Trust your gut and trust your vision. Don’t let men in the industry try to belittle you. Let them go if they’re getting in your way, and trust that Divine timing will bring you something/someone better suited.
As a part of our series about music stars who are making an important social impact, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Faith Richards.
Faith Richards’ hybrid dark-indie yet soulful sound cuts through today’s radio noise and takes the listener on a transparent journey of her self-discovery. Moving state-to-state and country-to-country more than 10 times before graduating high school, Faith’s sound has evolved alongside her, with influences everywhere from 1960’s soul and jazz to Amy Winehouse, Sabrina Claudio and BANKS. Settling in Los Angeles in 2015 at the age of 18, a window was opened into darkness and light like no other place she’d been — and those highs and lows are a gift to her fans in her consistent releases.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit of the ‘backstory’ of how you grew up?
Of course! Thank you for having me. I kind of grew up all over the place. I was born in Oklahoma but only lived there for 6 months. From there we moved to Alaska, Kansas, Colorado, Texas, a few different towns in England, and now I’m settled in Los Angeles! I definitely don’t come from a wealthy family and we’ve lived in some interesting homes but we always made it work. I was raised by a single mom of 6 kids. We definitely went through our fair share of struggles financially and mentally. We moved so often either because of money issues, needing to be close to family, or my mom would start dating someone. I’m pretty close to most of my siblings, and I think the struggles growing up made us all a pretty tight-knit family. I wouldn’t have had it any other way really.. It all makes me who I am today. And I’m sure that’s why I’m such a go-getter now.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve always loved singing and writing. After starting to learn piano in my early teen years, I soon realized that music was what helped me express all those feelings I’d tried to bury as a kid to avoid being a burden. I’d sometimes sing at church talent shows and I’d record little videos for my Facebook friends. But I’ve also always had a passion for acting — and that was originally why I moved to LA. It was in acting school that a few of my teachers took me completely out of my comfort zone (I had terrible stage fright, but only with singing for some reason). They encouraged me to consider pursuing music post-graduation. So I did. I performed at a few shows and got discovered by a few different producers, and it just hit me that I really had something special in my sound and creativity.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career? What was the lesson or take away that you took out of that story?
Hmmm… This isn’t really a funny story, but I remember my first in-person radio interview, and I was soooo uncomfortable. Honestly, I felt offended throughout most of it with their sexual comments and clear lack of knowledge of what my songs were about. And I just laughed it off. My default is to laugh. It was like I was trying to impersonate this bubbly version of myself, rather than just saying, “I feel uncomfortable, this is unprofessional, and I’d like to end this interview.” I was more worried about how they perceived me rather than how I was feeling at that moment. I learned that I should never have to impersonate the happy version of myself. Sometimes I have to make someone else uncomfortable in order to stick up for myself. Even in a professional setting, I don’t have to stick it out for their satisfaction.
What would you advise a young person who wants to emulate your success?
JUST DO IT! FULL FORCE! NO EXCUSES! If you are passionate and hard-working and you know you have something special that needs to be shared with the world, don’t let ANYTHING set you back. Money, family, timing, location, etc… Be your biggest fan and give everything you’ve got into making your dreams a reality. It’s only possible if you believe it is.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?
Honestly, it’s simple but probably, “Work hard, play harder”. I don’t want the 9–5 lifestyle where you only get 2 weeks of vacation a year. That sounds terrifying to me. Sure, my life is inconsistent financially, and I have a new curveball every week, but I’m genuinely happy when I’m working and happy when I’m not. I choose when to travel, and when to go to a session, and when to perform, and when to book a shoot, and when to do admin work, and when to re-center alone. I bust my ass to pursue this whole music thing, but it’s because it fulfills me and the reward is worth it. I take so many breaks from the constant go-go-go lifestyle by traveling. That keeps me sane and gives me more experiences to write about. Music and traveling are my real loves.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My producer, Jay Denton, has been a huge part of my music success so far. He came to my first ever performance in Los Angeles and we were friends for a year before we started creating together. Since then I feel like we are attached at the hip. I love creating with him and I truly can’t even express how grateful I am to God for making our paths cross. I realize how lucky I am to have found a genuine friend in a producer in Los Angeles. That shit isn’t easy to come by in this city or this industry.
Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview, how are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting social impact causes you are working on right now?
The more conversations I have with my fans, the more I see the good my music does for people. I love people, and try to live by a quote from my church, “all for love”. I am transparent in my music and I feel myself becoming more and more authentic on my social media pages too. I want people to connect with me and see me as a human before a musician. I think just sharing my experiences and journey brings healing and peace to others. Also, I love being a part of ENDURE studios. The whole mission of the studio is to give people a platform and a voice — especially people in third-world countries. The ENDURE For Home album shares stories of Syrian refugees and I’m so grateful to have been a part of that.
Can you tell us the backstory about what originally inspired you to feel passionate about this cause and to do something about it?
People are hurting. And it’s so common to feel misunderstood, or that no one knows what you’re going through. I know that feeling. And I just know that a part of my purpose is to bring healing and light to those that need it. And I do it best through my music, and being open. And with ENDURE’s mission — again, I love people. I want everyone to feel heard and loved. I am so fortunate to live in America and to have a platform, and I’m excited to share it with those who are passionate about broadcasting their real issues and real pain. Working with Mizgin and Souzda on the album was eye-opening. I cannot imagine living a life like theirs, and my heart breaks for everything they’ve been through, and continue to endure, yet they left me completely inspired and boosted my passion to help people even more.
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and take action for this cause? What was that final trigger?
I could see people around me incredibly unhappy with their lives. They wished they could go back in time and do this and that. They were in a constant cycle of struggle and pain. They were jealous or bitter. I knew that I wasn’t going to settle and that I didn’t want that kind of life. I knew that I’d rather die saying, “I gave music my all,” than, “I wish I would’ve pursued my dreams.” It was an easy decision for me. I knew I’d struggle financially regardless of what career I chose, and I’d have to take out loans regardless of what school I went to, so I might as well make it fun and follow my heart.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
It’s the detailed messages from complete strangers that motivate me even more. I recently had a fan message me his story of attempted suicide and their constant struggles with mental health, and how my music played a part in literally saving them. And I had another fan message me of her experience with sexual assault and how much she appreciated me sharing my story because it made her feel a little more normal and understood. These kinds of messages from people I’ve never even met, telling me how my words have helped in their healing… It is so fulfilling and reminds me that I’m on the right path. It’s my favorite part of what I do.
Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?
Empathize, listen and help. People can be so mean and intentionally hurtful. It’s the simple things that can turn someone’s day or even life around. If everyone just stopped for a second and complimented a stranger walking by, or listened to a friend instead of impatiently waiting to speak, could empathize with someone hurting… the world would be a better place. There is so much hate going on in the world in politics, natural disasters, social injustices… the least we can do is listen and love and try our hardest to understand. And to do everything in our power to stick up for what we think is right. I wish the government would implement more laws/policies that supported BIPOC, people in poverty, and climate change, but I know I can start by supporting in my individual way by empathizing, listening and helping however I can. And by doing my part to make this world a better place to live in for everyone.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or an example for each.
1.Trust your gut and trust your vision. Don’t let men in the industry try to belittle you. Let them go if they’re getting in your way, and trust that Divine timing will bring you something/someone better suited.
I worked with someone who after explaining to them my vision and sound said, “How old are you? 21? I’ve been in the industry for half of your life. I know what works and what doesn’t.” And that’s when you love and leave them. No one knows what works best for you except for you. Stay authentic to yourself. You pursue your art because you love it, not because it sells well.
2. Get a lawyer! Don’t sign any shitty contracts!
I messed up a couple of times with contracts which caused a lot of issues. They weren’t fair deals and I wish I would’ve trusted my gut, sought out a lawyer and made changes earlier on, rather than causing complications and bringing up my concerns close to the release of the projects. That definitely caused some of my music relationships to end.
3. There is no checklist that will lead to your success. Everyone’s journey is different.
I’d read about all these “overnight success” and it demotivated me. I felt like I was doing everything these other new celebrities did and it wasn’t working for me. You just have to figure out what feels right for you and what helps your exposure. There’s no “right” way. It’s YOUR life, and YOUR career, so do it YOUR way.’
4. Whatever you’re pursuing shouldn’t be your whole life.
At first, I felt like I had to give every ounce of my energy into creating and working. It took me a while to realize how horrible that was for my mental health because when I had less work to do, I felt like I had no purpose. I put all of my worth in my work. Now I try to balance my sessions, admin work, traveling, time with friends and hobbies evenly. And I go with the flow a lot more.
5. Enjoy the process
Sounds simple but it’s easy to get caught up in the outcome of what you create. I am constantly reminding myself that I started writing music because I love the process, not the result. Naturally, I get caught up in numbers and how well my song is doing. And it’s a letdown when it isn’t doing as well as I expected. So I try to re-center and remember how fun and fulfilling the process was.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement what would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Ooooo. I’ve honestly never really thought about this. If I were to start a movement, I’d want it to be focused around mental health. We are trained to suppress emotions and avoid burdening others. It took me years and years to break out of this habit, and I finally feel free because of it. There is no such thing as too sensitive. I’m a huge advocate for self-acceptance and healing. Some ways I practice it are through meditation, journaling, connecting to my inner child and Higher Self, writing music, and dancing. Healing is a constant journey and you have to be patient and compassionate towards yourself during the process. Everything good starts from within. And once you have that foundation of love within, then that love can carry forward to the people around you.
We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
It would be a dream for me to converse with Rihanna. She is one of the most powerful female figures in the music and business industry. I want to pick her brain on how she became so confident leading, how she ignored the negativity and continued to pursue, how she dealt with rumors and the media exposing so much of her personal life, what inspired her new business avenues, who inspires her in music and life, and what experiences stick with her to this day… I want to know about her creative process in songwriting, producing and recording. I just want to be her friend!!! She is such an incredible role model to me.
Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was so inspiring, and we wish you continued success!