Bands are always trying to capture those inexplicable feelings, and honestly, it can be a hit or miss. Sometimes they end up being totally relatable and others times they make you think, “wtf was that even about…”
Roya, however, hits you right where you can feel it with every note they produce! Their melodies have a way of creeping into your soul, and once in there, the lyrics strike a chord that immediately makes you feel like your not alone—Roya understands you. Their sound has wistful soothing vocals over melodic guitar riffs, and a strong rhythm section giving it a contemporary take on the sounds of old-school punk or garage.
Founded by Rahill Jamalifard and Jay Heiselmann, the two are a perfect singer/song writer pair. Heiselmann’s experience as a seasoned musician in the scene combined with Jamalifard’s fresh takes on music, creates an innocent sound that’s fun and tragic all in one.
Their debut album is intended to come out by next year, which will hopefully initiate a tour. In the mean time, they’re constantly playing all over NY. Also, make sure to follow them on all their social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, Soundcloud) to keep up-to-date on where they’re headed and what they’re putting out next!
BTRtoday chatted with Jamalifard and Heiselmann about music, The Clean, what it all means, and what Roya’s going to up to in the future. Check it out below!
BTR: How did Roya form?
Rahill Jamalifard (RJ): Well, I met Jay through going to Death By Audio, where he used to like live and play a lot of shows at. We both befriended each other. Then he helped record my old band, Habibi’s first record. So we formed a pretty close relationship. From then on we always stayed in touch. Then for Roya, I always felt really comfortable with him [Jay], and he understood what I was trying to do with Habibi, so when I went to write solo stuff I hit him up to be like, “hey, do you want to record or whatever?” and he was into it. So that’s sort of the premise of how it all began.
Jay Heiselmann (JH): Yeah, and then it became its own beast. When we got together she was just like, ‘let’s get together and work on these songs,” and then like a week later she was like, “oh and this drummer is going to come and he wants to record the songs.” And I thought like, “well, we haven’t really written them yet…” They were just ideas and I had some guitar parts and Rahill had a bunch of half songs. We got together and the first practice the three of us literally wrote and recorded three songs, which at least one of is going to be on the record that’s coming out next year.
BTR: So you two are the founders of Roya?
RJ: Yeah definitely!
JH: Oh yeah, and that drummer was Hamish Kilgour and he played on the record and plays with us too.
BTR: Speaking of the album that’s coming out soon, what has the creative process in creating that been like?
JH: Well, we got together those first times and we kind of just continued in that trend. We would get together on Sundays and write and work on stuff—Rahill would come in with ideas. Then this other guy, Christian, who was in the band for like a year, Rahill used to write with him and so did I.
RJ: Yeah, he was my roommate.
JH: Yeah, and he’s on the record and was very important to this band and is a great friend of the band. I think if we ever had a bunch of money and could hole away in a studio for a week we would get Christian to come back and play with us.
RJ: I think it’s just been constant inspiration, because Jay and I have a really good music-writing relationship, and same with Christian and I. So it would be like at home I would write with Christian, and then Jay and I were always sending each other ideas back and forth. So, that’s just kind of how it’s been fulltime. Then we booked a place to record, but mostly we’re constantly just sending each other ideas—then the rest of the band is clued into what we’re working on.
BTR: Is there a constant theme that goes throughout the whole album?
RJ: Yeah, I guess. I think I was definitely in a consistent state when I was writing the songs. It’s a lot of outsider feelings… I don’t know—I don’t want to say dark, but more poetically expressing feelings… There’s a consistent theme of a little bit of loneliness or an underlying feeling of like blah. It’s mostly an exploration of real emotions that you don’t really talk about a lot but you feel them.
BTR: What are your backgrounds in music like?
JH: Rahill is probably the most new musician in the band, but I think that’s what we kind of play off of. I think I’ve been playing for so long that sometimes the innocence of what people write when they’re newer, like the first five years of writing compared to fifteen years of writing—I think there’s some innocence there that I think is really beautiful. That’s one of the reasons I really like writing with Rahill, we kind bridge those things together, you know? She’ll write these pretty, almost like lullabies, that we’ll make into songs with some of that innocence that creates the lullaby.
RJ: That’s definitely true. Especially playing with Hamish—it’s crazy. I mean, he’s been playing in a band since like the late ’70s so he really knows his stuff. I’ve only been playing for like five or six years or something and I don’t really even play any actual instruments. So it’s really great when I can write with Jay, cause he knows how to fill out all these places that and gaps that I have.
JH: Oh yeah, we didn’t really include that when we talked about Hamish. So Rahill and I are both huge fans of Hamish’s band [The Clean] from when I was a kid, and so when she was like, “Hamish is going to come play drums with us!.” I was like, “…you’re joking?!” Maybe part of that creativeness of that first session was that Rahill and I were a little bit star struck or something…
RJ: For sure! I mean, I was listening to The Clean just yesterday and I’m still so amazed… They’re one of my favorite bands of all time. So when I met Hamish I just kind of put this idea in this head and he was just enthused for it. So yeah, we were just kind of in awe. Poor Jay didn’t even know that that was going to happen, it’s really funny! I think that what was the coolest thing about it and why it actually worked so well is because even though, yeah, we all come from pretty different backgrounds we still have such a good vibe together! We can actually be like “oh I’m not only playing with this band and these guys who ultimately understand, but they’re also my friends who are groovin’ with what I’m doing and what we’re all doing,” and it’s really cool.
BTR: What would you say you want your listeners to get out of your music?
JH: Some truth and innocence and some fun too!
RJ: Yeah! I like the idea of being really personal… I want to do something that provokes some sort of connection to yourself. There are a lot of feelings that maybe you don’t talk about because it’s too much of a personal thing. I want the listener to feel those feelings or at least be touched by it.
BTR: What’s in store for the future or Roya?
JH: Well, we’re going to play a bunch of shows next month and this record is going to come out next year and we’ll do some touring and we’ll make another record and… yeah! All those.
RJ: Yeah, I think we’re just like waiting to put this record out and then touring off of it. I think that both of us are pretty excited. We haven’t gotten this record back, but we’re both very excited and inspired… it’s like the initial hurtle of putting out something. I want to focus on touring and getting it out there. I feel like we’ve been holding back—right now there’s not that much stuff out there by us. I think we’re both pretty impatient; we just really want it to be out… People are like, “yeah we’ve seen you and ok cool, but where’s your music?” So I think that once that happens we can start focusing on something beyond.
JH: I think we’re both also pretty in the flow of writing right now—both Rahill and I are feeling pretty creative, which is a really good thing. There’s a possibility we’ll have the next album written before this album even comes out, just because we’ve been writing a bunch, and that’s good! It’ll be untainted by whatever this album does.