Los Angeles is filled with an eclectic and beautiful mix of different musical genres and performers. I was lucky enough to get to speak to such a performer, a singer, song-writer, costume designer and all around fashionista Ralphy took some time to sit with me and discuss her up coming show at The Rose in Pasadena, her plans for the future and where she grew from musically.
SouthPasadenan: You’re a part of this whole grass roots pop movement, what got you into pop, what made you want to do that?
Ralphy: I just love pop I think because I love musical theater and musical theater when I was little was singing, dancing, acting. I love the stage I love the performance side of it so Pop music is like the next thing. When people come to see my show it’s like a little story, I get to do that, to me I am singing and dancing and acting on stage that’s what I love about pop music. Pop is so broad as well so I can kind of change my songs depending on my mood and all that kind of stuff so it’s just fun. I love that, I love the music video side of pop stuff. The costume side of pop, it’s all of that and why I love pop music.
SP: Was there any particular artist that endeared you to that past musical theater?
R: I love Madonna, I think she was the first person that was doing that, well, I noticed her music videos. Michael Jackson, Prince, Lady Gaga, David Bowie. He was actually before Madonna but, I didn’t really know about him until later. Cindi Lauper. Just all those people with really big performances and once again they do the whole, it’s like a package to me. That’s what I love about it and they’re the people that still inspire me. They’re amazing.
SP: Where do you usually find inspiration for your lyrics or your writing? What’s your song writing process?
R: I write a lot with my best friend Mattheiu McReina and we kind of, it depends who we’re working with the producer as well but, a lot of the times I will work with a producer and I will send off vibes of songs and artists that I’m like, I really want to track this kind of vibe, obviously not copying anything but, this is the vibe I’m going for and then we go back and forth with the track and once I’ve got the track I’m pretty happy with then we will sit down and write the song. Sometimes we will just start with one line like, I haven’t written this song yet but, I want to write a song about they’re called Moon Glasses cuz people who where their glasses at night time so I’ll say “oh we need to write a song about Moon Glasses,” so we would write, the song would become about that. Other times it might be something that I’m going through in my life or something that’s happened and you know I love to talk about messages. I’m all about equality and spreading out love and all that kind of stuff so I’ll be like “okay, we need to do another song about this,” so that’s how we’ll write that song so every time it’s different or sometimes things will just pop in to Matthews brain or my brain, we’ll get melodies then scribble it down and then we get together and we’re like “this is what we came up with,” and then a song comes out of that so I feel like there is no, within me there’s no one particular method, it changes with every song, every time.
SP: Do you find that the state of the country right now, with the mass shootings or the president and those sort of things, does that affect your music?
R: It effects my music a lot, it effects me a lot, especially Trump I feel like is the opposite of what I want out of the world and people. He’s creating all this hate and putting people against people and that’s not, we’re all the same, you know? I try to get that message across in a fun, poppy way, my songs, the one song Love Remains when people are singing along and dancing to it it’s like a fun upbeat song but, when you actually listen to the lyrics it’s kind of dark, the verses. The choruses are all fun like “my religion is love,” but the versus have got words like “see a dead body on the ground,” and its like we’re so immune to it now, it’s just another one. All these shootings its awful that we’re so used to it, its disgusting, yeah definitely effects the writing and then it effects because we want to make fun and happy songs too cuz that’s why I’m here, I’m not here to be Debbie Downer, I want people to listen to my music and come to my shows and make them feel good. Some songs have the message and some songs are just pure pop, sexy songs.
SP: So you’re really into costume design, switching outfits and the whole aesthetic of putting on a story, how did you get into that? Was that just a thing you’ve always been interested in?
R: I grew up doing a lot of dancing, the first thing I started doing was ballet dancing and concerts since I was like, three and then did tap, jazz, hip-hop, funk like every type of dancing and then the musical theater stuff. In those it’s all about quick costume changes, on to the next because I was doing so many different genres it’s like that’s part of the show as well, it’s a thrill to be like “quick get that costume on! Can we do it?” and now I’ve kind of mastered it. This show that’s coming up at The Rose we’ve got a strict thirty minute time slot so it’s like how do I do the costume changes but, without being off the stage for a long amount of time when I’ve only got a certain amount. I’ve become more clever in the way we do costumes and things like that so, getting back to the question, I love fashion first of all and I love making things and doing it because then not going to be wearing what someone else is going to be wearing on stage. It came from the love of doing it all the time, growing up and doing all my concerts and theater stuff, theater you have to change, you’re playing all these different chacters, you gotta change quickly too so it’s part of me, it’s part of the show. My friend was like “you’re so ridiculous, what are you doing?” and I’m like “this one only has four costume changes in it, in thirty minutes it’s pretty good for me,” to me I feel weird if I don’t do that, it’s part of the show I feel like not a lot of people do it and it’s hard to do it on a budget I understand, I’m really lucky that I’m good at sourcing things, thrifting and making my own stuff. I do a lot of making my own thing and sometimes it isn’t any cheaper and it takes hours and hours and I’m like halfway through a project hot gluing broken up cds onto my shoe and I’m like “What am I doing??” but, it always works out really good and then luckily I have a really good friend of mine who is a seamstress and the things that are more technical to make she helps, I’m just like “So Bev, I’ve got this idea, do you think we could make something like this,” so then she gives me an eye-roll and goes “Yes. Yes we can.”
SP: Tell me a little bit about the show that’s coming up.
R: So excited! So excited that I get to open up for DEV www.devescaliente.com because she’s amazing. It’s a thirty minute show so I’ve been working on all new material, that’s where I like to test out my new stuff to see what people think, everything is in my live shows before I release it. For the first time ever I’m cutting out songs, it’s crazy. When we had rehearsal the other night we were three minuets over which doesn’t sound long but, it’s technically a whole song. So maybe if we chop a bit off this song, if we try it like this and we know I think we’re you know, thirty two minuets so we’ll get away with it. Like I said it’s going to be a super fun show, I’ve got a couple of new costumes. I always at least put one new costume in even if people think I’m crazy for that too you know, I swap things around for me just in case because we do have people who come to every single show so I want them to see something different each time. So even if you’ve come to my past shows or this is your first time it’s going to be a lot of fun, I’ve got two new tracks in there, few new costumes, got my dancers. Also Jackson who is one of my producers is coming on stage to perform with me for the first time, he’s doing the electric drums normally I just have Ozzy who DJ’s up there with me but, I’m trying to add more live instruments to my shows, slowly.
SP: Do you have any albums or singles coming out soon?
R: The next single, don’t quote me on the name because we’re swapping between the two which ones going to be released first but, definitely we’re hoping the end of April one of the singles will be out then we’ll be working on a music video for that single then releasing the next single then music video. I’m hoping by the end of the year we’ll be dropping an E.P. I’m hoping it’ll be closer to an album but, being an independent artist it all comes down to money and that kind of stuff so things change around. That’s fun though because I’m not locked in, I’m my own boss I get to decide when things happen or when they’re not going to happen and everything. That’s the rough plan but, those two songs will be in this show.
So mark your calendars and don’t forget to go see Ralphy March 15, 2018 at The Rose in Pasadena wheremusicmeetsthesoul.com/rose-pasadena
Get Tickets and check out her website for any additional information ralphymusic.com