It’s been a big week for RALPH. Earlier this week, the Canadian singer released her newest single “No Muss No Fuss,” which is the second track off her forthcoming EP. The same day, she released a corresponding music video for the track and announced that she’d be joining pop princess and fellow Canadian Carly Rae Jepsen for the Canadian leg of Jepsen’s Dedicated World Tour. As of today, the up-and-comer's songs have made it to a handful of Spotify playlists, including Canada’s Top Hits, Pop All Day, Summer Hits, and “It’s a Bop” in countries like Canada, Iceland, Germany, and Denmark. She’s also organizing and performing at a fundraiser for College Hospital’s Bay Centre for Birth Control and the National Network of Abortion Funds in Toronto next week. Like I said, big week for RALPH.
In case this soon-to-be superstar isn’t already on your radar, RALPH, whose given name is Raffaela Weyman (RALPH is a play on words of her childhood nickname Raff), is a bleach-blonde singer/songwriter who’s been steadily ascending the ranks of the music industry since releasing her eponymous debut EP in 2017. A year later, she released her first full album, A Good Girl. Her sound is decidedly pop-infused but brings in elements of genres like R&B, funk, disco, and folk. RALPH cites fellow folk-pop amalgam Maggie Rogers as a big influence on her work.
“In my mind, I align with her a lot because she's experimented with pop music but has also held on to her integrity as a singer-songwriter and is really experimenting with quirky sounds and melodies and natural vocals and layer harmonies,” she said. Her other influences include legends like Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Joan Baez, Stevie Knicks, Diana Ross, and The Beatles. On a more contemporary note, she cites Robyn, Miley Cyrus, Leon, and of course her future tour partner Carly Rae.
Like many of her influencers, RALPH writes her own songs, explaining, "Everything I write is autobiographical. Everything I write is loosely based on me.” Her writing process is very organic. “I’m always writing songs,” she said, “and if I don’t voice note it or write it down right away, it will go away.” RALPH’s notes app (which many celebrities seem to only use to apologize on social media) is a veritable treasure trove of song ideas. “Sometimes it’s a word or a phrase, or maybe it’s a verse, or a verse and a chorus,” the singer/songwriter said. She likes to show up to a session with producers with at least a few different ideas so that they have material with which to build. Sometimes, however, she forgets what the notes are supposed to mean. “Sometimes in the studio, I’ll look at my phone to see what I have written there,” she said, “and sometimes I can’t figure out if it’s a lyric idea or just a grocery note.”
When she sets out to write a song, RALPH wants to say something that’s universal for her listeners but that she is able to speak to personally. “I really like picking themes that I think are relatable,” she said, “but that have enough personal contact for me so that when I sing the words, I can actually feel them. I believe that if you don’t have enough to say about something, it’s hard to convey passion about it.” That’s why RALPH tends to write about things that she knows: relationships, happiness, heartbreak. At least one of the tracks off her upcoming EP will focus on her recent relationship troubles. With that being said, “No Muss, No Fuss” is actually not based on RALPH’s life. “It’s about this conversation I overheard two girls having,” she said, “but I related to the conversation enough.”
The renaissance woman that is RALPH also acts as her own stylist. As a child, she’d play dress-up after school and make home videos. Her dress-up evolved into musical theater, which in turn evolved into her doing some styling and costume design for others. “So when it came to styling myself, it’s me. For performances, it’s me and for tour, it’s me,” she said. RALPH styled her “No Muss, No Fuss” music video by traveling around L.A. and scouring stores for the perfect outfits. But just because she’s been doing it for years doesn’t mean she takes it lightly. She’s currently quite worried about what she’ll wear each night while opening for Jepsen. Her personal style is her form of true self-expression. “I always say to take risks, try new things, but if it doesn’t feel like you then don’t wear it,” she said. “I always look for clothing that’s going to highlight my body, that I’m comfortable in, but that are unforgettable.” RALPH likes to get creative with her outfits. She likes the fringe and the ruffles. “I’d rather be weird than boring,” she said.
As her star continues to rise, RALPH admits that the most surprising part of the whole surreal ordeal is not only the amount of collaboration required in the creation of her music but also how willing people have been to help her along the way. “When you’re an independent artist, you really rely on the people believe in the music and in the project,” she said. “I’ve just been so amazed to see how many generous friends and, beyond that, even strangers who have contributed to the projects over the years. I’m truly amazed by how much generosity and how many wonderful humans are out there.”
Her journey hasn’t all been sunshine and roses, though. RALPH admits that there have been some bumps in the road. She is, after all, a woman in modern society. “I'm always amazed and sort of shocked by how often as a female in music I have to deal with men on the road who treat me like a professional until they get drunk or they catch me being kind and smiling,” she said. “To be honest, I’ve had to develop a thick skin for that kind of stuff because at first it really made me question my talent and it made me question my professionalism and my worth.”
To combat these potentially toxic situations, RALPH takes the initiative to create spaces in which she and other women can feel safe and supportive. She surrounds herself with women and goes out of her way to hire more. She has a female manager, a female lawyer, and a female publicist. She works with female directors and other female writers. “I think it’s important to constantly think about trying to bridge that gap and make a change,” she said. “Just hire more women. Give women chances.”
RALPH hopes that by creating these spaces, she’ll encourage others to be more aware and to be more sensitive to other people’s needs, something which she is always trying to do herself. “It’s that old phrase ‘be the change you want to see in the world,’” she said.
One way RALPH and some of her friends are attempting to effect real change is by holding a fundraising concert called Body Party next week on August 21st in Toronto. All proceeds from the pro-choice event will divide between the National Network of Abortion Funds in the United States and the College Hospital’s Bay Centre for Birth Control in Canada. “A lot of women around me were having the same reaction when Alabama was passing their [anti-abortion] laws,” she said. “We were just like, ‘what the hell do we do?’ So we organized a fundraiser.” RALPH will be headlining the event, and the rest of the line-up is all female-identifying.
“Using music and your voice as a way to inspire others and talk about the things that need to be talked about,” she said, “that’s how I feel like I can really work towards change.” That’s how RALPH is going to be the change she wants to see in the world.
Dedicated Tour Dates:
Aug 28: Vancouver, BC @ The Commodore Ballroom
Aug 29: Vancouver, BC @ The Commodore Ballroom
Sep 1: Victoria, BC @ Royal Theatre
Sep 4: Calgary, AB @ Macewan Hall
Sep 5: Edmonton, AB @ Winspear Centre
Sep 9: Winnipeg, MB @ Burton Cummings Theatre
Sep 10: Thunder Bay, ON @ Thunder Bay Community Auditorium
Sep 12: Montreal, QC @ Mtelus
Sep 13: Hamilton, ON @ Firstontario Concert Hall
Sep 14: Toronto, ON @ Sony Centre for the Performing Arts
Sep 16: Ottawa, ON @ Bronson Centre
Sep 18: Kitchener, ON @ Centre in the Square
Sep 19: London, ON @ London Music Hall