Singer Theia Shares Her 'taboo' Secret To Help Others
Her name means the Greek goddess of sun and moon, and she is known for her ethereal striking look, her mix of glittery pop and sultry R 'n B, and her epic voice.
But while Theia is pop royalty, she is no precious princess, keeping it real by sharing very personal experiences in her music to connect with fans all around New Zealand, not just in the big venues.
It's apt then that her new song that she will be debuting at ZM's Float music festival in Rotorua this weekend is called Not Your Princess.
It is, she says, a "sassy and powerful" song. Like her.
Theia (real name Em-Haley Walker) will be treating the crowd to other new music at Float, as well as her hits, including Roam which rocketed her into the New Zealand music scene in 2016, as well as popular tracks from her most recent EP. Her own favourite from that EP Is Champagne Supernova.
"I love it because it is a little melancolic and epic at the same time ... and everyone can relate to the line 'I don't want to be your Champagne Supernova'."
Also very relatable is the track Bad Idea, released last year, about her own experience with self-harm and mental health issues. The feedback she received was "incredible".
Sharing her own health issues through music was not easy but her desire to be "open and real" in order to help others motivated her to be brave in her creativity.
"You really do put yourself on the line when you release something like that. It was so personal, I didn't want to finish it or release it. It took a lot of processing and thought. But what got me over the line was thinking that this song was what I wish I had when I was younger when I was constantly battling those issues.
"Despite many kids and people of all ages suffering from mental health issues, self harming is a topic people don't really talk about. I wanted to be real, and open, to help others."
Obsessed with fashion, art and self-expression, her striking look is born of this passion about being open, and true to oneself.
"I love when people are themselves, whatever they are into, and make an effort to dress in a way that makes them happy, whether you want to dress like a grungy Kurt Cobain look or high fashion."
She chose the name Theia — the goddess in Greek mythology of the sun and moon — because of its strong imagery of femininity.
"It's really beautiful but also powerful so a perfect moniker for how I want to project myself in music."
Despite her bold looks and powerful songs, she says she "has always been a sensitive one" who still suffers as much nerves going on stage as she did when she used to perform kapa haka at school.
"I still get nervous, even if I have rehearsed and done the sound checks confidently ... I don't think it will go away and I kind of hope it doesn't as you need some nerves to show you care, but it is a goal of mine to learn how to control it more. Apart from that I just warm up, have green tea, listen to music and podcasts before the show."
As well as playing big festivals like Soundsplash in Raglan in January and Float this weekend, Theia has been playing at more intimate venues including Whakatane Seafood Festival and Canterbury University O Week. Last year she did a series of pop up gigs in smaller towns.
"I had amazing support in all these places which I am so grateful for and it is a little sobering — I wish more artists would go to smaller towns so that more people can go to gigs. It is obviously a lot more work rather than flying into a big city so it has been really cool to do."
She plans more gigs like this in 2019 and will also be working on releasing another EP.
"My goal is to grow myself and my music, push the boundaries a bit more, and continue to get out to do gigs."
She is looking forward to "chilling" with fans in Rotorua, listening to the other acts at Float, and exploring the city.
●Real name Em-Haley Walker ●She used to be a lifeguard ●Has degree in Māori studies and is fluent in te reo ●The August 2016 release of Roam went on to become one of the biggest songs released by a Kiwi artist that year ●In June 2017 Theia released her debut EP and was announced as a finalist at the 2017 Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards — nominated for Single Of The Year (Roam), Pop Artist Of The Year and People's Choice ●Roam entered Spotify's viral global chart, and has been streamed more than 13.2 million times ●She opened for Broods on their 2017 summer NZ tour, and for Sia at Mt Smart Stadium.
What: Float 2019 — with Drax Project, Mitch James, Jupiter Project, Sachi, Balu Brigada and Stan Walker. Where: Lake Tikitapu, Rotorua's Blue Lake. When: Saturday, February 16.
More info: Tickets $65 from grabone.co.nz. Float is alcohol-free and open to all ages.
It goes hand in hand with the New Zealand Bomb Comp, brought to the public by Flava and Tip Top Trumpet. The competition runs from today until Sunday. The bomb tower is open for casual jumps the afternoons of February 14, 15 and 17. The casual section is $5 for five tries.
Registrations are open for the New Zealand Bomb Competition, with entries from $15. Visit flava.co.nz for details.