Ahead of his debut show, we spoke with Rio Rainz about TikTok traction, glamourising isolation and how to stay true to oneself.

Every so often, an artist comes along looking to break the status quo. Motivated to support others through his own vulnerabilities, Rio Rainz is the rising singer-songwriter bulldozing male stereotypes. Finding comfort in his pocket of introspective wordplay, the east Londoner shares his highs and lows with a genre-fluid musical approach. “favourite girl” is his most recent single: a jazz-rap lullaby putting to bed listener’s insecurities, the track takes on a Bonnie & Clyde narrative that centres him as a hopeless romantic. 


Born to Irish and Jamaican parents, Rio was raised on an eclectic mix of genres: from lovers lock to reggae and pop to rap. Honing his craft from the age of six, the wordsmith used his time between the big smoke and rural countryside as inspiration for early creative endeavours. 


Released last year, his debut EP, ‘Withdrawal Symptoms’, utilises rumbling bossa nova rhythms and lo-fi indie pop. Tied together with sultry vocals and a dexterous flow pattern, the project put Rio firmly on the map, and 2023 looks all the more prosperous. ‘favourite girl’ is his latest offering, revamping hypnotic elements of previous releases around a scintillating trumpet break and the future star’s intentional wordplay.


Ahead of his debut performance at this year’s Great Escape Festival, we spoke with Rio Rainz about TikTok traction, glamourising isolation and how to stay true to oneself.

Your new single, ‘favourite girl’ just came out – how’s it all been going?
The response has been awesome. Initially, I previewed the track on TikTok, creating a homemade video in my bedroom, which unexpectedly grew its attraction. With the track’s demand increasing, a few days later, I linked Kurisu who had produced it last year. We finalised the track adding some minute details where needed.
The song blew up on TikTok – how has the platform impacted your music?
I think TikTok is an awesome gateway for adding discovery to music being created. The impact that it’s had for me was unanticipated; it has driven me to normalise presenting my creative process online. Sometimes, creatively, I get caught in the element of constructing ideas & not spotlighting them to my fanbase.
Your style has been described as having a ‘distinctly UK flow’. What does this mean to you and how would you describe the British, especially London, music scene right now?
The UK scene right now is really exciting, I love that new music in London feels more experimental. I believe, through chapters spent in your life, your experiences change you and form your identity. This is evident in the music I’m currently making. I never want my creativity to be placed in boundaries, however I’m now finding a cohesive recording style that feels like ‘me’. When people rock with the stylistic change in my artistry that’s additional to how I feel.
In your music you combine a range of genres. How have you learnt to craft these together and where do these influences stem from?
I think mixing genres happens when drawing influence becomes a more random process. Removing theory and embracing feeling has always resonated with me. It’s the art of being careless but inventive. Back in the day I was surrounded by everything from lovers rock reggae to country ballads. which allowed my thought process to feel limitless. When I was younger I felt like I needed to appeal to what was current, but nowadays I create what I love.

You got your start with Black Box freestyle – what is it like doing these kind of intense live performances? What do you love about this style of music?

When I first performed on Black Box I was 14. It’s where I first felt able to articulate my feelings though an expressive format; it felt therapeutic. I love how poetically you can transfer your thoughts in rap, in a raw state. The cypher I was involved in was very reactive & appealed to a certain niche that I’ve become quite distantly from. There’s always been layers to my personality, which implements new creative concepts I want to express.

You’ve talked about the importance of the countryside and London on your songwriting as a sort of Ying and Yang. How do both sides influence your creativity?

Every element in our environment creates a frame of reference we rely on to make decisions. Growing up in east London & the countryside, effected how I look at situations through my lens. I glamourise the isolation from being out in the sticks; it’s the place where i’m most driven creatively. However, East is home to me. That’s where all my friends + family are.

Your music is very vulnerable – how did you learn to be open in this way, particularly as it can be difficult for some men to do this?

There’s a stigma around young men subtracting their feelings and reserving their thought. I want to stay true to myself and express all my intuition through frequencies at all times. If that inspires anyone to do the same, it’s a win for the kid.

You’re going to be playing at Brighton’s The Great Escape in May (congratulations by the way) – how’re you feeling about it? Can you let us in on any secrets about what we can expect from your set?

I’m real excited to play at The Great Escape festival in Brighton, it’s my first show ever! I always want to try and exceed expectation outside my comfort zone. it will definitely be an experience that I want to repeat. I can’t wait for the feeling of others who may not know me yet, to consume and hear what I have to say. My set will be lit.

What’s in store for you over the next year?

I’ve always had the conscious thought that fashion correlates with music heavily. Over the next year you will see me diverting into that scene, my passion lies there too. Except from developing new sounds, I’m excited to showcase what I’m working on with the forthcoming shows.

Stream "favourite girl" below:


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