Creative Soccer Culture

RVBY Talks Swapping A Football Career To A Life In Music

Snapped up and brought into a football academy at the age of 8, RVBY is a musician who has been on a journey. Rising through the ranks at the Bristol Academy and going on to Yeovil in the top flight of the WSL, a career in football could have taken her story in a different direction. However, finding her sound and a passion for music, she is now a celebrated artist and an inspired songwriter. A Manchester City Women fan too, we find out about this creative talent.

Snapped up and brought into a football academy at the age of 8, RVBY is a musician who has been on a journey. Rising through the ranks at the Bristol Academy and going on to Yeovil in the top flight of the WSL, a career in football could have taken her story in a different direction. However, finding her sound and a passion for music, she is now a celebrated artist and an inspired songwriter. A Manchester City Women fan too, we find out about this creative talent.

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Your connection to football is very real – when did you first get into it?

It started when I was very young. Me and my brother used to play football together in the garden. He was a few years older than me and I was very influenced by him. I played for a local team called St Nicks first of all and then got picked up by Bristol Academy. I remember doing a trial for the under-8s. I was then there every year up until I was 14. I went to Somerset FA at that point. I got picked up at that point by the England Talent Pathway group and then on to Yeovil - I experienced a lot along the way.

What was football like in your household? What were the big tournaments like?

It was massive. We’d get swept up in tournaments like everyone does. I’d have the England flag painted on my face, that kind of thing. I’ve definitely got a football loving family. My brother is a Bristol Rovers fan. My dad doesn’t really support a solid team. They all encouraged me throughout my playing career and were a massive support for me.

What were those early days playing like?  Was there a female team you could join or did you have to play in a male team or was it mixed?

At primary school, while I was at Bristol Academy I was playing with the boys team. [laughs] I looked a bit more like a boy back then. I’m not sure if I was even allowed  to but I got away with playing football with them back then. Primary school, I was always the only girl playing football with the boys. I always had the Bristol Academy side outside of school though which was a female team. I was lucky to have that from such a young age of eight years old.

What was the journey like into an academy - how early did you get picked up by Yeovil?

It was pretty hard, especially being so young. We’d be training twice a week and play games at the weekend so it was a big commitment for my family. It was intense from a young age. They had you doing the bleep test and you had a fitness regime and all that kind of stuff. It was good, especially when I think back now - I was so so fit and so healthy. When you stop football, it’s so hard to get that stamina back. I  maybe took it for granted how strong that was making me health-wise. 

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The  thought of an eight year old having to do the bleep test is pretty harsh…

Oh it was brutal [laughs]. You always had people saying “if you don’t get to a certain level then you really need to up your game” and all that at a young age. I joke though because it was hard but it was a lot of fun back then. It got harder and more serious and more professional as I got older but I realise now, they were essentially building you at that age for professional football.

Did it feel like they were building you for the elite game at the time? Were you conscious of the end goal?

I’d say from under-8s to under-12s it was all fun and enjoyable. You play games and have such friendly coaches. They were some of the best I had. It was amazing. From after that onwards, it was a lot more serious and you have to start thinking about where this may take you. From 13/14,  you realise that you’re going into the real thing now. I also was just real with myself at that time, it wasn’t a lack of love for football, I just don’t think the real thing worked out for me.

Eventually stepping out of football, did you see that it could be a career at the time or did it not just feel right for you personally?

I did see that is could have been a career but I think I got so stressed and was hard on myself, like most footballers, just because I wanted to play well. You want to have good games, do well at training and perform. I think I found the pressure a bit much. When I went to the England camp, I remember that feeling so hard. They are incredible there and were so welcoming, it was a top place to be but for me personally it was intense and it just didn’t feel right. I think it was more at that point realising that it wasn’t what I wanted to do.

At what point did music then come into your life?  Were you making music while playing football?

Yeah I was always writing songs. I played the guitar and sang at school and things like that from a young age. It was when I was going to college that I had to decide what I was going to do. I could have done a sports course and stayed in football but I decided to take music and I left Yeovil at that point and when down another route.

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Must have been a hard decision to almost pick a lane having done so much work to get where you did in the football side?

Definitely. I remember as well, having a parents evening at one of my last days at the Bristol Academy. One of my coaches, I remember sitting down with them…  I think I missed one game that year to go to a music audition. At the parents evening she said “you’ve got to choose now, it’s either got to be music or football, you can’t do both” which for me is rubbish. I should have never listened to her. I think that stayed with me and influenced me for a while. It puts doubt in your mind so when later, at an England camp, I was unsure about what I wanted.

It’s a real shame. Society has kind of formed these rules but why can’t you do both?

It’s a real shame. It killed things a bit for me. My dad was there at that parents evening and I remember him saying that it was ridiculous that my coach had said that. “She’s making you choose one or the other at the age of 14 when you need to learn and discover yourself.” Still, you learn eventually from all these things. Football is still very much with me now though. I’ve played with the BBC Introducing team in a tournament and I’m still playing in my spare time. While music is my focus, you can still do it and you can enjoy playing football while also focusing on music. There’s so many other girls out there who live this football and music kind of life - Chelcee Grimes is another one.

You've kept football closely connected to your music - your hanging on music video as an example - will it always be with you?

Yeah it’s a passion for me. I think last year I said in an interview that I’d like to just be known for music but then as time goes on and I did the ‘Hanging On’ music video, I’ve just been playing every week because I do just miss it.

What’s it been like to now enter the music world and swap one very demanding career for another?

I think as soon as I started the music journey I felt a sense of relief. I suppose because I had been playing for so long that it was something I grew out of. Music has just felt right ever since. I still love football but realise that music is what I’m here for. Lucky enough I got signed to a label during college so my parents couldn’t say “we told you to stick with the football”. I’m proud to have turned the transition into a positive one.

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It’s incredibly hard to become a signed artist. How did that come about?

I went to college in Bath and played a gig in a pub called the Pig & Fiddle. Some of the label were at the gig and it just went on from there. I went on to do a year of development with them and then they signed me at the end of that.

It sounds similar to football in the way of training then going on to get signed - did it feel like the academy experience again?

I suppose it did. I wanted to push into songwriting and have a career in that. I guess I had the pressure of writing songs for other people and travelling as much as I would do for football so I can see similarities. I’m still working at that and always perfecting that craft.

Let’s touch on Man City too. What is it about them that made them your team?

I’ve just always had a connection to the women’s side. They’re full of strong characters. I love Steph Houghton. I’m not a glory hunter but they’re so bloody good. They’re exciting to watch and I feel like they reflect me as a person. I can’t pinpoint what it is but I love what they stand for as a team.

How do you want to be known as an artist now?

I want to be known as a respectable artist. In the sense that it’s clear that I write my own music and am a big part of the production and everything like that. I’m heavily influenced by Maggie Rodgers who writes all of her own stuff. I don’t want to be just another pop musician that is chucked into this game just to sing. I want to do it all, experience all elements of it and be known for that. I love musicians like Prince, Cyndie Lauper and Dolly Parton - strong women are big role models for me. I saw and article about me that said I was like the love child of Ben Howard and Dua Lipa - I kind of like that. The next two tracks I’ve got coming out are so eighties. So experimental.

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Listen to 'Lovesick', the latest single by RVBY


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