By Geoffrey Rowlands
The use of a song in a popular television show can often create a springboard to chart success. Such was the case for Lost Without You, the debut UK hit for 24-year-old London-born singer / songwriter Freya Ridings.
The song was originally released last November. Although reviews were positive, Lost Without You followed Freya’s previous two singles, Blackout and Maps, into chart obscurity. This is likely to have been where it remained until producers of Love Island, the ITV2 reality dating show, decided to feature the song on the programme soundtrack.
An immediate hit with the show’s legion of fans, Lost Without You was chosen by BBC Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills as his ‘Tune of the Week.’ It was picked up by other BBC and commercial radio DJs and Freya suddenly found herself in previously unexplored reaches of the UK singles chart.
“I owe my chart success to Lost Without You being used on Love Island,” Freya acknowledged. “But it’s taken many more people outside the Love Island viewing audience to make the song such a big hit.
“If it was all down to Love Island, then Lost Without You would have sold very well while the show was on television but disappeared soon after. It’s actually been the opposite. Initial sales were good, far better than I could ever have expected. But the numbers have increased each week. It’s taken 12 weeks for my song to reach the top ten.”
In addition to the radio support, Freya has also promoted Lost Without You through live performances. Ironically, the success she is enjoying with what is an older song has taken the spotlight away from her most recent single, Ultraviolet.
“In some ways, I’d have liked the attention to be on Ultraviolet. But you take whatever success you might get in this business so I’m very grateful that Lost Without You has become such a big hit. I hope the people who enjoy the song will be interested to hear more of my work. Maybe we can relaunch Ultraviolet when the sales of Lost Without You start to wane.”
Like artistes such as Adele, Leona Lewis and Jessie J, Freya attended the BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology. She is the daughter of actor and musician Richard Ridings. Though now principally a keyboard player, Freya began as a guitarist having learned to play the instrument by watching her father.
“I think I just had a natural aptitude for music. My dad helped me of course but I picked up a lot of it myself. There always seemed to be music in our house. My dad loved Ray LaMontagne’s albums, as did I, and we used to play covers of his songs together. It was so special for me to tour with Ray as his support act.
“But there were numerous other influences. I loved singer / songwriters from the 1970s, particularly people like Carole King and James Taylor. From more recent times, female singer / songwriters have been really influential. People like Taylor Swift and Florence Welch. I also love artistes who tell honest stories in their songs. People like Hozier or Tom Odell.”
Telling a story plays an important role in Freya’s own songs. Almost all of her work is based upon personal experience.
“I find it really hard to write about things that I haven’t actually felt. It’s also hard in a different way to write about my emotions. I think it’s mostly the songs that come from my deepest subconscious, the stories that I don’t really acknowledge, that seem to work best. It’s hard to talk to someone about these things but much easier to put them into a song.”
Lost Without You is one of those songs which originated in Freya’s subconscious mind.
“It’s about an intense, regretful moment that changed my life. Yet, at the time, I didn’t even fully realise that such a moment had actually happened and that it had affected me so much. It was only really when I wrote Lost Without You that I understood how much more I’d been affected than I’d previously thought.”
The song now has a different affect on Freya.
“I’m sometimes asked about my favourite songs. They tend to change from show to show. But there is always something special about playing Lost Without You.”
“I may not have had chart hits but people in the business have always respected what I do and I’ve done a great deal of touring as a support act. This has meant I’ve spent a lot of time away from home.
“Playing Lost Without You has always made me miss the people I love and gives me a moment to kind of sit with that feeling. I know people might think this would make me feel really sad but I actually find it kind of therapeutic. So, Lost Without You has probably helped me more than any other song to get through all the ups and downs of life on the road.”
Freya has now embarked on her own headlining tour of Britain, Ireland and Europe before some dates in America at the end of next month. A busy concert schedule is already set for 2019 but many more shows will be added in support of her debut album.
“The album is all done. The songs I’m working on now are for album number two. I’m very excited about my album coming out but that won’t happen until early next year. In the meantime, I’ll keep playing shows and hopefully whet the appetite for more people to want to hear my album.”
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