“This is the last 10 years of my life. It’s a time capsule…” - hmv.com talks to Freya Ridings
If you’ve been anywhere near a radio or a television in the last two years, it’s almost certain you’ll have enjoyed Freya Ridings’ glacial hit single ‘Lost Without You’.Initially released in mid-2017, it didn't blow up for another full year after it was used to soundtrack one of the key moments on 2018’s Love Island. Then it did blow up.
It went on to sell over 600,000 copies and peaked at Number Nine. That got Ridings the attention of super-producer Greg Kurstin, who asked to come and work with her. From there, the march towards her debut album began.
Though a graduate of the BRIT School, the same institution that has produced Adele, Kate Tempest, Amy Winehouse and countless others, it had been slow progress to Ridings up until that point, with a series of digital-only singles and open mic nights.
But, since 2018, she’s been all over the radio, with tracks like ‘Castles’ and ‘You Mean The World To Me’ joining ‘Lost Without You’ as hit singles. Now, after sessions with Kurstin as well as acclaimed producers like Mark Crew and Two Inch Punch, the album is ready.
As the self-titled LP hits shelves, we spoke to Ridings about her journey to get here…
Your debut album is finally here! You must be excited for everyone to hear it...
“This is the last 10 years of my life. It’s a time capsule. This is such a huge moment for me, I don’t think I’ll ever experience anything like this again in my career, it’s my first studio album. I’ll remember it forever.”
When did you know you had enough songs for an album?
“In my head, I’ve been writing an album since I was 12. Of course, the kind of album I was writing has changed so many times. It’s a combination of all those dreams. When I first signed, I saw the statistic that only one in 10 people who sign actually get to put out an album, I feel so delighted to have got here.”
If you’ve been writing since you were 12 you must have a lot of songs, how did you decide on which ones to keep?
“I’ve thought of the early years as my apprenticeship. It’s paying your dues. Most of the songs on the album are from the last five years. It feels like both a marathon and a sprint. You just have to go with your gut, that’s your best guide. I’ve been playing a lot of these songs live for so long now that it feels a bit like the fans have chosen the album. Those are the songs that have earned their place.”
You worked with Greg Kurstin on the album, how did that come about?
“He got in touch after ‘Lost Without You’ hit the Top 10. He’s an icon, one of my all-time heroes. A few days later we were chatting about music and what we could do with the next single. It was very, very surreal.”
You’ve worked with other writers and producers too, Mark Crew, Daniel Nigro, Two Inch Punch, what impact did they have on your songwriting?
“All the writers I’ve worked with have really rubbed off on me. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some great people and what they all have in common is that they’re the first people to say they have so much to learn. That hunger and that determination to make themselves better has been massive to me. They never get too big for their boots. I'm in awe of that way of doing things.”
What kind of album is this lyrically? Does it have a theme to it?
“Every song is inspired from personal experience. That’s the biggest part of the album. I think the album’s biggest theme is the loneliness we get through heartbreak, but also the power we get in overcoming that. A determination to pick yourself up and rebuild yourself. That’s what fascinates me. Getting up off the floor again.”
Was the album always going to be titled?
“That just felt like the most authentic thing to do. Early on, major labels were trying to get me to lose my second name and I was dead against it. This album has been such a big part of my life over the last decade and I really wanted to be as honest as possible.”
Did you consider any other titles?
“If you choose one song title, I feel like you push the listener to think that the song is the theme of the album and it sums up everything above all the others. This album is a journey, it’s working through love and heartbreak and getting to the other side. For me, it was the right thing to do. This time anyway, who knows about the future?”
Well, you’ll have to think of a title next time…
“Will I? I could just do a symbol or stick a number after my name…”
You’re out on tour this summer at festivals and then you’re touring in the autumn, are you booked solidly for the next six months?
“It comes in big chunks, but I’m starting to feel a lot more grounded. I feel a lot stronger. When you’re starting out, you have to say yes to everything, but now I’m a bit more established I can afford to pick and choose. I’m so excited for the UK tour, I can’t believe the venues I’m in, I focused on delivering the biggest and best shows I can.”
Your debut album is out this week, but have you given any thought to album two? Do you want to carry on writing?
“I’m constantly writing! I’m always listening through my voice memos and making new ones and I’m so excited to turn them into songs. I feel like I’ve got a lot to write about already…”