riley 2021
[Photo by: Ashley Scott]

R I L E Y has teamed up with fellow genre-blending act Loote for his latest infectious single “Tell Me Why,” marking the singer’s first release of 2021. 

R I L E Y began teasing the collab in March with a retweet, later describing it as “one of [his] favorite songs” on his Instagram Story and confirming it was set to release April 2.

Read more: 5 Dr. Martens collabs that have embraced every alternative subculture

Following the groovy “Everybody Leaves” in October, “Tell Me Why” is R I L E Y’s second single since his first full-length LOSS ANGELES in May. The 15-track LP features collabs with lil aaron (“SUMMERTIME”), blackbear (“Dead & Over”) and KC (“Love Was Never Enough Pt. 2”), the latter of which is a nod to the title track of his debut EP.

Having also teamed up with Chase Atlantic on “Under Pressure” in 2019 among others, R I L E Y is definitely no stranger to collabs. Now with Loote, a duo consisting of Jackson Foote and Emma Lov, R I L E Y embraces his trademark soulful flow as he weaves through the reflective track. Blending seamlessly together, Lov’s airy vocals accent the heartbreak anthem perfectly.

Co-written with Loote, R I L E Y also recruited former Tonight Alive guitarist Whakaio Taahi to write and produce again after working together on “Everybody Leaves.” In addition to his work with R I L E Y and Tonight Alive, Taahi has most notably worked with artists such as the Band CAMINO, Christina Perri and Welshly Arms.

Read more: Rina Sawayama and Chase Atlantic redefine alternative in 100 Artists issue

R I L E Y also teamed up with designer Chris Shelley who most recently did the artwork for Bring Me The Horizon and Jeris Johnson’s TikTok-fueled “Can You Feel My Heart” remix as well as Chase Atlantic’s BEAUTY IN DEATH full-length. Shelley also previously worked with R I L E Y on the artwork for both “Dead & Over” and LOSS ANGELES.

Check out “Tell Me Why” and its artwork below along with an exclusive Q&A with R I L E Y about how the new track came to be. 

How did “Tell Me Why” come together—what influences did you incorporate sonically and lyrically? What did you want to make sure to capture in the new track, and what message do you want listeners to take away from it?

“Tell Me Why” is a special song to me. It’s an anthem about sticking around even when you can see the worst in someone in every way they are with you, but you can’t seem to leave, so it’s this vicious cycle of insecurity and fake love toward one another. Sonically, I wanted the song to feel like you were driving down [Pacific Coast Highway] with not a care in the world singing out loud all the things you never wanted to say to the person you were so in love with. Whakaio, who produced this song, was able to bring my vision to life perfectly and was able to help me fine-tune what I was trying to say. Working with your best friends who know your life always ends up become more special than ever planned.

Read more: Loote and Travis Barker hit an emotional rollercoaster in “Sex With My Ex”
How did you end up collaborating with Loote on this track, and why were they the perfect artist to get involved? After meshing your styles together, what do you think was most unique about what they brought to the final result?

I’ve been a fan of Loote for a while now—something about Emma and Jackson’s songwriting and infectious vocals have always, always kept me close. I always wanted to have a song with them, and then my manager suggested we try to have them involved [and] it just made perfect sense. Something about the way Emma comes in on verse two is that haunting sound in all the ways you’d hear an ex tell you all the things she hated about you. Our voices ended up sounding great together, and that’s why we wanted to keep that a staple in the second chorus.

You’ve collabed with a variety of diverse artists over the past few years such as Chase Atlantic, lil aaron and blackbear. What are the biggest differences for you personally as an artist between working alone and in a collaborative environment? Outside of the final releases, what do you take away from them and how has each experience helped you develop and mold your own musical style, if at all?

I personally love working with people. Not everyone can hear everything, and having different artists like them involved in the creating process only levels up my [creativity]. Those are some of my favorite songwriters, artists and close friends, so anytime you get a hang with the ones you love, and are able to make something timeless, those moments are magic.

More on R I L E Y

R I L E Y made his debut in February 2018 with “No Limit” and followed up with singles “Crushed Black Velour” and “Let You Down” over the next few months.

The singer played his first headline show shortly after in June 2018 ahead of hitting Warped Tour that same summer in support of his debut EP Love Was Never Enough. R I L E Y was among a stacked lineup for the final cross country run of the festival, which also included 3OH!3, All Time Low, Every Time I Die and Pennywise.

Read more: Here’s what Kevin Lyman had to say about Warped Tour making a return

The following year, R I L E Y returned to the Warped stage for the punk rock summer camp’s 25th anniversary celebration. With shows in Cleveland—and an exhibit at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame—Atlantic City and Mountain View, the singer joined the lineup on the first day of the beach-set New Jersey stop. 

Shortly before the performance, he took to Twitter to tease he’d be playing some new tracks.

“IM PLAYING WARPED TOUR ATLANTIC CITY ON SATURDAY THE 29TH ON THE VANS “OFF THE WALL” STAGE (LEFT),” he tweeted. “Who’s coming to hear all the new songs?”

A few months later in September 2019, R I L E Y officially dropped the first track off his pending full-length—a song with lil aaron called “SUMMERTIME.” Over the next few weeks, the artist followed it up with “High” and blackbear collab “Dead & Over.”

The week ahead of his debut full-length release in May 2020, R I L E Y opened up about the support he had received thus far on Instagram.

“All I have to say is I’m blown away from the response of the release, and I’m grateful that so many people love it and continue to stream it. It’s already at 256k. Just remember if you have a dream, chase it.

“If you don’t know my story, I have been in the music industry [for] over 10 years. The entire time very few knew my love for making music—almost no one. Almost 3 years ago, one of my artist[s] played Coachella. As I looked out to the crowd, I knew if I didn’t chase my dream, I would regret it the rest of my life [and] as scary as it was, I took the jump.

Read more: 12 new collabs your favorite musicians have made with rising artists

“From that day, I said I will make what I love, how I want and never chase a trend. In the last 3 years, the love and strength I have received from all over the world have been nothing short of incredible. I’ve had days where I almost quit, where I didn’t want to live, where I thought I wasn’t good enough or deserving enough to do what I was doing. But everyone close to me lifted me up through the darkest of times. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how big your dreams are. They are achievable.

“On [May] 29, my first LP will be released. This is something I wanted to do my entire life, and every part of it is exactly what I wanted. I’m just ready for you all to take the journey that is LOSS ANGELES. Moral of the story, I’m so grateful for everyone involved in this journey, and I couldn’t do any of it without you.”

R I L E Y’s debut full-length LOSS ANGELES is available to stream below.