“I really want people to know that this is the kind of album you listen to at full volume with candles in a dark room,” ROYAL declares passionately. The dreamy pop artist’s new release, Heart of Shadows, takes hard lessons in love and paints them into a tortured, beautiful, auditory masterpiece.
For all the dark glamour that she channels through her music, ROYAL is a positive delight in conversation. A self-professed coffee-loving nerd, she has a charisma that controls the energy of the room, taking me on a journey from clever insights and bubbly laughter, to the deep depths of her artist soul.
ROYAL hails from the small town of Vernon, British Columbia. Describing her childhood self as “insanely shy,” she tells stories of her family coaxing her out of her shell by encouraging her to sing. Extremely supportive from day one, her Mom even came down to Toronto with her when she moved across the country at age 18! “She was showing me where everything was in a big city. Like, ‘this is public transit. this is how you’ll get around.’”
In fact, it was in Toronto that she recorded her very first album. She worked in the studio – answering phones, getting coffee, in exchange for time in the booth. The studio owner happened to also be a composer for film and television, which introduced her to the world of sync licensing. ROYAL quickly began attending lectures where music supervisors where speaking, aiming to get placements.
** Heart of Shadows is available on all digital platforms, including Spotify. **
Her strategy of researching the music supervisors’ current projects in order to tell them which of her songs would work for them and why paid off, as ROYAL’s music has been placed in several small-screen films, TV shows, and her collaboration with an EDM producer even made it into a Taiwanese scooter commercial!
Gearing up for the release of the Heart of Shadows album, ROYAL admits she had to cut back on one of her non-musical passions – reading. An obsessive reader, the songstress tends to get so immersed in the story that she’ll “forget the world for days.” The next book she plans on reading? Her favourite old copy of Anne Frank’s The Diary of A Young Girl. In fact, the young Holocaust victim is ROYAL’s biggest writing inspiration – “she was such a talented young writer who captured those emotions.”
With all of today’s chaos and hate making headlines, ROYAL describes writing as her therapy. “When I go home and visit my family, they always have the news on – and I can’t watch it anymore. I’m such a sensitive person, and I’m mortified at what’s happening in the world.” The new album takes those extreme moments of the last ten years of her life and creates an album as timeless, bold, powerful, elegant, and unique as the stage name she chose after seeing it on a sign while riding the bus. “During the recording process, we would turn off all the lights in the vocal booth, and the emotions were so powerful, sometimes we would have to stop.”
“Over time, I learnt to trust my gut. I learnt you can’t put all your happiness in someone else. The important thing is to not try and follow any trends, but stay true to yourself – because you’re not just making music for other people, but for you as well.”