Interview: Reija Lee arrives with her retro-infused debut solo banger, Love Nobody
One of our favourite vocalists is flying solo, and we're really digging the direction.
From her days as one of half of much-loved dubstep duo Kito & Reija Lee, to vocal features with the likes of Zeds Dead, Paces, ShockOne and Paces, WA-based artist Reija Lee has been a prominent feature in the global electronic community for a number of years now. Last year was a particularly big one after ending Kito & Reija Lee in 2015, with huge features on ShockOne's A Dark Machine and Zeds Dead's Blood Brother, but now she's ready to forge her own path.
Today sees the release of her debut solo single, Love Nobody, and we'll admit we were pretty shocked with its vibe. A huge, neon-drenched slice of 80s synth-pop, it honestly blew us away on first listen. Nostalgic without feeling cheap, she linked up with legendary Aussie producer Styalz Fuego to craft an epic slice of romantic future-disco that we are all the way in for: "Love Nobody is kind of a self love anthem. I've written a lot of songs, and a lot of love songs at that, but never one for myself. For everyone who needs a bit of self-love, this one's for you (and me)."
It's not often you get surprised in the often very safe-feeling world of electronic music, but Reija Lee has surprised us in the best possible way. We sent her a few questions to find out a little more about the solo project, and where she wants to take it - read on below:
So congratulations on Love Nobody – the first single from your solo project, before we tuck into it, can you give us a bit of background into turning Reija Lee into a solo project after being such a prominent vocal feature over the past few years?
Honestly, having grown up playing in bands and then spending years in a duo, I originally never had any intention of doing a solo project. But it was just time for me to do something for me, where I can make the kind of music I’m most passionate about, and have complete control.
We’ll be honest, Love Nobody’s vibe was a big surprise given the musical sandbox you’ve played in in the past, but we love it. Where does this retro-feel come from in terms of inspirations/influences, and can you tell us a bit about the making of this track?
Haha, yeah it’s a pretty big jump! I love drum'n'bass and EDM, but it’s not my be all and end all. I’ve loved 80s synth music since I was a teen – it was the first type of music that I discovered by myself (which is maybe why it’s stuck with me so much), It wasn’t handed down by my parents, it wasn’t passed on by my brother. I went down a Napster rabbit hole of everything 80s, discovered bands like New Order, The Cure, Kate Bush, Tears For Fears, Echo & The Bunnymen… the list goes on. When I wrote this song I had already started writing for my solo project, and I just wanted to try working with some new producers. I ended up in the studio with Styalz (Fuego), and magic just happened. Sometimes you just click with people and you feed off each other’s energy – that definitely happened when we made Love Nobody.
You’ve obviously garnered plenty of fans around the world with the previous features and the Kito project, are you excited for people to see this side of you/come on a new sonic journey?
SO excited. I feel like no one knows the real Reija Lee and this is it! I can’t wait to play my solo songs live with a band. I also love the idea of playing shows at like 10pm and still getting to bed at a reasonable hour, instead of playing at 1 or 2am like all my DnB shows hahahaha.
What have you learnt in this industry so far, having worked with so many different artists over the years, and what can you bring from those experiences into flying solo?
1. You can’t force magic. If you don’t click with someone, and you’re not feeling vibes in the studio, then it’s pretty likely you’re not gonna get vibes on the track.
2. If you want something done, DO IT. This is a solo project so no one is going to care about it as much as you. Be the driving force. Be annoying. Send more emails. Hassle people. And remember that you’re the boss – stay true to your vision.
3. Have faith in yourself and your decisions. It might sound cheesy, and I still struggle with it, but it’s essential. If you don’t believe in yourself why would anyone else?
It’s obviously early days yet, but the visual aesthetic so far looks great as well, we assume that’s all you, how much do you enjoy that side of things?
It’s almost as fun as writing the tracks! I studied art so it’s my second passion, and I have a pretty specific vision. My boyfriend is also amazing with graphic design (gotta plug his clothing label @allover.aus !), so we sometimes work on visuals stuff together. Pretty cute.
Alright so Love Nobody drops Friday, what’s happening the rest of the year?
I’m pretty excited about the music video for Love Nobody which we’re shooting soon! I also have a pretty special track that I want to release as a second single later in the year... and there may be a tour support slot in the works...
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