Ever-evading definition, RADA seeks to continually metamorphose her sound and image. “I often switch up both, as I don’t like being put in a box. I prefer playing a character or inhabiting an idea which gives me freedom to change.” This natural inclination towards shifting identities aligns with her nomadic upbringing, having been born in London but raised in Russia to parents of Russian and British-Jamaican heritage. She describes her music as eclectic, hectic even, but her third chosen adjective of fantastical reveals the overriding narrative of RADA the artist: a self-professed “sad girl-cum-fairy persona on the quest to remain artistically free.”
With singles like ‘Burn One’ and ‘Above It’, and features on Kish! and Safiyyah tracks, RADA has already made a name for herself in the underground scene – the pinnacle of which so far has been a live performance for Boiler Room TV’s series. Her new EP set for release later this year sees RADA establishing a bedrock of sounds to pull from in the future. “The EP is different elements of what I like,” she tells me. “It flows between soft trap, ethereal RnB, a bit more electronic. And there’s a stripped back song with just guitar. I finished all the songs around September and I feel like I’ve already moved on. But it’s a starter of what I want to explore – that was the point of the EP.”
The EP derives from her current inspirations: “I’m listening to more experimental, kind of electronic, kind of trap-y music. And I’m listening back to noughties punk bands, which has been my vibe recently. Stuff like My Bloody Valentine, Deaftones – very TikTok-y type bands.” They’re the kind of bands her mum would have played in the car, she says. Subliminally knowing one or two tracks but more recently diving into their entire discographies.
Our conversation shifts towards RADA’s lyrical interests, confessing that her mainstay theme is love. This body of work, however, is more of an exploration of mental health. “Each song talks about mental health in a certain way. It’s more intimate. I talk about stepping away from things in the past and being reborn. There’s a lyric in one of the songs which goes, ‘when you find me, I’ll be somewhere you can’t blind me’. It’s like a metaphor for that idea of stepping away from dark things in the past.”
I ask RADA if she finds music a consoling medium through which to face and explore her mental state. “I’m definitely a lot more open to it now. Music is the easiest way to talk about certain topics without people knowing what you’re referring to, without being direct and vulnerable. It could just be a literal lyric. The way I do it in this EP is very symbolic.” On the note of symbolism, she tells me that we can expect elements of Russian folklore in her upcoming EP that pay homage to her heritage, and from which she has also drawn song titles.
“London is my home,” she answers to my question about her sense of belonging, as someone who associates with different cultures and places. “I moved around a lot growing up so I don’t feel connected to a certain place. All the elements of each are within me, but London is where I feel the most at home. It’s so diverse that I feel like I can relate to people without actually relating to their backgrounds. It’s an accepting place, not without its issues of course.”
Looking to the future, RADA wants to focus on creating music rather than building a brand, a set identity – an honourable endeavour in an age of artist consumables. “I haven’t had time to focus on my craft, so I’m doing that now. Being part of an underground scene gives me the freedom to work on my sound.” NAYANA IZ, Eartheater, LOLA and Babyxsosa are among the artists she names when asked who her dream sessions would feature.
We’ll be listening to RADA’s latest singles, ‘Pisces <3 Crybaby’ and ‘Tightrope’ on repeat – with the full knowledge that she is in fact a Gemini – whilst waiting for what promises to be an incredible EP.
Editor – @elliefmuir
Photography – @stuartnimmo_
Photography Assistant – @rhysbawilliams
Words – @angelicawska
Styling – @rachel.parisa
Design – @jack___sharples
Production – @pifivy