Me, Myself, And I: Raleigh Ritchie Interviewed

Me, Myself, And I: Raleigh Ritchie Interviewed

Making highly personal music in a time of societal protest...

Raleigh Ritchie has been incredible busy during his four-year absence from the release schedule.

As well as being one of Daenerys Targaryen’s main advisers, he’s been in the process of creating ‘Andy’, a heart-felt album full of strings, lo-fi drumbeats and the sound of Raleigh’s husky harmonious voice.

During our conversation, Raleigh talks about the irony of being in a business that requires social confidence and sometimes arrogance, and what it’s like to be an artist on the other end of the spectrum. Quiet, socially anxious and suffering from a mild to severe case of imposter syndrome.

As well as this, we discuss the pressure that comes with releasing music in a time of societal protest – and how he feels about his involvement towards Black Lives Matter.

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Hey Jacob, how are you doing?

Hey! Well, me and my wife have just had a baby – so we’re somewhat exhausted all the time. I’ve actually just about woken up (12:00am), because the baby has very strange sleeping patterns – so whenever she nods off, we try and run for a nap! She’s sitting on my lap right now, that’s why you can hear her cooing.

It’s really confusing talking about the album whilst trying to raise a new-born, also we finished the album ('Andy') so long ago now, that it’s hard to even remember it when I’ve got this going on. The album was finalised in terms of tracklisting and stuff I’d say around April 2019? So more than a year ago now.

Didn’t you release ‘Time in a Tree’ as a single, almost two years ago now? Which is also featured on the new album ‘Andy’.

Yeah, that track was always going to be on the album more or less. I think as well, we wrote so many songs for this album, at different sort of stages in my life over those four years of writing. ‘Time in a Tree’ was a time in my life where I felt like I needed to find an escape from the things going on at the time, although I think we just released the song slightly prematurely. I’m not entirely sure if it’s very common to release a single from the album, two years before the album release (laughs).

I find that practice of putting songs on an album that are already out really interesting as a part of me is resistant to it, part of me wouldn’t want to put out any singles at all and just straight up put out an album that people can sit and indulge in. But that being said, I think people just listen to music differently now. I put a song out called ‘Me, Myself and I’, after ‘Time In A Tree’ and I’m proud of the song but, it didn’t fit in with the album.

When I released the track list for ‘Andy’, I had people asking me why ‘Me, Myself and I’ wasn’t on there – which made me laugh. And it got me thinking about how you can just practically make your own playlists/albums now days with the streaming platforms that are available, so if they wanted it on there – they could literally just add it to a playlist and recreate the album how they want it.

Music is so different nowadays in terms of the way we consume and purchase it, we often only buy physical copies of music like vinyl in order to get some form of nostalgia or support our favourite artist. How do you feel about the industry now?

It’s a shame that music isn’t made the way it used to be, but it also isn’t because there is a lot more freedom now days. Each individual artist can choose what kind of artist they want to be, there are no straight-forward answers anymore to an artist’s image or genre. If you think back to some of your favourite albums, most of them are so driven by limitations – we as now, there are really no limitations, so you can just create an environment that matches the limitations that people had.

Talking of albums, shall we talk more in depth about your new album ‘Andy’. It’s obvious you pour a lot of your emotional struggles into your songs. I assume that one of your songs ‘Party Fear’ is talking about the negative thoughts that come with social anxiety?

Yeah, yeah it is. I wanted to write a song about what social anxiety feels like, I feel like I’ve never really been able to relate to any ‘party’ song that I’ve ever heard. I’m sure there are other songs about social anxiety that are really beautifully written, but I haven’t heard them (laiughs). I feel like on a subconscious level I’ve always felt shamed a little bit by party songs, because I’ve always thought to myself – ‘well, parties don’t feel like that for me?’.

It puts pressure on you to perform or have fun at a party. Sometimes even seeing one or two of your good friends can be overwhelming, therefore it feels like there is always a burden or cost to social interaction – even when you’re close with people.

Obviously, it depends on the day, where I’m at mentally, but when we think about how overwhelming it can be to socialise with people you’re close with – imagine that feeling when you’re at a party. I find parties a lot of pressure, and often sink into my own head when I’m at them. That, or I start performing a version of myself that I’m not, because I think that’s what people want to see of me. 

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Making an album is difficult in itself, but you had to release the album during a global pandemic and whilst we’re still in a lockdown. How was that?

Um, I don’t know actually! I don’t normal I am as an artist, I’m really bad at promoting my music or being active on social media really overwhelming – for reasons we just spoke about I think, it all ties in with social anxiety and questioning yourself when it comes to promoting an album.

I wrote a note the other day to upload to social media when the album came out, as I wanted people to know how I felt about the album and how much I hoped that they liked it as much as I did. The reason I wrote the note is because I knew I would need to clock off of social media after the release for a while, because it’s just too much information to take in, when all of the notifications start coming in and the fans start messaging you.

As much as I adore their love and support, again, it can be overwhelming – I suppose because it’s not normal to receive that amount of socialisation from so many people. I do the inevitable thing of scrolling until I find a bad comment, when there are ALL of these people saying kind things.

What do you hope will come from your album release?

I really do hope that people are able to resonate with the songs and it provides them with some sort of comfort. I hope that me being honest with my emotions, gives people the courage to be honest with themselves as well. It’s that ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ mentality.

Another saying I love is: If it’s mentionable it’s manageable... essentially if we are able to say these things out loud to one another then hopefully we can deal with them healthily.

Your album name is ‘Andy’, named after your grandfather, what the reason behind this?

There was a point where I actually almost called the album ‘Jacob’, and it was supposed to be a symbol of me as a young boy – but I slowly realised that how would people know I was naming it after myself as a young boy, and not just naming the album after myself? Because of the contents of the album, it felt appropriate to name it after myself as a young boy, not even myself now.

The more I thought about it, my grandad feels like the most protective and comforting aura I can think of, I guess you can say he was a safe space for me and with that being said, it made sense to name the album after him. It also felt like he could protect me from the things I talk about in the album, and naming it after him made me feel slightly less vulnerable for wearing my heart on my sleeve.

Do you feel like this album has been a healing process for you? In terms of growth, understanding your mental health and what works for you to feel better and happier.

100%. I feel like that’s just what songwriting is, and for me it’s almost the only purpose song-writing serves for me, apart from the love of making music and enjoying the sounds. It’s cathartic and when I’m writing songs, I can write down my thoughts and often pick them apart – by looking at them and saying to myself, ‘how can I manage this feeling?’

By writing lyrics and creating a sound it feels like I’m describing what I see when I’m experiencing negative emotions. It may sound pretentious, but I feel like I thrive off of the process, as it’s something that feels very therapeutic as I’m quite methodical in breaking down my thought process during song writing.

I’ve applied this process to song writing since I was a kid, I think I’ve done that because it calms me down so much. At the end of the day, I think anyone with a brain and a heart can write a good song – because it is essentially just expressionism.

If you care and are passionate enough about something, you’ll be able to make it into a song.

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'Andy' is out  now.

Words: Julia Hope

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