RIO is the shining Manchester star that is taking the UK music scene by storm. On the radar of Tim Westwood and gaining support from the likes of Mistajam, Target, Semtex, Max, DJ Woody and Charlie Sloth; RIO is the hardworking artist ready to set the world on fire, one city at a time. Upon the release of his new video for the explosive track ‘Can’t Stop We’, RIO gives us an exclusive, proving why he is definitely one to watch.

Where did you get the name RIO from, how did you come up with it?

Rio is actually my real name, when I was going to youth clubs in Manchester, people use to call me Rio, RIO. So I kind of ran with it.

What was it like growing up in Manchester’s Moss Side area?

It was a great experience in both ways. It’s been linked to violence, gangs and drugs at times, but it’s been a great experience to know that someone like me can use the talent I’ve got to try and show some direction and show that with a bit of opportunity, hard work and dedication you can actually make your dreams come to reality. It’s not all bad.

You’ve lived in lots of different places such as Manchester, the Caribbean and Chicago. How have these places influenced you today?

It’s been a great influence just between life in a different light and country, different people, different ways of living. You can always take that kind of influence and put it into your music, so you can talk about it. It’s been really influential, especially in the Caribbean. You can see people who are living less privileged than we are in the UK and so it’s always good because it makes you a lot more grateful for what you have when you return back. Living in Chicago was great, the way they do things, the opportunities and the attitude they have towards the work. It’s been highly influential for me.

Where did your love of music start?

I’ve always had a love of music because my dad used to do a lot of drumming and he used to take me around to workshops and get me involved. It kind of kicked off when I was in a crew in Manchester called Street Man which my cousin engineered and brought me through. We worked on a couple mix tapes and things started to progress. I got my head into it and really focused on wanting this to be my career. It kind of started from the streets and progressed to where I am now.

What made you start rapping?

I started rapping to give people my story. It was a way for me to tell my living and my experiences.  My boys keep me inspired. Rapping allows me to tell my story and I’ve got a story to tell.

What are you doing to become the hottest MC?

I’m being relevant, consistent. I’m working hard. Staying humble, having a good attitude and where I think I can work towards what I do. I’ve got a great team. Rare breed music and management team which is putting in a lot of work. And the scene is really opening up, not just in Manchester but around the U.K, especially in London with airplay with 1xtra, bloggers, writers. Right now I’m just trying to keep it relevant and put my name out there and everywhere and try to be in people’s faces. People are embracing the work that we are putting in with all the support. The recognition I’ve got is amazing.

What do you think you bring to the UK scene?

I don’t try and imitate or try and be the next Tinie, or the Tinchy, or the Dappy or various other artists that have had success in the game. I just try to be myself.  And I think I bring that different approach, in terms of my music and my style and the way I deliver on my music. Obviously it’s different because I come from up north. I bring that creativity, that originality and that unique presence.

You’ve got a good relationship with X Factor star Misha B, what was it like working with her?

Mine and Misha B’s relationship is like brother and sister. Way before X Factor we used to always link up and she use to always be influenced by a lot of my shows. And to see me perform in admiration for what I’ve done. But the minute I had heard Misha sing, I knew she was going to be a star. Years ago I brought her to a show I had done, the ‘I Love Life Show’, and she performed and people’s mouths just dropped and were in awe of this girl. And when she made her appearance in the X factor and a lot of people were like is that the girl you brought to the ‘I Love Life’ show? We’ve got a real tight bond. Just from speaking to her, she is very humble and grateful for the opportunity she’s got and yeah she is in the new video and the track ‘The Naked Truth’. We are going to do some work together in the near future. She was back in Manchester at New Years Eve.  She brought me out to a show and the crowd went nuts. It was good to have that kind of time where the role had reversed, where she inspires me as well as I inspire her. She inspires me to keep chasing my dream. It was always good for her to have that platform but it’s about what you do with that opportunity. She without a doubt was the one that took the show by storm and she will have a bright future.

Your track, Can’t Stop We, went to number 1 on Tim Westwood’s hot 6 at 6, how did you feel about that?

It’s mad. It was all overwhelming because I was telling people that it took me nearly 3 years to get on Tim Westwood’s radar. I’ve been on his radar for ages. And it’s weird because the track ‘Can’t Stop We’, I tried to work it as a single. Heard the beat, put something over it, got my friends and said look I need a different kind of hook on it, put a little bashment flavour on it. I just put it out as a little street heat and it just kind of took off. When I heard it and when Westwood was playing it. And he’s been playing it every day and been talking me up. I’ve been kind of humbled by the support , because  I feel like with Westwood I always believed I was gonna get the support from him but it was just a matter of when.  I’ve wanted that moment for a long time.

Tell us about your upcoming music video

I was saying to the director rather than giving a story board, and all the treatment for it like getting actors and doing all the glossy things, let’s do something raw because the audio was obviously a no brainer; we just put the tune out there. Let’s do a video where we capture the footage of my day to day running of shows, videos of me going to rehearse. Look at Chris Brown’s ‘Beautiful People’ video and that’s the kind of idea I wanted, that kind of feel.  I said, you know what I’m gonna get a couple of friends to come out, we’ve got footage of Labrinth, Mario Balotelli, he is very close with what were are doing in music, we got Westwood, we got footage of Misha B doing rehearsals,  Brooke Vincent from Coronation Street and then we’ve got familiar faces like Sway. We’ve got a few big names in the video and it works. When I watch it back, it’s got a good feeling, I’ve kind of got a feeling  that the video is gonna open up doors, and make things serious, not for the people in it but for the way they have embraced me and the real, respect level there. And its good and I can’t wait for it to come out.  I think we are gonna get a good response.

You’ve supported Rick Ross on his UK tour, what was it like?

The show was crazy. It’s the second time I have actually supported Rick Ross, first time at the Apollo in Manchester. The first show was tough because it is always tough to win over your own crowd, the people in your own city, but the second time, the crowd were just going crazy. It’s like people are starting to believe, and giving me that recognition and support and it was just mad because it was like 3000 people in there and a couple of celebrities came. Rio Ferdinand came into my dressing room after and said good stuff, I keep hearing about your name, it’s good to see someone from the north actually push their name forward and through.  When I got off stage it was mad and I got a lot of support and people are loving the track. The promoters and organizers were really impressed by the professional approach of the team. And they would like to see me collaborate and work with other big artists and American artists coming over and hopefully I can do a lot more opening acts. Overall it was good and inspirational.

What have you learnt from the tour?

I’ve learnt not to be overwhelmed by the crowd because some people get intimidated by a big crowd. I just try to embrace the crowd whether they’re hyper or not. I just try to get them alone and then just zone it out and enjoy it. I just try to work on crowd interaction. Facing the crowd and having my head up and interacting with them in between them by talking about my past experiences. This is a good way to get people into tracks they can relate to. They listen to what I’m saying and can relate to it. Don’t be intimidated by the crowd. Embrace it and be yourself.

I’ve seen some footage of your school tours, what were they like?

It was wicked. The fan base is a lot of that kind of school kids. It’s always good to go to schools and give them my knowledge and how I got to where I am. How education is really important, how I wouldn’t be here right now if I didn’t have good knowledge or if I didn’t read. I don’t try to be a teacher because they already have those but I try to be a role model. I try to be an inspiration to the kids. I like to let them know that I am no different to them. It’s really good to do. It’s always a good vibe and a good feeling and I really enjoyed them.

Have they prepared you for future tours?

It’s all preparation that is the key to progression. Doing shows from the kid’s schools to the Labrinth after party and Rick Ross shows, they’ve always prepared me. You are only as good as your last show. I always try to improve on the last show. I always try to take away the positives as well as the negatives. I’ve got lots of good people around me who are really honest like my manager and my mentor, my P.A. I’ve got a team that is really honest with me. If I take the constructive criticisms on board and just try to improve on the last show. I always like to take the negatives and turn it into the positives.  And try to prepare for the next show.

What have you leant from them? 

The impact I can have and not just me but also the impact music can have on young people lives. Young people are really tender and sometimes with parents, kids don’t have the best upbringing in terms of at home with the parents.  So when kids look up to you, you have a big say in these kids’ lives. And the schools that I’ve been in and since I’ve been there the attendance rates have increase because I’m always saying come to school, come to school. Because where I am now, if I didn’t go to school, I wouldn’t be here right now. It was really good to see the reaction, and a lot of schools want to see me come back because of that and because of how the attendance rates have risen. So it’s always a good feeling to go into schools.

Who inspires you?

God, my two boys are like my main inspiration. My fans, I’ve got a fan called Rare Breed, they are a big inspiration on me. My family. Rare Breed are my inspiration. The team I’ve got around me. Just life and the experiences in general, those keep me inspired from day to day. When people show me love and support that inspires me.

Who are rating right now on the UK scene and why?

There are a lot of people I’m rating and who inspire me.  There are a lot of people out there right now.

Tinie Tempah, what he’s done in a short amount of time.

Wretch 32, he is the sickest rapper in the game and his humbleness stands out and the way he is. His professionalism is so good. He’s got that professional, good aura about him.

Obviously Chipmunk, what he is doing right now in the states, he’s breaking barriers and opening doors, he’s showing that we can’t rush this industry. He’s doing really well and you cannot knock his hustle, you cannot knock what he is doing.

But it’s not just them three, as there are a lot of inspirational artists, even from the north. There are a lot of people making themselves known. There are a quite a few names and artists right now who inspire me and encourage me to keep going.

Who would you love to work with in the future and why?

Labrinth, the kid is beyond his time, what he’s done is crazy. It’s hard to explain what he does, it’s crazy.

Rita Ora is on fire, she’s amazing, love to work with her.

I try and keep it UK; I really want to work with the UK artists because, the more we come together, the more we get recognized. The music that we are making right now is shining through. The UK scene is bubbling the more we come together. The more we can break through, the more we can make the UK well known and can achieve more. But in general there are quite a lot of people I would like to work with in the future.

Check out RIO on Twitter and Facebook