When an artist looks to pen another hit, they usually dig deep into their emotional archives in search of inspiration. And, that is exactly what songstress Raquel Kiaraa has done for her newest release, “Scorpio (Stripped)”. Cut straight from her album Defying Odds, the song is soul-baring at its core as the artist’s haunting vocal tone and vulnerable lyricism culminate in a track sure to move those who listen to it. Accompanied by a captivating music video in which Raquel serenades her viewers, the track becomes all the more tear-jerking in nature.
“‘Scorpio’ is dark; its pain, anguish, it was one of my rock bottoms in love. So it was vital for me to make every lyric feel deeply and disturbingly with my audience,” explains Raquel. “I want the audience to feel and exist in that space with my pain. It is and was real heartbreak emotion, so as we created this video and the music, it was about stripping every part of my soul; I wanted the audience to feel every ounce of vulnerability. As a strong woman who braves a face of a mighty warrior in my everyday life, it sometimes is difficult to go to these spaces, but my music is where I am most comfortable and confident, giving every part of my emotion to the world. So the audience deserves to feel it; music is about the experience, and Scorpio can relate to all of us.”
Upon the release of the new track, the artist looks back over the whirlwind year she has had and her inspirations whilst sitting down with Wonderland. Head below to read our interview with Raquel Kiaraa…
Hey Raquel, how are you? How has 2021 been for you?
Things are unravelling and happening powerfully. It has been a year of new changes, transformations and growth in every area of my life. Releasing my album, stepping into motherhood, pregnant and expecting my second baby, growing my businesses and continuing to learn and hone my music skills are all continuous goals that have shaped this year.
The pandemic affected a lot of people’s creativity; would you say yours was?
Absolutely not! I made music and kept practising and honing in on my skills, and that time allowed me to learn and let my creative juices come to fruition. I let myself sit in a space with who and what I wanted to be in the musical world. And here I am now,Defying Odds and rising. If anything, I was more determined and inspired to create and get my music off the ground. I have always worked well through challenges; I see it as an opportunity to develop my strength of character.
I refuse to succumb to life’s obstacles; instead, I find a way to move and get motivated from them. Defying Odds was born from a time when the odds were stacked against all of us; that’s what has made this music release that much more meaningful.
How did you first get into music, what sparked the interest?
I gave wings to my music in 2019, having never sung or played an instrument prior. At 32, I learned how to sing and play the piano for the first time to transform my poetry into music, the same age as my muse and role model, Leonard Cohen, when he began making music. I had never sung anywhere nor understood music whatsoever. Only the fact that I love to listen to it. The only thing I did know was I always loved to write, and I had books upon books of poetry I had written but had no idea how to turn them into songs. I wanted to create a goal so out of reach that I knew there was no room for the “impossible” in my life when I accomplished it. I coach people every day in my job as a full-time coach to believe in the possibility of where they can take their bodies and minds. I’ve always been one to want to lead by action in my life, by implementing my coaching practices on myself.
By March of 2019, I was motivated and determined enough to turn my goals into reality. By simply believing in the power of my music, I assembled a band of accomplished musicians. After only two rehearsals, some vocal lessons and music sheets for 13 original songs, I produced two sold-out 250+-seater performances, selling my tickets and running my publicity single-handedly.
First and foremost, I was an athlete in my earlier years, a talented runner and basketball player, intending to make it to the next successful athletic level. In my 17th year of life, with my goals to be realized and achieved, I suffered a life-altering injury that would take me from athletics for the rest of my life. Three surgeries on my right leg and taken away from the very thing I loved most in this world, being an athlete.
As a young, tall, disillusioned teen, I moved through a terrible depression, a darkness that would last for many years—writing saved me in many ways and from that time, much of my poetry was born. Brokenness healed through writing and believing that I would find my passion calling again.
I received a double University and College Degree in English, Journalism: TV, print and newspaper. I started a successful athletic performance academy with my partner, where we both coached and educated people every day into their goals for the last nine years. I gave birth to my son, Legend Kingsley Cornell, in May 2020 and am expecting another son on the way in February 2022. I am opening a 5,000 square foot studio called Parisian Creative, a place for creatives and artists to brand themselves. Being inspired by my life daily motivates me, and music shares a unique way to empower others to achieve their goals despite all failures. Music has breathed life back into me, creating, discovering and experiencing new passions. Finishing my 11 song album this year has been surreal in many ways. The goal is real and alive. The impossible is possible. Words, stories, and observations in life were etched into the pages of what would one day be released to the world as lyrics to my songs, and this is my Defying Odds.
Where are you from? Do you think your home town impacted your sound?
I am from Hamilton, Ontario! I believe my experiences are affected by the people that have come through my life. The most incredible experiences have been felt and created by who I have let into my world. In turn, regardless of good or bad, they allowed me to etch powerful stories into my notebook that has now become a part of my Defying Odds journey.
Talk us through your new single “Scorpio” what the production process was like?
“Scorpio” is dark; its pain, anguish, it was one of my rock bottoms in love. So it was vital for me to make every lyric feel deeply and disturbingly with my audience. I want the audience to feel and exist in that space with my pain. It is and was real heartbreak emotion, so as we created this video and the music, it was about stripping every part of my soul; I wanted the audience to feel every ounce of vulnerability. As a strong woman who braves a face of a mighty warrior in my everyday life, it sometimes is difficult to go to these spaces, but my music is where I am most comfortable and confident, giving every part of my emotion to the world. So the audience deserves to feel it; music is about the experience, and “Scorpio” can relate to all of us.
It’s is all about a failed romance through the lens of someone else, what was it like writing from a different perspective?
“Scorpio” was written from my own experience with A Scorpio man, and when you have a relationship was a Scorpio, it leaves a mark on you for the rest of your life.
“Scorpio” is about the complexities we all face around love, the darker side of it. The love that makes you mad makes you go a little crazy.
Love is all at once; terrifying and magical, it’s one thing in this world that will never be portrayed by words alone, for its feeling lives in every pocket of our mind, body and soul. But you always grow from it. Whether at that moment, it threatens every existence of being. I have always looked back on all my love experiences and have been grateful because they gave me powerful experiences to write about and now share with the world.
What do you want people to take away from your music?
It is a much larger picture and message for me to share here. As women, there are so many limitations put on us not only by this industry but by the world when we have children. We are told it is impossible, that our dreams are impossible, that we cannot do it all, so we must choose. This album, for me, shows that I will continue to rise through all challenges as I move through pregnancy and toward becoming a mum for the second time, owning and running my businesses and learning and creating music.
I can have it all, I can make my goals work and be a mother. The album’s title speaks to women’s power to transcend the status quo. Time and again, women rise to the occasion proving to themselves and the world that the impossible is possible, and their dreams are alive, and we are achieving them. We are women – Defying Odds. I am a woman – Defying Odds.
Who would you say are your inspirations?
Two people come to mind. First the Olympic athlete Allyson Felix, an American female athlete who defied her odds although the world told her her dreams would be impossible to achieve upon becoming a mother. And now, she is the most decorated track and field athlete.
Secondly, Leonard Cohen did precisely what I am doing now; he defied odds and made his goal come to life. At such a late start in the music game, he decided to learn the skills to make his poetry come to life. He is one of my greatest inspirations on this journey.
What are you most excited about? What’s next for you?
It is empowering other people, women in particular. Maybe it sounds cliche, but for me, this journey and its motivation were about giving back to others, and in turn, I gave back to myself in the most powerful way. I wanted an impossible goal to achieve – coming from no prior musical background, this was the farthest talent from my skillset. I want women to know we can most certainly have it all; no longer do we need to be held down and back by the opinions of the status quo. We are our leaders; let us take back our power.
I lived the last year turning the impossible into possible, and I succeeded. So can you. My goal is to continue the rise of Defying Odds and bring the world along this fierce journey with me.