In February 2016 I officially posted my first article of ‘The Secret Plan of Ria Timkin’ series. Through this blog, I’ve told you many stories about my dreams and hopes as an upcoming artist, who risked everything and moved to England to pursue her dreams. I’ve shared with you my discoveries about the music industry, never hesitating to open an honest discussion of what’s behind the curtain. And most importantly, I’ve talked about the lessons that I’ve learned throughout my exciting journey as a professional musician.

It’s been almost 5 months since I published my last article on this blog. The break was deliberate. Since my move to Bristol in 2014, I never stopped pushing forward. Despite a few setbacks I managed to do quite a lot: I released my debut EP and a few singles along with it; I got picked up by a management company and then made a difficult decision to leave and start conquering the industry on my own terms; I met some amazing collaborators and performed for hundreds of wonderfully supportive people. The whole experience was amazing but I started feeling like I was in a constant race against time and new UK anti-immigration regimes. I needed some space to think, to learn and to reassess. I decided to take a break and reflect on where I was and what I wanted as a young person of 24.

Where was I then? I don’t think many people can easily answer this question. You might be doing well in life, and you might be progressing and hitting some little goals that you have previously set for yourself but do you really feel like you have achieved something important? The actual answer to this question is “yes, you have”. In my case, I finally graduated with the Master’s Degree in Law, I had a great job, I took the full ownership of my music career back and I continued advancing in the music industry with each successful release that people actually enjoyed listening to. However, it’s easy to lose the sight of your little victories, if you just focus on your main lifetime goal. So, in the grand scheme of things, it felt like I was just stagnating. And I hated it. I’ve always been an ambitious person, but unfortunately, not the most patient one. These two qualities should really go side by side, and when you have one but not the other, answering the question where you are in life might be tough. But there is one thing I know for a fact: if you’re not satisfied with how things are going, you need to change something. And as you might already know from my previous articles, I love changes! 

I started analysing what it was that made me feel so stuck. Despite the general complexity of the issue, answering that particular question was easy. The music I kept playing no longer represented me as an artist. My tastes have changed, my vision has evolved, but every time I would go on stage I would play the same old songs. And despite the fact that I absolutely loved each and every performance I was putting on (with the exception of one, where I wasn’t told it was an unplugged gig in a massive hall full of screaming kids fighting for food), it felt like I could have shown you much more than my previously released material.

I write new music all the time, so even before taking my long songwriting break this year, I had a lot of new tracks waiting for you to be heard. I played some of them live and the audience loved them. I even premiered one called “Comfort Zone” on the radio. However, it still didn’t feel right because it wasn’t about playing new songs per se, it was about presenting a new creative vision that I had. Unfortunately, the issue was that my imagination had overpowered my own resources and capabilities, so I just couldn’t deliver the sound I wanted to deliver with the means that I had at that particular moment. It was the same situation like 2 years ago when I first discovered looping to expand my sound: I had a new idea of who I wanted to be artistically and I needed a way to implement it into my performance. (Read my article “Changes” if you would like to find out more about that time.)

That’s when I decided to stop playing live and lay low. For months my only music news included the updates of my Spotify playlist called “Tunesday with Ria Timkin“. During that time I received a lot of messages from my amazing supporters who were asking when I was going to return to the music scene. I also received a few messages from people who thought I just gave up and left England. That would of course never happen! I would never give up! I simply needed time to re-strategise.

I gave myself time to learn and to develop as an artist! I wanted to introduce new instruments to my live set-up, so I got a new keyboard and a little baby synth. For weeks I had been browsing the Internet for the best priced electronic drum kits and the one I chose still ended up costing me a fortune. I spent hours and hours watching online tutorials and trying to comprehend how different music programmes worked so I could find something to improve my live performance and make it smoother. And most importantly, I took time to reflect on what was going on with me emotionally. I ended up writing a bunch of new songs that, as always, helped me sort things out in my own head. I let the creativity flow with no pressure to deliver the product immediately and it was the best thing I had done for myself in a long time. 

I always wanted to be a musician because playing music is what makes me happy. When I stopped enjoying the music I was playing and realised that my creative ideas had evolved into something different but my skills and resources did not, I made the decision to spend some time off the public radar in order to improve and to become a better artist. I took a deliberate break from my habit of desperately chasing my dreams no matter what so I could properly prepare myself for a new exciting chapter in my life.

Photos  by Anna McGuinness