In The Middle with George Riley

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In the lead up to the release of her debut single, our online editor Andrea Loftus caught up with Leeds alumni George Riley to find out about her uni experience and how’s she’s navigating the industry as a female soloist.

What motivates you as a musician, and have you found it harder as a solo female artist in the industry?

I just want to do something that I love and be happy. It has been hard to get started for the obvious reasons but I’ve visualised and manifested a lot and I am in a much better place now socially and professionally. 

Your debut single is coming out tomorrow (congrats), how has the process been leading up to that and how are you hoping people will respond to it?

It’s been a lot of mixed emotions – exciting, boring, long, but mostly fulfilling. I just hope my younger self could feel seen and of course have a bop to it – I think she would!

As a former student of the university, how did you find your experience and did it / the city influence your approach to your musical career?

For the most part I hated Leeds, there was an article in the Gryphon about BlackFemSoc I wrote in last year that will be able to offer a more rounded explanation but there were a lot of visibility issues on campus as a woman of colour. In spite of that, I finally did find my place. 

“There were a lot of visibilty issues on campus as a woman of colour. In spite of that, I finally did find my place.”

And yes, university life provided some much needed isolation for personal growth and eventually some great creative friendships. It helped me meet some of the most important beings including Jason Vaz (graphic designer) and Kwame Dappa (photographer) who I regularly collaborate with, and of course Baile (Rodeo Joe) of Sable Radio, making Leeds a better place for POCs and misfits. I can’t miss out Aissa Toure of Delice D’Ivoire where I worked for the whole 3 years. She’s a wonderful lady who serves incredible food and I hear she’s got a new spot so go check out the jollof if you haven’t already!

If you had to pick 3 words to represent you as an artist, what would they be and what do they mean to you?

I tried but it’s simply impossible – I’m a whole lot of person!

Finally, can you share one song that you can’t get enough of this month?

Anything from Klein, she has a new album out and it’s made me feel a lot of things.

George’s new single ‘Herstory’ is out now.