What is your name and role within ROYAL?
I am ROYAL, a Canadian independent pop artist. As a solo artist, I am the heart and soul of the music I write and perform and these days, I’m celebrating the release of my new album, Heart of Shadows.
Where are you currently based and what is the music scene like there?
I am currently based in Vancouver. The music scene here is fantastic – there is an incredible pool of talented artists, as well as a great support system from Music BC, FACTOR (The Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent On Recordings) and more. I believe that Vancouver is home to many artists because they can enjoy beautiful scenic views, while having access to all of the great advantages of living in a city. In my case, I came here after growing up in a small town and was instantly thrown into the arms of the city’s inspirational liveliness and energy.
Your new album ‘Heart of Shadows’ is out now, how and when did you record it?
I created this album over the course of two years with my immensely talented producer and friend, Luca Fogale – who is currently performing in Australia! We spent most of our time in Luca’s home studio, which provided a very comfortable space for our creativity to flourish. We also laid down some instrumental parts at a local recording studio and had the mastering done by Samuel Woywitka, a friend in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
What influenced the sound and songwriting for the album?
Heart of Shadows is an album composed of some of the most intense experiences of my life over the past ten years. These entail: love, heartbreak, toxic relationships, loss of identity and the harsh realities of the world on a young, naive soul. During these hard times I found solace in music by artists such as Amy Winehouse, Lana Del Rey and Bob Dylan, whose timeless storytelling abilities and powerful accompaniment inspired and led me into the genre I am in now. Each song on this album dives into a very personal experience that made me a much stronger person. I hope listeners can find comfort through my music and see that these moments in life are meant to empower, strengthen and unify.
What equipment/programs did you use when recording?
This album is a smooth blend of organic and technical instrumentation and gear. We blended live strings with the works of a symphonic composer, which created a warm and enchanting orchestral section on the album. As well we experimented with different tones for the snare drum to add that depth and haunting mood you hear throughout the tracks. Each body of work is an assemblage of experimental and timeless elements which thematically represent me as an artist.
Please tell us about the creative process for the album from the songwriting to the recording:
Most of these songs exploded out of me during the songwriting process.
Some melodies hit me with incredible force and clarity. To put it into perspective, it’s like in the movies when you see someone struck with a vision. For me, it felt as if someone took over my mind and then the melody would come parading through. It was like magic.
Once I recorded the melody and lyrics onto my phone, I brought it to my recording program and added some instrumental elements before bringing it to Luca where we continued to flesh out the idea and mould the song. From there, we explored the experimental process of bringing in studio players and playing around with different sounds and instrumental pairings until we were happy with the result. I am a perfectionist, so most of the time I just need someone to tell me to stop, and assure me the song has arrived at its final destination.
With the overall album structure in place, that’s where more creative fun happens! In different sections of the album, you will hear slices of unconventional elements and dream-like departures that I wanted to add in.
Who did you work with on the album?
I worked with an array of talented producers and instrumentalists on this album. Luca Fogale played a significant role on this album as the lead producer, while Sean Wharton co-produced the single, “Vessel”. Mixing was done by the wonderful Samuel Woywitka, and mastering by Brock McFarlane, CPS Mastering. The symphonic composition is by Samuel Kim, blended with the beautiful sounds of Christina Cuglietta on strings, and Mylle Fournier on harp, anchored by the thunderous sounds of Nigel Blondeau on bass and Jen Foster on drums.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
My current playlist consists of the new album Golden Hour by Kacey Musgraves, anything and everything by Amy Winehouse, Etta James, The Beach Boys and fellow Vancouver artist CHERSEA – all wonderfully talented artists! I have a broad appreciation and love for many artists and genres, everything from Ludwig van Beethoven to Nirvana.
How did you first start playing music?
I first started playing music with my uncle Wes through guitar lessons when I was around eight years old. After many hours of practice, I began playing at family reunions, then open mic nights, and cafes, then on to festivals and established music venues. I have always been a shy person, so it took a lot of coaxing and support from my family and friends to start performing publicly. I still remember my first live performance at an open mic night at one of the local cafes in town. There I sat in the dark corner with no microphone, just me and my guitar. I was so nervous that I was no louder than a whisper. Though my ever-supportive and loving family and friends roared with applause after every song. Through their continued belief in me, I started planning tours with my mom, and eventually received requests to perform with other acts. I also successfully applied for The Peak Performance Project, a music competition and development program which really motivated me to my continued pursuit of my musical career. As a finalist, the experience provided me with showcase opportunities to really develop and share my live show. I love performing. It offers me an opportunity to connect with my listeners in a unique and memorable way.
You have had success with film, tv and commercial placements across the USA, Canada and Asia, please tell us how all of this came about?
Through my relationship with my first publishing company, Lenz Entertainment, I gained my first television placements on CBC Television. Through the support of Music BC, I was chosen to showcase for some of Canada and America’s lovely music supervisors, who have since selected my music for more placements. In 2016, I collaborated with electronica artist CONRO, whose label Monstercat Records connected us with the commercial placement in Taiwan for Gogoro scooters. It’s all about jumping on opportunities to develop relationships with people in the industry you want to be a part of, without being afraid to collaborate with other artists in different genres. I’m still that shy, timid girl from a small town, but I continue to challenge myself to be bold and break out of my shell.
You have lived in Canada and Australia, have these places influenced your music at all? If so, How?
Let me start off by saying how much I love Australia. I lived there for a time and completely fell in love with it. Had it been my way, I would have never left! However, I eventually had to leave because my sister had given birth to her first child, my first nephew, so I couldn’t miss that. Something about Australia lifted a weight of self-consciousness and life stress off of my shoulders. It opened my eyes to a completely different music scene – one that goes beyond experimental and has a special foundation to it, as if all of the music stems from the roots of Australia’s soil. It’s incredibly inspiring, and it had a very freeing effect on me as an artist – and as a person.
All of that said, I am a true Canadian. I grew up surrounded by the mountains, ventured to the endless fields of gold, and then voyaged to breathe in the thick oceanic, salty air. Like the many Australian artists that I loved during my time there, I too have been highly influenced by my home country. Canada holds so much depth and beauty, and the people are unique – but in a way, all connected. I am grateful for my upbringing and the opportunities I’ve had to express myself as an artist. Canada, like Australia, is an incredible place I hold the deepest admiration for.
What do you like to do away from music?
Music is my life, but I have always found joy in other actives like soccer, swimming, visual arts, and spending time with my family and close friends.
Being the true nerd that I am, I love getting lost in a book, or playing the board game, Boggle. If there are any other Boggle lovers out there, please let me know, because it’s not easy convincing someone to play, ha-ha! I love word games, so this game is my favourite. It also hones a touch of nostalgia, as I remember at family reunions, all of my aunts and cousins gathered around the table playing, while my uncles sat in the living room talking golf and drinking scotch. Those were very amusing and wonderful times.
What do you have planned for the remainder of 2018 going into 2019?
I am currently planning some live shows around Canada, as well as a music video for the album single, “Vessel”. I am keeping busy promoting the album and continuing to create more content to share with my fans. I am very excited for all of the opportunities headed my way and will keep posting announcements on my website https://www.royalofficial.com – as well on my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter channels with the handle @IAmRoyalMusic.
Favourite food and place to hangout?
This is possibly the most difficult question for me to answer. I am a huge foodie. I love food way too much.
The best meal I’ve had was beef wellington, made by my friend at a restaurant we both used to work at years ago.
The Devonshire tea in Australia is divine, oh and the fish and chips – mind blowing! I ate those on the beach in Mornington. One of my most treasured memories was eating fish and chips with friends on the beach on New Year’s, listening to Triple J as they counted down to the number one song of the year. Even though I was cloaked in as many light layers as I could handle – due to my vampire-esque skin tone – and sweating beyond relief, it was one my happiest times.
Closer to home, I would also have to say chickpea fries! There is an amazing spot in Vancouver called Chickpea that makes the best chickpea fries. For anyone who suffers from a bunch of food sensitivities and/or allergies, this is the place. Not long ago I was an extra in my pal CHERSEA’s music video. After a big day of filming, I picked up a box of chickpea fries to go, and ate it in my bed and passed out with sauce all over my face. It was epic.