Sharing my music used to feel like the scariest thing

By Tatiana Parkhomova

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Belgian singer-songwriter Margo Raats is gearing up to release an EP after the success of her pre-released single ‘Ocean Lights.’ Ethereal vocals and intricate storytelling are intended to take listeners on a chaotic journey filled with love, sadness, and self-realisation. Margo is here today to discuss her new EP, the creative process behind it, and her plans for the future.

With the release of your highly anticipated EP, ‘Paper Paradise,’ how do you feel about sharing this collection of songs with your audience, and what do you hope listeners take away from it?

Sharing my music used to feel like the scariest thing. My music is so vulnerable and honest. The thought of it being on the internet was just scary, but after releasing the first couple of songs, I totally changed that outlook. I’m so grateful for all the love on the singles so far. I’m so excited and proud to share the ‘Paper Paradise’ story as a whole.

‘Paper Paradise’ explores themes of disposable love and the disillusionment of living in London. Can you elaborate on how these themes influenced the creation of the EP, and what messages you aimed to convey through your music?

I think living in the city can feel so cold but also very warm at the same time. I wanted this to reflect in the music. I love the concept of innocence combined with something that feels anything but innocent. ‘Paper Paradise,’ being the title track, says it all—a paradise made out of paper, so easily destroyed but so euphoric at the same time.

Love is hard to define, and growing older and experiencing what that feels like is interesting to me. I feel like the project tells a story of being in love in a longing and searching way, internally, but also just being in love and feeling almost salvaged. There are themes of self-doubt, but also realising what love can be and should be. What you want isn’t always what you need, or at least that’s what I feel.

“Waiting by the staircase made of gold doesn’t make waiting less long” is my favourite line of the EP because it’s true.

‘Ocean Lights and ‘Crying In The Taxi’ offer contrasting perspectives on love and relationships in the city. How do these songs contribute to the narrative of the EP, and what emotions do you hope they evoke in listeners?

I think more than anything, ‘Crying In The Taxi’ is a story I’ve lived many times over. “What a sin, what a sin, I regret letting you in” explains the whole song—the feeling of giving yourself away too soon, ending up alone, then changing the destination and letting go. ‘Ocean Lights’ gives into this longing feeling of “I keep sourcing, I keep waiting”. Following the only light around can feel like salvation, but it blinds you at the same time. I wanted this to reflect in the music. The ending of the song is a trance of waves in colour. ‘Ocean Lights’ is followed by ‘Paper Paradise,’ which becomes a realisation point—walk me out of this world of ours, I’m just a visitor.

‘Crying In The Taxi’ is a departure from being pigeonholed as merely a “Sad Girl”. Can you elaborate on the evolution of your sound and how you navigate breaking free from stereotypes in the music industry?

I’ll never have control over how people perceive me, so I try to let go of that. It’s hard because, of course, I have a light in mind in which I would love people to see me. But at the same time, if someone enjoys and feels the music and tells a friend about it, they can describe it as sad girl music.

I mean, if I sing about crying in a taxi, I just hope I can be all the girls: sad girl, hot girl, weird girl, angry girl, game girl. Just to see people like the music, especially knowing I’ve only released four songs at this point, is special to me.

The artwork for ‘Paper Paradise’ was captured in Bergen, showcasing the beauty of nature against the backdrop of your urban-inspired music. How does this juxtaposition reflect the themes of the EP, and what significance does it hold for you personally?

I was pretty set on the artwork from the start. Roj Ferman helped me create this image. We went to the top of the mountain in Bergen late at night, and I just danced while Roj took the picture. When I saw it, I just knew it was perfect. I love it so much. What I love the most is that we kept it untouched, so what you see is exactly how it was. We did not edit anything. I wanted something real, something that felt alive. I love nature, and the artwork represents the vulnerability and space given to the project, but also the different perspectives. I look like an angel but come with a cost, and I guess I’m both.

Collaborating with producer Dan Hylton for the EP, how did you approach the creative process together, and what elements were essential in crafting your unique sound?

I’m so grateful I was able to tell the ‘Paper Paradise’ story with Dan. I’m such a fan of the way he approaches sounds and colours a song. Dan is just incredible, as a musician and collaborator, but also as a friend. To be able to discuss the meanings and roots of the songs and share experiences is so special. The whole final making of the EP was such a beautiful experience. I feel like we were both locked in a world of our own, and I’m so proud of what it became.

As an emerging artist, what are your aspirations and goals for the future, both musically and personally? How do you envision your journey unfolding after the release?

I want to create music (recordings and live) that’s moving and colourful and keep on exploring and learning. I hope future me will forever be fully committed to whatever I’m working on and always try to push limits and boundaries, even just on a personal level. I’m in LA at the moment, working on my second project. I’m honestly very excited to explore my ideas and vision for this. I feel so ready to create the next chapter of my findings in life, musically but also visually. There is still so much world I’m yet to show. Apart from that, I also want to hang out more with my brother. I miss him all the time; he is my best friend in this world. So, I can’t wait to do that and goof around.

Are there any upcoming live performances or shows on your schedule that fans can look forward to attending?

I’m working on my live set, and I just can’t wait. Until this point, it was always just me on the electric guitar, and in a way, it felt like I showed my music as a drawing in pencil, and I do love that. But we have a bigger set-up now, and I just can’t wait to play the music in colour, live. I’m just trying to perfect the set, but I will for sure share about any gigs and shows on my socials.

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Cover photo by Eva Pentel