Los Angeles alt-pop singer-songwriter Rikki Valentina releases the music video for her latest track, “What Happens When You Die?,” a song probing the effect of loss on the living.
Rikki explains, “This video is based on still holding onto my younger mindset when it comes to the afterlife. The line ‘you never say hi’ is based on multiple people telling me that my dad is always with me when it feels far from that at times.”
Along with being featured in elite outlets, Rikki has released an EP, Daddy’s Girl, and a series of singles, including “Young Love,” “April Fool,” and “Sugar Plumb Baby.” Dropped in 2020, “April Fool” developed into a viral hit on TikTok.
Rikki’s sound blends light, sparkling soundscapes with her delicate yet evocative voice, imbuing her music with flavors of dream-pop and modern indie-pop into creamy, buoyant sonic concoctions.
Guitar Girl Magazine spoke with Rikki Valentina to discover more about the inspiration for “What Happens When You Die?,” and how she got started in music.
What inspired your new single/music video, “What Happens When You Die?”
The inspiration comes from my experiences with death. In 2019 my father was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident. That was the first time in my life I had experienced someone very close to me pass away. As time went by, more loved ones around me started passing which was surreal. I was terrified but found comfort in writing this song.
I grew up in a Catholic household and was taught what happens when you die, but my grief had me questioning everything. During the funeral, people would tell me that my loved ones were always with me, and that frustrated me. I wondered why I didn’t feel the presence of others and felt so alone. In a time of weakness, we want to know the answers and feel comfort. I made this song to make others feel comfortable when it comes to questioning the great unknown.
Walk us through your mindset as you entered the studio to record the song.
I knew I wanted this song to start off as a piano ballad but end in a film orchestration. The 4 songs I had in mind when it came to making this song were “Smother Me” by The Used, “Pretend” by Lights, “Welcome To The Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance, and “Don’t Forget” by Demi Lovato. All of these songs were my favorites growing up and worked perfectly with the formula.
How did you get started in music?
Growing up I was surrounded by many musicians thanks to my dad. He was a drummer in various bands and is the main reason why I am an artist now. I have been singing since the age of 13 but it wasn’t until 2018 that I started to pursue my career as an overall artist. I knew I couldn’t make it in the industry alone as just a singer. I had to act on the creative and business part of the industry as well. I just trusted myself and sure enough, I made my way.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised on the outskirts of Los Angeles.
Did your hometown impact your sound?
I wouldn’t say it impacted my sound but, because of my peers at school, I would say it did broaden my library and taught me to appreciate all genres.
Did your sound evolve naturally, or did you deliberately push it in a certain direction?
A little of both. I knew how I wanted to perceive myself as an artist but, I also knew that I needed to add truthfulness as well so I could connect with others.
What kind of guitar do you play?
I’m a beginner when it comes to guitar, but my favorite one I own is my Electric Hello Kitty Fender. It’s meant for a child but because I’m petite it’s the perfect size.
What is your definition of tone? And has your tone changed over time?
Tone to me is the quality of my music, and I must say my production has gotten much better over the years. I have been collaborating with some amazingly talented people and truly appreciate them.
What inspires your writing? Do you draw inspiration from poems, music, or other media?
Everyday life experiences are where I get most of my ideas. Sometimes lyrics just come to me. I swear it’s like they pop out of thin air, I can’t even explain it.
What can you share about your writing process?
A catchy chorus or melody is always where I start. My brain will randomly come up with certain words that sound nice and then I build from there.
Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now?
Miley Cyrus is killing it! She is truly herself and is such an incredible performer overall.
How do you define success?
Doing what you love, living comfortably, and overall being genuinely happy.
Looking at your experiences from the last few years, what have you learned from them?
Don’t make music in the hopes of exposure, make what your heart desires, and your kind of people will find you and appreciate your art.
What can your fans look forward to over the next six months? Music videos? Live gigs?
Catch the music video for my new song ‘What Happens When You Die?’ Out November 1st. More music to follow in 2023.