As a former contestant on The Voice, Riley Biederer not only won over millions of viewers, but also truly established herself as a genuine musical talent. Since then, she’s gone on to open for Backstreet Boy Nick Carter and released her debut EP To Me And You. With big ambitions for the coming months, she kindly agreed to this interview to chat social media, live shows and favourite artists.
PW: Please introduce yourself.
Riley Biederer: Hola, I'm Riley!
PW: How would you sum yourself up in five words?
RB: Good question! I'd say maybe talkative, forgiving, artsy, musical, and honest.
PW: When did you first realise you wanted to be a part of the music industry?
RB: I can remember being around the age of 7 or 8, and knowing that I wanted to be a singer. Mostly I think I was very inspired by Hannah Montana and all of the Disney Girls.
PW: Which bands and artists did you grow up listening to and how did they influence you?
RB: I grew up listening to a lot of Britney Spears, Avril Lavigne, and Mariah Carey. Super random, I know. I think Britney really inspired my love for Pop music. She was the best at that when I listened to her..actually that's a lie; she'll always be the best and I'll always listen to her! Avril inspired a lot of the edginess I love to hear in music. The attitude and the bold lyrics are something I think I have carried with me into my writing style for sure. Last but of course not least, Mariah was the one that I think slowly helped me develop the more soulful side of pop that I sing now. I would definitely describe myself as pop, but there's a lot of rock and soul infused into it.
PW: Have your influences changed much over the years?
RB: Not too much. I'm still super influenced by all three of the artists I had listed before. Obviously I have grown up a lot, and I would probably add Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Tori Kelly, and Jessie J as large players in the music I've created over the past few years.
PW: Is there a particular artist or band today you take inspiration from?
RB: When it comes to a particular artist, I would have to go with Rihanna. She's one of my all time favorites, and I think a lot of what I sing is super similar to her style. Same as with Tori Kelly; that soulful Pop. As for a band, my favorite group in the world is kind of a more under the radar band called Parachute. I've always loved their writing and music; they're definitely my favorite band.
PW: You were on season 9 of The Voice. What are your favourite memories from your time on the show and is it something you'd do again?
RB: The Voice was totally something that I'm glad I did. I made lifelong friends on there, and I got to experience something that not a lot of people will ever get to do. I also met two of my biggest inspirations, Rihanna and Tori Kelly. So those were two very huge highlights from my time on the show. The coaches are truly amazing and everything - and more - that you see on television from them is totally genuine. I think if you are asking "Would I do it again?" as in "Would I go back and do it all again?" then yes, totally! But I think one singing competition show is enough for me. It was amazing, but the pressure and the time it takes is a lot to do twice.
PW: What advice were you given that you still reflect on?
RB: When I was on team Pharrell, he was always telling me to open up and to get outside of this nervous bubble that I was in. He was always telling me that if I let go of everything, and I just sang the music, that it would come through just like that. I think that's something I remembered most when it came to advice and continuing through the show.
PW: What advice would you give to those considering applying for such a show?
RB: Definitely don't be nervous. It's such a fun experience and we're all there for the same reason. We all love music and I would definitely say as you go through a competition as steep as a reality TV show, try not to pay attention to the competition aspect and truly just enjoy yourself. Also, make as many friends as you can, because you spend the better part of a year with these people and they are totally the best part.
PW: Tell me about your debut EP To Me and You. How would you sum it up?
RB: I would say it sort of sums up who I am now, and who I've been over the last three years. A few of the songs were written a little while back, and I think as you listen to the EP you can tell that I was growing along with the music.
PW: Do you have a favourite track on the collection?
RB: My favorite is actually the title track! "To Me And You" is the newest song on the EP, and it's also the most relevant to where I am musically, and in life. I'm going through a lot of changes in my personal life and I think the more acoustic, laid back vibe of that song kind of describes where I'd like to go next, music wise.
PW: How do you find the song-writing process? Is it something easy or difficult for you, or does it depend on the subject matter?
RB: I love writing. It's something I've been doing since I was about 8-years old. It started as poetry and it evolved into songs when I got older. Sometimes it's difficult to write a really honest song. Sometimes it's easy. So I suppose you're right to ask if it depends on the subject. I would say yes. Sometimes you're writing a song that's not necessarily about something that happened to you, so it's a way to express how you’re feeling about your life, or someone else's.
PW: You've also opened for Nick Carter on tour. What was that like?
RB: I just recently got back. It was truly an amazing experience. Nick is so talented and he's really such an awesome performer. It was super fun to be on tour with someone who really knows what he's doing. My band and I seriously had a blast.
PW: If you could play a stage with three bands or artists who can be living or dead, who would you choose and why?
RB: Wow, what a hard question. I would have to say my first choice would be Rihanna. Like I said before, she's probably my biggest inspiration musically and stylistically, so that would be a dream. My second choice would be Taylor Swift I think. She's just such an amazing performer; I think being on stage with her would be a blast. I have been to the last three of her tours when she came through Atlanta, and all of them have been so incredible. As for my third choice, I think I have to go with my favorite band of all time, I mean how could I not? Parachute is a little more on the rock-pop side, but I would absolutely love to work with them. I think they're beyond talented and I'm such a huge fan; I think it would be so so fun.
PW: What are your thoughts on social media and to what extent has it helped grow your audience?
RB: YouTube was initially the way that Elton John ended up signing me to his management all those years ago, so I think I definitely have to say that without social media, who knows where I'd be. I think it's definitely made the music business harder to break into, but it's helped grow so many insane careers, that I think it's a huge advantage. It's definitely helped through Twitter and Instagram as well. And we can't forget about Facebook. People connect through these things more now than they ever could before and I love talking to people who support my music, so I'm totally on board.
PW: Would you agree that it's a necessary tool for bands and artists today?
RB: I would agree with that, yes.
PW: Are there plans for a full length album in the works?
RB: There's definitely been talks of that, yes. I think first I want to start writing some new material. With The Voice and then touring with Nick, it's been a while since I had a chance to really go out with people and create new music. I'm looking forward to that.
PW: What else does this year have in store for you?
RB: This year is truly a little bit of a mystery to me right now. I think I'd love to get onto some sort of other tour. Maybe something with a female pop singer to see how that all goes down. But I'm open to anything. Writing more, releasing new video content, all of that I think is in the future for me.
PW: Finally then, whose career would you most like to emulate and what's your ultimate ambition as an artist?
RB: I think I could say if I were to take the same steps as any artist out there right now, I could compare myself a little to Tori Kelly. She started on YouTube and she did the American Idol thing, and it was not an overnight success for her at all. Granted, I'm still working on getting closer to where she is, but I think the next step would be trying to get some sort of deal, and breaking through to the next level. She got discovered by a great manager who saw her potential when no one else did. It only takes one person.