Ahead of the release of Riya & Collette Warren’s new album ‘Two Sides of Everything’, we caught up with the dynamic duo to discuss drum and bass’ first ever all-female vocal-led collaboration album, launching their label Carnelian Music and sending a message of unity throughout the scene...
So thank you both for taking the time to do this! Firstly, let’s talk about the album – ‘Two Sides of Everything’ is coming out in September?
Riya: Yes it is, ‘Two Sides of Everything’ is a 14 track vocal led album by myself and Collette. We wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before. In the past Collette and I had written songs together, and we have wanted to do something for ages but it was always pushed back because of the timing. We live in different cities, so we struggled to come together. But it all started as just a seed of an idea, we had no intention at all of it becoming a whole album.
Collette: From that it developed into a single, then two tracks, and it continued to grow into so many tracks that we thought “well guess this is an album then!”.
Riya: Yeah, it just went from there. It has been such a nice feeling that we were able to do it as the first two females creating a collaboration album. We wanted to deliver something that puts out a message of unity, supporting each other and coming together. From this we hope that now more females will do it, and more vocalists in general.
Collette: Riya and I have been involved in drum and bass for so long and we have seen it grow and change over the years. While a lot of vocalists were welcoming, early on we experienced a lot of competitiveness and territorial artists.
I think because there were very few and far between vocalists at that point, that they didn’t tend to collaborate. But we have shown through this album that if you come together, you get even more.
Riya: Alongside that, the album is very much for us. The ideas and concepts were brewing inside of us during lockdown, we were lacking balance within ourselves, because we lost control of life as we knew it. I suppose this was an attempt for both of us to find that balance through lyrics and songs, and to write about things that have been affecting us.
In that sense we feel that a message of the album is about self love and self healing, and we hope this comes through in some of the songs and people resonate with that.
And then across these 14 tracks we can expect a number of styles, featuring a wide roster of artists?
Collette: Yes there is definitely a lot of variety in the album. Of course there is quite a bit of liquid, but there’s also a techy track, a jazzy track, a dancefloor anthem.
Riya: Once again coming back to our history in drum and bass, we have heard so many different styles and it comes in cycles and phases. We wanted to cover the spectrum and have a little bit of everything. From this we created an album that has its own specific sound, yet each track has an individual style. As far as artists go, we’ve got the likes of Technimatic, Visionobi, Monrroe, Visages, Bcee, Kyrist, Sofi Mari, SL8R, Roni Size, Dogger & Mindstate, Whiney, Ben Soundscape, Koherent, L-Side, Random Movement, Tali and Phil:osophy.
Collette: We wanted the album to have something for everyone, and we understand that across 14 tracks, not everyone is going to like every track – well, apart from us! But everyone in drum and bass, no matter what their preference is on subgenres, they are going to love at least one, and I am confident to say that!
Riya: It was a pleasure working alongside every artist on this album, with special mention to Roni Size who was one of my heroes growing up. I used to have his vinyls, and one of his songs that always used to stick in my head was Hopscotch. Collette has known Roni for years, and when we were in the studio working on this album I told him about my love for that track. He said “well let’s put a bit of that bass in the track then!’. So keep an ear out for ‘Two Sides’ which pays homage to the early 2000s of drum and bass.
Collette: Funnily enough, when we were talking to Roni about doing a tune he sent us a folder of like 24 different loops. We listened to them all over and over, and there was one that stuck out to us more than the rest that we ended up using. Then we mentioned Hopscotch, he said ‘yeah that is what I’ve based it on anyways!’, so the stars just aligned perfectly for that track. Well we look forward to hearing it! And as a whole how did you both find it working on the album together?
Obviously you have been best friends for years, but was it different creating an entire album rather than collaborating on a single track?
Riya: We were really flowing when it came to making the music, it was very intense though as we had so much to do within a short space of time. I was coming from Norwich which is a four hour drive, and we would only have three or four days together, and so there was a ticking clock for us to write the songs, record the songs, and have a bit of down time. When writing the songs, we would come to each session with ideas and any inspiration, like books, poems or even past experiences, and go from there. We would write out all the topics or lines on pieces of paper, chop them up and arrange them in a certain way on the table. It was a very interactive way of doing it.
Collette: It was so much fun, much more fun than writing a song on my own. We ended up writing four songs in one day, whereas on my own I could never do that. I find writing songs on my own can be quite boring but together it was really quite fun, cutting them up, it was almost like a game.
Riya: It was a really fun process. We found that because we have different approaches and different creative minds, Colette would come up with parts that I wouldn’t and vice versa. Which is good because where we might get stuck on a track, or not have an idea, we would kind of fill in the gaps for each other. So that is why it came together so quickly.
Collette: It can be tricky sometimes when it comes to the creation of the album, because of course we have our own visions and our own ideas and sometimes we don’t agree with each other. So we have definitely had a few disagreements. But we have always managed to find our meet in the middle compromise.
Riya: And another thing that has been challenging is when you’re not used to checking in with someone, because we are used to being solo artists. Then after making certain decisions looking back thinking “whoops I didn’t ask!”. So yeah that’s been a massive learning curve.
Of course it’s not just the album you’re collaborating on, as you have set up your joint label ‘Carnelian Music’?
Riya: Yeah so for this project we decided on self-releasing. One of the reasons is that there are so many artists on the album, and it would have been hard to get it on any particular label. But also the sound is so varied that we couldn’t see it one one specific label. On top of this, it just felt like a natural progression for us. Everyone is doing it these days and you get more control. It seemed like the right time for us to do it, and the right project for it.
Collette: As far as the name goes, we were rattling our brains trying to come up with a name for this label for months. At first we were trying to combine our names, Riyalette, Colliyah, but none of them were sticking. And then we were thinking of song names, and one of our songs is called Carnelian. We both love crystals and Carnelian is the singer’s crystal, and the crystal of creativity and courage. We thought it was a perfect fit.
Riya: We have learned so much from each other in this whole process and have grown in lots of ways. Starting Carnelian Music has been a massive development for us both and we are very excited to see what comes from it.
Collette: Once we put out our album, we want to push other vocalists through our label. We want to shine a spotlight on vocal led music, as we feel vocalists have a rough deal when it comes to this scene. It’s an ongoing conversation about how they are treated as second rate to producers, and so we want Carnelian Music to be a home for vocalists. But we will see about that when we get there, at this moment we are just focusing on the album.
Women Make Music Scheme
And this project was funded by the PRS Foundation, who awarded the two of you with the ‘Women Make Music’ grant?
Riya: Yes, it was amazing and completely unexpected! We approached them about the Women Make Music scheme, and applied to get some funding to get this off the ground. We were not expecting to get it as we applied for loads of stuff in the past and never got it. It just so happened that this time was our time. It was absolutely amazing to have their backing and we are very grateful for their support.
Collette: Yeah we couldn’t believe it. Especially being D&B artists, because drum and bass always gets pushed to the bottom of the pile. They gave the fund to 12 artists across the whole of the UK, and we are the only ones representing drum and bass. The fact that they believe in us, I just can’t get my head around it. They are actually giving us money to release our music. It’s really special, and we are very grateful.
Looking at the bigger picture, how important are these schemes that encourage more women to get into music?
Collette: Yeah I think it is very important and I think it is great that we are seeing more of this. For example Dynamics was put together by my friend Diana, I think it is amazing what she has done. She has put together a whole website, every single woman in drum and bass is on this one website. When we first started, the lack of women within the drum and bass scene was very prominent. Things have obviously improved since then, but there is definitely still a lot of work to be done.
Riya: Yes, and that’s why groups like EQ50 are so important as they look to address the gender imbalance, as is the inclusion rider movement that’s happening right now. We all need role models, especially the younger generation. We all need to see people doing what we want to do to see that it’s possible. We need fair representation and diversity. So it’s good to see it changing but there’s still so much more to do. I guess Collette and I wanted to speak to that imbalance in writing the album together as two female vocalists in D&B, and in launching it on our own imprint because there aren’t many imprints run by women.
Then focusing back on the two of you, what else can fans expect from Riya and Collette Warren?
Riya: I’ve got a solo 4-track EP coming out in November, it’s mostly produced by Whiney but there’s a track on there from Whiney and Emba, so I’m really excited about that. It’s a bit heavier for me but it’s nice to do something a bit different. Alongside that I’ve got some other singles coming out.
Collette: Following the EP I released in June, I’ve got some remixes from that project coming out later in the year. Then actually there’s a song we’ve got coming out with Nymfo on his EP on Liquicity in October, as well as some other singles and features here and there. As far as gigs go, we are both playing at Hospitality Weekend In The Woods, I’m playing on the Saturday and Riya is doing a Riya Live set on the Sunday. I’m going to be on the Calibre stage with Marky, so I will have my own section in Marky’s set. I will do a couple of my own songs and then do some songs from the album.
Riya: We’re also hoping to do a song on Whiney’s set, so keep an eye out for anyone going!
Collette: Later on in the year we will be doing two album sets, one at Spearhead on the 8th October in London and one at Intrigue at Thekla in Bristol on the 22nd October. We are very excited to do a couple live shows and showcase the album together.
Riya: For Carnelian Music, we are planning a remix package from this album that will come out early next year. We have also discussed a female-only remix competition for this project. Overall there will be four or five tracks, which we are lining up for 2022, so stay tuned for that!
The 2nd single fromRiya & Collette Warren’s album‘Two Sides of Everything’ will be out this Friday + limited edition vinyl & digital bundles will be available to pre-order from theCarnelian Music page on Bandcamp.
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