From New York City to Manchester UK, Risa Hall is a Singer/Songwriter Ready to storm the music industry.
How old are you? A New York lady over the age of 21 doesn’t do age 🙂 I am whatever anyone
thinks I am.
What is your genre of music? I love all kinds of music so I don’t specifically write in one genre. There is a combination of pop, soul, jazz, folk and ambient in my music. It all depends on how I feel that particular day I am writing and what I’m inspired by at the time.
Give a Little Bio of yourself. I was born in NY and grew up in Forest Hills, Queens where I was a music addict. From the age of five I always wanted to be a singer and then by nine be a songwriter, but my path changed and I got involved in acting appearing in shows like the Broadway cast of Grease and the National Tour of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. I also became quite a working voice over with my voice acting in television, films and radio. I took time out to have three kids and finish University and a PGCE in Drama. It wasn’t until about eight years ago that I became inspired again by my first ambition after seeing KT Tunstall, Martha Wainwright, Nerina Pallot (as well as hearing Sheila Nicholls) did I decide to pick up my ‘dusty’ guitar and start to write some songs again. I never wrote with the intention of being the ‘next big thing’. My aims and goals were always to do good, quality work and write songs people will like (and hopefully purchase). I love recording and gigging and feel lucky to be out there doing it.
How long have you been doing music? I started doing open mics and some support slots about eight years ago, but have been involved in music all my life. I even worked at Polydor Records in New York for a while. At first we did alot of free gigs and open mics, but now we get paid, fed and watered which is alot nicer 🙂 I will always do something for charity.
What made you go in to music?
I used to watch music programmes as a kid and always know that I wanted to do what they do. I love Tata Vega, Lisa Fischer, Darlene Love, Merry Clayton and Judith Hill as they have worked in music all their lives from teenagers onward. Their story is depicted in 20 Feet from Stardom. What awesome artists and that is a documentary all singers should watch if they haven’t. I was inspired by the British Invasion and still love Steve Winwood, the Stones, Beatles, etc. I come from a house of musicians- my mom plays piano, my stepdad is a trumpet player and my brother is a bassist. I know it sounds like a cliche, but music is my everything.
Are you a Signed Artist? I signed with a label in Australia for the release of my album Glass Half? Which became Second Chance when it was re-issued. I seemed to be doing all my own publicity and grafting and in the end it didn’t work out. I am happy to be independent again and have control of my music and live work.
Who are your influences? Sooo many. Steve Winwood, Ray Davies, Todd Rundgren, Nerina Pallot, Lissie, KT Tunstall, and all the Brill Building writers like Carole King and Leiber and Stoller, Phil Spector, Laura Nyro. I tried to re-create that kind of sound in my New York Nights EP. That sound is so vibrant. Really love all the 60’s stuff, especially Motown, Hendrix, Beatles, Stones. I adore Jazz and Blues- Billy Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Bessie Smith. Folk (Joni Mitchell) and World Music/Opera/Cabaret Artists like My Brightest Diamond Country/swing/bluegrass. I am very into Hot Club of Cowtown (jazz swing). Country- Dolly Parton. My husband got me into Judie Tzuke who is a great songwriter. 80’s stuff like Tears for Fears, Prince, and Level 42. I suppose that is why I am always genre hopping in my own music.
When will you be releasing new music? I have some great songs that didn’t make the EP like Soundtrack to my Life and You Became My Eyes. I would love to do another EP, but when you are crowdfunding through Pledgemusic or Kick-starter, you don’t want to bombard people every year with it. It is so expensive to get studio time, musicians, mixing time, mastering, replication, posting out… I hired a professional record plugger for my album and spent so much money only to get the kind of exposure I can get on my own. They are only good if you have alot of cash for a prolonged campaign. It takes around 5 weeks just for radio stations just to listen to your stuff as they get so bombarded. I hope perhaps at the end of 2015 I can start thinking about 2016. If I win the lottery before that or if anyone wants to donate anything, all gratuities would be appreciated!)
How do you get inspiration to write songs? Trials, tribulations, love and passion, family, observation, riffs on the guitar.
Where is your dream place to perform (Country)? I would love to do a European tour and do them all. We might have a Danish mini tour next year so fingers crossed. The Promoter has put an application in for funding and he has been successful in the past.
Who would you like to perform with, if you got the chance? It would have been Marvyn Gaye if he was still alive, but its Steve Winwood , Al Green or Smokey Robinson if it is male. Females would be: Tata Vega, Lisa Fischer, Merry Clayton , Aretha Franklin, Lissie.
Where do you see yourself in 2-5 years? Who knows? I just do music because I love it. I hope people will still come to listen to me. It only takes one lucky break for it all to escalate. That happened to a friend of mine who really deserved it. I wouldn’t even mind if others wanted to record my songs and they made them known. I think the music business is quite ageist and as I started later on in life, no one would want to sign a mum of three and grandmother to one. I have always been realistic about it. I think I have done quite well and my music has been very well received by both reviewers and the public.
If you wasn’t doing music what would you be doing? When I am not doing music, I teach Voice/accents to Musical Theatre, Dance and Performance, HNC, Theatre and Performance students at the Arden School of Theatre. I also love doing that as we have so much talent and energy there. Alot of our graduates have already got agents and jobs!
Who is your favourite Artist or Band at the Moment Do I have to say one? It’s Lissie at the moment, but Nerina Pallot is all time fave too. I was very lucky to open up for her at the Ruby Lounge a few years ago
If you could go on Tour with any Singer or Band who would it be and why? Lissie I think as she just seems so nice. She does loads for charity and she even sent me a signed CD with a <3 on it as when I bought one at her gig, it came unsigned by accident. Love her vibe.