Australia isn’t an obvious breeding ground for R&B superstars. Our track record includes Iggy Azalea, Peter Andre and Gabriella Cilmi - all of which you could debate the R&B and superstar labelling. That’s all about to change with LA via Brisbane talent Romy who’s being introduced to the world with the full package - the voice, the songs and the visual.
Before we even heard her debut song Wildheart she’d placed an Intro video online instantly displaying a quality of work and drive rare for artists who are only just beginning to release music. Often artists who rely heavily on the visual side of things before giving us the tunes, lack the songs to match their creative vision but with Romy that’s not the case. Wildheart is an after-dark, R&B sizzler that sounds as if it could slot into the US charts tomorrow if given the platform.
While Brisbane is technically her home, she now splits her time between there and LA which is probably why she’s been able to craft a sound that’s so international. Speaking on the phone from Brisbane, she tells of how it all kicked off with the sort of story that’s unheard of for a new Australian artist from the Sunshine State. While Jennifer Lopez was on tour in Australia, Romy met her musical director who made her sing for him straight away. He was obviously impressed as he’s now an integral part of her career and is producing Romy’s upcoming LP.
When she’s in LA now Romy is writing, whether it be for herself or for others. “Went sent a song to Rihanna for her album,” Romy says casually, “but we kind of didn’t care if she didn’t want it because I wanted it for myself.” She’s at the point in her career where handing a banger away may nab her a co-write for a huge artist but may also starve her of her own hit that could potentially be her breakthrough.
Romy isn’t looking to write run-of-the-mill char fodder though. Wildheart takes the skeletal R&B formula and alters it with eccentric sounds and brooding production. “I wanted to create something new and play with sounds,” she says of the lead-single, a track that has drawn her comparisons to US innovator Tinashe who has also been praised for breaking down boundaries within the genre. As for the comparison, Romy didn’t think about it originally but she’s happy to take it. “I wasn’t expecting the Tinashe comparison,” she says. “I guess it’s because we have a similar sound and she’s quite new as well.”
When we get to talking about the place of R&B in the Australian soundscape, Romy is realistic. “LA suits my sound,” she says, accepting that it’s harder for this sort of sound to gain traction here. One of the main reasons for that is that triple j has generally not been a breeding ground for R&B success in the past. “triple j has a particular sound and I guess I fit in the middle,” Romy says indicating that she occupies a middle-ground with commercial radio on the other end of the spectrum. Still, Tinashe, Kelela and FKA twigs have all found a home on radio here in Australia.
As for what’s next, it seems she’ll continue to split her time between here and LA, working on her debut album. It’s an anxious but also exciting time she says, “It’s still scary to pack your bag and essentially go on holidays for three months with no idea of what will happen.
She’s just released the video for Wildheart - another dark, haunting visual, directed by Romy herself showing that she’s set on making her own creative vision come to life. “The visual is really important to me,” she says. Afterall we were introduced to her with a sharp Intro video - a tactic we’re not used to seeing much here.
With only one song to her name, it’s anyone’s guess what we’ll get from Romy in the next year or so but when the creative vision is so strong it’s hard to imagine she won’t be a major talking point of 2016. Let’s hope we’re looking at Australia’s first R&B superstar.