NewTracks New Artist: Riiki

NewTracks New Artist: Riiki

Raquel Abolins-Reid is one of those enviable creatures blessed with many talents. You will be able to guess that she’s a musician, because here she’s featuring here in NZMusician, but she’s also a dancer and choreographer, and in spite of her young age – partly thanks to her Smokefree Rockquest indie rock band Retrospect – she’s also been performing longer than some more seasoned artists around. Her first single, One Day, under stage name Riiki is out now, and features on NZ On Air Music‘s NewTracks compilation this October.

What’s your full name, what instruments do you play?

Raquel Abolins-Reid is my name. I was born in Wellington, NZ and still currently live here. I am I guess primarily a vocalist, but I love a lil’ jammy on piano. One time I tried to learn guitar, but I wouldn’t know from a bar of soap what chords I am playing heh! Love to play though! 

Was any school or other music training important to you?

High school was a biggy for me when it came to music. I took music as a subject right through school and from Year 11 till Year 13 was in a band. Opportunities like Smokefree Rockquest gave me a reason to really start trying to focus and develop songwriting and find a real passion for it. 

Kind’a hilarious, but my parents used to enter me into shopping mall talent quests when I was a kid, and funny enough I think this was the pivotable thing for me which made me decide that performing and music was what I wanted to do. Those comps gave me so much confidence, enjoyment, and gave me drive to be the best I could be at music. So that was very important to me.

What other projects might we know you from?

My high school band [Retrospect] did quite well at Smokefree Rockquest and made it to the finals in Auckland in 2016. That’s a bit of a cute old throwback, but it was a big deal for us at the time with a LOT of publicity like being on live TV, being part of a TV series, meeting industry professionals, getting lots of press and all that jazzzzz. Very exciting stuff for a little high school student! Still would excite me now! 

What’s the background story of how Riiki as a solo project came to be?

I knew I always wanted to start my own solo project. I kind of just never knew how to go about it, but basically a friend of mine last year was putting on a gig at a venue in Welly called Caroline, and they needed a female act on the bill. So they asked me to play and that was pretty much the little push that made me get my butt, into gear, and started on my Riiki project. 

How has your music evolves from your beginnings in songwriting to now?

Wowza, it has evolved a crap load! Really in just the last year to be honest. I started to song write seriously for myself in Year 11, 12 and 13 but as soon as I left high school and decided I wanted to try to make a career out of music, I learnt so much about producing, mixing and how I can control all aspects of my music, which completely changed up the game for me. I think also just being enlightened and opening myself up to a super wide range of genres, styles and artists who I’d never heard of before has influenced a lot of new creative direction.

Why did you choose to go simply as “Riiki”?

Riki has been my nickname foreveerrrrrrr! Friends and family have always called me Riki. I always wanted to spell it with two i’s in front of the ‘K’ and put it all in caps so it looked bold. End result: Riiki. 

What makes One Day stand out for you as a single?

I think as well as the track having some pretty traditional pop/commercial components, it also has a quirky side which sets it apart from a traditionally structured pop song. I feel like I’ve kind of mangled a couple of different genres into one song which kind of makes you wonder “Is it this? Or this?”. I kind of love that it shows all of what I am and love into one song. There’s a bit of a hip-hop driven beat, alongside some pop-sounding synths and vocals, alongside quite indie/alternative guitar tones and riffs. 

What is the story behind One Day?

One Day was created with the intention that it could mean many things. It was initially about desiring that one day I’d actually reach the goals I set for myself since I was a kid. I’d become so infatuated with the idea of it that it would be all I’d think about. And on another hand part of the song was about me daydreaming about a life with a certain person. Oh so damn cheesy I know hehe. But both of these thoughts inspired the song, along with the thought that sometimes you want something but it feels so out of reach, therefore you start to doubt yourself. 

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the single?

I’ve always loved how the first initial beat drops in… GAH!! Would always whack my head forward so hard at that part. 

Who did you write/record/produce the single with and where? Got a fun story about the making-of?

I had written the song and produced the whole track and all it’s instrumental components yoooonks ago back in June last year. The guitar and vocals I recorded in my bedroom on a budget mic that I can’t name to any musician otherwise I’ll get too embarrassed, haha… I remember I showed the track to one of my uni lecturers after I finished the song and he questioned me about what gear I had recorded on, and I just muttered my words pretending I had no clue at all because I knew he would have NOT been impressed. Funny enough he pointed out how much he loved the guitar tone and vocal tone so I was STOKED. I was super lucky enough to have Simon Gooding mix the track and add a couple of sparks to it, as well as have Ryan Smith from Sterling Sound master the track. 

What would you like listeners to take away from this song?

Honestly, cliché as hellllll, but I just want people to listen to the song and just let it uplift them, enjoy it and dance around the room to it. I hope it makes my listeners dream about what they want to achieve and their passions like I did. 

In general, how do you work out what song would make a good single?

I suppose I’d pick a ‘single’ song if I knew I wanted a certain song of mine to really get across people and have some spotlight because I know it is a song that I want people to resonate with or get the message as if I am telling it to their face. I think about it as if there were three people opposite you in a room, making it hard to focus on one person’s voice v.s having one person opposite you and being able to put all your energy into listening to that one person. 

Are there any other musical endeavours you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for, with this band or others?

I am currently in the process of releasing new music and other some other arty thingggs… You will have to keep up with my socials to keep an eye out :)))

Can you please tell us three other local tunes that should be on a playlist alongside your song.

  • ManLeisure (defo a lot bigger than local now but I blimmin’ bounce to this song on repeat)
  • Make My Dreams Come TrueLontalius
  • HahaJack Berry

How many of your previous applications didn’t get funding or didn’t get included on NewTracks? Got any advice for people out there?

I’ve applied one other time before getting NewTracks this time, both times being for One Day. It never bothered me because I always understood how hard it must be to pick tracks out of many very brilliant other applications. Don’t give up on your song or yourself straight away, you never know what can bounce back or happen. Patienceeeee!

Was there an NZOA criterion you struggled with in the application? Which one was it and how did you work it out in the end?

No issues, I love NZ On Air. Many huggles to them. 

How can we find you on social media?



Who did you make the video with?

One Day music video was created by myself and the wonderful Shyam Patel who is a Wellington-based photographer and director. 

Any last words?  

Thank you so very much, look forward to the summertime with some groovy things to arrive…