This week, we hosted a conversation between two inspiring women – both acting as genre tastemakers in their own right! Lia Menaker, a soulful vocalist with a modern twist of pop, electronic, and alternative R&B sounds, and Richitta, an up-and-coming artist in the R&B and hip-hop genres, with colorful vocals and pop rhythms steeped in her influential Chicago roots.
Richitta: One word to describe yourself as an artist? Why?
Lia Menaker: Soulful.
My music tends to come from a very honest, deep, raw place…a place of deep, passionate emotion and expression.
LM: I see you’re from the suburbs of Chicago. How has the city shaped you and your music?
Richitta: Chicago has a history of great music, and that makes me want to continually challenge myself to create at my highest level.
Richitta: What is your favorite song from your EP ‘I Am Kyrøs’? Why?
LM: I think it keeps changing. At the moment, I think the opening track “All My Life” is my favorite. I like the tribal nature of it, and I think the chorus is the catchiest of the songs.
LM: Tell me about your latest release, “Quit Playin” – what inspired the song, and how did you go about creating it?
Richitta: The song was inspired by frustration. I was tired of the dishonesty, cheating and selfishness. My producer Darius Holland sent the beat to me, I used my voice memo to write the song, and then went in the studio to record the song.
Richitta: Describe your songwriting process?
LM: So far, it has changed with every album (or singles, in the case of 2017) I’ve released. But right now, I usually start with a general topic (or maybe even just a feel I want), and I start playing around with a beat first. I loop it, and keep adding to the loop with ideas. I may add vocal effects for some texture and color, so I have more inspiration to create a melody to. Then I start using gibberish words (that occasionally stick!) to improv a melody too… all playing around, until something hits me in the right place. Then, I’ll add some keys and synth and such. Then I’ll put it to rest for a bit, and go back a few weeks or months later and start forming a true structure from the loop. And I’ll tweak things, add effects or change parts, write the lyrics and replace the scratch vocals with a real melody/vocal take.
LM: I love that 60’s pop feel to the groove in “Hurt” from your ‘Dreams Come True’ album. How did you come up with that instrumentation?
Richitta: I told my producer that I wanted an old-school beat, and he came up with the instrumentation for “Hurt.”
Richitta: I love your theme streams. Can you explain what they are and how you came up with this idea?
LM: Thank you! I honestly can’t remember how I came up with it, but I’ve been live streaming music weekly on Twitch since November and after a while was struggling to find new content to play, outside of my own writing and improv looping. So I thought it would be a fun way to keep switching things up and engaging people while also challenging me.
LM: Before your latest release, you released an album in 2014. How do you feel you and your music has changed between then and now?
Richitta: I am more fearless with my music. I no longer hold myself back for fear of what others will say.
Richitta: Can you share a lesson you have learned that would be helpful to another artist?
LM: To keep moving forward. Don’t let any one song, or review, or setback, or form of rejection deter you from creating, growing, thriving, and doing what you do. Just stay focused on the music, how to keep getting better at it, and how to keep reaching people with it.
LM: Tell us – what’s your favorite guilty pleasure song?
Richitta: Tiffany Evans – “TMI”.
Richitta: What is next for you?
LM: Lots of new music I’ll be releasing. All collaborations, which is super exciting! A rapper from Texas, JClay, is releasing a song soon that I’ll be featured singing on, plus I’m working with a jazz funk band based in Paris on a new tune. And more music as well, though these are the two closest to being done and released.
LM: What projects are you either currently working on, or gearing up to work on next?
Richitta: I am planning to drop another single soon. Stay tuned.
Bands Interviewing Bands: Lia Meneker (bottom) photo credit: Liora Arianna. Richitta Taylor (top) photo credit: Gary Ward