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Grrl Cloud on life as a rising musician, photographer and artist—all while still being a student

  • By Sophia Bonoan

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From learning Taylor Swift songs in her bedroom to performing live with a five-piece band in beloved spaces like Mow’s Bar, Fete de la Musique and Rappler’s Live Jam series, Tamia Reodica, otherwise known as Grrl Cloud, has come a long way since she first picked up a guitar at 13. In a conversation held over video call, it quickly became evident just how much of a space music has occupied in her life. Growing up in a family of music lovers and artists, there never really was a specific “eureka moment” wherein the 21-year-old realized her love for it; it was already something that surrounded her every day.

“It was always natural for my family,” she shares. “We’ve always been into music, and a lot of my earliest memories had music in them. My tita would always be playing guitar, my ate eventually began taking lessons, my lola would talk to me about the Beatles, and my dad would always be listening to house music at home. So it was always really natural for all of us to love it. And eventually, it got to me picking up the guitar and learning Taylor Swift songs. I think it was learning the guitar that made me realize just how fun music was.”

Grrl Cloud performing at Limbo for Cassette Store Day, 2019

Growing up with such influences, finding her own voice and space within music was the natural next step. As children of the 80s, Tamia’s parents were quick to bring the new wave genre into their own kids’ repertoires. “I grew up listening to a lot of that, so I just thought, ‘why not try it out?’ This, alongside the sound that her MIDI keyboard brought into the mix when she began creating her own music in high school, would eventually influence the electro-synth sound that permeates her current discography.

Instruments and figurines Grrl Cloud and her band bring onto live sets.

When listening to the songs under her belt, it’s easy for one to hear another descriptor Tamia has placed on her music — “nostalgia pop.” Aside from the hazy, dreamlike instrumentals that accompany her own calming voice, Tamia’s lyrics—from thoughts on love sickness to recollections of moments spent with friends—bring about forgotten feelings from different times for anyone that listens to her. Inspired by the honesty of Joni Mitchell’s songwriting, Tamia often looks to the artist for encouragement in her own writing process. ‘Whenever I wrote and felt a bit scared to say something, I’d just think to myself, ‘if Joni Mitchell could write this and that, then go lang! Be fearless in that way.’”

“I’m very inspired by songs that are really honest and simple, so that’s something I try to emulate when I write. I just want to honor my feelings, experiences, or whatever the song is inspired by.”

Grrl Cloud performs at Rappler Live Jam, 2019

With everything that Tamia has accomplished, it’s easy to forget that the singer-songwriter and artist, at the time of this writing, is still a college student. When asked how she manages to find the right balance and energy for both, it comes as no surprise that juggling such a life can still come with its own setbacks. “Back when I could still go to school before the pandemic hit and perform at gigs, I remember feeling so tired,” she shares. “I’d stay up late doing requirements, get up early and go to school, then head to the gig to perform. It just felt like there was never much rest.” But despite all of that, what got Tamia through was simply a pure love for the art.

“I got through it because it was just so fun and there was always something to look forward to. I just felt really lucky that I could do all that and be able to pursue performing even as a student. What mattered was just taking a break from time to time. Even if you want to get all these opportunities or even if you want to learn a bunch of different things, it’s always good to take a brain break. Play a video game, sleep—just occupy yourself with anything that's not related to whatever hobby or creative pursuit that you're trying to do.”

“Don't box yourself in. If you can—and you can!—be as open as you can because that’s where growth is. Don’t limit yourself to just one thing. And always remember to take breaks, because people tend to forget just how important that is to stay creative and keep creating.”

Grrl Cloud’s at-home set-up for writing music, journaling, and editing photos

While music has and continues to play such a large role in her life, Tamia has always held a deep interest in discovering and engrossing herself in other creative outlets. From photography to clay art and needle felting, rooting herself in other artistic mediums has not only helped strengthen her love for her craft and the arts as a whole, but have also become ways through which she escapes the pressure of self-doubt and creative blocks. “Being exposed to many different mediums, I think there's always so much you can learn from each.

This was actually something I struggled with in music,” Tamia admits. “I felt like I had to be super good at music, or that music should be my number one thing because it's something I've been into since I was a kid. But getting into other creative mediums helped me get out of that box. I haven't actually written music in a while, so I’ve been trying to find other kinds of art to learn. Anyone can learn as much as they want, and it’s really nice when you open your mind to that.”

Immersing oneself in an array of hobbies and passions has always been a key landmark in self-discovery; however, finding the motivation to continue and push through the roadblocks often turns out to be one of the more difficult barriers for many of us to get over. And while this is a hurdle the young artist comes across too, Tamia is undoubtedly sure of one thing—that the inspiration one needs can come from the smallest, most mundane of things.

“As simple as it is, words can be such a huge source of inspiration. You can always talk to people, you can talk to yourself, you can write. It’s just a really different and great feeling when you’re expressing what you feel or what you think in that way. You keep surprising yourself and other people, and what’s best is when you find other people that relate to what you create, or when they tell you that it gives them comfort, or that they just really liked it.”

“I think that’s what keeps me creating—despite it all, the rewards you feel outweigh everything else. So just keep creating.”