Ria Hall

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Ria Hall

Rules Of Engagement LP is a journey, and one which features Hall as the central storyteller. Aiming to create an honest dialogue about both the good and bad aspects of cultural pasts, the album looks to uphold the integrity of Māori culture amongst modern musical sounds and the current cultural climate.

Hi Ria, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with Forte. For our first question, what drew you to making music?

I’ve always been a huge fan of music. I guess the turning point for me was when I realised I could hold a tune, and was encouraged to keep doing it. I was about 15 at the time. The rest is history.

Your upcoming LP, Rules of Engagement, is a journey with your vocals as the central storyteller. Can you give tell us about the journey your album will take us on?

The journey is an ebb and flow between traditional and contemporary. I have drawn on Māori culture and the stories of my people to inform how this album has been shaped. Sonically, the album is reflective of what influences me. This work emanates strength, resilience, evokes social, political and cultural discussion and the will to find positive resolution.

Rules of Engagement has been five years in the making, making its release an incredible milestone. What is the most rewarding thing about it?

Knowing that I have put everything I have into this album is very gratifying. I have left no stone unturned. Blood, sweat, tears, fears and years have gone in! I can’t complain either. I’m stoked with the outcome.

The album will feature performances and production from Tiki Taane, Kings, Laughton Kora, Che-Fu and Electric Wire Hustle. What is your favourite thing about collaborating with other artists to create music?

The fresh approach they each bring to creating music. They have opened up my world to viewing this process in a very organic and powerful manner. Plus they are all beautiful people and lots of laughs are exchanged in studio. I’ve been very blessed to have worked with such talented men.

Your music is heavily inspired by a combination of Māori sounds and modern musical sounds. What can you tell us about how your culture influences your music?

Māori culture has informed everything this album is, and all that I do. It is the foundation and epicentre of anything I create. It really is a powerful mechanism and inspiration to create art from.

The music on your upcoming album, particularly the single ‘Love Will Lead us Home’, draws on historical events from the New Zealand Wars of the 1800s. Can you tell us more about this influence?

‘Rules of Engagement’ takes its name from a historical document that was written in March 1864, outlining the manner in which the Battle of Gate Pā should ensue and how one should conduct themselves during war. The album was created around the idea of cultural compassion and understanding with this letter as the inspiration. ‘Love Will Lead Us Home’ is not a direct reference to history, but more about how love is the most honourable act of duty we as humans can display.

What do you hope that listeners will take away from the journey of your album?

I want people to be able to feel a host of emotions from the album. Strength, love, vulnerability, selflessness, resilience and resolve. If that is achieved, then this album has done its job.

Release: Rules of Engagement is out now.