Read our in-depth interview with musician REALMA following the stunning release of ‘A HINT OF PINK’. Enjoy!
Hi Realma, who or what got you into music?
A very interesting question that I’ve never pondered on much. Music has just always been something intuitive in my life. My family likes to say I was very reactive to any rhythm or melody since my earliest moments of childhood, and so, they’ve signed me up to study classical violin at the age of 7, and I have been training in Western counterpoint, harmony, musical form, composition and orchestration since my teenage years.
However, my parents always played popular music at home too, ranging from pop, country, rock, jazz, etc. On top of this, I grew up in two distinct cultural environments – China and Serbia, where I listened to many folkloric forms of music. So yeah, it’s always just been an integral part of who I am.
Who influenced your latest release ‘A Hint Of Pink’?
This is very hard to say since I have a very eclectic web of listening as can be guessed from my previous answer. On top of that, rather than being influenced by any artists, in particular, the earliest draft of the song was conceived as a soundtrack for the short film titled ‘Complete.’, which I was making for a module at the University of Kent in the UK, where I studied film and drama as my BA.
The music was influenced by the story between the two main characters and the dark story surrounding them. I also wanted to pour into the song some of my own musical heritage from the Serbian/Chinese folklore to make the main melody even more gloomy and rustic, so it has very peculiar origins. When I revisited this material during COVID-19 lockdown, the song was extended and reframed to evoke moon-charmed wolves, since someone suggested there was a very howl-like quality to the main vocals. Now, around this time specifically, I really loved Lemon Glow by Beach House, so maybe the kind of neo-symbolist aspects of the later parts of the lyrics come from this influence.
There is also an audiovisual collaboration with young artists from the UK, Iceland, Romania and Serbia which accompanies ‘A Hint Of Pink’, can you tell us any more?
Yes! During the initial lockdown, unfortunately, I had this traumatic police mishandling upon arriving back from my studies in the UK to Serbia, and music seemed to be the only way for me to express what I felt at the time. And so, I had this drive to compose and create stories to escape my dark circumstances.
Alongside ‘A Hint of Pink’, I have written quite a few songs in different genres and started inventing stories to accompany them. Reconnecting with some fellow University of Kent art students, as well as other visual artists I have previously met, we started conceptualising this idea of an audiovisual project, where each song could be based in a different music style/genre with a visual narrative set in a new story world.
To embody this idea, the name of my alter-ego character ‘Realma’ is a punny wordplay on ‘realms’ and her witchy aspect came about in order to tie in all these disparate worlds. In this way, the songs are like the crystals of a sorceress that helps us gaze into these different story realms.
As my team grew, we realised we can reinterpret the songs as animated music and dance-theatre videos, comic booklets and mini-video games, so there is lots of content being created and will be gradually released! We are also organising for live acoustic versions to be filmed at the National Theatre in Bucharest, Romania, however, there is some delay with that due to the pandemic.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Really, anyone who has the spark and passion for arts and has any kind of storytelling vision in mind for any artistic mediums – whether music or visual arts. Find me on social media, and I am always open to chat about collaborating!
‘A Hint Of Pink’ is dream-pop at its finest, what draws you to the genre?
I think when I was writing ‘A Hint of Pink’ I wasn’t really aiming for dream-pop, and if I can be honest, I didn’t even know what dream pop was until I started promoting my song recently, haha. I was more following the music itself and where it was taking me.
However, I really fell in love with dream-pop and have discovered amazing artists that I now follow – so it’s my absolute pleasure that ‘A Hint of Pink’ could potentially be regarded as a good example of the genre.
What is the music scene like in Serbia?
This might be a bit difficult to answer, since I’ve been away for the past few years for my uni studies, so I might be a bit disconnected from the newest trends. I think, as a country, we always had a vast rock scene – think ex-Yu rock from the 60s-80s.
The songs from then are still being performed, while the style itself is still being emulated by many new emerging bands. At the same time, there is a rich underground music scene in urban cities like Belgrade. Meanwhile, however, a genre called turbo-folk is the one being flashed out the most in the mainstream popular music – it’s something I am personally not a fan of at all and even puts me off, but it’s there.
What’s your dream venue to play?
Oh, such a difficult thing to answer. And perhaps, I should be honest – I don’t really have a dream venue as such, and being more of an outsider to the industry, it’s something I know very little about. Rather, I’d like to be more focused on the people I’d like to play for – those who will connect with me and my music in a more intimate way.
So maybe that’s why I’d prefer some smaller settings to allow for this intimacy, presence and immediacy. On the other hand, I’d love to perform with other people too, and since I have a very orchestral approach to songs, which will be more evident in future releases, my dream would be to perform with orchestras on stage one day.
Other than music, what are you passionate about?
All arts definitely! As someone that graduated film and drama, I am really passionate about both subjects. For drama, in particular, I am set to continue my performer training in Paris this October at the outstanding École internationale de théâtre Jacques Lecoq, which I’ll do in parallel with this audiovisual project. It will be tough, but I am really looking forward to it!
Next, I love dance, butoh and circus arts! I also do the classical Western drawing and oil painting sometimes, which I studied for a few years – I take after my dad, who is a painter.
Other than that, travelling all the way – I love visiting small, obscure places, taking in different sceneries and meeting people from across the globe. I also love mythologies. Oh, and animals too! I love my Samoyed pup, who is a real mischievous devil – hence I named him Mephistopheles, haha.
What changes would you like to see in the music business?
I wish things were much less about the numbers game and especially for independent artists, there are so many people waiting to prey on those less informed.
As such, my recent experience as someone new in the industry felt a lot like a maze with quite a few traps to avoid. I also saw this interesting thread on Reddit recently, where the state of the music industry was compared to the selling of shovels during the California gold rush in the mid-1800s.
Back when there was this craze to dig gold, the whole industry was thriving because economies were set up to exploit this desire to get rich quick. Except in music, it’s maybe not even so much the desire to get rich quick, but more than anything, get as many streams as quickly as possible. And I don’t know; I found this very defeating.
How do you feel about how the internet plays a role in the music business today?
First of all, I love the internet – all the exchange of information and the sharing aspects! However, alongside what I said above, there is this formulaic thing happening when artists just emulate what is getting the most numbers on streaming platforms at the cost of creativity. This is often to please the algorithms too, and it really made me feel distanced as a new-comer with quite some niche ideas.
I wish things were less mechanical and more from the heart, but I guess that isn’t being awarded by the algorithms themselves so many don’t see a point in experimenting anymore. Also, if you follow someone like Jaron Laniere, the so-called ‘father’ of virtual reality, the concept of social media becomes even more limiting.
I believe the internet was created for more freedom and to give more freedom to musicians, so it’s quite interesting where the things are actually going.
Have you started working on your next release?
Yes! The second song with its film noir world is being produced as we speak and should be released in March. We are also going over production ideas for the third, 2000s-pop-inspired song, which we hope to be out by the end of May. Alongside this, we are working on the dance video and comic materials and much more, so stay tuned!
FVMusicBlog January 2021
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