Nashville based indie-country singer-songwriter Raihanna Estrada recently released the official video for her highly acclaimed single “Cinderella” & has taken the time to speak with Fierce & Fabulous Revolution about the release & what the song personally means to the artist herself.
Hey Raihanna, thank you for this interview. Can you start by telling the readers a little bit about yourself?
Raihanna: Hi! I’m an Indie country artist and songwriter from California. I grew up in a motorhome in Napa, a house in the suburbs of Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area and later on down the road moved to Los Angeles to attend Musicians Institute for their Vocal program. You pronounce my name Ray-AWN-uh in case you’re wondering how to say it. I’ve been living in Nashville, Tennessee for the past five years with my husband+guitarist Eric Bickerstaffe. Creating music, traveling, playing shows and following my dreams one day at a time.
When did you first discover your passion for music?
Raihanna: I fell in love with music at a young age. I used to carry around a small tape player when I was three years old with a Ritchie Valens cassette dancing to “La Bamba”. But I fell in love with singing through watching musicals like Annie, Oliver and my all time favorite movie as a kid was Labyrinth. Of course Disney played a huge part as well. I loved singing along and trying to mimic what I heard.
Have you always known that you wanted to pursue a career in music?
Raihanna: I always knew I wanted to sing and loved performing. I was learning all the Spice Girls dance moves with my friends like everyone else in the 90’s but I started writing songs at age 13. Listening to 90’s country radio was when I knew I wanted to write songs. I was blown away by the songs and the artists I learned to sing from like Jo Dee Messina, The Dixie Chicks, LeAnn Rimes, etc. and that set me off on the journey. I sang any chance I got at The Ranch I grew up on at karaoke nights in the Lodge, in high school whether it was the national anthem at the football & basketball games or talent shows and school rallies in the gym. But once I moved to Hollywood in 2009 to Musicians Institute that’s when my whole life changed. I put a band together with my best friends, played shows in LA, recorded music and met my husband Eric (a guitarist from Calgary) at school, too. All the steps when I was younger led me to that moment of going to LA. And here I am in Nashville a decade later still pursuing what I love to do.
You recently released the official video for your single “Cinderella”. How did the idea to create this video come together?
Raihanna: The video for Cinderella had been in my head since 2015 when I wrote the song. Which goes to show, that’s how long some things take as Indie artist. Fast forward, I had finally released the song September 27, 2019. I met my good friend Oceanna Colgan (www.oceannafilms.com) and we both cliqued creatively. That’s a rare thing to find someone who gets you as an artist+person and can execute the visions you have in your head. I told her I wanted to do a video for my song Cinderella and turned out she was looking for a new creative project. So we got together, I told her the whole vision I had storyboarded for the video. And she loved it. We both have family near Dallas, Texas so we decided to take a road trip there to visit the weekend of my Great Grandpa’s 99th birthday. And thanks to my Aunt Reba finding us a trailer to shoot in we FINALLY had the location! We shot it in a 1984 Avion Trailer and the Pontiac scenes we shot here in Nashville in a beautiful 1979 Red Firebird Trans Am. I remember feeling so excited that we were actually doing it! When you have a dream in your head and it finally becomes reality it’s an amazing feeling. And the fact that Oceanna and I did this whole video by ourselves made it that much more special.
What does the story within the official video personally mean to you?
Raihanna: The video is based on my own story of my parents passing away when I was 19. The bouncing between happy and sad on the journey. I featured them in the video through photos of them out dancing to country music. I also wore my Dad’s Charlie 1 Horse cowboy hat in the video and a sweatshirt with a squirrel as a tribute to my Mom. That’s what she called me. I wanted to show the other side of the fairytale that I grew up watching. That sometimes Cinderella doesn’t always get what she wanted. But at the same time, you can turn your own mess into something shiny if you try. I know first hand that just because your heart breaks it doesn’t mean it can’t love or be loved anymore. If anything, it makes you love harder.
What message would you like people to take away from the official video?
Raihanna: I want people to feel like they’ve got to know me as an artist and person through this song and video. I also want people to know that heartbreak looks different for all of us. Having a hopeful heart through rough times is important.
Do you have any musical releases planned in the future that you can tell us about?
Raihanna: I do! I recorded a brand new song called “June” this past February in a big studio here called The Tracking Room. You can watch my first TV performance of it on YouTube if you search “Raihanna Estrada Today In Nashville”. It’s a feel good song that I wrote after my trip to the U.K. in 2018 when I played Buckle & Boots Festival in Manchester. I’m very excited to create the visuals for it with Oceanna. Hoping to have it out June 2020. I have another one that I’m working on for Fall 2020 called “The Dark” as well. A very special song that features some amazing musician friends from Los Angeles. I know a lot of people are going to be able to relate to this one.
What do you enjoy doing outside of music, any hobbies?
Raihanna: Well I love hanging with my Eric, our two cats Ollie & Arya! Who you’ll see on Instagram if you follow me there. I love journaling, taking photos and videos. I’m quite the memory hoarder. I get it from my Mom. I’d say travel is my biggest hobby. I’ve been to 19 countries and my husband Eric and I love to see the world together. We’ve made that a priority in our lives. I have a travel page called Go Anywhere Girl on all social media where I share pictures, travel tips and vlogs. Some of my fondest life memories are traveling. It’s an adventure and I love being somewhere new whenever I can.
What was the first album you ever brought & do you still listen to it now?
Raihanna: The first two albums I had my parents got me for Christmas one year along with a Sony Discman to play them. The CD’s were Alan Jackson “Everything I Love” and George Strait “Carrying Your Love With Me”. I haven’t listened to them recently but I promise you I wore them out back then.
If you could choose 3 words to describe yourself, what would they be?
Raihanna: Positive, Strong, Dreamer
If you could appear on any TV, which one would it be & why?
Raihanna: That’s a tough one but I’d love to be an extra on Schitt’s Creek (even though it’s over now) because it’s so funny. I love awkward and well written humor like that. It’s brilliant. If you haven’t seen it, give it a go. And also would love to perform on Ellen because you’d get to meet Ellen. DUH! I love her positivity and the way she helps others.
Apart from your own single releases, which song would you say best describes you?
Raihanna: That’s a really tough question being someone who is always listening to music. And I love a lot of different genres. You tend to have a lot of songs from different times that define various moments in your life. I’d say the song “Dark Blue” by Jack’s Mannequin. I remember seeing Andrew McMahon for the first time playing it live opening for Panic! At The Disco in December 2006. My Dad had passed away in 2005 and my Mom in July 2006. That Fall I had my own first apartment. A lot had changed. I even remember getting a speeding ticket to that song one year. That whole album was meaningful – “Everything In Transit” – because that’s how I felt: in transit. It stayed in my CD player in my car during a very difficult time in my life later discovering that Andrew McMahon wrote that album during his own battle with Leukemia. The lyrics really spoke to my little emo heart when I needed it. I’ve always thought he was an amazing songwriter. It’s that time and California all wrapped into one for me so when I hear it, it’s like home. I got to meet him while volunteering at his show here in Nashville last year and it was a special full circle moment to tell him how much his music meant and that he shared his hardship. That’s what I’ve always hoped for as an artist. That someone finds a connection in one of my songs to their own life.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be & why?
Raihanna: I’d love the superpower of time travel, I think. It would be awesome to be able to be a fly on the wall to hear and see different stories that you never could have know and walk a day in the life of a time you can’t experience now. I think about that all time “What it would have been like in…” a certain time period.
What is the best piece of advice you could give someone about pursuing a career in music?
Raihanna: Be yourself. Be kind to everyone. But don’t let people take advantage. And in turn, don’t take people’s kindness for granted. No one owes you a gig, help on a song, or a spot on a lineup so be grateful. You’ll find your people that support you and that you support. It’s ok to say NO to opportunities or people. If it isn’t something you want to do, don’t do it. Write your truth. Only you can tell your story. You need to have thick skin for rejection but you also need to be bold and always put yourself out there. Try, just try and figure things out. No one knows what they’re doing and the path is different for everyone. Don’t compare. Just learn and follow yours. You are your biggest cheerleader. You can do things as an Indie artist if you believe in yourself and make it happen. It starts within your own mind and heart. You don’t need a manager or booking agent just to say you have one. When it’s time for that, maybe you’ll get one. It’s more than ok to be working a part time job. There’s no shame in making money to live and not making it through your “Dream job”. It doesn’t mean you’re more or less of an artist. It might take longer, but it’s worth it to do the things you can by yourself because when you do land those big things you’ll know you made it happen. It’s also great to not do everything by yourself and create a team. It helps lighten the load and allows more to happen. Again, you’ll find your true people to work with. Nothing happens overnight so get ready for a long ride. But an incredible journey if you allow it to be. Be smart. But don’t overthink everything. It’ll be really hard so be good to yourself along the way. And most of all, follow your heart.
Finally, is there anything you would like to say to the readers of Fierce& Fabulous Revolution?
Raihanna: Thank you so much to Jess for the lovely interview and everyone who’s reading. I am really excited for you to all see the Cinderella video that we premiered on CMT.com here in the U.S. Eric and I will be traveling to Spain August 28, 2020 to play at Salardu Country Rock Festival so if you’re in that area I hope to see you there. I’ll be playing LIVE on Facebook Sunday April 5th at 1pm CST / 7pm in the U.K. Would love to catch you all on social media so you can find me here @raihannaestrada for future shows, music and video releases!
You can check out the official video for “Cinderella” below.