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  • Writer's pictureThe Real Ding


After recently returning with her stunning comeback single 'Last Breath' earlier this year, Serbian-Chinese artist Realma is back once again to offer up her shimming new effort 'Down The Railway Spine'.

Delivering more of that rich and immersive alt-pop aesthetic she has earned a reputation for recently, 'Down The Railway Spine' sees her returning to the fold in fine form throughout. With her warm and embracing vocals spread across a soaring production throughout, she continues to shine as one of the more dazzling names on the rise right now.

So with the new single available to stream now, we sat down with her to find out more about her origins and influences over the years.

What was the first band or artist you fell in love with?

Since I have an extensive background in classical music, I'll mention briefly that one of the first composers I fell in love with was Chopin. I remember hearing his magical Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2 in a hallway of the elementary music school I attended and the undying admiration I feel towards his piano pieces was cemented ever since. In terms of popular music, I would say either Gorillaz or Goldfrapp. I just adore their unique styles and poignant artistic explorations, which is the reason I've looked up to them both for years now.  

Did you ever form a band when you were younger and if so, what did they sound like?

Unfortunately, no, but I wish I did! Growing up, I primarily studied classical music (violin, piano, and guitar) and got into popular music much later. And while I've had some performances with different ensembles in my teens, including some bands, none of them ever really 'stuck' for the lack of a better word. I believe it would've been a blast though for my younger self since I now really enjoy arranging different songs for band performances... And not to mention the vibe of the rehearsals is just amazing, as you get to share the enthusiasm and bounce off of other musicians' energy. Oh well, maybe in another lifetime. 

What has been your primary inspiration in writing music?

I'd say life, really. All its happenings in both light and dark nuances always inspired me. Growing up, whenever something emotional happened to me or around me, both happy and sad, I'd always have this instinctive draw to express it musically. For the tracks I started releasing under my alias, Realma, what sparked the origin was a traumatic police mishandling, when upon the lockdown in March 2020 I arrived from my studies in the UK back to Serbia. After the dreadful event with a month-long self-isolation period on top, I felt truly broken as a person. At that time, it was really only the special power of music that had helped and allowed me to transcend those heartbreaking circumstances, serving as a remedy for me to re-claim my shattered identity and mistrust in people. Songwriting, in particular, inspired me to start dreaming up these characters and realms (hence my artist name), which slowly morphed into the multi-genre songs, compositions, and animations I have been releasing today. 

What is a song you wish you had written yourself?

I'll have to cite three things, as they're equally dear to me. The first is Ravel's Bolero - I'd sell my soul for this orchestral masterpiece. Next is the Main Titles from the TV show 'Severance', I've been obsessed with its whimsical, yet sarcastically harrowing and sinister atmosphere for a while now. Finally, I wish I'd written Lemon Glow by Beach House. The tension and the dread in the vocal delivery and the lyrics are just so enviable... Not to mention that despite the claustrophobic feelings, there's just something darkly alluring that makes me keep returning to the track. 

If there was any moment in your career you could relive, what would it be?

Initially, I wanted to mention one of the beautiful moments from some of my performances. However, instead, I'm going to choose this nightmare filming session we did at a UNESCO World Heritage site, Felix Romuliana. I know what you're thinking - who wants to relive a nightmarish scenario? But it's this terrible occasion that has gifted me the most valuable lessons I’ve learned as an independent musician and artist. Firstly, like in Murphy's law come true, everything that could go wrong basically went wrong, despite immaculate planning and budgeting weeks ahead... The bus we rented broke down, then the hotel ended up being run down. Even worse, the sound recordist decided to cancel just a few hours ahead of filming and I had twenty people in the production waiting. The weather forecast also announced rain for later in the afternoon, so if we hadn't started filming as soon as possible, we wouldn’t have had anything at all! Nonetheless, it's during these scenarios that you learn not only to be resourceful but learn how important it is to be surrounded by people who truly care about the project you're doing together. So, with amazing teamwork and support, we somehow managed to create a lovely live session in spite of the situation. Sure, it would have been much better if things went according to the plan, but I've learned to be extra prepared for any situation now. By always keeping this event in mind, all the future live sessions we've filmed went smoothly and if any problems came up, we were armed with plenty of patience and solutions. 

Which artist would you most love to share a stage with?

Honestly, a dream come true would be to share the stage with either St. Vincent or Mitski. I just love their idiosyncratic energy and their distinctive approaches to music and performance. But in reality, it's always a huge honour and pleasure to share the stage with any musicians that have a similar sensibility to yours. Not only do you then get to share the passion and love for what you do, but also find this deep understanding for each other throughout the time you're performing together.  

And is there an artist you would love to collaborate with as well?

I would, of course, be over the moon to collaborate with any of the greats I've mentioned so far. But in terms of independent musicians like myself, I've recently come across the British artist Nobody's Wolf Child, whose audiovisual approach and mystical sensibilities seem to have some affinities toward my own. Along those lines, I think a collaboration with her would be one of those unforgettable and exciting experiences. Hopefully, someday!

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

I'm currently in the construction phases for my own studio, so as a future owner, I see a lot of composing, production, and recording going on in the upcoming period. Other than that, I'd love to be performing more – perhaps even with a live orchestra, if such an opportunity ever arises until then. Finally, I'm currently working on the exciting prospects of developing the stories and characters from my animations into longer-form artworks/content like comic books or maybe even games and tabletop RPGs. I've enrolled in some game design/writing courses, so who knows - maybe in five years time, I'll get to unveil some of these.

Realma's new single 'Down The Railway Spine' is available to stream now. Check out the video for it below.


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