Interview: Freya Ridings Crosses The Pond

“How can I blackout you?” asks Freya Ridings on her mesmerizing 2017 debut single “Blackout” which has nearly 2.5 million streams on Spotify.

Once you hear the London-based musician and pianist sing, you might have to brace yourself from blacking out, thanks to the dizzying beauty of her voice (yes that’s actually a real thing and it’s called Stendhal syndrome).

Freya’s second single, “Maps,” a spine-tingling cover of the classic Yeah Yeah Yeahs hit, further spotlights her soulful vocal prowess and pensive arrangements. To maintain this intimacy with her music, Freya chose to release a live recording for her debut album (Live at St Pancras Old Church) over a studio release. Next up the singer debuts her talents in the US by way of Los Angeles, and kindly answered a few questions about her music background, some of her favorite spots in London, and the one place she has to dine while in LA.

Catch Freya in Los Angeles on January 29th at School Night and January 30th at the Peppermint Club.

Culture Collide: What made you want to cover and include the Yeah Yeah Yeahs “Maps” in your first round of singles?Freya Ridings: I was looking for a song that I really connected to when my friend showed me maps. It was like an instant bolt of lightning. The first time I played it I wanted to cry, that’s always a sign for me, that I’m emotionally invested in a story.

Is the name Freya a reference to the Norse goddess?
Freya: It is indeed! Both my parents loved Norse mythology. She’s also a fiery redhead which (after it became clear that I was too) became the perfect match.

How did you decide on releasing a live album versus a recorded album?
Freya: At first I wasn’t sure about recording my first headlines show but there was something magical about capturing songs raw, authentic and live. Felt exhilarating! Very lucky to have had the opportunity to do it!

When do you recall first being drawn to music?
Freya: My dad plays guitar and writes, and my mom plays piano. When he was away one day working, I snuck into his studio and tried playing one. He later showed me more chords and I fell in love with playing and writing on both instruments.

One thing you always do before a show?
Freya: Warm up, eat an apple, hug my band! The pectin in the apple breaks down vocal (cliche). Hugs are just the best right before you go on stage.

What inspired you to write your first song?
Freya: Sat around a campfire at 9 years old on a school camping trip. One of my friend’s Dad’s brought a guitar and played for us. I made a vow to learn guitar and perform an original song on the rest of the trip, which I’m glad I stuck too!

How do you like to spend time in London when you’re not playing music?
Freya: I love cooking and baking for my family. I think that’s what I actually miss the most on the road. Also running through local forests with my younger brother and playing our hybrid game of rugby and basketball (aka rugby basket).

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
Freya: Put in my contact lenses! I’m short sighted so I find it hard to do anything without them. (Also drink Matcha tea, I’m completely addicted).

Favorite place(s) in London that you always return to?
Freya: As a North Londoner, Alexandra Palace hill has stunning view any time of the year. East London also has some of my favorite places to go out to eat. The Breakfast Club has the best pancakes.

Meal you want to have when you’re in Los Angeles?
Freya: Sugarfish in L.A. does my favorite sushi hands down. The hand rolls are out of this world!

photo by: courtesy of the artist