We were really lucky to catch up with the amazing artist Ripley following April’s release of ‘Fake News’. Check out the interview below!
Hi Ripley, tell us about yourself?
I’m from Edinburgh originally and moved to London via Budapest nine years ago. I’ve been working on the cabaret scene for four years now with my political satire show ‘Like A Sturgeon’. Last year I wanted to start channelling the themes of my shows into pop music, and I’ve been busying myself away in my bedroom studio writing weird electronic songs about corruption, money, politics and sex.
What is your songwriting process?
I’ve got a notepad I take everywhere where I jot down my ideas for lyrics. A lot of it comes out in a long stream of consciousness paragraphs. I chop these rants down to the bare bones and start playing with melody on my guitar. I record the vocal lines first and start to build the instrumental around it. I’m quite a quick worker and can usually hear the whole track in my mind before I start. I always try to add an element of surprise somewhere too, keep people guessing what’s going to happen next.
Tell us about your latest release?
‘Fake News’ was written at a time when I was feeling angry at the world. Nothing felt real anymore. I felt like my London friendships were all superficial. I was sick of seeing all these people online losing their self-esteem to Facetune and Snapchat filters, plus every day I was reading more fabricated right-wing nonsense in the news. The song became a sort of check-list of everything that was really triggering me that day.
What message do you think your music conveys to your fans?
That I’d never vote for the Tories! There’s always a strong political message in all my songs. The last one, Electric Democracy, was all about Britain’s political climate at the time. Nothing’s changed since then. Surprise, surprise! But what can we expect when we’ve elected these self-serving, sociopathic capitalists into power? There was so much noise around the UK General Election last winter that it felt like a sea-change was coming. But no. We’re stuck with the Conservatives. The next single, ‘I Only Date Boys Who Vote’, comes out on April 17th 2020, and is aimed at some of the men I know who apparently couldn’t be bothered voting last time!
We would never vote for the Tories either! Who are your musical influences?
I love Mirwais Ahmadzaï’s production style. He has a way of combines polar opposites in songs, sometimes bringing them together to compliment each other and other times making them compete for attention. There’s always a sense of playfulness in the tracks he creates as well. He’s never taking himself too seriously. I listen to a lot of Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode, Garbage, Nelly Furtado and PC music. I think all of these sources of inspiration definitely creep into my songs.
Who are your non-musical influences?
A lot of my inspiration comes from people I really dislike. Zuckerberg, Murdoch, Trump, Johnson, May, Rees-Mogg. Their greed, narcissism, competitiveness and inability to grasp what happens in the real world to real people provide me with nearly limitless material.
Amen. What is your funniest gig moment?
I got this incredible custom cape made by the designer Simon Preen. On its first outing, I did a little spin and lifted my leg which somehow resulted in my stiletto going through the lining of the cape, becoming trapped in the seam. Because the cape was tied around my neck, I basically started choking myself and for the next minute had to writhe around on the floor trying to get my shoe out of the cape without cutting off my air supply. I’m sure there’s a video of that somewhere!
Very Madonna at the Brits 2015! What do you think are the biggest obstacles for bands/artists today?
At this exact moment in time? Getting out there to promote your work to live audiences and perform in venues! Doing Facebook and Instagram LIVE shows from your living room are fine, but if you’re starting out and don’t have thousands of followers, it’s going to be difficult to get the songs heard. Then there’s the algorithm. There seems to be less space for anything that doesn’t sound like whatever is trending on Spotify. I think that’s really frustrating and stifling creativity.
What advice would you give to other bands/artists starting out?
Don’t sit on your songs. Just be brave, accept the fact other people might not like it and don’t feel guilty for playing your own songs on repeat at home!
What are your hopes for the next two years?
To get out of isolation! I can’t wait to get out and back into bars and start doing my songs in front of real live humans.
FVMusicBlog April 2020
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