London-based Canadian producer, singer and songwriter, Rhi (aka Rhiannon Bouvier), is gearing up for her sophomore LP, The Pale Queen, derived from the David Foster Wallace novel of the same name. The Pale Queen follows her debut album Reverie, which was critically acclaimed and received support from BBC Radio 1, BBC 6Music, KCRW, The Independent, Clash and Complex. She has released two singles from her upcoming LP, including the harmonizing “Swagger,” about ones outward appearance (“swagger,”) matching who they are as a person. Rhi is influenced by fellow Canadian, producer Noah Shebib (aka 40), and FKA Twigs’ producer Arca for her self-produced work.
Rhi chatted with us about her early memories of wanting to write and create music, the writing and recording process for The Pale Queen, producer influences and her fun music favorites. Discover why we love Rhi’s music so much, and read on to gain insight into the magic that is Rhi’s music.
What are your earliest memories of being drawn to writing and creating music?
When I was about 14 I was getting really into classic rock, alt rock and grunge. I was learning guitar and listening to bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Nirvana and Tool. It made me want to start writing my own riffs. I had been writing poetry for a few years too, so writing lyrics felt like a natural progression. Ani Difranco had a big influence on me around that time too – her music encouraged me to start singing.
You’re gearing up for your sophomore release with The Pale Queen on October 4. Can you share with us what it was like writing and recording for it?
Well writing is a solitary process for me and my set-up is pretty modest – the majority of the writing & production is done in my bedroom “studio” with a laptop and a pair of headphones. Once I’ve got an instrumental ready, I’ll spend some time writing the lyrics and vocal, and then eventually record it. My flatmate has a really nice mic…so whenever he’s out, I grab the chance to record (with his permission of course).
Speaking of ‘The Pale King,’ what led you to take the name from the David Foster Wallace novel?
I’ve been reading a lot of DFW’s novels the past year and he’s had quite an effect on me – I feel a kinship with him and his writing. The album title is a nod to that.
You cite producer influences such as Noah Shebib and Burial…what is it specifically referencing their production style that influences you?
I love the rawness of Burial’s style and the atmosphere he creates – the perfect balance between light and dark. It’s got that lo-fi aesthetic, which I really like. It encouraged me to be more experimental with sounds.
Shebib’s style kind of contradicts the reasons why I love Burial’s! I really like the refined quality of his production. ‘Madonna’ is my personal favourite. It’s simple and uncluttered – quality over quantity.
Is a tour in the works for you? What’s next after your album drops?
I don’t have a full tour organised yet, but I’ll be playing gigs starting later in the year. I’ll also be writing new music, as always.
Who was your first concert, and do you have a favorite?
Jethro Tull at the Molson Ampitheatre in Toronto, 2002.
When I was a teenager, my dad took me to see a few shows in Toronto – along with Jethro Tull we saw Jeff Beck, Alice Cooper, BB King. They’re all fond memories.
What was your first album on cassette, CD and/or vinyl?
Cassette – I think it might have been the Space Jam soundtrack!
CD – Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Californication
Vinyl – I inherited a collection of records when I was in high school – some of my favourites were Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy, The Doors – The Doors, Jeff Beck – Blow by Blow
Which five albums and/or artists would you not want to live without?
Burial – Untrue
Deftones – White Pony
Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
FKA Twigs – EP2
Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon
…and if I could have a 6th, Nirvana – In Utero
Do you have a guilty music and/or entertainment pleasure?
I’m not sure if I should feel guilty about it or not, but… Megan Thee Stallion, Bbymutha and Maliibu Miitch…the lyrics can be pretty confrontational and controversial, but I just can’t help myself. They’re doing their thing. And the producers they’ve got behind them are awesome.
Who would be the ultimate collaboration for and with you?
Probably fellow Ontarian Noah “40” Shebib.