INTERVIEW – Riley Pearce

No Suits & Ties, Just Music

Perth is home to a lot of musical talent, with the likes of Birds Of Tokyo, John Butler Trio, Eskimo Joe, Tame Impala, Pendulum and now, Riley Pearce. In 2013 with the release of the ‘We Are Fools’ EP, Riley Pearce has graced the Australian music scene with a soothing voice and rhythmic tunes to suit. 

Growing up partly in Melbourne but moving to Perth early in his life, Riley wanted to pursue a musical career based on the fact that he really loves music and doesn’t like wearing ties (who does?).

“I’ve always loved music, I used to tape songs off the radio using a cassette player and then play them back and learn the lyrics by writing them down. Sometimes I’d listen to it for ages just wait until a good song came on.”

Instead of wearing ties and going to work in an office job that is 9-5 everyday, Riley Pearce has already released an EP and has played in multiple sold-put shows across Perth.

Writing and producing music in the indie/folk genre with a touch of that ‘Australian-esque’ sound, ‘We Are Fools’ definitely brings forth a sense of originality and compassion from such a young singer/song-writer.  Influenced by Matt Corby, Passenger, Of Monsters & Men and Bon Iver, Riley is an artist that you’ll want to keep a look out for – Australia has only heard the beginning of Riley’s song. 

Below is our interview with Riley talking all things passion, writing music and Scarlett Johansson. 

What made you decide music was an avenue you wanted to explore?

I don’t like ties (laughs). I really enjoyed playing music and talking about music, showing people stuff I liked, hearing what they did and I meet so many interesting people through what I do.

One of my songs (“Patterns”) is actually about how I didn’t want to be stuck doing the same thing day in day out and wait until I was thirty to realise that. I enjoy all the challenges that people face in the music world and the marketing involved.

Where do you like to gain your inspiration from and when do you feel most inspired to write/record?

Mostly from other musicians. I recently went to a local show and watched the two support acts then went home early because I couldn’t wait to write another song. I love it when that happens. I get a lot of inspiration from other musicians and things I see around me. I try to always write songs with a meaning – if it means nothing to me then I probably will never play it again.

I usually write all my songs at night – lately in my garage. It’s really quiet apart from the wind. But that adds atmosphere

How did the writing and recording process begin for the ‘We Are Fools’ EP?

I had songs that I’d been playing live and getting good feedback on and I was really eager to get something out, something I could give to people. I recorded the first 2 songs late 2012 and then the rest in the first half of 2013 for a mid year release. I really enjoyed the recording experience and seeing songs come to life. Looking forward to going back!!

Photo: Jarrad Seng
Photo: Jarrad Seng

What do you enjoy most about living in Perth?

The Beach, weather and the general lack of rain – makes for good busking. People are also friendly when it’s sunny. I also really like the Perth music scene; everyone helps everyone out and there’s a real family vibe.

Do you have any pre-show warm up antics that you do before you go on stage?

Not yet, but I am open to suggestions!

What was your inspiration for the track “We Are Fools”?

The passion that musicians have for their music. Sometimes we play to crowds even though we might not get paid, or there might not even be a crowd but we still do it – mostly because they love what we do. Like any artist, I started on the open mic circuit and noticed a lot of people who had been doing it for years and were quite content just to stay at that level. It didn’t frustrate me – I know not everyone wants to treat their music as their profession. It was really refreshing to see a lot of people just wanting to play their songs, hoping that someone enjoys it.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

A lot can happen in five years so I’ll aim high. Hopefully playing sold out shows around Australia, I would love to do a few side projects too. I would also love to be playing in other countries and be on festival lineups.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Perth/Broome/Boston/Scarlett Johansson’s house (laughs).

Do you hope to tour Australia one day? If so, where would you like to go and who would you like to tour with as a support?

Yes – that would be awesome! Besides the capitals – Byron Bay, Broome, I’d love to do regional tours too. You meet some great people and see some awesome things. I’d love to support anyone who would help me write better songs or be a better performer.

Photo: Jarrad Seng
Photo: Jarrad Seng

If you could do a duet with any singer or musician in the world, who would it be and why?

I really like male-female duets so probably Lisa Mitchell or Florence Welsh…but I would probably want to stop singing and just listen to them.

Why is creating music so special to you and how has it improved you as a person?

I get to combine all my influences and display something I’ve created from nothing – I think that’s pretty awesome. So much about music is about working hard and putting yourself out there, I’ve learnt a lot about how to interact with people, how to be professional, how to get things done and sometimes it’s super hard work but I love every minute of it.

If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would you say?

Give your mum a hug

 You can listen to Riley’s music below on his social media sites or visit his website and Facebook page. 


You can view our interviews with other Australian and worldwide artists such as John Newman, The Midnight Beast, Beech & Peech, Jinja Safari and Second Storey Window by visiting our interview page here