Sultry. Soulful. Entrancing. These are just a few adjectives that can be used to describe Ria Boss’ music. Ria Boss is a neo-soul singer whose songs are a vivid reflection of herself and marked with conspicuous emotion. This interview touches on her musical beginnings, her relocation to Ghana, spirituality, and many more. Enter this soulful world with me as I have a chit-chat with the gifted Ria Boss.
Ayeyi: Hey Ria. It’s good to be doing this interview with you. How have you been?
Ria Boss: I’ve been pretty peaceful. Today I’m feeling good. I bought myself a new Calathea plant yesterday so my original one, Penny, could have a friend. Now I have two happy Calatheas – Penny and Page. That little joy has had me excited all day. I keep looking at them!
Ayeyi: Yup, I have noticed your love for plants and I’m happy that Penny now has a friend. (smiles) So, to get right into it, could you tell us how you got started making music?
Ria Boss: I believe music has always been a part of me. Cliché right? It feels that way, though. My mother was in a band, Woman 7, when she was younger. She writes poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, and she’s got an ear for melody. So, my relationship to the blues and to soul music? (asks rhetorically). It was fostered because of my mother. Then you have my grandmother, who has been in the Ridge Church Choir for over 25 years and she used to take me to her choir practices with her. Between my mother and my grandmother, I think the influence was bound to help the musician in me. But I really got started the minute I knew I could actually sing, and I think that’s when I was 12. That’s when I started paying attention to music, the lyrics, the composition. When I actively started making my own original sounds was in 2010.
Blood Bound – A song by Ria Boss
Ayeyi: And since 2010, when you started making your original sounds, most of your music has been soul. Why did you decide to choose soul music as your preferred genre?
Ria Boss: I believe I am a sum of the sounds that have left lasting impressions on the soundscape that shapes my mind. From Nina to Jill Scott. D’Angelo to Stevie Wonder. From Erykah to Ari. From Lauryn to Amy. From Aretha to Brandy. “Soul Music” for me really is more than one sound; it refers to that which stirs your soul. Creates connection. I chose to make music that binds us. So, I suppose soul music chose me.
Ayeyi: I totally agree with the deeper connections you talk of soul music creating. That is definitely one of the powers that music possesses. Let’s fast-forward from your musical beginnings and talk of relocating to Ghana. You were born in London but raised in Ghana and moved to New York at the age of 18. Then, you were living in Los Angeles before you decided to Ghana a couple of years ago. How has relocating to Ghana influenced your music style?
Ria Boss: With moving to Ghana, I have become even more confident in my ability to wield my voice in the same way a samurai wields their weapon. I’ve grown deeper in love with my voice, I met theflowerpapi (Dave Ansah), who was the executive producer of some of my best work during my #Thankgoditsria series. Connecting with other women artists thanks to Black Girls Glow, I mean the list is long, with the joys (and pains) moving back brought me. Relocating came with its own obstacles, personally and professionally, but I’ve made my best work to date because I came home. That…is not lost on me.
Holding Hands in Public – Song by Ria Boss
Ayeyi: In moving to Ghana, you mentioned how you embarked on your #Thankgoditsria series. This was a project in 2018, where you released an EP each week for eleven weeks, and that is an incredible feat. What motivated you to embark on this project?
Ria Boss: I tend to hoard music. Over the years, I have recorded hundreds of songs. No exaggeration. I like to say I have my own music vault. I had coffee with my stepbrother (filmmaker, Amartei Armar), and sort of towards the end of our hang, he mentioned how I had so much music that I could release a single every week and still have hits in the vault, lol. This made us think about when Kanye West did “GOOD FRIDAYS” where himself and the artist under Good music dropped music every “Good Friday.” I was born on a Friday, so take that and the famous “Thank God it’s Friday” slogan, and you get the birth of my series, “THANKGODITSRIA,” where instead of a single, I will drop EPs every week. And to be honest, when we first embarked on the project, myself and Dave Ansah, we had no idea it would span eleven weeks. Everything just fell into place. The projects have a mix of new and old, repurposed songs from the vault and some songs that had been over 2 years old at the time.
Ayeyi: That is really impressive and definitely one that would go down in the music books. And, since that project, how has the reception been like?
Ria Boss: The series changed my life. Eleven EPs that travel through so many aspects of my subconscious gave listeners the ability to really deep dive into my sound. Dave Ansah and I collaborated on the creative direction for each of the EPs, and the art was just as important as the sounds and that also captivated people. The reception was overwhelming. I still have people who are connecting to the projects for the first time.
Ayeyi: It is beautiful to see your music doing what you defined as soul – The ability to stir something within the hearts of people and create deeper connections with your listeners.
Ayeyi: When you perform live, do you try to keep it the same as you would in the studio, or do you prefer to switch it up?
Ria Boss: When I perform live, I literally come alive. Almost like I’m in a trance. It will never sound like the studio, and I think that is what makes my performances so unique to me. No two are the same.
Ayeyi: I feel you. Ria Boss, what do you think contributes to the creativity of your music?
Ria Boss: I write and cast spells sharing familiar pains – growing pains – the emotional extremes that life can take us through and how we navigate them while knowing, we are enough, as we are. I allow my art to be a vessel through which I am not only able to travel through my own healing, but I am also able to journal out loud. In many ways, the intentional ways I chose to live my life are reflected back into the art. As Nina Simone famously said, “it is an artists duty to reflect the times”.
Ayeyi: And still talking about the creative aspect of your music, there is an almost ‘spiritual’ feel to your sound. If I may ask, how does spirituality impact the kind of music you create?
Ria Boss: I believe that spirituality really refers to the ways in which we are able to connect deeper to our “self.” I think that means different things for different beings. Some are able to connect deeper to themselves through a relationship with God (in the Christian sense), others with Allah, others through the teachings of the Buddha, some with Vodun, some through harnessing divine feminine power, the list goes on. The point here is: Spirituality looks different depending on who you are. In that regard, cultivating my own personal relationship to self and divine feminine spirituality has allowed me to connect deeper to my gifts. Also when I say the divine feminine, I’m referring to the parts of self that are connected to creation, intuition, sensuality, community and love, and I’ve developed rituals around promoting these aspects of my self. I attribute a lot of my spiritual grown to the book “Sacred Woman: A guide to healing the feminine mind, body and spirit” by Queen Afua. You hear a lot about how I connect to self in my writing.
Ayeyi: I had not viewed spirituality in that self. That is spirituality being a means to find our inner selves and connect with that inner person. Interesting take. (smiles) And you’ve definitely made me want to buy this book by Queen Afua and read it.
“Sampleplate Intro” – Song by Ria Boss
Ayeyi: So, fans of your music are excited for new music from you, especially as they anticipate your upcoming album, “Being Cat Mama,” which is scheduled to be released this year. What should we expect from the album?
Ria Boss: “Being Cat Mama” will represent some of my best work to date. It is a visual album. Get ready to truly enter the wild world of my mind.
Ayeyi: Exciting! Lastly, to enable our readers to follow you, can you please drop your social media handles?
Ayeyi: Ria, I love your music and the unique sound that you bring to the music scene. You’ve already achieved so much, and I hope your train of successes continue.
Ria Boss: Gratitude and love for the ability to share more about myself through your platform. I appreciate you, truly.