By Troy Hasselman, September 16 2019 —
Toronto pop singer-songwriter RALPH has been hard at work lately. From touring across Canada as the opening act for Carly Rae Jepsen, constantly creating and releasing new music and using her artistic platform to advocate for important causes, she has been making her presence known in a number of different ways.
The Gauntlet spoke to her last month while she was gearing up for her tour with Carly Rae. The weeks leading up to the tour were a whirlwind for RALPH as she found out about getting the opening slot only weeks before the tour was set to begin.
“When we heard she was going and tour and looking for openers me and my manager told my booking agent ‘We have to go on this tour,’” Ralph says. “We would send photos we photoshopped of me and Carly together and say ‘Look how good this could be.’ And he’s like ‘I get it, I get it. I’m trying my best.’ I don’t know when that was, honestly it feels like a long time ago. What I do with music to manage expectations, just because it’s such a volatile industry, is I put something out and then I just try and forget about it. Then my manager called me like three weeks ago and she was like ‘So,’ Whenever she does that I’m like ‘Oh God,’ and she said ‘No, it’s a good so.’ And it was a very good ‘So.’ She gave us three weeks to get our shit together. It’s been an interesting and quick time. My first question was ‘What am I wearing onstage?’ ”
In the weeks before the tour, on top of rehearsals, RALPH was also busy with organizing a fundraiser concert in Toronto with a lineup of all-female-identifying musicians performing for the benefit of pro-choice organizations in the United States and Canada, raising $19,000. While RALPH uses her platform to speak out about social issues and admires artists who use their platform to speak out, she doesn’t think it’s necessary from all artists.
“I don’t think it’s fair to say, ‘Just because you have a platform you have to use it.’ I think it’s a really great way of getting a conversation started and I think if your have a platfrom there are so many issues we can talk about, it doesn’t have to be abortion if that’s not your thing. I just think it’s amazing how many artists do use their platform to talk about challenging things and getting conversation started. Hearing Taylor Swift talk about royalties for artists and standing up for artists, that was really huge. I have always been someone who is politically vocal, so I have no problem talking about the things that are important to me and if I have fans who don’t agree then maybe what I stand for and what I write about isn’t right for them, who knows?”
RALPH’s musical background includes a wide array of genres with her background including a folk band, singing jazz and musical theatre. While her background does involve a lot of non-pop music, she has always loved pop and has had her music evolve more towards pop as the genre has become more broad in its scope and taking in different musical influences in its own right.
“I think my first CD was Britney Spears and I grew up listening to Mandy Moore, Christina Aguilera and the Backstreet Boys,” RALPH says. “It’s always been a part of me and I love a good melody and a good pop harmony. I love so many different genres of music, I didn’t know if it was necessarily what I wanted to focus on. I think I also thought that pop was limiting.’ As I became a more seasoned musician and artist and starting segwaying from folk and singer-songwriter music into the world of pop I started realizing that pop isn’t limiting, it’s literally just popular music. Nowadays, there’s so much room, encouragement and need and interest in playing with the genre of pop and that just opens the doors for interesting collaborations and genre bending. I love that there’s so much room to play within the genre, I’ve always loved pop and I think I’ve just grown to love it more.”
RALPH’s real name is Raffaella Weyman. While other stars with stage names can see their act as a persona of sorts with a firm distance between themselves and their performance, RALPH sees her herself onstage as very much in tune with who she is as a person in her daily life.
“It’s like 90 percent me,” RALPH says. “I would wear all of those outfits on the street once I walk offstage. I am still the same person when I am onstage, I tell stupid stories, I talk a lot, I swear, I make mistakes, I laugh, I make fun of my bandmates. I don’t think I have the energy or capacity or stamina to keep up a façade, and I don’t think that’s the artist who I am or who I want to be. I write songs that are autobiographical. As a performer and when I meet and talk to fans, I am me. The only thing that changes when I am RALPH is that I am on. I’m trying not to let the fight I had earlier with my mom, the grumpiness that I woke up with show up on onstage. I think you get a shinier version of Raffaela when you have RALPH whereas the real Raffaela is maybe a little more emotionally volatile and grumpy.”
RALPH has a steady creative output, with her new single “No Muss No Fuss” being released just weeks before the tour and a new EP set to be released before the end of the year. While her music is largely inspired by her own life and experiences she never has her creativity turned off while she is living her regular life and is able to make music constantly while still drawing from her own experiences, as opposed to putting her creativity aside for a while and living her life until inspiration comes to her.
“I’m literally always writing songs, I wrote half a song in the kitchen this morning while I was making breakfast,” RALPH says. “It’s not something I can turn off, I’ve always been writing poetry or lyrics in my head. I don’t think I could stop writing if I wanted to. Though I do take breaks from going hardcore in the studio, I think when I’m touring I let myself relax a bit and have less pressure about cranking out songs and getting that next album, when I’m tour I’m focus on my well-being, my health, my eprformance, my voice and being less focused on getting in the studio and crafting finsihed products.”
Born and raised in Toronto, RALPH has always been based in Canada. She has noticed differences between playing in Canada and the United States and does feel like Canada is a more safe environment to speak out about political issues.
“It’s hard to say because I don’t know what it’s like to be born in America and to grow up making music there. I do think Canadians are a little more forgiving and a little kinder. I was watching Euphoria the other day and thinking ‘Oh my God, is that what it’s like to be a teenager in America. That’s so scary.’ It’s hard to say whether or not location makes a difference in who you are and where you grow up. I think we’re luckier politically. I feel more free and a little more safe in Canada to be publically politically motivated. If I was living in America and I organzied a pro-choice fundraiser and I was posting about it, it might be scarier. It might be a lot more hateful and it might change who I was an artist a little bit because it’s harder and more emotionally exhausting. I hope that we all worldwide feel the same freedom to talk.”
RALPH’s music is available on all streaming platforms, updates about new music and tour dates can be found on her website.