Let me tell you a story about a girl who wanted to become a musician more than anything in the world and moved countries to pursue her dream! This girl is me, and in 2014 I moved to a vibrant city called Bristol, to pursue my long-term dream of becoming a music artist! However, I didn’t share my plans with anyone but my Mum and Dad, who probably thought I was crazy. For everyone concerned, I was moving to pursue my Master’s in Law so I could become a badass lawyer. And even though I was indeed moving to start a new degree, it wasn’t what my heart truly desired. I wanted to become a real musician and play original music without being disregarded and for that, I decided to move abroad and to give my dream a proper shot!

However, I wasn’t in a rush to share my career plans with the world… I had my mind set and I didn’t need other people’s opinions to distract me from my cause or to jinx my luck! As my Dad always says:

“Don’t tell about the amazing mug that you have if you haven’t made it yet. You never know when your mug-making machine might break….”

So there I was, gathering my courage to set on the most important journey of my life so I could finally start working on my most well-kept secret: The Secret Plan of Ria Timkin.

In September 2014 I moved to Bristol, where, as agreed with my family, I started my Master’s in Law. Bristol was a perfect place for intentions of having a double life: it had a great university with one of the best law programmes in the country and it also happened to be England’s 2nd musical capital after London! Just a few days after the move I headed straight to my very first open mic at the Lanes to test my songs on the real audience and it was one of the most nerve-wracking, yet most amazing experiences! People liked my songs and enjoyed my style of music. As I always wrote songs in English, they also easily connected with the lyrics, which didn’t happen very often back home in Moscow! This feeling was brand new and absolutely intoxicating, and with many more open mics in town within a 20-minute walk, I wasn’t going to slow down! I set myself a goal to attend and to play every single one of them!

Music has always been a very important part of my life! I was into music and public performance from quite an early age so when I turned 6 my Mum decided to bring me to an audition at a local music school. I was accepted but I recall that my teachers weren’t that impressed with my skills and recommended a foundation course due to my poor sense of rhythm. However, by the time I turned 10, I started winning lots of piano competitions and slowly but surely, music became something I could say I was good at.

Growing up I was exclusively listening to classical music until I turned 15 and a classmate of mine introduced me to Avril Lavigne and Christina Aguilera. Their music opened my mind to a whole new world of self-expression and also symbolised the beginning of that awkward stage of poorly chosen covers that every young singer goes through. Somewhere between singing covers at local school contests, practising etudes by Czerny for my finals at the music school and spending time in Germany where I was invited to perform at a few art festivals for kids, I started writing my own music. Around the same time, Disney Channel  Russia started broadcasting Hannah Montana and I was absolutely obsessed with the concept of Hannah’s double life. When the time came to choose my first university degree, and it became evident that it wasn’t going to be a music degree, I got consumed by the idea that I was going to move abroad and become a pop-star, just like Hannah Montana (all in between university lectures of course).

The songs I started writing were in the best spirit of teenage drama, a little bit silly and written in English because no matter how hard I tried, I could never write poetry in Russian. I think a lot of it was to do with the fact that, apart from Russian classical music, I never actually listened to any Russian songs and with most of my inspiration coming from the English-speaking artists, it was quite predictable that my own music would head in the same direction of a quirky mixture of pop, folk and country. It was a great time during which I wrote my most awkward songs such as “What’s Wrong With You?” (posed as a question of concern, not an insult) and “Mistake of Youth” (written at the tender age of 17). The music I loved didn’t seem to resonate with anyone around me apart from that one classmate and so my obsession with foreign artists kept growing. Feeling isolated and misunderstood. I started developing almost an intentional dislike of the Russian pop-culture. By the time I graduated from secondary school, a very persistent thought that my music had no future in Moscow settled my mind! I was certain that as great and powerful as Mother Russia was, I would never have a music career of my dreams if I stayed there.

I was still underage when I graduated from the secondary school so, despite my high expectations and unshakable certainty in the success of my plan to move abroad, my parents didn’t allow their slightly delusional child to move to a foreign country without any supervision. All my arguments were rejected, winging and crying ignored, and here I was – a fresher at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, studying international law and some kind of mysterious energy policy regulation that no one understands.

My first university gave me a really good start in life and shaped me into the person I am today.  Those 4 years of studying helped me improve my 3 languages, toughened me up and provided me with lots of time to think about what I really wanted to do, Hannah Montana’s double life aside. It was an important time full of development and learning! I travelled a lot, I got more music writing experience and realised that international law was not really my thing. I tried some acting and participated in a few musicals. I even wrote a play that actually premiered! During my time at the MGIMO University, I also learned how to play the guitar, thanks to the YouTube tutorials, and fully developed my plan for the future world’s music industry domination.

To be honest, that plan wasn’t very good… It had lots of gaps and heavily relied on luck and coincidence but my mind was set and I wasn’t going to back down. I rationalised it as much as possible and decided that going to pursue another degree would provide me with enough security if things were to go wrong and I would have to come back home and focus on something new.  So I gathered my courage and told my parents about what I wanted, heavily focusing on the Master’s degree part. And to my relief, they supported my decision!

I will always be grateful to my Mum and my Dad for their faith in me, despite them probably thinking that I was out of my mind! I will also never forget the enormous sacrifices they had to make to ensure that I got this opportunity to give my dreams a proper go! Without my parents’ support and their unconditional love, I would have never got to Bristol – a perfect place for my absolutely imperfect plan that no one really knew about…