Interview: Riley Wheater

Could you share the story behind your latest song and what inspired its creation?

This is a story of someone who is fresh out of a relationship, one that has left them so broken and confused. They look at love now wondering what’s so special about it. In this song of mine I sing about not being able to wrap my heart around how good people make love seem, and in hopes that one day I will. When I write or sing songs like this I try to think about times where I have maybe felt like this, so that I give the best emotion.

How do you approach the process of songwriting, and are there any specific themes or emotions you tend to explore in your music?
For me when writing I pick something that I’m feeling in the moment or something that I know I’m going to be able to relate to. In this case with heart around I wrote with 2 other people, Josh, and Cade. They had this idea and said have you ever been hurt, and I said yes. From then on, I used my experience to help write this song.

As an indie musician, how do you navigate the balance between creative freedom and commercial appeal?
As an independent artist I try to stay very close to who I am. I do listen to a lot of the mainstream artists, and it helps to give me an idea of what’s popular. That way I can add certain elements to my music so that I can make it apply to everyone.

What do you find most challenging about being an independent artist in today’s music industry?
I think that sometimes it can feel like a roller coaster being an independent artist. You’re basically in control of yourself, and I find you’re going to have good days and some bad ones, and sometimes I feel that push to the top can be a little harder when you’re independent.

Can you talk about your experiences collaborating with other artists or musicians? How does it influence your creative process?
I absolutely love working with other artists. For me sometimes I have an amazing idea, but have trouble putting the best words to it, and when working with others they can help bring it to life in the best way possible. Learning new ways and processes from other people help me when I’m writing on my own, and over the years I’ve gotten a lot better with it.

What role does technology and social media play in promoting your music and connecting with your audience?
Technology has helped me a ton, I have reached so many more people around the world with it. I feel like because of Instagram and TikTok we can grow a fan base much quicker and get our music to reach people faster.

Are there any particular artists or genres that have had a significant impact on your musical style?
Country music is most definitely a genre that I’ve always listened to. I’ve grown up with it, and love how people tell stories through it. I’ve also grown up with listening to rock music as well, and I feel like that’s what brings out that little edge in my voice. I’ve always been inspired by Miley Cyrus, because she sings how she wants to, and brings all these different elements to her voice, and music. I’ve also been inspired by Carrie Underwood. Her song Before He Cheats was the first country song I ever sang and helped me discover this little yodel I had in my voice.

Indie musicians often have a close relationship with their fanbase. How do you engage with your fans and build a dedicated community around your music?
I have some of the sweetest fans, and some that have been around since the beginning. I try to engage with them a lot on Instagram and TikTok especially with replying to comments and staying active on the platforms. Recently, I’ve done a lot of videos on TikTok where I’m talking about the song and telling them about it. I find doing that helps people relate better to the song. As well as get to know me better as an artist.

Could you describe a memorable live performance experience or tour that has had a lasting impact on you and your music?
I think my most memorable performance was back in 2019 at the Mod Club. That was the year that I got picked to be a part of honey jam. it was one of those moments where when I was performing, and even after it felt so real and so special, I never forgot that feeling. I hope to play more shows like that.

In an era of streaming platforms, how do you feel about the changing landscape of music consumption and its impact on independent musicians?

I feel like for a long time it was hard for independent artists, but I’ve noticed recently that a lot of people are starting to find these artists, and support them, which is amazing. I feel like because of all the technology that we have nowadays it’s a lot easier to find other artists. Being an independent artist has become a much bigger thing in today’s time. I find that there will always be challenges being an artist, but there is so many outlets to really helps us out, and I hope that with all that it will help me to reach a bigger audience.