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On ‘Hiria’, Rebel Reid Beautifully Memorialises Her Beloved Mum

Releasing an album for Matariki is special, but when that album is released in memory of your own late mum? That’s another level of profound emotion

Rebel Reid interview


Releasing an album for Matariki is special, but when that album is released in memory of your own late mum? That’s another level of profound emotion. Add in the fact that Hiria is Rebel Reid’s debut solo EP, and the significance of the record becomes monumental.

The Valkyrie member shared Hiria last month, an EP filled with truly inspired waiata, the musician sounding rightfully affected by the poignancy of her musical journey.

“She always wanted me to sing and here I am singing three waiata for her, celebrating her journey to the stars this Matariki – seeing in a New Year with a new Rebs,” the musician said.

Listening to a tender lyric like, “she was dancing in the stars,” especially under a blanketed Matariki night sky, would surely have touched anyone who’d lost someone vital to their existence as Reid had.

Composing Hiria would have been all-consuming, but presumably performing it live, laying it all bare, would be an even heavier proposition? “I am ready. It’s written in the stars,” was Reid’s simple answer when posed the question by Rolling Stone AU/NZ. The loss of a loved one, sometimes, imbues us with the strength required to properly memorialise them. 

Read our full conversation with Reid below.

Rebel Reid’s Hiria EP is out now.

Rolling Stone AU/NZ: Making a record in memory of your mum is such a beautiful thing to do, but it must have also felt really monumental. Did you feel any pressure in writing these songs?

 Rebel Reid: Golly, you know the truth of it is that there was absolutely no pressure whilst writing these for mum. It was like the pressure had been taken away from me actually. 

Did you inherit your music taste from your mum? Did you grow up in a musical household?

I owe everything to my mum, man she was cool. She bloody named me Rebel Reid. She was my hero and fashion icon. Her taste in music definitely shaped the Rebs I am today – I grew up listening to Elvis, David Bowie, Billy Idol, Enigma, Jane’s Addiction, Pink Floyd, Dean Martin whilst playing scrabble, Metallica, Queen, Prince, and classical Music. The list goes on…

Music was the magic in my home. Mum had a double day account, that good old mail-out was the most exciting days of our lives. For those that don’t know, it’s a brochure you order albums from, you put your money in an envelope and send it to them, and they package your CD… so cool now that I think of it. 

Did the songwriting come easier because it was so personal?

By golly, you know “Dancing in the Stars” was like water, it flowed out of me. It was made in one night, or one specific moment – as soon as I read Matua Witi’s Navigating the Stars, that triggered this journey. It was painful but peaceful and it was the blanket I needed so bad.

What other artists were you listening to during the recording of Hiria?

During Hiria, I was listening a lot to Elvis, and Hans Zimmer. Anything before the ’80s I was listening to on repeat, like the nanny I am! 

What did it mean to release your EP for Matariki?

It means everything – I had made Hiria for Matariki – Matariki was my driving force. How cool is that aye. My New Year giving me hope and light when I was trapped in the darkness of grief. It’s a gift to my mum, but also my people, my culture, and that means both worlds as I am both and all cultures all at once. 

 Were the other members of Valkyrie supportive of this solo endeavour?

They are the human versions of calcifer (Howl’s Moving Castle). The boys came into the project at the very last minute and completely painted the sound I had in my head – I will never forget the day we recorded this album altogether. 

 Tell me about the impact the book Navigating the Stars had on you and the EP.

That book saved my life. It opened a door to a realm I have never stepped into, if I never read that book on that night, I wouldn’t be here talking to the fricking Rolling Stone!! It helped navigate me to the stars, to Matariki and, most importantly to my mum. 

 Are you ready to play these songs live?

I am ready. It’s written in the stars.