This is the cover story from our current edition themed Thirsty.
Creative Direction by Amandine Mane
Photography by Christian Mamoune
Styling by Dena Tsalagka
Interview by Nela Duke
In a matter of an instant, he is both playful and insightful. Speaking thoughtfully about life, society and love, he isn’t afraid to do what is often reserved for the courageous; laugh at himself. We sat down with singer-song writer Raleigh Ritchie aka Jacob Anderson (his real and acting name) to talk about his debut album, his dreams, his downfalls and his triumphs, all of which he shares ever so intimately, track after track.
Ritchie’s lyrics frightfully mimic emotions or moments you feel or have felt at one time or another, as he pulls you into his romantic, rebellious universe, drenched in trials and tribulations. With his music, he invites his listener into the deep corners of his mind where he unravels his hopes, fears, and desires. For him, music making is story telling; telling what he feels and has experienced.
The 25-year-old Bristol native both raps and sings. As exemplified on the debut single of his album, ‘Bloodsport,’ his sound is alternative rhythm and blues served on the rocks of meaningful lyrics that delve into human behaviour and desire. The single originally appeared on the singer’s 2013 EP “Black & Blue”. Strongly resonating with listeners, it was streamed over four million times on Spotify. Rosie Danvers and Wired Strings who have worked with artists like Adele, reinterpreted the song adding string arrangements, which further contribute to creating a slow tempo and solemn sound that set the stage for Ritchie’s heart-warming lyrics.
With record sales of over 135,000, a well received UK headline tour, prestigious festival appearances during the summer (like his insanely energetic performance at Glastonbury in 2015), and a nomination for the prestigious MOBO award, Raleigh Ritchie has begun to earn well deserved recognition for his creativity and music, which he says has always been his true passion.
In February he launched his debut album titled ‘You’re a Man Now Boy‘ solidifying his status as a true musician.
We read that music has always been your passion. What can you share about your experience to someone else coming up in the industry?
Coming into the music industry is very, very bewildering and confusing because it is constantly changing and I think everyone is working it out. Everyone is trying to work out what to do at the moment, because obviously the Internet is changing everything and it is very interesting to see how [people] navigate that but it is bewildering because it is not quite the same when you are doing it in your bedroom for fun. You have people waiting for you. You’ve got deadlines and stuff and people have put their trust in you and they have put a lot of time and effort into making it work and so you have to deliver in that way, which is different. I would say to anybody that wants to get into music, spend all the time that you have just having fun making music. Just having fun experimenting and making the worst music you can possibly make. That is because when you start putting it out for people…and you should still put your terrible stuff out because somebody will love it, but I feel like when you start getting deadlines and you want to put an album together you’ve got to be ready.
Having to create on a deadline, do you ever get writer’s block?
Of course I do. I get writer’s block, like I’m done, I can’t write anything today. I am not very good at going to the studio and treating it like a job too much. I have got to really want to say something and nobody feels everyday that they can just sort of describe their feelings everyday because that is essentially what my ‘job’ is. I just try to sit down and articulate how I feel and sometimes I just do.
Why did you choose Raleigh Ritchie as your stage name?
I really like Bill Murray and I wanted to put a Bill Murray reference into my name. There is a film called The Royal Tenenbaums, which is one of my favourite films and there are two characters and one of the characters is called Raleigh, which is Bill Murray and [another] called Ritchie. I feel like I can relate to them in different ways and for different reasons. It’s kind of weird because I don’t really remember why it felt right but it was like when I put them together I was like that is it, that is what I am going to call myself.
What has been your best moment on stage so far?
Glastonbury was my favourite moment on stage. I had my friends on stage and they came and jumped around with me and it was amazing. It is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but you can never do it because of insurance. They came up for [the song] ‘The Greatest’.
Who would you most like to work with dead or alive in the music industry?
I would love to work with Elvis. Me and Elvis would be a very odd pairing, it is the most unlikely pairing I could think about at this moment. My favourite Elvis song is ‘Suspicion’ and ‘The Wonder of You’.
Who are some of your greatest role models? Are you a role model to anyone? What do you think about the role models that the X & Y generations have today?
Firstly, I hope I am not a role model to anyone else. I am learning just like everyone else is. I feel like we idolise people too much now. I feel like we idolise celebrities and musicians, and we have this weird culture where we look at people as these modern gods. And actually we should focus more on ourselves and what makes us happy and what guides us and how we guide ourselves through life is more important than trying to look like a Kardashian or whatever. I have no problem with the Kardashians or any of those people, but I just think it is a shame sometimes. The best thing about being yourself is that nobody else can be that. So I do not know why you would want to be anyone else because you are completely unique and I think that is a cool thing. I do not know if I have a lot of specific role models or it is just that I like musicians that grow and have growth with their careers and are constantly evolving as they go along.
How do you think social media has impacted the music industry? How does it affect you personally?
I feel like we care too much about what sandwich someone is eating. We do not ask ourselves enough if something is good or if we like it. We fill ourselves with all these details about if something is good or bad and then at the end of it we forget to ask do I like it…regardless of what anyone else thinks or says… regardless if that person fell on their face or said a stupid thing. That stuff should not matter. I feel that social media can take a bit of that away. There are artists that I really like and I follow them on twitter and I am a bit disappointed and it is a shame because it should not take away from what they do.
It can also be a really nice thing, because it means that people can access you. But I am not a big tweeter. I just tweet nonsense every now and then. I prefer to use it just for fun. I do not see twitter as a chat room, I do not need to check it all of the time. I can quite happily leave it for a few days. I try to [read the responses from my fans] but if I do not check it for a day I inevitably end up missing stuff.
I am quite a shy person, I am not very good at taking compliments, I do not know how to do that. But if someone was to talk to me about comic books or films I find it much easier to reply to that than if someone tweets saying ‘I really like your music,’ I’m like um ‘thank you’ then I don’t know, I feel like weird.
It’s hard, it’s like a weird thing to navigate this social media thing. I’m still learning how to use it and how much I want to use it because also you can get too familiar on social media to a point where you can show people your life. Going out and stuff is another thing but your relationships and private stuff I think it can be too much sometimes. It is nice to share your good, happy moments. There are a lot of people that take pictures of themselves crying and stuff or at funerals or shit. What are you doing? Stop it. If you want to say look I am having a fun time, and you are sharing that with your friend that is fine but sometimes people get a bit too much. (laughs) #funeral #sadtimes
Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?
Be happy. Do what makes you happy.
Watch him live on tour this summer: