A Chat with Rianne Downey | Interview

Rianne Downey discusses her new single, staying positive during lockdown, and sharing a stage with Gerry Cinnamon.

If you’re not already familiar with Rianne Downey then now is the time to get acquainted. Rianne is a 21-year-old from Glasgow who has had a rapid rise to success over lockdown; she has conquered indie twitter with her viral covers of songs like Liam Gallagher’s ‘Once’ and The Stone Roses’ ‘I Am The Resurrection’ and now she has graced us with her own original material.

We were lucky enough to have a chat with Rianne about everything from her stunning debut single, to staying positive during lockdown, and what it was like to share a stage with Gerry Cinnamon.

Rianne’s voice is beautifully melodic, her vocals are matched with country-hued acoustic guitar and you can really hear her influences shine through.

“I would describe my sound as 50’s / 60’s classic music with a modern folk twist on it. My biggest influences are Dolly Parton, Amy Winehouse, Johnny Cash, and Patsy Cline. The bands that actually got me into music and sparked my love for music is The Specials and Madness.”

Last month saw the release of Rianne’s debut single ‘Fuel To The Flame’. The single is slow yet passionate with an infectiously catchy chorus, it has been very well received by fans and critics alike and has saw her gain support from BBC Scotland, Tenement TV and many more.

“I can’t believe how well it went down. I wasn’t expecting too much from it but every bit of feedback I’ve had has been amazing. I’ve had so many streams I think I’m almost at 7000 which is crazy, it’s been surreal and I’m very grateful.”

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Lyrically the track is clever and refreshingly positive, its written about overcoming what life has thrown at her over the past year; from bad friendships to the struggles of lockdown Rianne has came out the other side shining.

“I wrote the track during the first lockdown last year, its about when you hit rock bottom and you realise from there the only way you can go is up and things can only get better. It was one of those songs that kind of just fell out of me, I wrote in in half an hour and I think it was just waiting to come out. I started off with the phrase ‘I’ll add fuel to the flame’ and it all just came together. It’s about that and also making your mark with the time that you have here, because it is limited and I think that lockdown has taught everyone that.”  

Signing a record deal with Modern Sky was the beginning of a new chapter for Rianne after a roller-coaster 12 months. Her debut single ‘Fuel To The Flame’ was produced by James Skelly in the famous Parr Street Studios in Liverpool.

“It was very surreal, signing with Modern Sky wasn’t something I was ever anticipating. I didn’t think I was capable of signing a record deal so when it came about it was so exciting, it’s just spurred me on to get my head down and keep writing songs and I have a great team around me now so it’s been brilliant. Working with James Skelly was amazing, he’s such a great guy and he’s so good at what he does. To me he’s a legend in music, he’s someone I’ve always looked up to so the fact that I got to work on one of my songs with him was brilliant. It was so productive and it totally opened my mind up to what can be done with music, he just brought it to life.”

I had the pleasure of seeing Rianne perform live in 2019 when she opened for Gerry Cinnamon alongside fellow Glaswegian Dylan John Thomas at the SSE Arena in Belfast.  

“I feel like I’ve used the word ‘surreal’ loads but it was again very surreal playing to a crowd of that size, it’s something I’m so grateful for because not many people get to play arenas alongside Gerry Cinnamon who is a total icon. He’s paved the way for independent artists, especially from Glasgow so that was brilliant. He’s a great guy, such great company and he’s full of words of wisdom and he’s just lovely to be around.”

Despite lockdown there is certainly no shortage of brilliant bands and artists on the rise in the Glasgow scene at the moment, Rianne being one of them.

“I’d definitely recommend Dylan John Thomas, he’s absolutely amazing at what he does. ‘Nobody Else’ came out a couple of years ago and its one of my favourite songs, and he’s got more music coming which will be brilliant. There are so many its hard to think, Jamie Pollock as well, he used to be the frontman of Vida and he’s doing his own solo stuff now, it’s very reminiscent of the 90’s and its brilliant.”

The last year of living through the pandemic has come with plenty of fear and uncertainty; but what’s inspiring about Rianne’s story is that instead of letting it get her down she has used it to her advantage and made a name for herself.

“To be honest it has been very hard to stay positive in these times, but it’s just trying to remind yourself that it’s not going to be forever, everything is temporary and if we can get through this, we can get through anything. It’s always so essential that we’ve got music there, music has kept me sane through all this. It’s very hard when you’re stuck in the house with nothing but your own mind, you can definitely become your own worst enemy and it’s easy to get stuck in a rut or go down the rabbit hole of questioning yourself and what you’re doing and things like that. The lockdown was very hard in that sense because I’m a very harsh critic anyway so having all that time just with myself and my mind, I guess you could say it breaks you, but then fortunately for me the lockdown made me; because I’d hit rock bottom then realised it could only get better from here, so I just decided I’m not falling victim to it anymore, I’m going to make something of myself and even though it’s scary putting myself out there it has definitely been worth it.”

This is just the beginning of Rianne’s story as she has plans to conquer the UK and one day play at her dream venue- the famous Barrowlands Ballroom in Glasgow.

“I just hope that it continues to grow and more people hear my music and love it. I just want to keep doing this for a living and I want to keep writing songs that people can connect with the way that music has connected with me through my life. I don’t know if I’ll be in here for a couple of years but the Barrowlands would be the ideal place to play. It’s the best venue and so many legends have played there, it got the best atmosphere out of all the Glasgow venues because there’s so much history to it.”

Rianne offers some advice for anyone who has been inspired by her story and wants to follow in her footsteps:

“My advice would be just do it. Don’t question yourself or worry about what other people think, just do what you love for the sake of loving what you do. You may as well do it and not live with any regrets or what ifs.”

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