RFE2022 • RIA MAE (Halifax, NS)

5:45PM • SATURDAY, AUGUST 20 • MAIN STAGE

The hardest thing to do once you have a few fans, or have picked a particular path, is to step out and say ‘I kinda want to try this other thing…’ , but I think it’s important for me in this journey of rediscovering myself after the pandemic.  It’s important to stay true to yourself, and for me that means being vulnerable, not being afraid to be exposed.” ~ Ria Mae

Home is somewhere that we often run away from, but it’s also the place that tends to know who we really are, at our core.  Something the last two years has taught a lot of us, is that retreating from the hectic busy outside world can unearth who we are, without all of the trappings.  

Unzip me right to the core, that’s what this fighting is for” – The World Is Falling Apart

For Halifax, Nova Scotia born and raised pop artist, Ria Mae, it took a mid-pandemic visit home to her old neighbourhood to bring it all back.   She was staying right across the street from where she lived in her early twenties.  It’s funny, I could see my old tiny apartment from there,” Mae laughs cautiously.  I used to Airbnb that place all the time and sleep on my younger sister’s couch, so I could scrap up enough money for recording sessions”.   

Mae’s new EP, Therapy, is a curated batch of six swelling anthems that are both conversational and confessional.  After a first listen to the entire EP you find yourself wondering - who is Ria Mae talking to in these songs? Each track seems targeted, in a way that most can relate, towards one person.  You’re just not sure if it’s someone she’s driving to, or away from, but her lyrics are clearly a roadmap to the person Ria Mae is today.

Thomas ‘Tawgs’ Salter came on board to produce For Your Love, as well as the album’s title track.  For Your Love, co-written with Tawgs and Simon Wilcox, was featured in network television series, The L Word, in late 2021.  Therapy also brought Joceyln Alice to the process, the song serving as Mae’s first collab with the Calgary born critically acclaimed songwriter.  The song was inspired by Mae’s fear of being completely consumed by a relationship, with lyrics describing the sentiment: “Ten years of therapy, to try to get your feel off of me”.  Mae reflects, “I never wanted to get crushes on people because the crush would be so intense.  I would feel it starting and I would be like ‘Oh no! I can’t go back to this place’, like it was a complete negative”.

Swoon, also co-written and performed with Jocelyn Alice, was produced by east coaster, Corey Lerue (Neon Dreams).  It’s a pop song with an undeniable strut of a beat and deep funk bass, reminiscent of Chromeo.  Swoon also touches on the fear of letting your love show.  I spent years and years being closeted as a gay person, and Jocelyn, who I co-wrote this with, didn’t have that, but we both bonded over the feeling of trying to hide the fact that you’re in love with someone who you think you shouldn’t be in love with,” Mae candidly explains.  Swoon is about that trepidation.  You’re so infatuated with the person, but you do everything you can to not show it.  You want to look at them, you look away.  You want to keep hanging out with them, so you find an excuse to leave”.   

JUNO Award winner, Serena Ryder, teamed up with Mae and pop powerhouse producer, Ryan Stewart, for The World Is Falling Apart.  In keeping with the theme of letting go in order to let something in, it’s no coincidence that Mae chose to include a cover of Lose You To Love Me (Selena Gomez).  Mae wrangled two immensely talented songstresses, Rose Cousins and Breagh Isabel (Port Cities), to join her on the song, which she says blew her mind the first time she heard the original.  

Breagh Isabel and Mae wrote The Old Me together, which stylistically is a nod to confessional power pop trailblazers like Paula and Janet.  Mae recalls how that one came together: “We’re in a Tim Horton’s Drive-Thru talking about how I thought all my problems were fixed when I left my home town, but then as soon as I started running into people it dredged everything up to the surface and made me deal with my past.” She laughs and concludes “and by the time we paid for the coffees we already had the hook.”

 

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