Alternative pop songstress Theia (real name Em-Haley Walker) shares her moniker with the Titaness from Greek mythology, and just like that allegorical force, this musician is a bold force to be reckoned with.
The New Zealand-born singer sits in a reupholstered velvet chair in front of me, twirling one of her long blonde plaits around a finger, peering at me from just over her small, red sunglasses. To ignore Theia’s eccentric style would be to do her a disservice so it’s one of the first things I make mention of.
“It’s so cool that you acknowledge the fashion and art part of it, because that’s just as much a part of me as the music,” she smiles. “I’ve always been super particular about the clothes that I wear. There were so many things that I loved about how I dressed myself when I was younger – like my knee-high stripy socks paired with little pleated minis because I was watching Clueless.”
Inspired by anything artsy and external that takes her fancy, with a fervent obsession for most things that are pink, Theia’s aesthetic spills into everything, from her fashion to her artwork (creating novel images by merging real-life pictures with graphics) to her music videos (constructing bold, bright and generally bad-ass works of art).
When it comes to her music, Theia’s approach is just as pastiche, merging synth-based, cyber-like melodies with grungy punk tones, while her lyrics smack of an artist who’s unafraid to push boundaries and buttons.
“I’m obsessed with hooks – everything’s gotta be hooky,” she begins to explain. “And the onus is on myself to make sure that the lyrics are spot on and punchy and frank. I also love exploring soundscapes, especially ones that are glossy but also grungy. So clean and industrial.”
Her latest mixtape 99% Angel, which Theia dropped earlier this month, encompasses this aforementioned notion to a T. Consisting of four songs, her mixtape is split into two, with each half showcasing Theia’s musical mindset – the hook-driven mainstream bops, alongside the bold and edgy alternative pop.
“I would say the significance of smart, sharp lyrics are important to me. But I don’t go out of my way to make it like that, that’s just how I create music. This mixtape is basically a diary and it’s super full of stuff that I’m just really pissed off about. Music is how I process things,” she confesses.
As a result, Theia wears her lyrical heart on her sleeve, talking about how society degrades women (“Kitty Kat”), giving a middle finger to the boys club (“Frat Boyz”), refusing to be boxed or labeled (“99% Angel”) and commenting on the innate narcissism of humanity (“Celebrity”).
“When I started [music] I was still kind of terrified – trying to figure out my genres and where I fit. Now I’m comfortable in my genre, and with that newfound confidence I’m just doing my thing. And my songs may or may not get played on radio, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still be a force,” she grins.
Truth be told, with Theia’s latest video premiering on Billboard and her mixtape being widely embraced by fans, not even a lockdown can contain this force.