Meet Ria, an up-and-coming Canadian artist who’s been honing her craft since the age of four. She had her first stage performance at seven, won Honey Jam, a non-profit that helps support female artists, at eleven, and joined Mini pop kids a few years later. Since then she’s recorded three albums, conducted a nationwide tour, and competed on CTV’s the Launch. Now, Ria is embarking on her own musical journey. She’s got a new EP on the way and is excited to start the next chapter in her career.

How’d you get started in music?
I began taking vocal lessons at age seven. When I was nine years-old my dad told me about a singing competition, and he encouraged me to audition for it. I was really nervous, because I was really young, but I also had this urge of excitement. I auditioned and made it through several rounds of the competition. I made it to the finals and came in third. When I was 11, I entered it again, and I came in first. The prize was the opportunity to record in a studio. I was super excited and I got a taste of what it would be like to be an artist. The experience showed me that it was the only thing that I could see myself doing and I fell in love with every part of music.

You made your first stage appearance at age seven. What do you remember most from that performance?
I remember being extremely nervous, and not being able to move, because I was so shy. I would always tell my parents to sit at the back, and not at the front, because they made me nervous. By the end of the song, I was more comfortable with it. People later told me that I had, like, an old soul, because I was able to portray the emotion of the song. I never noticed it before. As I got older I understood what that meant.

Many of your fans know you from CTV’s the Launch. What’s your biggest takeaway from that experience?
The Launch was a great experience. My mentor was Boy George. He is literally an icon, so it was amazing for me to have the opportunity to perform in front of him. Boy George was super nice. So the biggest takeaway, was when I sing, less is more. It helped me to understand myself more musically. I’ve taken with me all the advice from all these great mentors and it helped me to push myself more.

You just released your new single, “I’m Good”. What’s the inspiration behind it?
A.n.g.e.l (my producer & writer from Arrival Music Group) and I always have a conversation before he writes a song. I told him about my experience with friendships and a lot of problems with feeling drained mentally, because I was giving too much. From that he came up with a few ideas and we looked at them together. We saw the potential in it, and we recorded it. The message is if anyone feels that they have a friend that may not be in the friendship 100 percent, that they are not alone. Maybe the song will help them have the confidence to stand up for themselves in their friendships.

The importance of real friendships is having someone who will be there for you, through the good and bad times. Someone who will always have your back and someone who is honest with you, caring and loving. They see the best in you and believe in you. Without these things, the friendship isn’t genuine. In order to have a healthy friendship, all these things need to be a part of it.

Let’s talk about your upcoming EP. It’s described as modern with an old school vibe. What elements and genres are you drawing from and lyrically what kinds of stories are you telling?
It’s R&B and pop based. There’s a lot of Daniel Caesar, Ella Mai and SZA influences. A lot of these artists come into play with the music because it has an old vibe to it with a lot of new elements. My EP is theme based on honesty and literally all the experiences I’ve dealt with. All these experiences my fans can relate to, because all of us teenagers go through these things. Like love, friendship and mental health.

I love that you’ve talked about staying true to yourself and about celebrating our differences. What advice would you give to someone who is struggling to find their identity or sound in music?

Being different is better than being the same. We all try to fit in and be this person that we think society will accept. But really just being yourself will attract the good people in your life. If you are trying to be someone who you aren’t, people won’t get the real you. They will get this person that you presenting to them not the one you are hiding. Be as real and honest as you can with yourself about the message you want to say in your music. Trust yourself and your words and don’t be afraid to have your voice be heard. What you say, does matter and it does make a difference in people’s lives. I’ve learned that these things have helped me to become the person and the artist I am today.

Your career in music started really early. From Mini Pop Kids to The Launch, you recorded three albums and conducted a nationwide tour all before graduating high school! What excites you the most about your future in music?

What excites me the most is having the opportunity to perform in front of thousands of people and to have those people listen to what I have to say and love it. It’s a great feeling to have people invested in my music and my songs and having their own interpretation of what that song means to them. All those things make me feel complete and makes me feel like I’m making a difference in the world.

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