.Live & Local Q&A: Ria Hall

Monday 09 March 2020

Ria Hall has started this year off with the band – as well as playing countless shows, she’s been announced as the new Festival Director for the Tauranga Arts festival and has just released a brand-new album that’s dear to her heart. We caught the singer-songwriter for a couple of moments for this month’s Live & Local.

Hi Ria, how are you today?

Nothing to complain about, all is good. 

Tell me a bit about your new album ‘Manawa Wera’. 

I just wanted to create meaningful reggae music from a real place. Each song has a different message, given the different lyrical content but I guess its central theme across the board is being passionate, fervent of heart, and convicted about who you are and what you believe in. That's the meaning of Manawa Wera. 

And that’s why you choose ‘Manawa Wera’ for your album name?

The name sets the tone and I wanted to choose something strong. It’s also in reference and pays homage to all the indigenous movements across the globe, standing up for their rights and for our planet.

You worked with quite the line-up of fellow NZ musos. What was the vibe like in the recording studio?And what was the process of working with everyone?

They're all my friends, and most of whom I worked closely with on other projects over the years, or have been an admirer of their work and wanted their involvement with this album. The main collaboration was between myself and Laughton Kora. We co-wrote the tunes and went in to studio already having the album set up. So the players basically just came in and added their vibe and live element. So in that sense, it was collaborative. 

Is there a song on the album you are particularly proud of and why?

I'm proud of the entire album. All songs resonate with me for many different reasons, so I can't pinpoint one!

What are some of your goals/things you're up to in 2020?

I've recently been appointed Festival Director of the Tauranga Arts Festival, which will take up a good chunk of my time over the next few years. Releasing work is always a goal for any singer, so I'm obviously elated this has happened. I became a mother last April, so life is pretty full on, but awesome. There's lots of gigs this year, and no doubt more collaborating on projects. 

Yes congratulations on becoming a mum and on the arrival of your beautiful son! How has Te Rongotoa  impacted upon your music / your creativity? 

I was 36 weeks pregnant when I recorded vocals for ‘Manawa Wera’, and was quite far along when Laughton and I wrote the album. It didn't take us long and I reckon part of that was because my  creativity was at a high point due to carrying Te Rongotoa. I wrote a song about him on the album entitled Flow. He comes everywhere with me now… so the arts are an integral part of his life. I hope he loves the arts world as much as Ido!

What is the biggest change you'd like to see happen in society in 2020?

More understanding and open mindedness.