! But right now Cautious Clay ‘Cold War’ is on replay. I just adore the sparse beat and warm analog synths, and I’m obsessed with the verse melody. Oh, also that vibey electric guitar, ouf.

What movie or TV series would you love for ‘Happy’ to be played in?
It sounds creepy, but Fargo. I just love their off kilter 80s but not 80s aesthetic, plus it’s just a brilliant show. That, or Black Mirror. I know it’s called ‘Happy’, but it really isn’t.

What are your highlights from the last year?
I feel so blessed because there have been so many highlights over the past year, some of which you’ll find out about later this year, but some of my favourites already have been; ‘Last Time’ which I wrote and feature on with Rudimental came out on their new album. I’ve been working with the boys for a while now, so it was nice to finally release it out into the world. I co-wrote and uncredited feature on ‘We Were Young’ with Petit Biscuit and JP Cooper, which had over 2 million plays in just over a week and we hit 35 New Music Fridays. Also, moving into my new studio – it really changed my music for the better.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I’m a 10/10 geek. I did 5 A levels and have a dream to go back to University when I’m much older to do an English and Persian degree! I love reading and it really inspires me lyrically, at the moment I’m reading War and Peace and I love seeing how themes in that are still echoed in our world today.

If you weren’t in music what else do you think you would be doing?
I literally adore fashion, so anything fashion related. I think writing for Vogue would be beyond cool.

Are you going to any festivals this summer?
My first one is 13th July, Hype-O-Dream Festival in Belgium. I’m going to be performing ‘Until The End’- my feature with Henri PFR which will be so nice because we toured the track a few years back when it charted and we’ve been working on some new material again together recently.

Guilty pleasures?
I don’t think any pleasures should be guilty!

‘Happy’ is your first 2019 release – what else have you got planned for the rest of the year?
I’ve got 2 more solo singles lined up over the next few months and then lots of really exciting collaborations I’ve been working on. It’s definitely going to be a busy Summer and Autumn, and I can’t wait to share all the new music I’ve been creating.

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