ROYAL is a Canadian singer/songwriter.
The independent artist revealed her first project Seasons in 2009. The debut album was featured on various film and TV placements, including recent inclusions for the Hallmark Channel.
She released her new project Heart of Shadows on November 2nd. Produced by Luca Fogale (Matthew V, Emily Rowed), the stunning EP touches on lost love, toxic relationships and ROYAL’s own personal struggle of identity within society.
The new project includes the single “Vessel”.
“I wrote "Vessel" after going through a rough break-up. I had never felt so heartbroken and alone that it really broke me for awhile and I wrote the song during that time. When we brought it to the studio, my goal was to keep those emotions there, but to also add a touch of lightness to the song with the instrumental track. Luca Fogale and Sean Wharton were the perfect fit for this,” says ROYAL.
The visuals for “Vessel” were revealed on April 9th. Starring Tiera Skovbye and Jordan Connor, (Riverdale) the music video was directed by Riun Garner and produced by Aidan Kahn, ROYAL, Garner, and Hannah Pederson.
Heart of Shadows is now available worldwide.
Introduce yourself - where are you from?
Hi, my name is ROYAL! I am a Canadian independent pop artist who grew up in Vernon, British Columbia.
What's your story?
Music has always been my biggest love and a huge part of my life, even before I took it to the next level by pursuing it as a career. It is a big part of who I am. As an artist, I love to create emotionally-charged, dynamic, and moody music. I have toured in Canada and Australia, have had my music in numerous films and television productions, as well as received commercial placement and international radio play.
My newest project is my full-length album, Heart of Shadows and I recently released a music video for the album’s lead single, "Vessel".
When did you know you could sing?
I've always loved to sing, and so I decided to follow my heart and make singing and being a musician a full-time career when I was sixteen. By chance, I was noticed by an established producer who invited me to Toronto to record my first album shortly after that. Singing has always been a sort of happy place for me and I always fall back to that when life gets too crazy.
Do you remember the first song you've ever written? What was it about?
Yes! The first song I wrote was incredibly dramatic and over the top! It was called "Operator" and it was about how I was too shy to be a part of the world and wanted help to escape my insecure and introverted self. Quite the intense song and topic for a thirteen year old, but I guess I haven't exactly toned down the dramatics since! I love diving into those extreme emotions and moments - it's very freeing.
When did you decide to pursue music as a career?
I decided to pursue music as a career when I was given the opportunity to record my first full-length album, Seasons, with Jack Lenz. He had invited me – a small town, shy artist – to experience the opportunity of a lifetime. After the album was completed, I began touring and exploring my career. I had no intention of making music a career before that. The thought hadn't crossed my mind because I was solely focused on my love of music that making it a business wasn't on my radar. He helped to evolve my understanding of that. Since then, I have worked hard to keep a balance between the creative and business side of things as an independent artist.
Who was the first person to ever believe in you?
I realize this may not be the most unique answer to your question, but it is the honest truth and I owe everything to them. The first people to ever believe in me were my mom and dad. They recognized my love for music at a young age and did their best to nurture it. Without their love and support, I may not have not been able to continue this career as I do now, and would have never gotten to this point. Being an artist is hard. It's not all sunshine and rainbows like we try to project through our social media. There are a lot of hard times and things that we need support to get through, especially as an independent artist. I am in charge of every aspect of my career and wear many hats, and it's 24/7. My mom and dad have supported me in many ways with my music, but the most important thing they have done is love me unconditionally. That alone has helped to propel me forward and continue to pursue this crazy thing. Love you mom and dad.
How would you define ROYAL the artist?
A friend once asked me to define ROYAL in two words. He said that choosing two defining characteristics would be the foundation of my artistic self. This would become my character description and like a second name. The name that came to mind was "Quiet Storm". The translation of that describes my music: the dynamic storm of emotions and sounds that build to a dramatic explosion. That is how I define ROYAL as an artist.
Could you tell us about your project Heart of Shadows? What's the story behind itP?
Heart of Shadows is a reflection of my life experiences; a collection of my most haunting and beautiful memories thus far. Some of the songs I wrote years ago and others were more recent, but all harbour deep emotions and story-like qualities. The album touches on lost love, toxic relationships, losing myself, and my own personal struggle of identity within society. I decided to compile these songs into an album as I feel they are important to share with the world in the hopes that they might be a comfort to others who have experienced similar moments.
When did you start working on Heart of Shadows? Who did you work with?
I began working on some demos with my good and talented friend Luca Fogale a couple of years ago, not knowing that this would become a full-length and full production project. We worked mostly in the comfort of his home studio. I would arrive a couple times a week in the morning, we would brew a large pot of coffee and head down to the work space. It was an amazing experience working with Luca on this album. His abundant knowledge of production and artistic talent really made its mark on the development and evolution of the album’s sound and quality. We had a small budget to work with, which challenged us to come up with and create new ways of achieving those high quality sounds. It was a truly unique, unforgettable, and amazing experience creating this album, and I am so grateful to my team of talented engineers, players and artists who worked with me to bring my vision to life.
What are the different topics you are talking about on this project?
The album dives into some pretty deep emotions and difficult topics. It is both a positive and nerve-wracking thing to have these songs out for the world to hear because they are so personal. The songs explore the experiences of my life that have had the biggest impact on me.
"Vessel" is a song about losing someone you love and the feelings of isolation, regret and sadness that follow. "The Hunter" is about the night I ran away from an unhealthy relationship. "Black Beauty" represents my struggle with my health, and how the negativity of the world and some of my traumatic life experiences broke me – thus creating a dark version of myself. "Kings and Queens" is about falling in love and all of those beautiful and intoxicating feelings that swell and bloom inside of you, and how light it can make you feel, as if you are being carried off into a dream.
Heart of Shadows is a listening experience and portal for one to escape within themselves and their memories.
Why did you name your project Heart of Shadows?
The title of the album is something I struggled with for a long time. I found it difficult to put a name on a collection of work that was so highly impactful on my life and encompassed such a diverse surge of emotions. The words "heart of shadows" are lyrics from my song "Wild". My boyfriend came up with the idea to read through my old lyrics to help spark some creativity with the title and that lyric really stuck out to me. After giving it some time, I found myself being drawn to it, so it became the natural choice to make "Heart of Shadows" the title of this album.
You recently released a music video for "Vessel". Any favorite memories from the making of the video?
The making of the "Vessel" music video was a wild experience. I am so blown away by the amount of talent, hard work and dedication the entire team put into this project.
Our star actors, Tiera Skovbye and Jordan Connor of “Riverdale”, had on-screen chemistry that was absolutely mesmerizing. I love Jordan's character on “Riverdale”, and it was so nice to see this softer side of him in the music video. Tiera as our astronaut was completely captivating. I couldn't take my eyes off of her powerful performance as she goes through the emotional turmoil of floating in space, not knowing her fate and being flooded by memories of the love of her life (Jordan).
This was such a technical project to be able to film the space scenes and I am so impressed with our team and director Riun Garner for bringing it all together so perfectly.
My favorite memory from making the video is hanging out with everyone on set. I've been an extra on a few film and television sets and there was such a different atmosphere on the "Vessel" music video set. There was just so much love and excitement in the room, you could feel it. The added touch of my mom bringing in her famous, homemade beef dip was the cherry on top. We were a cute little family on set, and I will never forget that feeling!
What did you feel when writing "Vessel"?
I wrote "Vessel" after going through a rough break-up. I had never felt so heartbroken and alone that it really broke me for awhile and I wrote the song during that time. When we brought it to the studio, my goal was to keep those emotions there, but to also add a touch of lightness to the song with the instrumental track. Luca Fogale and Sean Wharton were the perfect fit for this. The end result, as I hear it, is an emotional song carried by waves of tranquility accompanied by a dynamic build and exciting finale.
What do you like the most about this particular song?
I played around a lot with the word choice for this song. I wanted to be able to generate an emotional story without using too much of a dark vocabulary as to make the song more accessible for the listener. What I like most about the song is the outro. The song really builds to that point and it does not disappoint. I feel that it perfectly embodies the emotional journey I went through with the ending of the relationship that inspired the song, and that for me is very satisfying.
What message do you want to convey through your art?
The main message I wish to convey through my art is a sense of camaraderie and connection with the listener. Music has the power to translate on so many levels, so my goal is to create music that people can connect with and find comfort in. Music has always been such a strong healing force in my life. Whenever I am going through something, I turn to music for consolation, and there are no words to describe what I feel when I listen to a song that speaks to exactly what I am going through in that moment. It is an intangible feeling and immensely powerful. And that is what I hope to create.
What appeals you the most about being an artist?
I love that I can express myself through my creativity. To be an artist is to have no limitations in a world so defined by rules and that is immensely freeing. I love that I can express myself through an indirect form of communication. It allows me patience to bring my thoughts and introspection to full form without being rushed or forced. I love being an artist and am so grateful that I live in place where I am able to explore it.
What advice would you give to young songwriters?
My advice would be to slow down and not worry about all the pressures we face as artists within the industry or create for ourselves. Create your art for the love of it, and don't be too hard on yourself when you experience mental blocks. It's a rollercoaster, enjoy the ride. And don't forget to celebrate the victories, even the small ones. Be mindful of your heart and take care of you as well as your art.
What's the best advice you've ever received?
The best advice I've ever received is to not follow trends and to stay true to myself. Removing that cloud above my head has allowed for mental clarity when it comes to being creative, which is very helpful and has reminded me of why I am doing this.
In your opinion, what would make the world a better place?
I believe that the world would be a better place if everyone focused more on love instead of hate. When you have a negative thought pop up in your mind, take a moment to think whether the outcome of your response will better the world or the situation before acting on it. If we all just focused a little less on the negative, we could allow more positivity to grow. Just because you have a voice, doesn't mean you always need to use it. I always fall back to Thumper’s infamous line, "if you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all."
What biggest lessons have you learnt as a human being and as an artist?
The biggest lessons I've learnt as a human being and as an artist are a bit cliché, but they are so true:
1. Don't sweat the small stuff - you can only do so much. Don't let every little thing weigh you down.
2. Remember that everyone has their own personal battles that they are working through, so try patience before losing your cool.
3. Stay true to who you are. You will create more genuine and meaningful art this way and feel more fulfilled.
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