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Interview With: Rianne Downey

Posted on Wednesday 2nd August 2023 at 16:00

Jimi Arundell

Written by
Jimi Arundell


Fusing pop, country and folk, singer-songwriter Rianne Downey is the fresh new talent who is captivating listeners and fast transitioning from online sensation to becoming the latest recipient of the Breakthrough Artist of The Year Award at the Scottish Music Awards.

Born in Glasgow and now based in Liverpool, Rianne Downey first attracted attention as a lockdown star, playing viral bedroom covers of her favourite songs with just an acoustic guitar which revealed her tremendous talent and incredible voice. The rising star has continued to impress, writing prolifically and releasing three EPs in just two years including titles Fuel To The Flame which sold out in just a week, Come What May and her latest four-track offering Method To My Madness which dropped this summer.

When she isn’t in the studio, Rianne is now a major player on the festival circuit, having already made prominent appearances at Glastonbury, SXSW, TRNSMT, Isle of Wight Festival and Truck Festival. She has also played support for such major names as Paolo Nutini, The Coral, DMA’s and The Snuts!

And now, Downey announces headline dates of her own seeing out 2023 with shows at The Bodega, Nottingham and Crofters Rights, Bristol. Tickets are on sale with Gigantic - CLICK HERE to book yours right now!

We were honoured to be able to fire off some questions at the prodigious six-string player, asking her about the influences on her music, her meteoric ascent and her favourite festival experiences.



What inspired you to start songwriting and who are your influences?

When I first heard Jake Bugg, I thought he was amazing. I was 12 and just discovering indie music. I loved Jake Bugg because he took country/folk music and made it indie. He made my favourite genres cool again! It inspired me to pick up an acoustic and learn to finger-pick. I didn’t have the confidence to properly start writing my own tunes ‘til during lockdown when my covers online started to blow up. I felt like I could actually be a proper musician, so I thought “it’s now or never”. My biggest musical influences for writing were definitely Johnny Cash, Dolly, Simon & Garfunkel and The Doors. I’ve recently been taking a lot of influence from Townes Van Zandt and Taylor Swift. Might be a mad mix but I love what I love and take what I need from it all haha!


You have an incredible voice. How did you build on your natural talent and become so exceptional? 

Thank you so much! My mum said I could sing before I could speak, I think the music’s always been in me. It was the only thing in life that truly made me content. I feel alive and like I have a place in the world when I perform. I just spent all my time when I was younger practising in my room or going to theatre school or playing gigs of all kinds. I went to singing lessons for a few years when I wanted to be on Broadway too haha. I gave all of myself to music and I think that’s what’s helped me get this far. It was always all or nothing for me because I love it so much.


How did it feel to be named Breakthrough Artist of The Year Award at the 2022 Scottish Music Awards? That must have been a huge honour!

It was such an honour. I was so surprised but so buzzing. I didn’t expect such a prestigious award so early in my career. It’s literally just the beginning and I am so grateful for the recognition. 



We love THIS RECENT POST that sees you leap from playing “Rotterdam” in your bedroom to performing at TRSNMT with Paul Heaton to a massive adoring audience. How did that awesome collab come about?

I keep watching and it still doesn’t sink in haha! I uploaded that cover of “Rotterdam” in 2020 and Paul liked and commented on it. I remember just dropping to the floor with excitement when he did. I think I must have been on his radar ever since and in May I got the phone call that he’d like me to join him as his special guest singer over the summer! Life. Made.


And you’ve become a major player on the festival circuit. Which appearances did you enjoy the most? Tell us about some more of your favourite memories.

Glastonbury was a major achievement. It’s been on my bucket list since I knew it existed! To have my Glastonbury debut sharing the stage with Billy Bragg was just better than anything I could have ever imagined. So special. Packed out tent with such a warm, welcoming crowd and belting out my tunes. It really felt like a “I’ve made it” moment. I was never sure if I’d even ever get to Glastonbury. Surreal. Perfect.


This year saw the release of your euphoric Method To Madness EP. Can you talk us through the four songs and their themes?

“Songbird”: I wrote this song for my Granny and my Papa. They’ve spent all their life giving everything they could to me and I wish I could do the same for them. It’s about the pain of watching someone you love suffer. Thinking back to all the memories you made together and wishing you could save them the way they saved you.

“Dancing in the Rain”: It’s about unrequited love. Finding the person who you think is the one, having a glimpse of life together and then it being ripped from underneath you then trying to survive after that. 

“Paper Wings”: It’s about a fragile, naive young woman who’s given away too much of herself, learning through betrayal and heartbreak, how to find herself again and know her own worth.

“Method to my Madness”: It’s about the fragility of life. We never know what the future holds. I think although scary, there’s beauty in the unknown. Life’s too short. So, you might as well make most of every moment. If you love someone tell them. Don’t close yourself off from things because “what if”. That’s everything that was going through my head when I wrote it.



And now, you’ve announced a huge headline tour towards the end of 2023. What can we expect from your upcoming shows?

You can expect a night of singing, dancing, cowboy boots and hats, my shit patter and most importantly great tunes and an amazing atmosphere. It always feels like one big drama-free family party at my gigs, and I love that. There’s a place for everyone! I’m feeling match fit and ready to put on a great performance for everyone.


What is your favourite song to perform live out of all the ones you’ve written? And are there any covers you’ve not attempted yet but would like to try?

I love performing “Songbird”. It’s a massive song production wise and it’s the most raw song I’ve written so I can totally immerse myself in the music. I love just giving everything I’ve got to it. I really want to perfect a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Gypsy”.


Any plans to drop a debut album in the new future? What else have you got in store for Rianne Downey fans?

I don’t know how much I can tell you but let’s just say 2024 is the big one. That’s the year. I’ve got plenty more tunes on the way and a big, shiny set ready for all my gigs. It’s only getting bigger, better and a lil more country pop, yeehaw! 


Get your Rianne Downey tickets with Gigantic!


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