Meet Rita Mae, Multi-Musical Talent and Alternative Pop Princess


Ahead of her third single, 'Sunny Afternoon,' alternative pop artist Rita Mae's musical journey has been rich with immense creativity, growing pains, and an undeniable passion for what she does best.

Born and raised in a musical household, Rita Mae grew up heavily influenced as an artist by her family's heritage. Parents who never shied away from educating Rita and her sister on their current most treasured records always encouraged both children to learn musical instruments. Daughter of the iconic late Jim Laing (The Jean Paul Sartre Experience, Guitarist and Singer), Rita praises her upbringing for helping her discover her flair and taste "they were hugely influential in my love of music." Of course, Rita credits her dad fondly for her singer/songwriter ability, "I think I got that from him."

Rita's path to pursue her passion began unconventionally. In a moment of confusion, she opted to study Medicine at Dunedin University, where she instantly found herself torn between her love of music and her studies, often "leaving the library to record song ideas." However, University did provide Rita with one thing, a plentiful supply of songwriting content and life experience. She eventually found her way back to Tamaki Makaurauto, receiving a diploma in Audio production, and committing herself to her craft. She hasn't looked back since.

Known for her haunting lyrics and ability to rip your heart out and put it in front of you, Rita is a force to be reckoned with and a multi-talent in the music sphere. Her skillset spans from singing and songwriting to production. However, out of all the strings in her bow, lyrics are her most prized piece of the puzzle as they are a constant means of grounding into the central message of a song. Rita outlines that for her, "music is hugely about giving words a power that they just don't seem to have in ordinary life."

Like many young adults growing up, Rita often struggled to pinpoint her emotions "I found it difficult to find the words to describe how I felt in the moment." Lyrics relieved Rita as it was a means of articulating those inexplicable feelings so that Rita could "sing along and feel understood." Rita became filled with inspiration to give that moment to others. Allowing her most treasured artists, such as Avril Lavigne and Taylor Swift (who Rita describes as the "love of her life"), to provide wind to her sails, eventually forming her powerful voice and unique storytelling ability we adore today.

Following on from her breakout single 'Candy's House,' 'Sunny Afternoon' featuring Auckland's skinny and soft is her newest lovechild. The song marinates a melancholy and brooding essence which Rita pairs with meditative lyricism and a striking indie pop melody. Percussion and acoustic guitar strings lull us into the isolation of the track. 'Sunny Afternoon' was born during the lockdown, thus perfectly propositioning the song with just enough confinement, lending to the particular "claustrophobic kind of loneliness." Rita recalls the torment of the sunshine while stuck at home, resulting in her mind swimming in self-critical thoughts and judgment. "The song is a big f*ck you to sunshine and laughter and happiness for those days when your kind of festering in the shadows."

For 'Candy's House' lovers, Rita outlines the difference for us "I think the main difference between the two songs is that Sunny Afternoon feels like it's indulging in sadness/loneliness, and Candy's House feels like it's releasing it." The energies on the tracks differ, with Sunny Afternoon bringing a sense of voyeurism as one watches the world go past from their bedroom window. Candy's House is more a story about the presence of living life to the extreme and all the chaos that comes along with it.

Rita Mae brings a unique perspective to her music. She is a breath of fresh air and an exciting talent that continues to invite us into alternative pop heaven. Looking ahead to 2023, Rita aims to get her EP out, visit Los Angeles, and "make as much music as possible."


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