SUMMER 2020 Cover Story: Rizha Talks Creating Amidst The Pandemic
At just 21-years-old, Tamara Luz Ronchese (Rizha) has already seen more of the music industry than most artists her age. Kicking it off as an independent artist a few years ago, the Madrid-adopted triple-threat developed her own sound within the four walls of her bedroom, surrounding herself with her artistic friends and family members. In October 2019, Rizha released her highly-anticipated sophomore album Outside, and went on tour to promote it until the COVID-19 pandemic struck and forced her to put touring on hold. However, that didn’t stop the young artist, who took that opportunity to make some major changed to her career and sound.
It’s the day after Rizha’s birthday, and I’m half expecting her to be late, very late, to our Skype interview. Actually, her whole Twitter fanbase is expecting her to be, for she tends to never be on time for anything. But it turns out that that day, she’s just locked up in her home studio, polishing yet another song after partying her birthday weekend away with her friends. As we catch up the following day, I can’t help but hear the excitement in her voice as she talks about what’s been happening these past couple of months.
It goes fast, so fast, for there are so many things she wants to say, so many things she wants to share but can’t quite yet. Tamara Luz Ronchese is a multi-talented Argentinian artist who spent most of her teenage years in Madrid, Spain after she went to live with her father, director Fernando Ronchese, almost a decade ago. Ever since she can remember, the rising artist has been non-stop, filling her hard drives with hundreds and thousands of songs that she only started releasing to the world in 2017. In a matter of three years, the artist released two studio albums and a total of six EPs, including two since the beginning of the quarantine period. Although this lockdown seems never-ending, Ronchese has managed to put it to good use. She joined Patreon to be able to let her creativity flow in a variety of different directions. She had been wanting to join the platform for a long time, but hadn’t quite found the right time to do so until now. “You know how I like to do videos and podcasts and stuff?” she shares. “Well, I wanted to do that all the time, but then the people in my life, the people I work with, told me I couldn’t because I had to focus on my actual music career. So I said, ‘Well okay, then I’m going to do a Patreon’.”
Since the creation of her page, Rizha has kept her words and uploaded covers, demos and videos. Ronchese also plans to interview fellow artists and people she works with. “I’m like.. so fu–ing hyped,” she smiles. “What’s also cool is that if you become a Level 4 member, anytime you come to a show, you get to be like ‘Hey, I’m from Patreon’ and you get free access to soundcheck and meet and greets and stuff.”
Where does this burst of creative energy and ideas come from? Some of her brilliant ideas come to her through her dreams. “Basically, I have had a lot of lucid dreaming and I dream very, very vividly,” she shares. “I love sleeping because of that. I feel like people waste a lot of time when [they] sleep, when you could be doing things in your dreams, experiencing things. It takes practice though. You wake up, write down what you dreamt about, then go to bed and think of that again. For me, it came to the point where it was like having another life. It’s like when you play GTA and you’re doing things but not actually doing them, you know? We develop memories even if they aren’t from real-life events. When lockdown happened, I remember I kept dreaming about Argentina-related things. I had just come back from my trip there so it was all my brain had to function.” When she wasn’t too busy enjoying her alternative life, Rizha spent most of her time creating music or chatting with her friends online. “I made all of my friends depressed watching Lil Peep stuff,” she shares, laughing. “I called them on Discord every single day. We played a lot of Minecraft and GTA 5, watched a lot of Netflix. Honestly, I made one of the closest friend groups through this.”
By maintaining these strong friendships through social media, Rizha hasn’t let the lockdown affect her creativity. “I write so much about my life and I pour a lot into music,” she explains. “After being in lockdown for so long, I realised that I was writing about the same topics over and over. That’s when I knew I had to have some kind of social interactions so I could write about something else.” In true Rizha fashion, the 21-year-old thus produced a whole entire album in the span of a couple of months, working in outburst and producing several songs at a time. A real melting-pot combining a mix of everything she’s done before and of new material, the theme of her third record that she’s now touching up and getting to release is one the artist said she had time to really mature in her head. It is also one she’s the proudest of. “I think that I found a place where I’m very comfortable producing and singing and writing,” she confides. “I don’t usually listen to my own songs, but I’ve been playing this entire album over and over again and I even showed it to my friends, which is something I never do.” With this new era, Rizha is seeking to break out of her Outside aesthetic and showcase a whole new creative direction. For her latest album, released in October 2019, Rizha had indeed created a whole space-centred universe that came with specific outfits and very little to no makeup. This time, the singer wants to mix it up and touch upon different aesthetics, and her first single off the album, “Live The Weekend” serves as a perfect first example of that. The video for the collaboration with British singer GIRLI garnered over 210,000 views in the month following its release and was followed by a ‘morning-after’ video, where the two discussed bisexuality and labels on top of a hill in Madrid. “I don’t feel like labels fully represent sexuality,” you can hear Rizha say in the video before GIRLI adds that sexuality is indeed a whole spectrum that can’t really fit into boxes.
The pair debuted their bisexual anthem on tour late last year before the COVID-19 pandemic struck and forced them to put their touring plans on hold. Now, both women have resorted to online festivals to keep performing. “I was supposed to do a in-person show in Barcelona, and then little COVID said no, thanks,” Rizha sighs, seemingly frustrated. Indeed, like many others, the artist has had to cancel and/or postpone several shows in order to keep herself, her team and her fans safe in the past couple of months. “Every time something is about to get canceled, everyone involved tries to fix it and make it safer one way or another, but sometimes it just doesn’t work,” she admits. Partly blaming everyone’s lack of seriousness concerning the possibility of a second wave of quarantine, the artist managed to find one good thing through the pandemic. “What I liked about the lockdown, is that it forced people to stop and think. And people never do that. People freak when they’ve got to do that. So it’s nice that they got to experience that.”
And although the near future doesn’t look bright for the touring industry, Rizha was able to keep busy by going back to her second job Because as if producing music wasn’t enough, Ronchese also acts and is most known for her role of Joana in the Spanish remake of the series SKAM. The fourth and final season of the show had begun production when the virus struck and was only able to resume shooting about two months ago. “We all got tested a first time before we began shooting again to know if any of us had had it,” the actress reveals. “And then, we got tested every morning on set to make sure we were all safe.” After sharing the screen with the main protagonist of Season 2, Ronchese had considerably fewer scenes in the last season, which enables her to only be on set for a total of two weeks. Thanks to that, she was able to continue working on her music, with the support of her new team at Nacional Records.
The singer was previously signed to Sony Music Spain but had finished her record deal with the company after releasing XX, a 3-track EP entirely in Spanish. The young artist took the end of the contract as an opportunity to seek new horizons, for she wasn’t feeling the direction her music was taking and didn’t feel comfortable singing in her native language. “I liked working with Sony Music and it was fun, but I wanted to do more trashy, glitchy, fu–ed things and that’s not really allowed in the very mainstream labels.” When she met people from L.A.-based Nacional Records and Industria Works, the young singer remained skeptical, for she had been let down in the past and fed empty promises by labels that wanted to turn her into someone she wasn’t. “But I love my new team so much,” Rizha shares happily. “They’ve been impressing me since the beginning and we’re always texting and thinking of new ideas and new stuff. They let me have so much creative freedom and it’s insane. I’m really happy that I get to release this new album with them.”
This creative freedom has enabled Rizha to create an album that is 100% her, which is great for the artist who has a long history of wanting to perfect every aspect of her art. “I have severe problems with delegation,” she confesses. “I guess it’s because when I started making music, I would always struggle to understand what other producers wanted of me and vice versa.” The singer has kept this self-made mentality ever since, and had gotten used to supervising all the work that’s created for her. “For example, there is this guy that I’m working on the cover with… At first, I’d call him all the time,” she explains. “And at some point, I just gave up and literally went to him. I sat right next to him, and I was like ‘okay, change this and this and that.”
Her new ever-evolving style is sure to show on her upcoming record, which we already know features collaborations with GIRLI and DEVA. “I’m in a bunch of kind-of-different but not-really-different styles in the covers of the singles and different styles on the album. So they’re kind of a huge mix.” However, if you think the upcoming album is the last we’ll hear from the rising artist for a while, you couldn’t be more wrong. “I’m always working on future projects while I’m working on a project. Like.. right now, I’m finishing this album but also working on another EP. I do that all the time. I’m never going to stop. If I ever stop, I’m going to lose the little mental stability I have left.”
This story originally appeared on the Summer/Pride Issue 2020 of Stage Right Secrets, published on August 28th, 2020.