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RALPH: your girl next door

May. 22, 2018
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Everybody loves a really good pop song, but what's better than a really good pop song? A really rad and down-to-earth singer/songwriter behind it. RALPH, Toronto-based Raffaela Weyman, just dropped a rad new track "Girl Next Door" featuring R&B rapper TOBi, and we got to talk to her about her music, fashion icons, and the nuances about her process! Watch the lyric video below, featuring photographs by Pat O'Rourke of RALPH and TOBi kicking it at home but looking ~fire~ while doing it.

Read our interview with RALPH below!

@DOLESCENT: When did you start getting into making music?

According to my uncle, he used to pick me up from kindergarten and I’d sing made up lyrics the whole way home. I guess music has always been a part of me. I studied vocal performance at Etobicoke School of the Arts and have been in bands ever since. Writing songs and performing is my favorite thing to do.

@: How would you describe your music?

Two years ago, I would have said synth/pop/disco- I think my EP was definitely a little more retro/80s influenced. The songs on my upcoming album feel more contemporary, with a heavier R&B influence- it's one of my favorite genres and what I’m mostly influenced by these days. They’re definitely still pop songs and I still insert elements of the past in there, whether it’s Fleetwood Mac-y harmonies or 80’s style synth keys. But I’m trying to get away from being labelled an “80s synth artist”. I feel like I would currently say is synth/pop/R&B/dance music.

@: We love your style! Who are your musical influences? Fashion icons?

Haha, thank you! Musically, I was hugely influenced by the records my parents played while I was growing up - Joni Mitchell, Carole King, The Band, Stevie Nicks, Prince, Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Annie Lennox... Currently I’m really inspired by Anderson Paak, Jorja Smith, Kali Uchis, Charlotte Day Wilson, Billie Eilish, SZA, Daniel Caesar, Demi Lovato (her last album was pop FIRE).

Fashion wise, I always look to Rihanna and Tiffany Hsu (@handinfire) for inspiration. Cher and Prince will always be fashion icons to me, their stage looks encourage me to really just go for it, y’know?

@: Where do you get your inspiration from when you’re writing? Is there a place you go when you write?

I think I write my best lyrics when I’m moving- going for a run or biking at night. My voice memos are just full of me recording lyric ideas while heavily panting during an intense run. It’s hilarious to listen back to later. I also write well when I’m isolated- away from the city and my friends and familiar settings. I recently went to Nicaragua for a writing camp and was in the jungle with 15 other artists writing songs for 10 hours a day. I wrote three songs that I love, I think they might all be album songs, and felt so happy during one of the sessions that I actually cried. ARTISTS, AMMIRIGHT?

@: You’re based in Toronto right? It seems like whenever someone thinks of Toronto, they think of Drake. What’s the music scene like there?

Honestly, the music scene in Toronto is bumpin' right now. I think we’ve really carved a place for ourselves within the industry, thanks to Drake, Alessia, Shawn Mendes, and Daniel Caesar. It feels like people are really excited about the musical acts coming out of the city, which is amazing for emerging artists. I also feel a genuine community within the music scene here, like we’re all sort of friends or have met and developed some sort of supportive relationship. Whenever I bump into another artist, it’s always a beautiful interaction - Jessie Reyez is one of the sweetest humans and always has a kind thing to say, Maj (of Majid Jordan) always gives a genuine hug and we’ll chat for half an hour. I recently met Francesco Yates and now we’re text buddies. I don’t feel a sense of competition, it just feels like love and support.

@: We are obsessed with all of your music videos, especially the Twin Peaks inspired September Fades! Can you tell us a little bit about the idea behind the Girl Next Door video? What was the process like?

I have to give a lot of credit for my music vids to Gemma Warren, my director, collaborator and best friend. She’s so brilliant and talented, it’s such a pleasure working with someone who understands my songs and can create these gorgeous narrative stories for them. The Girl Next Door vid was really fun, we wanted to do a lyric video with a twist, incorporating fashion and fun vibes. We pulled a bunch of outfits from my girlfriend’s designer consignment store (@vspconsignment) and wanted to contrast the glam looks with these really relatable, down to earth moments - cooking, playing video games, etc. I worked with a small team of creative friends. I’m so lucky to be surrounded by talented peers who want to collab and make cool things with me.

@: What was it like collaborating with TOBi? How did you two start working together?

TOBi is a wizard, his lyrics are so great. When I wrote ‘Girl Next Door’, I realized it was perfect for a rap feature so I searched the internet for Toronto based artists. I stumbled upon TOBi, whose music and words immediately impressed me (peep his song ‘Libra’ - Read Eckhart Tolle together, tell me, Whats a King with no Coretta? I just wanna hold you tight , go inside and whisper in your ear my dear “I’ll be yours forever”.) I reached out to him and sent him the track and he hit me back, saying he’d loved my music for a while and had recently written a song with a similar idea. He sent me back a demo with his lyrics on the second verse and they were exactly right. I literally had no notes for him. Also funny side note - turns out my brother directed his first music video. Toronto is small!

@: Who would your dream collaborator be?

I’ve wanted to work with Daniel Caesar for about 3 years. His songs really touch my heart. Kali Uchis, her style and music videos are so sick. I’d also love to write a song with Feist, she’s been a source of inspiration to me since I was 16.

@: There’s a lot of exciting things happening with you now! We heard about your showcase for NXNE’s Club Land Series. Can you tell us what’s going on there?

Yeah, it’s such a nice opportunity to be involved in music but taking on a different role. I’m curating a night of music for Sunday, June 10th at the Garrison in Toronto, I asked a couple of different artists who I love to be a part of it - TOBi, Garcons, Tyler Jay Santos & Jonah Yano, and trying to tie down my female act. Really excited to see them all perform. They’re all super fun and unique.

@: We're always curious what artists are watching. Are you watching any TV or have seen any movies you've loved recently?

I recently saw ‘The Square’ by Ruben  OĢˆstlund , which was a trip but so smart and topical and interesting. TV shows I love are Insecure, Togetherness, The Fall, Game of Thrones, VEEP, Silicon Valley, Handmaid’s Tale, Queer Eye. I also recently went to the Prism Prize Awards, which are for stand out Canadian music videos, and was really wowed by the video for Cri feat. Ouri ‘Rush’, directed by Didier Charette.

@: We have a lot of readers who are young creatives. What advice do you have to young musicians trying to find their voice and break into music?

I would say reach out to friends and friends of friends who also do music, get together and jam and write and collab. Utilize the interweb and social media! Create an Instagram presence, make a SoundCloud, post videos to Youtube. Send emails and DMs to artists, managers, producers you admire. You never know who will hit you back and offer you an opportunity! That’s how I met my manager and other artists.

@: Any tour dates coming up?

Yep! I’m playing Glow Fair Festival in Ottawa on June 16th, headlining Saskatoon Pride Festival on June 22, headlining my own show on June 29th at the Great Hall in Toronto (come come come!), then playing Elora Fest on August 18th (along with my queen, Carly Rae!). Plans for a cross Canada tour in the fall too!

@: Anything else you want to say to our Adolescent readers?

Don’t be afraid to focus on yourself in order to get what you want. I recently realized I needed to reel back on my commitments to other people, cause I was stretching myself too thin and needed to fucking finish my album and do more yoga and get more sleep. There’s a joy in saying "no" to another night yelling in a loud bar, and instead just doing your thing at home alone. Joy in solitude is a beautiful thing, it makes you strong.

Featuring RALPH with TOBi
Photographs by Pat O'Rourke
Interviewed by Richelle Chen
Styled by Armand Digdoyo