Q&A: Glasgow Singer-Songwriter Rianne Downey on 'Method To My Madness' EP
"Method To My Madness" is the latest EP (the second this year and third overall) from singer-songwriter Rianne Downey. The new, four-track release is a showcase for Downey's versatile voice, which ranges from folky, to bluesy to pop.
Although it might not be apparent on this release, one of the first styles of music that inspired Downey to be a musician was ska.
"When I was younger, I discovered Ska through listening to Amy Winehouse’s covers of The Specials. I was obsessed with the sound," she told Backseat Mafia.
Like many artists, she started sharing cover songs on the internet, eventually releasing her debut EP, "Fuel To The Flame" in 2021.
Downey's latest, "Method To My Madness" was released this June.
Ben Province: The song "Method To My Madness" features a Beatles-esque piano part. How have they influenced your music?
Rianne Downey: It’s funny you ask that – I wrote "Method To My Madness" when I was going through a John Lennon phase! I couldn’t stop playing the albums "Imagine" and "Double Fantasy." The Beatles have been a constant in my life. I used to listen through their albums and try to figure out how it was humanly possible to produce the amount of tunes that they did – each one being a masterpiece and each song pushing and bending the rules of genre and popular music. I always aspired to write a tune that could maybe get people in a way similar to "Let It Be," but obviously I knew I wouldn’t get close [laughs]. This was my go at writing my ‘big ballad.’
BP: With another influence of yours being The Cranberries, I was curious what your favorite song is by the band.
RD: "Dreams" has to be my favorite. I couldn’t not say it. The first time I heard it, I felt sick with joy, like I had subconsciously been waiting all my life to hear it. I think it’s up there as one of my favorite songs lyrically, musically, and the production is so fulfilling. It’s so vulnerable but uplifting. Dolores O'Riordan’s voice is in a class of its own.
BP: Your producer, Richard Turvey, also performed on the "Method To My Madness" EP. Can you describe the collaborative process with him and the other musicians on your latest collection of songs?
RD: So, I created my EP with Rich and with my guitarist [and] songwriting partner Nathaniel. I went in with the songs written, and we listened through them, then figured out by jamming the songs and trying out different ideas on pianos, synths, etcetera, where we really wanted to take the songs to make them the best version of themselves – trial and error and just throwing ourselves into the music. I had a ball.
BP: "Paper Wings" reminded me a little bit of Norah Jones. Can you share the story behind that song?
RD: Thank you, that’s such a lovely comparison! So, Nathaniel. my guitarist [and] songwriting partner, came to me with "Paper Wings" as an almost complete song. I immediately fell in love with it. Together, we figured out the melody and added some touches to the lyrics that felt more personal to me. It’s about a fragile, naive young woman who’s given away too much of herself, learning, through betrayal and heartbreak, how to love herself and know her own worth.
BP: I noticed you're pictured twice on the new EP's cover art. Is that meant to reflect two different sides of your personality?
RD: I wanted to give a nod to my favorite painting by Frida Kahlo, "The Two Fridas." For me, the two versions of myself represent the way I’m growing as a woman and a musician. Exploring who I was, who I am and who I could be. Feminine and masculine. Naive and wise. Introvert and extrovert. The meaning could change depending on how I’m feeling that day; that's the fun of it for me! I wanted to create two characters and have a bit of fun, so people can interpret the meaning how they want to.
Note: Interview was conducted via email and has been edited.