Raleigh Ritchie finally reveals his face in the video for his track ‘Stay Inside’ after successfully maintaining a low profile since supporting Kendrick Lamar on his recent UK tour.
After a lean amount of self released tracks have piqued online and consistently increasing his following, the facade has finally fallen for Bristol boy Raleigh Ritchie who has previously played down any emphasis on his real persona.
His EP ‘The Middle Child’ has been greeted with industry approval. His assured production and unique talent, take on modern soul like many mature of his years and for heavyweight rapper Kendrick Lamar to invite him to be the opener of his recent UK tour then the buzz must be legitimate.
We caught up with the enigma himself to talk about being fashion savvy, the Top 40 and his progression of sound on new EP ‘Black & Blue’.
When did you decide that you wanted to further your passion for music and mould a career out of it?
I used to write songs for other kids at school to sing. To cut a long story short I ended up singing them myself and it just stuck because I enjoyed it. And here we are.
You relocated from Bristol to London at an early age. What was the decision behind the move and how do the cities compare overall, as well as musically?
I found myself here, be it fate or circumstance. Either way I fell in love with it. I had the relationship I think most people have with their hometowns, I wanted to see something else, but I would never compare them, they’re just different. It’s a beautiful city, I’m proud to come from Bristol. I don’t know the Bristol music scene as it is now because I only ever knew it through the eyes of a teenager, but it’s always been vibrant and exciting and is clearly thriving.
What kind of things were you listening too growing up? What inspired you to begin penning lyrics?
As a little kid I went through the Top 40 motions and fixated on the stuff I was meant to fixate over, but then I just got bored. I got all detective about finding stuff, then each thing trailed off to the next. My dad played me a lot of stuff. He’s got a very eclectic taste. He’s an encyclopaedia of music so I stole a lot of my taste from him. When I started writing songs, The Smiths played a big part in what I wanted to do. Morrissey sang in his own accent and spoke honestly in the face of people calling him pretentious or whiney and I respected that. Musiq Soulchild had a big effect on how I approached songs too, he may have predominantly written love songs but his lyrics were conversational and clever whilst everybody else in the genre was talking about Bacardi parties and “chicas”.
What continues to inspire you now?
When I write something it springs from what I feel. My music is pop music, it’s lots of different things smashed together. That’s how I see it anyway. I mostly write songs because I have to. I have to evaluate the possibilities of how I’m feeling about something. It helps me make sense things.
How did you end up touring with Kendrick?
I have absolutely no idea, genuinely, but I’m so glad it did. It happened in a blur. It was a shock. If I knew I’d tell you.
You seem to have quite an enigmatic low profile. Are you concerned about the media hype that is sure to surround you?
Not really no, I’m quite a low profile person. I don’t bring a lot of drama. Hype isn’t a palpable thing, in the long run it holds very little value. I’d like to avoid it if possible. I just want to make good music that people enjoy. Too much hype and no trousers killed the cat. I think that’s the saying.
Who are you championing at the minute. What sort of music have you been listening to most recently?
Kwabs’ voice melts my brain and face, Etta Bond is the truth, The Internet’s new album is really special and Elli Ingram is super cool. I saw this guy Benjamin Clementine on Jools Holland the other night and it blew me away.
Is there a constant theme running through your body of work?
I just write what I feel, what I’ve felt, and have to hope you’ve been there, at the risk of sometimes feeling uncomfortable.
Tell us a bit more about ‘The Middle Child’ ep and the forthcoming ‘Black and Blue’?
Well The Middle Child was my first day at school. Black and Blue is more focused. It’s about destructive relationships and how much bigger the world is than you. It’s a lot darker than the first one.
How will the full length record differ from the EP’s?
The way it’s taking shape is a much fuller sound. Not overproduced or showy, just fuller. I want to make music that tells a story and puts people in the middle of it. I think the seeds of that are in Black and Blue. I feel like so many debut albums are about the artist’s whole life, crammed into this small little package. I want to do something more specific than that, whilst still letting people into my head.
Who are your favourite designers/brands and would you ever consider curating your own clothing line?
I’m largely a “whatever’s clean” kind of guy, but I know what I like. I love classic Nike, and Farah Vintage. James Long’s knitwear stuff is really cool. I’ve always wanted to do t-shirts and I’d like to do something with that, I’ve got plenty of ideas. I’m a big t-shirt fan. I love me a breast pocket.
What has been your best live show to date and what can we expect from future headline gigs?
Wireless was pretty special. All my favourite people came to support me, and it was at the end of the Kendrick tour so it capped that off nicely. That was a really good day. In terms of future shows, you can expect a lot of energy. A lot of jumping, some injuries maybe, we’ll have fun. And my band will destroy everybody with their awesomeness. Doing shows is fast becoming one of my favourite things in the world. I’m always terrified at first and then I can’t control myself. It’s worth the entry just to see if I fall on my face.
Listen to new single ‘Overdose’ here.
Words: Shane Hawkins