She has been named an ‘up-and-coming’ New Zealand artist but it is clear there is nothing ‘coming’ about Theia, she has already arrived and we can’t stop listening to her. Theia, real name Em-Haley Walker, debuted in 2015 with the electro-pop track Silver Second, but it was 2016 when Theia really caught the attention of the world with her pop anthem Roam. The single, which clocked more than 1 million plays on Spotify in six weeks, showed she doesn’t shy away from writing about anything and everything that she goes through – angst, youth, heartbreak and finding yourself.
We caught up with Theia to chat about the past, present and future.
How did you get into the music industry?
I started writing songs when I was in primary school. In 2014 I really felt it was the right time to pursue it as a career. I sent a track to Broods’ manager and he wrote straight back inviting me up to Auckland to perform in a showcase for The Audience, which was an initiative aimed at discovering and developing Kiwi talent. Things really started to happen from that point on. I was introduced to various people in the industry and I’ve been blessed to have those people behind me and supporting me all the way.
How would you describe your music style?
My sound is an eclectic mix of everything I love and all my influences put together. Pop with R&B, electronic, dance and urban. Sharp lyrics, layers of vocals, a good beat and hooky melodies are really important to me. Much like my name, Theia, who is a Greek goddess, I hope my music exudes strength and femininity. It’s ethereal, dreamy and edgy.
What was your inspiration for your sound and style? I take inspiration from all sorts of places. For instance, I love fashion – style icons like Alexander McQueen, Isabella Blow and Kate Moss. That said, originality is important to me and I’ve always tried to just be me when it comes to my sound and style.
For those of us who are yet to listen to your new single, what can we expect?
Champagne Supernova is darker than Roam. It’s epic with a great hook and it’s more of a seething slow-burner. The title comes from the book Champagne Supernovas about the 90s renegades of fashion – the aforementioned Alexander McQueen, Isabella Blow and Kate Moss. I love the juxtaposition of grandeur and glory up against darkness and self-destruction. I’d like people to hear Champagne Supernova and take their own meaning from it, but essentially it’s a song about fighting your inner demons.
What have been your career highlights?
The success of my first official single Roam has been a big highlight. I still get a buzz when I hear it on the radio or when I get messages from people overseas in places like the US and Mexico saying they love it. It blows my mind that people all over the world are listening to it. It’s opened a lot of doors for me – like I got to open for Broods on my first-ever tour (Electric Coastline). How amazing is that? When I stop and think about all that’s happened in the past six months, it’s truly mind blowing. There have been so many highlights!
What have been the biggest obstacles you have had to face?
Like anyone, you have good days and bad days. It’s been a pretty steep learning curve for me – releasing Roam and then finding my feet in this industry. I moved up to Auckland from Christchurch in the midst of everything and it has been hard being away from my family and friends. I miss home and but I also love Auckland and finally being able to live my dream of doing music full-time. The good well and truly outweighs the bad and I cannot wait to continue pushing this as far as I possibly can. I am blessed to have a strong team around me; when circumstances are trying, remembering why I’m doing this and how far I’ve come gives me the steadfast determination to continue.
What is something not many people know about you?
I love art and have drawn from a young age. Now, [it’s] mostly pencil sketches rather than any other medium as I love the beauty of creating a piece using shading, pressure and texture from a pencil. I will meticulously work on one piece at a time and often gift them as I feel the amount of hours consumed and the care taken on each one is priceless, personal and unique.
What is next for you?
Champagne Supernova will be released soon, so I’m really excited about that. I can’t wait for people to hear it. My debut EP is pretty much finished and we’re working on getting a release date. I’m also going to be playing more shows, which has become somewhat of an addiction. The rush of performing, sharing my music and connecting to people, seeing them feel and experience it together is like no other. Truly a dream come true and I won’t be stopping anytime soon, that’s for sure.