Welcome to the stage Theia – an exciting singer-songwriter from New Zealand, who holds the power to alter the axial tilt of the pop world. Theia is the stage name for the talented Christchurch artist Em-Haley Walker, an artist of meaningful lyricism, which sees the young artist write about the angst and bliss of youth, love, heartbreak. I chatted to her about her tide-like emotions, her musical idols and what drives her energetic style of art.
In Greek mythology, Theia is a Titaness. Can you please introduce us to her?
Theia is the Greek Goddess of Light, Sight and the Sky, and she encompasses my art and me – I carry her with me sonically and aesthetically. She is the goddess of the sun, the dawn and the moon; a light bearer. From her I seek strength, an edge; to delve deeper, grow stronger and fight fiercely.
Your music has been described as glitter-pop (which I love!) Can you please share a little about your sound?
I love the term too, but really it’s just an umbrella of all the infusions of genres and influences that inspire and drive my musical practice. My sound is a response to a love of so many forms of music; I aim to form an eclectic mix of R’n’B, urban, all driven by a love of strong female vocalists. I’m always focused on finding the right mix of harmonies, varied tones, layered vocals and a good hook. For me, the art of writing and placing lyrics within this landscape is a journey of metaphors; I love to pour my soul into everything I create.
Your rise to fame seems like a bit of a whirlwind experience—everything’s happened so fast! Can you tell us a little bit about the journey so far?
It must appear that way, yes! I’ve been feeling so fortunate lately, in experiencing such a beautiful response to my music and to have performed for some amazing crowds. However, these experiences are really just the tip of the iceberg in comparison to the amount of work and preparation that goes into achieving such things. So much work goes into the finessing of self, of aesthetic and of craft. It really is an incredible journey, but it takes a lot of hard work. Nothing really prepares you for the experience, and it has made me understand how valuable my support network is; the everlasting love and care from friends, family (and fans) is truly a driving source of energy–I’m strong and empowered because of all this positive energy around me.
You’ve described your emotions as “like the tides – would be continually up and down”. How does this notion inform your creative process?
My experience as a person and creative is completely informed by emotions and learning how to navigate them. I wear these emotions on the outside of my body like clothing, because they are beautiful, responsive and to me, an honest gesture of being alive. It is these feelings and tribulations that inform my songwriting and most importantly my lyrics; it adds a vulnerability to my practice. Any struggle, any feeling, I want to turn it into art. I want to pass it on to other people and encourage them to care for their own body and mind. There has to be a balance for me within this scope, but I am hoping to be relatable to those that listen to my music.
What inspires your energetic style of art? Where do you look to for the drive to create and refine your practice?
My experiences, feelings and realities run concurrently to those I experience around me. I absorb my environment like a sponge, and find constructive ways to inspire myself every day. Music, fashion—the world excites me so much! I am always seeking new ways to educate myself, to listen and learn from other people, cultures and lived experiences. Listening and observing is so important.
Some strong female singers that I really look up to are obvious but infallible: Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Amy Winehouse. I admire them for not just their musical prowess, but their unapologetic style and outlandish personalities—they push the ball so hard! When it comes to fashion, my taste is much the same—the more outlandish and experimental—the better. McQueen, vintage urban street photography and anything else with a swirl of personality will always grab my attention.
In your opinion, what does your dream-future look like for female and non-binary artists? And what can we—the public—do to help you?
I can’t help but feel like my dream within this scope is already being realised—to an extent. Where there is certainly still work to be done, work of which I am a part of, I can’t help but notice a shift in perspective. People seem more open minded, more accepting and free to express themselves. There seem to be more networks and support systems to allow the niche to rise to the surface—individuals can express themselves in ways that are no longer inhibited by public opinion (and people don’t care so much if it does, anyway!) The best thing we can do is to keep creating, keep writing, encourage fluidity, lift each other up and just be happy for each other’s successes.
Please list your top 5 party tracks: