With constant touring some artists feel like they barely have one home, but some are lucky enough to have two.
Canadian-Swiss artist Rykka has spent her life between her two home countries, and is now using her career as a musician to make the most of her unique situation, with her tour for latest album Beatitudes covering both nations.
Her unique situation even meant competing in the 2016 Eurovision competition for Switzerland, an eye-opening experience.
“It was a crazy six month ordeal, winning the national competition in Switzerland, it’s such a small country you can feel when something like that happens,” said Christina Maria a.k.a. Rykka. “It was my intro to performing for TV too, but the Swiss television let me take control with back-up dancers, rehearsals and more.”
Maria is also the second Canadian to sing for the Swiss team after none other than Celine Dion, but the comparisons really haven’t affected her. “It’s great being compared to Celine Dion,” said Maria. “I was really strict with myself about pressure, I think it only affected me after the national finals, I felt pretty emotional then.”
Even with the pressure Maria made it all the way to the finals of the competition singing her song “The Last Of Our Kind,” and even though she didn’t win the competition it was the media’s reaction to her performance that caught her off guard. “A lot of people made fun of my dancing at Eurovision, I thought it was hilarious people would keep writing about it,” said Maria. It even prompted her to finally put out an unreleased video for her song “Map Inside” which features Maria dancing the entire video, “It just felt like perfect timing to put it out.”
The track comes off her album Kodiak, where she first decided to take up the moniker Rykka, which came with her switch from folk to electronic-pop. “I feel like I’ve been evolving the whole time, I started with jazz in school,” says Maria. “I was playing in bars and sometimes people just aren’t listening, which moved me to rock and then pop, maybe my next album will be heavy metal.”
She incorporated the album’s animal theme into a B.C. campaign called Nature Rocks Day, part of a charity effort to get people outside. “People who have more of a relationship to nature take care of it more, and we can say ‘Hey, this is part of the album too.'”
Her latest work is the upcoming Beatitudes, which found Maria writing a monumental 100 songs over two years before narrowing down to the album’s final 10. “I just wanted to make the best record I could, writing three songs a week,” said Maria. “I learned from a lot of co-writers too and mashed different songs into one, like ‘Running Away’.”
The result is a much lighter record than her last LP, “Kodiak was intense and dark, but Beatitudes is more open and chill.”
Maria now resides in Zurich, while still spending time in B.C. for a few months of the year. “I’ve been going back and forth for seven years between Canada and Switzerland, and now I have homes in the two most beautiful places I’ve ever been.”
The move has meant more Swiss references in the lyrics and has influenced her sound. “They don’t have alt-rock in Switzerland,” says Maria. “Moving to pop means I can share my music with people from both places, and they’ll relate to it better.”
The move seems like the perfect fit for her latest tour which goes from Switzerland to Canada and back to Switzerland, with Beatitudes released at her Ottawa show November 4, and a video for “Running Away” coming soon. Rykka won’t be stopping then either and she’s got props in store for the tour, “I’m coming back to Canada in the spring and summer and I’ll have a mini trampoline that I’m bringing on stage too.”
Catch Rykka live (sans mini-trampoline… for now). Tour dates available on her website.