Meet Riela, the Miami singer-songwriter who makes the soundtrack of our entanglements
During a Zoom call, riela reveals that she never really intended to release her latest EP, Tranquility and Tropical. Miami singer-songwriter tells Remezcla that she stopped making new tracks for a while after graduating from Berklee College of Music in Boston, but had some sort of epiphany along the way.
“I did an internship and worked in music, but I got to a point where I was like, ‘I love the people I work for, and I love all that stuff… But why shouldn’t I work on these things for myself?‘” she says. “‘I can do it. I just have to be confident. Even though I’m just getting started… This point where I am is is a really good place to be.
riela is the daughter of Cuban and Panamanian immigrants. She notes that growing up in Miami often meant being at the crossroads of different sound atmospheres, like the way you could go from hearing beachgoers blasting El General on their stereos, to buskers strumming nylon string guitars. on walks down Calle Ocho with your grandmother. , all in the same day. She speaks of hearing panpipes on her childhood visits to Panama with the same enthusiasm as her love for Usher’s vocal songs in her cover of Phil Collins “You will be in my heart.”She has been singing since the age of six or seven, playing guitar, and trying her hand at the piano for a while, but mentions that her time at Berklee (as well as her work under the direction of music teachers like Nichelle Mungo) led her to really perfect her vocal technique.
“I was just working really well at singing, rather than trying to perfect the guitar or the piano,” she says.
In early 2020, riela suddenly found herself working fewer hours due to the pandemic, but she turned her attention to a set of songs that would eventually become Tranquility and Tropical, a fusion of alternative R&B and perreo-worthy hooks, and the first installment of a tarot-inspired EP trilogy (“This one is based on The Fool,” she adds). One of his first singles, “mala maña”, got him a shout on the SoundCloud blog, Repost Rewind, which, she says, gave her the nudge to continue.
the sound of riela makes her a sort of misfit. It’s contemporary in how she quickly jumps between English and Spanish in the same line over punchy, heavy bass drum trap rhythms, but also retreats into the alluring and mellow reverie of ’90s R&B. She makes music you can rock on, silky vocals and all, but her lyrics can also reflect the confidence of your favorite rapper.
His latest song, “lyu2” (short for “Like You Used To”) stars fellow Miami native and singer Marcos G, and is the first single from his upcoming EP, llorar and perrear, set to drop in early 2022. “lyu2” crushes its syrupy, dembow-focused pop influences, and is the bittersweet soundtrack to those summer nights lost in deep ruminating because you know your relationship has taken a turn – texts or calls from you have become rarer and rarer and you can’t help but wonder if something went wrong, or if everything is in your head.
“I hadn’t heard from this person after talking to them 24/7,” says Riela. “I [told] marcos all on that… It was super fresh, maybe two days later? We wrote this song the night we met. I idealize a lot, and it’s hard to be honest with yourself when you might be at fault, like “was I clingy?” “Was I also this or that?”
Anyway, “lyu2” gives voice to that much too recognizable feeling where you are just waiting for some sort of sign: “No quiero jugar / solamente quiero estar / a tu lado sin pensar / que te voy a molestar… You don’t hit me like before / like you started playing games I’m not used to.
While the output of llorar and perrear is still a few months away, riela hinted at what listeners can anticipate this time around: some rock and pop touches, some acoustic material, trap and reggaeton melodies, as well as more experimental sounds.
“I’m sure I’ve been [categorized] like “Latin” because I have elements of Latin music, but there is more to it… I think that over time things will change more and more. I hope I can help be part of this change.