Riah Talks Confidence and Joy On "Heartbreak Magic"

The independent singer-songwriter discusses her dark and inviting debut EP, the culmination of her years of hard work and growth.

Riah's Heartbreak Magic feels like something of a homecoming.

Most of the songs on her debut EP are singles with release dates stretching years back, before Riah ever released any kind of official project. On their own, they're an interesting historical record, an invitation into the development of a growing artist experimenting with tone and mood. From the grooving hook of "Wildfire" to the bitter longing in the lyrics of "Nice" to the nostalgia-soaked bassline on the disarming "Prom"—you can picture Riah in the lab, curiously tinkering with her sound with her collaborator, Chad Copelin. Linked together and re-ordered on the EP, though, they're proof-positive of Riah's talents. Riah asserts herself quickly and completely in Heartbreak Magic's twenty minutes, and it's exciting to hear the way her musical growth has become its own story.

Heartbreak Magic is Riah's arrival in the artistic space she's been quietly building for herself for years. It's a small project, both lush and sparse at once, but that's what makes its immediate emotionality—and Riah's confidence in it—so riveting. Popdust was able to speak with Riah about how she crafted her sound and what she learned while preparing Heartbreak Magic.

First off, congratulations on the release of your first full project! What feels different about having one cohesive body of work out?

The difference for me is I've done five separate singles, so to have a body of work that has a common theme is really important. I think it tells my story, and anyone's story, just a little bit better—to have a full experience, to have a whole narrative out in the world. It's exciting, it's scary, it's new, and I think it builds the story of what I've gone through and what I'm going through. It just paints a better picture.

Considering the EP is the sum of more than a few years of work, now that Heartbreak Magic is out, what do you think the titular single does to bring all the songs together under one umbrella?

The reason I decided to do the EP now, after releasing those songs first, is me feeling more confident in who I am as an artist. There's a lot of pressure on the things that you release to represent who you are, and I felt really excited and really confident about these songs and this EP saying, "This is who I am...I know who I am, I know what I want to say, and I know what I want to sound like." I'm really proud of who they show me to be.

How do you feel now about the time it took for you to get to this point?

I wish it didn't take me so long. It's been a twelve-year journey for me in music to figure all this stuff out. I'm really grateful for it. I look back and I'm grateful I didn't rush into things. Even now, things feel like they're going fast, even though I look back and think, "This has been such a long time coming, I've taken my sweet time with all of it." I'm glad I waited until I was confident in who I am. I know that if you're not solid in who you are, things can sweep you off your feet and change the way that you sound, the way that you write. I'm grateful for the time, even though I wish it'd taken less.

The EP was co-written with Chad Copelin, your longtime collaborator. How has your collaboration helped build your sound, from your writing to your production style?

A big part of the reason that I click with him is how [his process is] so different from the way I do things. And when I started this project, I really wanted to test my limits and not stay comfortable. I wanted to feel safe, but I wanted to push myself and see what I was capable of. He really continually pushes me out of my comfort zone, and I think he's constantly pushing himself out of his comfort zone. It keeps me learning; it keeps me on my toes; it keeps me challenging my own ideas. It was so important for me to find someone like that, and it's been pretty much the biggest part of the way that I sound and the way that everything's been released, because of what he hears and the marriage of our instincts.

Your music lives in this indie-pop/synth-pop arena, a genre subsection that's only grown in popularity in the last few years (even though genres can hold artists back). Who do you feel you've been learning from when making music, regardless of genre?

LANY's a big one. Troye Sivan, Miguel. The person I listened to most growing up was Bjork. I feel like I learned a lot of my vocal style from her and my not-mainstream instinct from her. But the idea of genre feels interesting to me, being influenced by specific genres. I think the best people are influenced by everyone. Like, Miguel is one of my biggest inspirations—maybe you wouldn't be able to pull that from the music, but I think that's kind of the beauty of art. You can gather things from everyone, not just looking at the best of whatever genre you're put in, but looking at the best of every genre, the best of all art that's out there. I constantly want to be reading books and looking at magazines and listening to music that's not necessarily what I would follow. I look for things that are different from what I am so I can evolve and so that the music can evolve. I think that's beyond genre.

What is it about your sound that tells the stories you want to tell?

I want to portray reality and groundedness but also joy and a sort of carefree perspective. I think you have to be able to say, "This is real life, this is tough, and I'm going through it, too." That's how you become connected to the person on the other side of the sound, you know?

There's a position that I have about living a life of joy. I'm not gonna sit in my reality; I'm gonna try to create a better one. I'm gonna try to create a better world for everyone else. Like, "This is what's happening, but I'm not gonna stay here. I'm not a victim of circumstances or my choices. I'm gonna keep going, and keep pushing, and keep being better." You can't always say those things in a song (you can't say all that in three minutes). But that's the motivation and heart behind my creative process. That's where I feel like my drive to say what I need to say comes from. If you can make life better for yourself and for everyone else, you're not in it alone.

Riah - In My Dreams (Official Music Video)

The video for "In My Dreams" dropped this summer: What went into the production of the video? What do you want it to say about you, the music you make, and the direction you want to take as an artist?

The thing that I love about that video: It was after a pretty crazy week of shows, and the last few music videos I'd put out were very dreamlike, very much a persona. With this video, I wanted to try to strip it down to something very natural. The idea of the song is that you don't know what's real or what's fake, and all these amazing feelings you have with someone end up being a figment of your imagination. I wanted it to feel like you didn't know if you're in reality or if you're in a dream. But the other side of it is that I wanted it to be true to who I was. I didn't want to be overly made-up, I didn't want the world that we were creating to be overdone. The more I move forward with music, the more I want to just be completely who I am. With every music video, with every picture, with every song, I keep getting closer to who I want to be, tearing down the walls of needing to have a persona. That was a big step for me, to try to be as close to who I am as I can,[with] as little make-up, as little production [as possible]. It's getting to the core of what I want to be, and that's just myself.

Follow Riah online: Facebook | Twitter | Spotify


MUSIC MONDAY | SondorBlue takes over this week's playlist

Movers + shakers of the "new bohemian movement," Sonder Blue, has taken over #musicmonday

Beatles and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, oh my.

Despite being in their early twenties, SondorBlue is often compared with those legendary acts. They are a Charleston based alternative rock quartet featuring three part harmonies that harken back to the days before Pro-tools made real vocal talent optional. Originally hailing from Hilton Head, the band relocated to attended school at College of Charleston. SondorBlue have been touring the east coast extensively in 2017 and were recently tapped as a local opener for NPR's Tiny Desk tour. Check out some of their upcoming tour dates here:

December 20 – Charlotte, NC - The Evening Muse
December 31 – Columbia, SC- Famously Hot New Year w/Elle King, Nappy Roots, Fatrat Da Czar
January 12 – Charleston, SC- The Royal American
January 18 – Philadelphia, PA – Grape Room
January 19 – Lancaster, PA – Tellus 360
January 20 – Wildwood, NJ – Dog Tooth Bar & Grill
January 22 – New York, NY – Arlene's Grocery

In addition to an exciting east coast tour, the band recently released an EP entitled, You Will Found Love on Ashley Avenue. The bittersweet album features five songs that take you on a journey of growing pains, love, heartbreak, and more. The Beatles influence is definitely recognizable but is no where near the same; but, don't take my word for it. Listen to their EP here.

Escape! Is my personal favorite song, so you could imagine how excited I was to see there is a visual for it. Check the music video out here and keep reading to listen to the playlist they curated just for Popdust readers!

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33 Songs to Cope with Your Long Distance Relationship

TIANY TUNES 6: Distant Lover is the playlist to cope with the end of that summer fling, or sustain you through your long distance relationship (or let's be honest, the demise of it).

Hook up your bluetooth and send to your bae, or the inbox of baes past (or that bae you just can't let go of).

The temperature is dropping, the air is crisper, the pants are longer, and the jackets are heavier. So is the heart. Let's face it. September is the month of transitions. The month where summer turns into fall, you get all of your third quarter grind in, and for some, you prepare for a new fiscal year. For most, it's also the month where you start to let go of your summer. The smell of barbecue and salt water, the sound of the cookout playlist and the ocean, the welcome feel of jet lag–all just memories. You know what else becomes memories, or start to fade away? Your summer flings. Whether due to physical or emotional distance, the connection ebbs and flows like the waves you sat on the beach together just a few weeks prior. No worries, I made Tiany Tunes 6: Distant Lover to cope with all of the stages of distance. From hopeful pining, to strong reassurance, followed by doubt and acceptance with a few tracks thrown in for that inevitable revisit there is something for every stage of your new reality. The uncertainty of this phase giving you anxiety? Don't worry, whether this relationship or another, cuffing season is right around the corner, and Tiany Tunes 3: Baby It's Cold Outside has the cure to comfort.

Beyonce and Jay Z

Take a look at the first ten songs and then check out the entire Spotify playlist to see even more from 50 Cent, Frank Ocean, Marron 5, Cyndi Lauper, Fergie, H.E.R., and more.

1.Miss You x Beyonce

I thought that things like this get better with time but I still need you. Why is that?

2.Distant Lover x Marvin Gaye

Distant lover you should think about me. Say a prayer for me. Please, please baby

3.A Thousand Miles x Vanessa Carlton

And I need you.And I miss you.And now I wonder...

4.Hey There Delilah x Plain White T's

Don't you worry about the distance I'm right there if you get lonely. Give this song another listen. Close your eyes.

5.Far Away x Marsha Ambrosius

Don't know what I'm gonna do. Four days and countin', I've been layin' here starin' myself in the mirror all alone in my room.

6.Computer Love x Zapp

Zapp invented the internet, not Al Gore. Could it be your face I see on my computer screen?

7.Thinkin Bout You x Frank Ocean

Yes of course I remember, how could I forget how you feel?

8.Like You'll Never See Me Again x Alicia Keys

If I couldn't feel your touch and no longer were you with me I'd be wishing you were here to be everything that I've been looking for.

9.-Passionfruit X Drake

Listen, harder buildin' trust from a distance. I think we should rule out commitment for now cause we're fallin' apart.

10.T-shirt x Destiny's Child

Hold up a minute, thought I heard your name. My mind, playing tricks on me again. I hear knocks at the door, is that my baby home? Why couldn't it be reality? Looked at the clock and it says 4:03. At nine, he'll be arriving on a plane then we'll be making love and hearing the song again

I know, you want more.The full playlist is below. You're welcome. DId I miss anything. Tweet me what I missed or hop into my Insta DMs.

More Tiany Tunes Playlists:

Tiany Tunes 3- Baby It's Cold Outside

The perfect Mother's Day playlist

The soundtrack to your 4/20

I Will Survive

Brittiany Cierra is an entertainment and travel journalist and On-Air host highlighting where culture, music, film, television, and current events intersect. When she's not writing about people, places, and things, she's speaking about, dancing on, or marketing them. Follow the journey on twitter and Instagram.

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Tiany Tunes 3- Baby It's Cold Outside

When the temperature drops, the playlist heats up. 135 songs to keep you warm at night.

Getty Images

5:44 this morning marked the start of Winter Solstice in New York, most commonly referred to as the first day of winter and often referred to as, 'I can't' by me. During the 'I can't' season, people brag about pumpkin spice lattes (I hate PSL, so I can't), organize snowball fights via twitter (I don't like people throwing things at me, so I can't), and happily put on a few pounds that they hide under infinity scarfs, beanies, and layers of cotton button up shirts and wool sweaters (I can't—to the fat, to the layers, to the infinity scarfs. I just absolutely cannot). My love for next three months comes from the fact that people tend to spend a little more time indoors. House parties, Girls Night In, Guys Night In and love dens increase in appearance exponentially from the months of December to March. These are facts that can be proven by the number of new births nine months after any big snow or ice storm divided by the number of "Netflix and Chill?" texts multiplied by two (because most people send out at least three and pick and person from there).

[rebelmouse-proxy-image photo_credit="" pin_description="" image-library="0" expand="1" caption="Math, it's fundamental. Also, I made it up"]Math, it's fundamental. Also, I made it up

In the words of my charming and cunning little brother who at the tender and impressionable age of fifteen tried to pimp me and my best friend out so that we could get him new shoes and access to GoGos (a party where DC's native music is played from 8pm to dawn, not the female rock band or the very weird word for scantily clad dancers), here's where I come in. Behold, a brand new Tiany Tunes, aptly titled Baby It's Cold Outside. Ten hours of sensual music to heat up the coldest room, and heart. You're welcome.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image photo_credit="" pin_description="" image-library="0" expand="1" caption="Say thank you!"]Say thank you!

With 135 songs spanning multiple genres and generations, Elvis Costello, Rihanna, Flavr Blue, Marvin Gaye, White Stripes, Jalen Santoy Shalamar and about 130 other atrists tell one cohesive story of like, love and lust, with a little bit of contention in the middle to mirror real life situationships. From Latin, to Opera, soul to funk, it's hard not to find the song that fits the mood, but we dare you to try. The PopDust staff brought out their arsenal of cuffing season weapons, sandwiched between two Erykah Badu songs, "WiFi" with Dram, and "Hello" from the late 2015 release But You Caint Use My Phone. The best part, some of these songs are guaranteed to be heard for the first time by either you or your guest(s). That's right, PopDust is breaking records while you are breaking bac*wifi dropped*. After this exercise Kaila is officially the Queen of France, E.R. the King of Seduction, Alex the Love Ambassador from the 90's and 2000's, and Andrew the Prince of Pop (sorry Andrew, Michael Jackson is the king). Is your never fail cuffing season song missing from our playlist? Let us know in the comments.

Arguably and obviously missing from the playlist is R. Kelly. Like Gloria Gaynor, you will survive.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image photo_credit="" pin_description="" image-library="0" expand="1" caption="Possibly tea, maybe shade."]Possibly tea, maybe shade.

Keep it steamy with me on twitter and Instagram, and check out the playlist below.

Last month, Sia mapped out the dates for her first-ever arena tour, Nostalgic For The Present, which also marks the singer’s first tour in five years. The trek, which also includes performers Miguel, will kick off on September 29 and will hit 22 dates in North America before it concludes in November.

Following her general on-sale May 20, the resale market has flooded with tickets for the tour.  As it stands currently, tickets for Sia are averaging an impressive $170 across the entirety of the run, with the highest price points in Houston and Oakland.

Sia will begin her tour in Seattle, Washington on September 29 at the Key Arena, where tickets are currently averaging $183 and the lowest ticket priced at $84. Other cities and arenas on her trek include TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts on October 18, where tickets are averaging $183 and the cheapest ticket is available for $54. Sia will hit the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 21 where tickets are averaging $139 and the lowest get-in rate is $42. On November 1, Sia will be at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. Here, tickets are averaging $135 and the cheapest ticket can be found at $37, according to data provided by Razorgator.

The Nostalgic For The Present Tour will wrap up at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas on November 6, where tickets are currently averaging $181 and the lowest get-in rate is $63. Parking in Austin, along with several other cities throughout Sia’s North American tour, can be secured easily and ahead of time through

In a tour announcement video, Sia teased to her fans that audiences at the Nostalgic For The Present tour can expect to see several of the same production and dance choreography from her popular music videos, reinvented right on stage. Sia is bringing along American Singer Songwriter Miguel, and the English Electronic duo from London, AlunaGeorge as her direct support throughout the tour.

Tinashe was one of 2014's breakout stars thanks to her slinky R&B hit 2 On and her critically-acclaimed debut Aquarius.

Unfortunately, the 21-year-old hasn't been able to keep the momentum going with her non-charting second single Pretend, so she's doing the smart thing and preparing to return to the studio to start work on album No. 2.

The songstress told Power 106 that she's due to "start the process" of putting together her sophomore album in January, but said that it's still too early to know which direction she's headed in yet.

However, she did rattle off a list of artists she'd love to collaborate with, including James Blake, Swedish band Little Dragon, and Miguel.

This is all great news, but can we please get All Hands On Deck released as a single first? Thanks.