New Zealand electro-pop songstress Theia may not be a household name just yet, but she’ll already well on her way. With her first single, ‘Roam’, hitting over 8 million plays on Spotify and charting on the streaming service’ US, Australia, Malaysia and New Zealand charts, this young artist is paving the way for yet another wave of great New Zealand music worldwide, much in the steps of another successful singer from the same country – Lorde.
We had the opportunity to speak to the rising star thanks to Secret Signals, so without further ado, welcome to Theia’s world!
- Hi Theia! Congratulations on the release of your self-titled EP. That’s such an interesting name – could you tell us a little about where your stage name ‘Theia’ came from?
I wanted a name that encompassed my sound and also my aesthetic. I played around with a few names and when I came across Theia, it just felt right. In Greek mythology Theia was a wide-shining Goddess – the mother of the sun and the moon. It’s a beautiful, feminine and empowering name.
- You were a lifeguard, among other things before your music career really took off. Have you always wanted to have music as a career, and did you think it was important to kind of be grounded while you pursue it?
I started writing songs when I was just a little girl and music was always something I loved, but I didn’t make a conscious decision to pursue it as a career until after I’d finished university. The turning point came when I broke my foot and was bed-ridden for several months. I had a lot of time to think about things and I decided that the moment I could walk again, I was going to give music my best shot. I did several jobs just to make enough money to get into the studio. And yes, being a lifeguard did keep me grounded. It’s hard work!
- How did it feel to see “Roam” take off in so many countries – including the Spotify charts here in Malaysia?
It’s been a dream come true to see how far the song has travelled. I love hearing from people who tell me that “Roam” has touched them in some way. It’s just so amazing to think that people in various parts of the world have been able to connect with a song that I wrote.
- Tell us a little about the inspirations behind “Roam” and your sound in general. Who do you look up to musically?
I wrote “Roam” when I was feeling a little unsettled. I’d been in Australia working on “Silver Second” (another track on my EP) and had returned to New Zealand. I was due in the studio but I didn’t really have anything prepared and I was missing home. So “Roam” came from that – my need to feel grounded and also knowing that if I was going to make it in music, I needed to get used to that feeling of being a bit of a gypsy.
In terms of my inspirations – there are many. Both musically and from the fashion world. For instance my song Champagne Supernova was inspired by the 90s renegades of fashion, like Alexander McQueen and Kate Moss.
- Can your fans expect “Roam” to be an indication of a signature sound for your self-titled EP?
The EP is actually a mix of many sounds – there’s pop, electro-pop and also R’n’B. But there’s definitely a thread that runs through it, and that tends to come from the layers of harmony that I love so much. Each song is very different but I think together they tell a story.
- Tell us a little about the EP making process. We hear you recorded in the same studio as Lorde, another New Zealand artist who’s made her name in music – did you feel any pressure to live up to that standard?
Yes I made five songs off the EP in Golden Age Studio in Auckland with a producer called Josh Fountain, who is amazing. It is the same studio where Lorde made Pure Heroine, but there was never any feeling that I had to live up to that. She’s truly remarkable and her success has been such an inspiration. But for me it’s always about trying to stay true to myself.
- Some of your lyrics can be described as dark. What goes into the songwriting process for you? What informs the song you’re looking to write?
I don’t follow a linear process when I write and songs come to me in different ways. Sometimes I go into the studio knowing where I’m going with a song, other times I don’t. I describe the EP as a diary of my life thus far.
- Do you already have plans for a full album in the works?
Absolutely. I’m working on new songs but I’m also working hard on my live show and performing tracks from the EP. I’ve just finished a tour of NZ and going into summer, I’m excited to announce some festival sets.
- What can your fans expect from you in 2018?
More music, more shows, more travel. I just can’t wait.
- Finally, do you have any parting words of advice for young artists trying to catch a break in this competitive industry?
The best piece of advice I can offer is, know who you are as an artist and stay true to that. Believe in yourself and your work and even in those moments when it feels like it’ll never happen, don’t give up. You owe it to yourself to give it the best shot that you can.