While night terrors can be a horrifying experience, Riah uses them to her advantage. The Los Angeles native, who’s collaborated with shallou and had her music featured on Grey’s Anatomy, premieres a mystifying visual for her latest single, “Prom.” The song and video were inspired by a dream that Riah had about going to a high school prom, but there’s just one piece missing: other people.
The tone of the music video definitely connects with the tone of the song: both are very dreamlike with ethereal aesthetics, while simultaneously dancing around the sorrow and regret that comes from lost love. The balance between the imagery of Riah wandering around an empty high school, seemingly lost with no direction - and the lyrics that express heartbreak and obsession - create a theme universal to the idea of the weird feelings of confusion and imbalance after the death of a relationship.
Watch the video and read more in our Q&A below.
OTW: Can you explain the inspiration and meaning behind “Prom” and its music video?
Riah: The song is about a dream that I had. I grew up having night terrors - every night I have crazy vivid dreams. I was homeschooled growing up; I never went to prom. When we were writing, I wanted to write a song that sounds like prom - the idea of what I thought it would be. The video is inspired by being inside of a dream, very unpredictable, and it twists reality. Sometimes dreams don’t have consistent stories. One moment you think it’s real, and then the next you know it’s definitely not real. When I think of prom, I think of all these people with different backgrounds and different lives, they’re all going through different things, but the video shows the journey of one specific individual. It has different narratives and complexities, different versions of me. Different emotions leading up to this moment of what I think prom would be like, but nobody’s there.
OTW: What was your experience like growing up and wanting to be a musician?
Riah: My dad bought a bunch of instruments and learning how to play them became a competition within my family. I ended up playing the drums for four years but I wanted to move to the front to start singing. I wasn’t like, super normal as far as who I was listening to as a young and impressionable child. My dad was always very encouraging to be very creative and both of my parents are extremely creative. I explored other ideas of artistic expression but music was what I always came back to. It always came back to loving to write songs and loving to sing.
OTW: What musicians inspired you growing up and still influence you today?
Riah: I love Bjork. She is so bizarre, but she is my queen and I love it in every way. All the things we’re doing now, she was doing 20 years ago. It’s really cool to see someone who’s truly themselves. She has no regard to what people listen to now or what’s mainstream now. Frank Ocean and Miguel are two other people I always look to when I’m writing and I am inspired by the sounds and melodies that they have.
OTW: Who are your Ones To Watch?
Riah: Sasha Sloan, H.E.R. and Shallou.