Name: RIA TIMKIN
Mission: TO BE A GREAT INDIE-POP SOLO ARTIST AND MULTI-INSTRUMENTALIST
It’s really lovely that there is such a supportive network in Bristol of creative people. I never would have heard about the lady I’m featuring today if she hadn’t gone to one of the meetings at the Bristol Music Industry Network, and my friend hadn’t recommended that she get in touch with me.
Ria was born in Moscow and started travelling at quite a young age with her parents and later on by herself. “We moved around quite a lot, so I acquired this international spirit that now really helps me to look at the world with a broader perspective.” She was a very musical child and enjoyed singing a lot, so her mum sent her to a local music school. “I learnt how to play the piano and became a soloist in a choir, which was very successful in Moscow, and won multiple singing competitions. When I became a teenager, my tastes derived from the classics and I got into pop. I started attending a vocal studio where I took vocal classes and together with a few other students we did a tour in Germany and Greece playing at a bunch of festivals.” She wrote her first song at 14 on the piano. “I chose English as the way to express myself. In fact, I never wrote anything decent in Russian and except for the material I had learnt for the choir, I would rarely sing in Russian either.”
Despite being accepted to the Conservatory, she chose to study International Law at one the best universities in Moscow. “By that point I completely lost passion for a career in classical music and knew that I would like to play original pieces in modern arrangements instead.” During her time at university, she experimented a lot with her music, trying different genres and learning new instruments. “I learned how to play the guitar via YouTube, which finally allowed me to play at the venues that didn’t have pianos. I was also part of a live music club and every week we would organise showcases, which was a perfect opportunity to test my own material and collaborate with like-minded musicians.”
To pursue her music, Ria realised that she couldn’t stay in Russia. “It was always a sensitive subject for my family whether it was worth taking the risk and moving elsewhere. Frankly speaking, my parents never liked the idea, but they supported me in my decision. After considering the pros and cons, I decided that England would be a perfect choice, where I would continue studying law and would be able to pursue my music career in full strength. Having English ancestry sealed the deal as I was literally going back to my roots.”
In 2014 she moved to Bristol to do a Master’s degree in Commercial Law. “The Bristol music scene definitely nurtured my talent and brought my music to a new level. I’ve met so many talented people and the amount of creativity along with the level of competition made me work harder to perfect my art.” Soon it became clear to Ria that the life of a solo artist, is very different to that of a band. “Some places wouldn’t book you, no matter how good you are, it was a big obstacle for my ambitions. So I came up with a solution that has helped me to maintain my total independence but also made my sound bigger and more original: I got into looping. I started experimenting with harmonies, layers and different effects, added percussion and little instruments like melodica. Despite remaining a solo act, I suddenly got the opportunities designed for bands and my live performances became more interesting.”
After a successful year of touring, playing at events like Glastonbury she decided to expand her sound even further. “With the introduction of keys and drums, I completed the transformation from just me and my guitar type of performance to a one-person band. ‘Energy’ is the first single in the series of my experiments that will open the door to a new, deliciously darker side of my music. It’s a creative mix of electronic and acoustic sound full of alluring harmonies.” Ria’s adaption of her sound has earned her spots at shows across the UK with features on national radio stations, including the BBC.
A lot of the artists Ria admires have been featured through BBC Introducing. “For example, Jack Garratt, who won the Best BBC Introducing Artist award not too long ago. I also try to maintain my inspirations as broad as possible, keeping an eye on the young artists of different genres. Here are a few of my favourites: George Ezra, Rae Morris, the 1975, Ed Sheeran, Dutch Uncles, Imagine Dragons, Birdy and Lorde. I have a playlist on Spotify called “Tunesday with Ria Timkin” that features all the artists that have made a certain impact on my art.”
Ria really enjoys the connection that she experiences with the audience when she’s on stage. “You tell stories from your life and people connect to your emotions, finding something similar in their own lives – it’s a beautiful thing. I always play a guessing game with my new fans as I have a very slight accent which is a mixture of American, English and a hint of general European. The one who guesses that I was born in Russia gets a CD! It’s a great way to interact with the audience and make them a part of the show.”
For Ria, the thing that she is truly proud of is how dedicated she has been to her music career. “I moved countries to be able to play the music that I want and I’ve been sacrificing a lot of time and effort to progress. When I felt that sticking around the management I had back in 2016 wouldn’t bring me the results I strived for, I made a risky choice to embark on the journey of a totally independent artist.” After the release of “Energy” Ria is now planning to work on the second single that will result in a new E.P.