Ralph’s EP ‘222’: A Unique Journey Through Love and Authenticity
By: Zoe Blakeman – Photo Credit: Mariah Hamilton
Ralph, the talented queer pop diva, dropped her latest EP 222 on June 30. Exploring themes ranging from heartbreak to celebration, Ralph effortlessly connects with listeners through relatable experiences while keeping her music refreshing and unique. In this Q&A, she unveils the creative processes and personal anecdotes that shaped 222.
222 delves into the intricate interplay between femininity, sexuality, and music. Ralph shares her unique perspective on love songs, emphasizing that her tracks delve beyond romantic love to explore diverse forms of love and relationships. Through collaborations with fresh artists, she has expanded her sonic abilities, creating a captivating and distinct musical style. Ralph’s dedication to writing and producing her own music showcases her evolution as an artist and introduces fans to an exciting new dimension of her artistry bound to leave listeners in awe.
Check out the Q&A below for more details on the new EP, Ralph’s creative processes, and some insight into her life as a singer and songwriter!
ZB: Hi Ralph, it’s so great to meet you!
Ralph: You as well! I’m super excited to talk to you about my new EP! I love how it came out, and I can’t wait for everyone to listen to it!
ZB: I listened to it and loved it! Can you tell me more about the inspiration behind the title of your EP 222 and how it relates to your personal journey as an artist?
Ralph: When I first started dating my girlfriend a little over a year ago, she said, “It’s funny, you keep texting me at 2:22.” She’s really into astrology and knows a lot about it, and told me it must be my angel number. I didn’t know what an angel number was, so we looked up what 222 means, and it means alignment and faith in the future and trusting yourself with the path you’re on, and knowing it’s the right one. Things will come to fruition and reveal themselves to you as you’re on the right track.
I loved that being a mantra for me while writing this EP. There have been a lot of changes in my life over the last few years, and I’ve engineered a way to get back the feeling of excitement when making music. I needed to think about what was missing and what wasn’t working. I also kept seeing 222 everywhere, I guess I manifested it into existence! I knew I wanted to call this album 222 before I had the songs, and it helped me shape the journey of the songs as the tie that holds them all together.
ZB: I feel like “222” perfectly fits as the title for this project. The songs on your EP cover a range of emotions and themes, from breakup anthems to introspective reflections. How did you approach the songwriting process to capture such diverse experiences?
Ralph: With the EP, there were so many songs I had written. In the past, I worked with a lot of really hands-on people, and with this one, I didn’t want that. I needed to be the one calling all of the shots and making all of the decisions. I sourced completely new producers and writers, and I wanted to work with people who were down to collab and not control.
I did a lot of writing with a lot of great people, and I’m very grateful for the people who put time into this EP. The reason these songs made it on and make sense to me is because, sonically, I feel as though they fit the theme. I originally wanted to write a dance EP like Charlie XCX vibes that would give it a really strong sonic connection.
That didn’t happen, but I think that because “Just a Rose” was always going to be on the EP, it was important to have it on the album because I had written the demo. If you listen to the lyrics, it’s a song about reentering the scene and becoming a smash hit. It’s almost like a brag track like a rapper would do. I needed to have that as the anchor to have the other songs come along.
Using that as a sonic anchor made sure every song on the EP had a way to tie into “Just a Rose.” Thematically I write from an autobiographical standpoint, and my songs are usually about relationships in general. It’s not a concept album so I didn’t feel like it needed to all be a linear narrative, but when we picked the songs [“Scary Hot” and “Sweetener”] it just made sense to be together.
ZB: “Sweetener” and “Scary Hot” have distinct sounds and vibes. Can you share your creative process when collaborating with other artists on these tracks and how it influenced the final outcome?
Ralph: I used to be really stubborn about writing with other people as I’ve always been a songwriter, but pop music is so much about collaboration. With this EP, I was very selective about the artists I worked with. “Scary Hot” is written with Devin Cole who is a vital TikTok gal from Canada. I met her at a show and she was a big Ralph fan and then one day she popped off. I reached out to her about writing together because I loved her stuff as she’s young and funny and pop.
“Sweetener” was with the same producer [as “Scary Hot”] and I collaborated with another Devin who is a writer from a band called Wild Rivers. When writing “Scary Hot” with Devin Cole, it worked because we’re both very open people. We just sat down and talked candidly about our lives and what was going on and that helped influence the song a lot.
I think having another queer writer in the room who can be incredibly truthful and honest and open with sexuality made “Scary Hot,” super fun to make. I’ve never put out a song that is about hooking up, I’m not really sure why because I’m an adult woman who is comfortable with her sexuality, so she helped influence that aspect of the song and helped me have some confidence there.
“Sweetener” came about because I picked people who were really talented, funny, fun, kind, and patient people. I think the vibe in the room was very Charlie XCX dance pop vibes and her album “Crash” hugely influenced me. I had gone to see her in Toronto and it was such an awesome show and all of my fans were at this show.
I’m in the audience and so many people around me were going “Hey Ralph!” and “Oh my god Ralph!” I knew my fans wanted and needed a chaotic Charlie XCX dance-pop song. I told my producer and pushed for that and he was super down. Having people in the room that I carefully selected in the room made the collaborative process amazing because they brought things to the table I never would’ve thought of.
ZB: With “Scary Hot” being kind of a hook-up song, how do you show off your feminine side in your music?
Ralph: Because my aesthetic with Ralph is so important – like music videos and the outfits and doing photoshoots – I’ve always been comfortable with my femininity. With music, I’ve never consciously thought, “Is this feminine? Should it be more feminine?” I’ve never thought about my gender and I’ve always just felt comfortable as a woman and my representation as one. Sometimes I want to feel sexy and wear a latex bodysuit and other days I wear my dad’s suit on stage with a bra.
I love playing with sexuality and with gender representation, and I incorporate it into my music like with “Scary Hot,” it’s almost bubblegum-pop/hyperpop/sexy pop. I would clarify it to be not so much feminine but more sexual music I think. As an artist, I’ve always been flirty and I’m at a point in my life where I feel very comfortable with my sexuality.
When I was dating men, they’ve never really been comfortable with me being bisexual so I never talked about wanting to be with women. Now that I’m in a relationship with a woman, I feel super comfortable and happy with the community I’m surrounded by and the support that I receive. The joy and stability have translated into the joy and stability that I feel within myself. With “Scary Hot,” the music video is the most sexual music video I’ve ever done. I like that people watching this might think “Wow! This is new for Ralph,” because as an artist you have to evolve and show people different sides of yourself.
ZB: In the closing track, “How Do You Measure Love?” you explore both euphoria and melancholy while acknowledging your shortcomings. How did you balance these emotions in the song, and what message did you want to convey to your listeners?
Ralph: That is such a perfect way of describing how my brain works. I think my brain works oscillating between euphoria and melancholy and sometimes they feel like the same thing. I have a complicated relationship with love, so I wanted to write a song about how to figure out love and try to solve the questions of love. My studio producer Jordan and I wanted to write a dance track that day but it was just not working. We talked about how to solve or measure love and what we use to measure love and those special moments formed.
It was such an intimate day of gentle vulnerable conversation and we wrote it on an acoustic guitar. If you listen to my body of work I do have a lot of songs about love but they’re not always about love in the sense of rom-com love. I have a song about being a manipulative person in a relationship. When writing songs about love, I want to bring something new to the table. I want it to feel like a beautiful anthemic epic love song, and that’s why we have a choir at the end. It’s my friend’s voice in the choir and I wanted it to feel representative of me as an artist and my complex brain.
ZB: I listened to the song and I think it fits everything you said to a T. It’s all clicking together for me which is so awesome to understand the back story to this powerful love anthem.
Ralph: I have a group of friends who just lost one of their best friends and they all said this song [“How Do You Measure Love”] makes them think of their friend. The beauty of the song is that it can be applied to friendship, your brother, sister, mom, dad, or whoever. It’s just a song about love, not just romantic love. That is my ultimate quest; writing songs that can be relatable to any listener. It would be a job well done for me.
ZB: I totally agree that having versatility is very important, especially with topics talked about in music. Especially with this type of love which I think is something never really explored. But, one last question, if you have one thing you want your audience to take away from this EP, what would it be?
Ralph: My goal with this EP was that I wanted it to feel authentic and unique. I wanted new listeners to listen to it and think that it doesn’t sound like anything they know. I want people to have to listen to it multiple times and want to show their friends and want to listen to more of my music. I want Ralph listeners who’ve been listening to me for years to feel the Ralph evolution and feel that I’m stepping into a new era of confidence, control, and happiness.
With 222, everything started clicking after a long hard era of tears and emotions. I finally got to direct my music videos, edit my music, and even produce it. I want this EP to exude a feeling of confidence, honesty, and power. I hope listeners finish listening to the EP and are filled with the feeling of being able to do anything and conquer everything.
Make sure to check out Ralph’s tour dates this October with promises of a new set list and some surprises! The tour dates listed below.
Check out more great interviews here!
Sep. 14, 2023 West Hollywood, CA The Peppermint Club
Sep. 16, 2023 San Francisco, CA Cafe Du Nord
Sep. 19, 2023 Seattle, WA Barboza
Sep. 20, 2023 Vancouver, BC Fortune Sound Club
Sep. 23, 2023 Calgary, ON Modern Love
Sep. 27, 2023 Minneapolis, MN 7th St Entry
Sep. 28, 2023 Chicago, IL Schubas
Sep. 29, 2023 London, ON Rum Runners
Oct. 3, 2023 Brooklyn, NY Elsewhere
Oct. 5, 2023 Montreal, QC Bar Le Ritz PDB
Oct. 6, 2023 Toronto, ON The Great Hall