Putting the Pieces Back Together: A Conversation with Riley Pearce

Riley Pearce © Tashi Hall
Riley Pearce © Tashi Hall
The latest from an artist whose journey is just beginning, Riley Pearce’s “Misplaced” encapsulates the shards of a relationship which never seem to fit together.

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From before the first spark, a relationship can be underpinned by expectations and experiences from past encounters. These expectations can be overshadowed by a whole spectrum of emotions from pure happiness to the depths of despair. Feeling both of these extremes at once is sickening to say the least, especially when it seems impossible to find a way out of the destructive pattern of thinking. Riley Pearce’s lone 2017 single “Misplaced” – the followup to his 2016 debut EP, Outside the Lines – encapsulates the shards of a relationship which never seem to fit together: “Are we misplaced, if it doesn’t match, if it doesn’t fit, how can you say its meant to stay?

Are we misplaced
If it doesn’t match, if it doesn’t fit
How can you say it’s meant to stay
We keep it locked, we keep it hid
Try not to give yourself away
Trying to find a calm and an order – I’m fine
I can be the rock in the water – If we try
Misplaced - Riley Pearce
Misplaced – Riley Pearce

With a Bon Iver vibe combined with the mellow side of Matt Corby’s vocals, Riley Pearce is quickly making his mark within the Australian music industry and beyond. His tracks possess a calming ambiance combined with some of the most stirring lyrics. There is a tendency for dense and lush harmonies using horns in Pearce’s arrangements which is very quickly becoming a standout quality.

Starting with a slow burning instrumental opening, Pearce’s voice slides in, effortlessly but effectively. “Misplaced” starts from a place of sense and clarity describing the potentially flawed nature of the relationship, but the emotional value starts to overtake and fuel the direction of the lyrics.

Riley Pearce © Tashi Hall
Riley Pearce © Tashi Hall

Laughing at the stars and the stories, they shine.

In the second verse, Pearce starts to begin to describe the qualities of his partner, unpacking the fractured elements. The emotional pull which exists continues to draw her back to him. Finally, Pearce outlines his responsibility to the relationship, but realizes he wants someone to match his commitment.

The feeling of a particular relationship falling and slipping into a place of disrepair can be identified as one of the most difficult and heartbreaking situations to negotiate. Pearce methodically works though the different perspectives of the relationship and ends up where he started -out of touch with the reality he wants.

I, will keep you warm, if you keep me grounded
We will never burn the light out
Through the sleepless nights and the silent driving
We will always find a hideout
Laughing at the stars and the stories – they shine
Free me from my mind and its worries – this time
Why’s it still getting
Why is it still getting me down
You keep your head in the clouds
You keep your head in the clouds

Atwood Magazine chatted about recent releases and the musical journey with Pearce, who’s currently busy working on new music. Expect to be hearing lots more from Riley Pearce soon, and in the meantime, kick back with “Misplaced” and Outside the Lines.

Watch: “Misplaced” – Riley Pearce


Atwood Magazine: Where did your musical journey begin?

Riley Pearce: My Dad was quite musical and we always had guitars around the house. My first memory is playing in front of the TV to Don Spencer and mirroring the TV meant I actually learnt guitar left handed for 2 years until I moved from Melbourne to Perth. Fast forward a bunch of years and I started busking a lot at local farmers markets and then started writing my own songs around 17 and wanted to record something to give to people at the markets.

Within the last few years you have released your first EP. Describe what that experience has been like?

Riley Pearce: It was an incredible learning experience. I funded and released my EP independently and was quite unsure how it would be received. There were a lot of people who helped guide me in the right direction and Andy Lawson (Debaser Studios) really helped bring the best out of the tracks. I’ve been overwhelmed with the feedback from that EP.

The Heartwrenching Tones within Riley Pearce’s “Brave”

:: today's song ::

Do you feel you’ve changed as a musician since releasing your first single, “Brave”?

Riley Pearce: Hmmmm, I’d like to think so. I’ve definitely got a few more gigs under my belt and hopefully my stage banter has improved. It’s hard to notice changes in yourself when you’re never separated. I’m probably paying more attention to the songwriting and production than I was before.

Where did “Misplaced” come from and the inspiration behind the music video?

Riley Pearce: “Misplaced” came at a time when I was a bit unsure about entering into a new relationship and whether we’d be right for each other. That anxiety led to this song. The music video concept came from the realisation that so much of a relationship can happen in a car. “Misplaced” is quite a dynamic song, and the full range of emotions in the video clip reflects that nicely.

Riley Pearce © Charlie Hill
Riley Pearce © Charlie Hill

What does your music mean to you?

Riley Pearce: My own music: It’s definitely a strange relationship. I’m grateful I’ve been able to make a start in this industry, scared when I feel like I can’t write anymore, ecstatic when you come up with some great lyrics or a chorus melody and then disappointed later on when you realise your 3am voice recording memo is undecipherable or complete #$%@. It’s a great journey and it’s always entertaining.

What is your advice for up and coming musicians?

Riley Pearce: Try to forge your own path and keep focusing on the song. (Advice stolen from my manager, often told to me on a daily basis).

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Misplaced - Riley Pearce

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? © Charlie Hill

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