From Rags to Riches to Wand Swishes: Riela Channels Tarot Magic Themes In New Trilogy of EPs

riela © Daniel Sanjur
riela © Daniel Sanjur
Miami singer Riela embodied the fool in her 2020 debut EP. Now, it’s time to play the star in her follow-up ‘llorar y perrear,’ and the magician will get his turn soon enough.
Stream: “sola” – riela

Miami, Florida is home to many things: 450,000 people; a famously strong Latin American and Caribbean presence; a vibrant live music scene; and a fair number of psyching reading booths (put that term into Google Maps and see just how many red dots pop up across the city).

All of these factors have had a powerful influence on native daughter Riela, who had constant contact with disco, pop, R&B, and Panamanian reggaeton throughout her upbringing in Miami. She eventually attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston and began developing her own discography, beginning in 2020 with her debut EP, tranquila y tropical.

sola - riela
sola – riela

Her sophomore effort, llorar y perrear, is scheduled for release on March 11th and will share several lines of continuity with its predecessor. Production-wise, Riela still has a clear preference for “fresh avant-pop-R&B” through which her Latin roots shine brightly. She can also still be heard floating between Spanish and English lyrics, and then back again. According to her, this is an everyday manner of speaking throughout Miami, so it’s natural for her to keep up the habit within the studio.

Tranquila and llorar are also thematically linked in the sense that they are both designed to be part of a trilogy of EPs inspired by the narrative cycle featured in Tarot card reading. Whereas tranquila y tropical evoked the Fool — perhaps an illusion to Riela’s own naiveté and youthful ambition in her early career — llorar y perrear will focus on the Star, giving Riela a platform to elaborate on the maturation she’s experiencing throughout this newer phase of her artistic life. 

Time will tell how the Magician gets his due — but for now, it’s best to focus on Riela’s more impending stash of music and how it came to take the form that it did. Here, the singer shares her thoughts on said matters with Atwood Magazine.

riela © Sandy Rivera
riela © Sandy Rivera


if you let me - riela © Sandy Rivera

Miami is known for being a crossroads of U.S., Latin American and Caribbean culture. Growing up there, how did you absorb all of these regions' cultures and how have they now come to influence your music?

riela: Growing up in Miami definitely had its perks. I was constantly being exposed to different genres of music. Hence the wide range of elements in my music — kind of sort of an identity crisis to be honest, but it works. I was listening to disco, R&B, pop, reggaeton, rap. Basically everything but country music…

How has your musical education – at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and any other places – informed your craft?

riela: Hmm I mean it kind of just humbled me…. A lot. I was studying with what some would say are some of the best musicians in the world — so, I mean, it just inspired me to be better and master my craft while not getting lost in comparing myself to others.

It's been just over a year since your debut EP, tranquila y tropical, came out. What were some important elements of your artistic identity that you wanted to present off the bat to your audiences in a craft such as this one?

riela: My wide range of influences. I really don’t confine myself to a single genre because that just puts me in a box. My main goal in my career is to be able to release whatever I want and not surprise my listeners. I want to keep evolving as an artist without worrying about whether or not my listeners are going to like it.

In the ensuing year, you've continued to release more individual singles, including ''MOVE!,'' ''lyu2,'' and ''if you let me.'' What new creative ground are you looking to break into with each of these releases?

riela: I want to keep listeners on their toes with my releases. Where nothing sounds the same, but still ties in together, you know? It still remains cohesive but I have a song for each mood.

riela: I want to evolve musically and personally the same way the fool evolves into the magician within the tarot deck. Ive been relating to music I made a while ago and recently thought, “Maybe I’m manifesting these things on the low — time to write less sad things, lol.”

What has production of llorar y perrear been like? In what ways do you hope to connect with your audience on this upcoming album?

riela: I’ve taken my time with this project. I had a lot of fun working with different producers and writers, and also finding more ways I like to work. I’ve had the honor of working with Federico Vindver (Kanye West, C. Tangana), who is a literal magician in both vocal production and production, along with Dave Hamelin (070Shake, Leikeli47), who is a wonder to watch create — he’s incredibly innovative. [I have also worked] with writers like Kennedi (Ariana Grande, Dua Lipa)  and Ale Alberti (Anitta) — they both have incredible ways of storytelling and I am honored to not only learn from them, but also work with them. I am really lucky.

Anything you'd like to add?

riela: Ahaah I’m already working on my third project and am itching to start the roll out on it. Things just get better and better and I’m just excited to keep making music for a living. I am just really grateful that this is a reality I get to live.

— —

:: stream/purchase riela here ::

— — — —

sola - riela

Connect to riela on
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
Discover new music on Atwood Magazine
? © Daniel Sanjur

:: Stream riela ::

Written By
More from Josh Weiner