For many singers, the big break comes years after slogging away in clubs and pubs and sending countless demos to record labels. Not so for singing sensation Riva Taylor.
She secured her first record deal at the tender age of 12.
“It felt strangely normal,” she says. “But I think that was down to knowing little different. I had always performed. Even when I was as young as 10 I dreamed of recording albums professionally.”
Due to her age, Taylor’s musical journey had to be treated differently to that of your average budding singer.
“The need to be careful with my voice was drummed into me,” she explains. “The label [EMI] chose a specific voice coach and repertoire that wouldn’t put strain on my voice in a studio or live situation.”
Even though performing had been an inherent part of her upbringing, signing with a major label was lifechanging. Taylor and her family had to make huge sacrifices to meet the demands of her career.
“It’s a difficult lifestyle shift for parents and siblings. It’s important that parents understand the demands and unpredictability of the industry that a child may be subjected to and that it’s a business after all.
“The child is a commodity to be exploited or expended should the label wish. That’s a brutal reality to learn young.
“I should also say that my label, EMI, were sensitive to my age. More so than some other stories I’ve heard where children are involved.”
After two albums and global tours, artist and label parted company.
Looking back, she has no regrets about starting out so young and would do it all again, given the chance. Taylor says she was handed amazing opportunities and performed with some big stars, experiences that helped make her the singer she is today.
Taylor went on to read history at Durham University and work at a bank and a legal firm before returning to her first love – music. Since then she has worked with some impressive stars. She credits her success from learning from other singers, including Katie Melua, and writing alongside Ben Adams and Jamie Hartman (James Bay and Rag’n’Bone Man), to name a few.
UK powerhouse Sam Smith is another source of inspiration. Having performed a few times with Smith before he was signed, she witnessed the “utterly fantastic singer” go from there to where he is now.
“He’s given me encouragement that the sky can be the limit… and if you get it right a Bond theme tune it is possible – my absolute ambition!”
Taylor believes experimenting and developing your sound is important. She has dedicated her time to finding hers: a unique, sultry sound and effortless vocals. Her advice to budding singers is to embrace the irregularities and difference in their voice and not waste time imitating someone else.
Taylor takes inspiration from everything around her, be it experiences, colours, places or sounds. This approach, she says, has allowed her to write some of her best tracks.
Riva Taylor – Deeper [Official Lyric Video]
Her latest track, Deeper The Us, off a soon to be released album, was written whilst Taylor was in LA with the singer songwriter Hartman.
When asked about the track, she said: “It’s about self actualisation. An optimistic first song to tease the flavour of the record!
“It’s currently a lyric video – we didn’t want to give too much away at this stage. I dance and you can see me warming up for the full blown, all singing and dancing video that’s to come.”
For now, Taylor will be spending time in the studio and hopes to work on more albums and have more opportunities to perform live.