Interview with Rioghan

Interview by Demitri Levantis

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Following the release of her new EP ‘Blackened Sky,’ I caught up with Finnish gothic/progressive singer Rioghan to discuss what she’s been up to and what she has planned for the future.

Hi, and thanks for joining us, let’s begin with your project name, is Rioghan your birth name or a stage name?
It is a stage name that I’ve been using for a while and I have been writing poems as Rioghan Darcy.

Is your music performed as a personal thing or do you do it in character, like an alter-ego created for the stage?
I think every musician and performer has some kind of stage character to rely on. In my situation, I would say that the stories are mine and they are performed by Rioghan.

Is there a running theme in Blackened Sky?
Not intentionally, as the stories are picked along the way before there even was a music project existing. But maybe in lyrics you might find a recurring theme as we discussed in another interview, it could be called “Different kinds of losses”.

How would you describe your sound personally, is it more gothic, progressive, dark rock/metal?
Haha, that is the hardest part and a dilemma I haven’t yet solved… As I have grown listening and loving all of the above so I thought; let there be a mixture of all but may be viewed from a new perspective.

What’s it been like working with Inverse Records and why did you choose to work with them?
It’s been a pleasure and they have helped me a lot with PR and publishing stuff. I chose Inverse simply because Joni Kantoniemi was working with them and I and Joni go way back as we have worked together before with Firebox Records.

Do you have a favoured format for listening to your music like vinyl or CD?
Nowadays I have begun to appreciate accessibility more than format, and even though this might annoy some people, my favourite form to enjoy music is with my phone and headphones through internet streaming platforms.

Does your homeland, Finland have an influence on your sound, like in a cultural or spiritual sense?
Maybe more in a spiritual sense, as we Finns are known to have a kind of gloomy point of view with life so maybe that shows in how I interpret things.

What about non-musical influences, any particular books, films, art, etc?
I really love sci-fi, fantasy and horror books and movies, maybe my all-time favourite author is Stephen King. I also love art and right now a few of my favourites are Micah Ulrich and Lauren Marx.

You worked with other songwriters in the making of your EP, what can you tell us about them and why did you choose them?
We knew each other from before, and one day I got my courage up and called Jonne Soidinaho and asked ‘what IF we made some decent music that does not already exist’ and he gladly agreed. I don’t really have a specific answer to “why” but things just kind of rolled and went forward. For the upcoming full-length album, I have made a bit more conscious choices with the collaborations. Jonne will still stay on board as a producer with this new album.

What is your personal favourite of all the songs and why?
It has changed already many times but maybe my overall favourite would be enough as it has so much different depths and I get to use my vocals very diversely, and the lyric is very personal to me and had a lot of emotions attached to it.

Is this work a continuation of your poetry and lyric writing days, and what made you switch to this?
I wouldn’t say I have ‘switched’ to this, I still hold writing very dear and will keep doing it and keep the process as before; writing first and then maybe reform some poems to lyrics and keep the music writing in a different slot.

Have you played in any bands or worked with any singer-songwriters in the past?
I have played synthesizer and piano in a few different compilations in the way past, but I consider this as my first serious output in the music area.

Do you have any new material planned for the near future like a full album?
The full album is already in the making at the moment and will be released in spring 2022.

How has the Covid pandemic affected you at all, did you have to cancel things?
Luckily no, I did not have a live-line up, to begin with and still don’t so there have not been any live shows planned.

When gigs resume, where would you like to begin playing?
Maybe a few small local shows would be nice to start with.

What would be your ideal sort of gig or festival to perform and why?
I really like smaller places where you have a bit more intimate atmosphere and get a closer feel of the audience.

Do you have any fun anecdote(s) from touring that you would like to share with us?
No, as I have not played live yet as Rioghan but maybe in the future.

What do you enjoy most about being a musician?
Expressing my feelings and creating something new is invigorating. Compared to writing, I love how singing brings so much more depth to the words.

Finally, do you have anything you would like to say to our readers?
Thank you for reading this and being interested. If you haven’t done it yet, go have a listen to Blackened Sky EP, available on all major streaming platforms. Hopeful to see you in live shows in the distant future!

Thank you so much for joining us and I wish you all the best for times to come.
Thank you for having me and have a delightful spring!