Rankin x Harvey Nichols - Freya Ridings

The girl in the make-up chair has the sort of strawberry blonde hair that people pay a fortune to recreate. The hairstylist is arranging the gleaming lengths into finger waves using flat silver pins. The make-up artist is comparing frosty shades of eyeshadow, holding them up to the daylight. A team sets up lights in the studio next door. But the girl in the make-up chair seems unaware of the fuss. This is the sort of contradiction that makes Freya Ridings, Freya Ridings. Twenty-five, Brit School alumna, and most Shazammed artist during 2018 Love Island for her song “Love Without You,” she’s the latest in a long line of songsters who seem to – overnight – capture the zeitgeist, with a voice that is poignantly all hers. Freya’s sound is breathily ethereal, underpinned by a soulful, intense timbre, and her songs are delivered with dramatic emotion. In other words, she rings true. We believe in Freya Ridings. Rankin arrives, and as he instructs Freya for the shoot, images begin to appear on the screen – challenging eyes, slightly snarly mouth, strong chin – a beautiful woman who apparently knows how to work the camera. How did that happen? “When I was nine I realised I could sing,” she says. “This is a bit naff, but, you know that bit in Love Actually – at the end – when the little girl sings?” She starts to sing – “I don’t want a lot for Christmas, there is just one thing I need… I loved that bit. So I went up to my bedroom and sang. And I could!” She still sounds surprised. The little that is known about Freya’s school days has always revolved around how her dyslexia played a role in getting her into music, and that her mastery of piano and guitar has been achieved through hard graft, making up her own music and lyrics since she was nine. “At school, whatever I did was wrong… I just ended up sitting on a bench on my own. It was horrible. I would eat my lunch as quickly as I could, then go to the music rooms to practise piano.” Post exams, she got into Croydon’s Brit School, where she began writing in earnest. She also produced “Lost Without You,” which charted last July, thanks in part to Love Island, as well as “You Mean the World to Me.” Both will appear on her first album, out later this year, and she will also play Glastonbury. “Can you believe it? Me, doing Glastonbury?” she says. We all nod. We can believe she’s doing Glastonbury. With her keyboard and her band. “It’s great to be with the band. It’s lonely when you come offstage after a gig and there’s no one else there to go ‘Yay!’ with. You’re just there on your own going, ‘Yay!’. But with your band – you have your ups and downs and everything. But you end on such a massive high. That’s what Glastonbury will be. I hope it will.” This is the sort of contradiction that makes Freya Ridings, Freya Ridings. Twenty-five, Brit School alumna, and most Shazammed artist during 2018 Love Island for her song “Love Without You,” she’s the latest in a long line of songsters who seem to – overnight – capture the zeitgeist, with a voice that is poignantly all hers. Freya’s sound is breathily ethereal, underpinned by a soulful, intense timbre, and her songs are delivered with dramatic emotion. In other words, she rings true. We believe in Freya Ridings. Rankin arrives, and as he instructs Freya for the shoot, images begin to appear on the screen – challenging eyes, slightly snarly mouth, strong chin – a beautiful woman who apparently knows how to work the camera. How did that happen? “When I was nine I realised I could sing,” she says. “This is a bit naff, but, you know that bit in Love Actually – at the end – when the little girl sings?” She starts to sing – “I don’t want a lot for Christmas, there is just one thing I need… I loved that bit. So I went up to my bedroom and sang. And I could!” She still sounds surprised.

Photography: Rankin
Hair: Nick Irwin
Make up: Marco Antonio
Styling: Emelie Bourdon
Talent: Freya Ridings