Inspired by the vast concrete surroundings of their hometown of Stoke, Onyda aka Shae Rhiannon creates enticing, jaded alt-pop tunes about their life experiences. Described as a “dystopian cowboy clad in jewel-hued velvet,” Onyda filters their thoughts on the human condition through the lens of film, music, fashion and art. We caught up with Onyda to talk about their recent release ‘Like A Dog’ and their upcoming single ‘Mediocre’, which is set for release on 26th January…
Hello Onyda, can you remember who or what first inspired to first start making your own music?
I was about 14, I lived pretty much in the middle of nowhere when I started writing music, on the edge of Stoke, I had a lot of time, no-one to spend it with, a lot to say and no-one to listen. There was no real influence as to why I started apart from being a musical theatre kid, I knew from an early age I liked to perform but it was just kind of a natural development of my own to write songs, my mental health was pretty bad too so it was in part a coping strategy I think. All I could play when I started writing was the ukulele, it just kind of grew from there.
Talk to me about your 2021 single ‘Like a Dog’. What inspired you to write it and what inspired the accompanying video?
‘Like a Dog’ comes from a place of depression and a feeling of entrapment for your situation, but all the while still acknowledging your power. Fake it till you make it and know one day you’ll get out of whatever that means for you. I was really inspired by Al Stewarts ‘Year Of The Cat’ whilst writing ‘Like a Dog’, hence the lyric “It’s the year of the dog baby” in the opening line to the chorus. I really wanted to tip my hat to him. “She comes out of the sun in a silk dress / running like a watercolour in the rain” is one of my favourite lyrics of all time, he’s a great storyteller. The video was inspired by my love of this cult-like idea of utopia, unsubscribing from society and running off to the woods.
You have a new single coming out on 26th January. Tell me about it…
The next single is titled ‘Mediocre’, it’s about being the messy imperfect creatures we are, celebrating that and actually welcoming that into my life. Whether its about having the perfect body, car, the pressure of being “successful,” I just get tired of it all. Social media has created a monster in the way we perceive ourselves and the way things should be for us, we’re all flawed and that’s great, I find that really liberating.
You’re also releasing an EP this year, what can you tell us about that?
The EP contains 5 tracks in total, each one a time capsule of my life as a young person, reflecting on something in my life from the very recent past. I had the absolute pleasure of working with Ben Hillier (producer and co writer) to create beautiful soundscapes and help me to weave the story together. I’m so proud of what we achieved and can’t wait to share it.
That’s exciting. It’s been a rough few years for musicians due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. How have you coped and stayed focused?
I kind of feel bad saying this for all the damage Covid has done but the past two years, but for me as an artist have actually been the best in my life (minus the live aspect obviously). I love the quiet and the world just stopped. I had no distractions, I was so focused and felt more creative than ever. The whole of the EP was written during the start of the first lockdown. Don’t get me wrong, I had some tough times too but creatively it was great for me.
What else does 2022 hold for you?
I am so excited for 2022. So much music to come and me and my band can finally start to get some live dates in the diary. I can’t wait to share it all, we’ve been working so hard.
Any new bands or artists that you’ve been listening to that you’d like to recommend we check out?
I’ve been absolutely slamming Fleet Foxes recent album A Very Lonely Solstice, along with my usual old time classics: Scott Walker, Lee Hazlewood, Jackie Wilson etc. I have a playlist titled ‘Onyda’s Feel Good Melancholy’ on my Spotify where you can find everything I’m listening to at the moment.