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Raphaella Talks Hers Latest Single, Hers Personal Journey and All Things [Interview]

We go in depth with the Anglo-Persian songstress Raphaella is a recognisable voice in UK circles thanks to her vocal and songwriting credits on some of the foremost talent in the country, including RudimentalLittle MixGalantisIcona Pop and Sonny Fodera. She’s back on Destructivo/Tileyard Music to focus on her solo work with brand-new house anthem Holla At Me’.


Raphaella is a multifaceted artist, writer, producer, and vocal producer who’s been making waves in the music industry. Working recently with the likes of Rudimental, Martin Solveig, Little Mix, MNEK, D.O.D, Galantis, Mark Ralph, Armin Van Buuren, MK, Gorgon City, Anne Marie, Skepsis, Sonny Fodera, JP Cooper, Martin Garrix, Petit Biscuit, Banx n Ranx, Jonas Blue and more. As an artist, she's garnered over 100 million streams on Spotify alone and received consistently critical and commercial support; whether it's being playlisted on Radio 1, Capital, Capital Dance, Kiss and more or being the cover of another Spotify Editorial playlist, Raphaella is quickly making a name for herself across the Dance and Pop worlds.


Her recent collaborations such Allo Allo (Martin Solveig), Lies (with MK), Up All Night (with Sonny Fodera) and Like You Do (with D.O.D.) have made her the key to any successful dance collaboration. Whether it's soundtracking a Jaguar advert or being made Hottest Record of the Week at Radio 1, there's no slowing the momentum Raphaella has been building over the past few years. With over 500 million streams as a writer, producer, and vocal producer, Raphaella is a force to be reckoned with behind the scenes. She vocal produced much of Little Mix's latest album, as well as Brit Nominated 'Heartbreak Anthem' by Little Mix, David Guetta and Galantis, as well as 'Kiss My' by Little Mix ft. Anne Marie. Moreover, she's worked with and written for artists by the likes of Rudimental, Galantis, Icona Pop, Henri PR and Loic Nottet- the latter of which have earned her Platinum Records, along with her work with Little Mix. These talents have not gone unnoticed within the industry, receiving sponsors by notable companies such as Adam Audio, Focusrite, Sequential, and Sontronics.


Hey Raphaella, thanks for joining us, how can you describe your new track to those who haven’t heard it yet?

I’d say it’s a major 90s throwback on top of a dance floor analog synth fest.


How was your creative process different on this compared to your previous solo work?

This specific time, I actually started the track first for a different session, which is quite unusual because usually I sit down specifically to write for myself in mind. I made the bass line & played in the piano chords & just kept instinctively singing the melody for ‘No Scrubs’ over it haha being born in the 90s, I always loved that song so much & ended up not playing it in my session & finishing it myself for me!


Can you describe the change in sound on this release compared to your previous solo stuff? What influenced you to make this jump?

So I actually studied classical music when I was younger. I then did a music degree & studied film composition as well as production, and James Blake (I later found out) was a few years above me! So the first release I had was really left of centre analog synth alternative pop, but I’ve been writing & collaborating in Dance for the last few years & it’s been amazing mixing the two worlds, so this is my first proper release that truly feels like me.


Who are some of your favorite dance music producers and why?

This is probably going to be obvious but Fred Again. I’ve always loved left leaning music and it feels like he’s fearless when it comes to rules, he just follows what sounds and feels right. I’ve always hated set confines that some people can put on Dance music & I’ve always felt the most groundbreaking music comes from when those rules are broken. My friends are endlessly inspiring to me too, YK who’s produced some amazing records for Galantis, David Guetta, Sigala & Joel Corry, Punctual who produced 0800 Heaven & Black Mascara for Raye & then Mark Ralph who I worked with on the final mix for Holla At Me. He’s behind too many amazing records to count & is such a lovely human to work with.


If you could play a headline show in any city in any country, which would it be and why?

The day I get to play a headline show in my hometown Esfahan, Iran will be one of the happiest days of my life. I’m half Persian & my heritage is so important to me - it literally seeps into everything from my visuals to inflections I have in my voice. Currently singing in public as a woman is illegal in Iran & we’re fighting for freedom every day for those simple rights. I did my dissertation on political protest music so I know how powerful and impactful music and using your voice is, so to me every time I release a song as a woman it’s an active protest and I’m fighting for their voices to be heard.


You like to include remnants of your Persian heritage littered throughout your work, how important is it for you to get this message across in your music?

It’s probably obvious by now but so important! Haha As an artist my music is a direct product of everything I’ve ever seen, heard, experienced or lived and so my mixed heritage is incredibly important in that. I grew up listening to traditional Persian artists like Shajarian & Shahram Nazeri as well as Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder & Sting. I don’t think it could be my song if it didn’t have both sides of me in it. Also I think there’s such a rich culture of art and poetry in Iran that gets lost or misunderstood, so I really try to bring that to the forefront & let people learn about Persian culture & people, not the government.


If you could collaborate with one music artist, dead or alive, from any genre, who would it be and why?

James Blake. I’m obsessed with his musical mind & I think we could make such an amazing piece of music together. I happily sit in my studio making weird analog sounds for hours, building it up until I have something I love & I think doing that together would be the most fun. I also think our voices would work really beautifully together too.


What has been your highlight of your short career so far?

Probably being able to give my dad a UK Silver disc for ‘One Night’ I did with MK & Sonny Fodera. Many people don’t realise but my dad actually managed me up until a few years ago. We had such a wonderful working relationship together & it felt like the most amazing gift to be able to share with him, because we literally did that on our own together from nothing.


When you first started making music, if you could give that young girl any advice, what would it be and why?

Trust your instincts and don’t let anyone knock your confidence. When I first started in the industry I was sent off to studio to studio and every room I would go into would be with a male producer who wanted to tell me what my sound is. Times are definitely changing & I work with wonderful men who respect and give space to young artists coming through to express themselves, but the most freeing feeling is to be able to produce yourself or be involved in the production process. No one can find your sound better than you.