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Ria Hall - Interview with Ria Hall

28 Feb 2020 // An interview by Chris Chick

Ria Hall is one of Aotearoa music's most respected mana wahine. On 28 February she marked an important milestone with the release of her stunning new album Manawa Wera. Inspired by Hall's own personal journey, as well as the current political climate across the globe, Manawa Wera is a collection of songs that speaks directly to her views, vision and experiences.

Chris Chick from Muzic.net.nz spoke to Ria about her new music, career highlights and the future:

Who is Ria Hall? And what brought her to the music scene?

Just a Maori girl who has been very fortunate to have made a career from doing what I love. I found my voice as a teenager and haven't stopped honing my craft since.

As an artist, you have a distinct sound akin to the early reggae movement, is this something you chose because of the sound, or because it fits your message through your lyrics?

Because of the style of reggae I was raised on and heard heaps growing up. The classics! Third World, Steel Pulse, UB40, Bob Marley and The Wailers, Jimmy Cliff - that kinda palette. I wanted to throw back to those days, as I'm so inspired by the more classic approach.

Your new single Owner, which was released on 18 January 2020, is the third single from your album Manawa Wera, what was the driving force behind this song?

The lyrics speak to the struggle between western ideology of ownership vs the indigenous world view, and also speaks to the need for humanity to strip back the layers where we tend to judge people on appearance, religion, skin colour - and instead, look into the qualities of people. It's a double pronged series of messaging but so important.

You have a massive Maori influence within your work, whether it is the album art or the use of Te Reo Maori. How important is this to you and what you do?

It's who I am. This is me as my most authentic truest form of self. I am a strong advocate for Maori culture and language, and what underpins Maori philosophies and perspective. I love how metaphoric the language and art is, it's what sets us apart from the rest of the world, and it's for the betterment of us all.

What has been some of the highlights of your career up until this point?

Honestly, having the ability to release work is always a highlight! This is my third album and I consider each time an absolute milestone. Collaborating with amazing artists over the years has been so rewarding as well, on all the levels.

With your standing in the New Zealand music industry, do you take into account the influence you have on others when composing your music?

Yes. Which is why I try my best to speak and come from the most real view point. I only want to serve the realness!

What advice do you have for those looking to forge a career in music?

Stay strong in your beliefs and convictions. Whatever is true will shine through and put you in good stead!

From a philosophical standpoint, what is the motivation in your heart for this world?

Aroha. This is the place that we must operate from as humans in all our interactions.

If you could play any venue or arena around the world, where would that be?

I'd go back to New York in a heartbeat! Probably the Apollo Theatre. But that's purely for selfish reasons.

What does the future look like for Ria Hall?

To be honest - I have no idea! But I like that.

Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us, and from everyone here at Muzic.net.nz, all the best for your future. We look we look forward to hearing what you have in store for us.


About Ria Hall

Ria Hall is an exciting new voice on the contemporary New Zealand music landscape. Creatively informed by west coast hip-hop, vintage reggae, classic soul, dancehall ragga and modern beat music, she presents a fresh and vibrant perspective as both a young Maori woman, and as a cutting edge, 21st century singer and artist.

Born in Tauranga, Ria spent time in Auckland and Australia, before settling in Wellington and really finding her musical feet. She co-formed and fronted the reggae band Hope Road, who, in performing at the Parihaka International Peace Festival and Wellington's Waitangi Day One Love event, won the respect of Aotearoa's elite roots, reggae and soul music communities. This led to her joining Hollie Smith's live ensemble, becoming part of Eru Dangerspiel's psychedelic explosion, and, latterly, performing backing vocals for the 2010 reunion shows of the iconic TrinityRoots.

Her profile has also been lifted significantly by her inspired performance at the opening ceremony of Rugby World Cup 2011 – a performance witnessed by a televised audience of millions.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Ria Hall


Manawa Wera
Year: 2020
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Rules of Engagement
Year: 2017
Type: Album
Ria Hall EP
Year: 2011
Type: EP

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