Ralph really is the “girl next door”- if the girl next door is a rising pop sensation with an angelic voice, a plethora of funky outfits and long DayGlo-colored nails that would make any girl jealous.
Raffaela Weyman, the 27-year-old Toronto native better known by her stage name Ralph, has been creating music long before using her mysterious moniker. Weyman attended an arts high school where she studied music theatre and performance for four years. It was here that Weyman said she was able to “develop confidence onstage and in my vocal technique (the first two years I was terrified though).” Weyman continued to perform after high school when she joined a band with five friends. It was in this band that she became interested in performing her own music. Weyman described her sound during this pre-Ralph time as folksy.
“I grew up with hippy parents and a huge vinyl collection. I loved Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Neil Young, Prince, Fleetwood MAC, Diana Road & The Supremes, Crosby Stills and Nash,” Weyman said. “I was obsessed with their songs because they were so narrative driven.”
It wasn’t until Weyman was approached by a man named Johnny to sing over his synth tracks that she fell in love with the idea of creating pop music. Although she and Johnny eventually went separate ways, Weyman continued evolving their original project and shortly after the solo project Ralph was born.
“When I started doing synth-pop I wanted to find a moniker that felt separate from my old personas. I liked the idea of Ralph because it was genre ambiguous and could be the name of a band or a duo or a solo artist. It’s mysterious,” Weyman said.
Weyman didn’t just create a new name for her solo project, but instead an entire aesthetic. Take a look at the music videos for her singles “Girl Next Door” and “September Fades.” From those videos alone, it’s clear that Weyman has a strong visual and stylistic vision as well as a musical one.
“For me, my artistry doesn’t just stop at the music. I’ve always been hands-on with my image and visuals because I’m super passionate about it all,” Weyman said of Ralph’s aesthetic. “I studied film in university and fell in love with on-camera creativity. I want to feel as though my photos and videos are authentic and relevant to my music and lyrics, which is why I love working with talented friends who know me and want to work with me. Shooting with my best friend Gemma Warren has been the best, because she’s so skilled and taught me how to feel so comfortable on camera. She really helped develop the Ralph aesthetic at the very start of it all, when we did this shoot in a bathtub of pink water and I had long black nails. I think that cool, confident, stylized vibe has stayed consistent throughout the last three years. I just want to make images that are fresh and beautiful and memorable.”
Ralph’s strong aesthetic of bright colors, glossy eyeshadows and a crew of fresh-faced, fashionably-dressed friends gives all of her videos a hint of nostalgic adolescence. Her songs match this sentiment, as she mainly sings about love, broken hearts and new and old relationships.
“I find I naturally write about relationships, because it’s a universal concept,” Weyman said. “Whether it’s a relationship with yourself, your friends or a partner, we all experience similar feelings and moments, right? I guess I try to embody these moments in an honest, personal way. It puts me in a pretty vulnerable position but I think it’s the only way to really nail the sentiment.”
In terms of songwriting, Weyman is “basically always doing it.”
“Words will come to me randomly or I’ll be inspired by a conversation I hear, a book I read, a line from movie I love, a dream, etc. I like to come into the studio with an idea or a feeling that I want to write about,” Weyman said.
Like a true artist, Weyman never stops thinking musically, even while on vacation in Italy, as she described: “I also have a funny memory of writing a song called ‘Gimme,’ which will be on my [new] album. I was in Italy with my friend and I was swimming in the ocean when I suddenly had this lyric and melody idea. If I don’t immediately record myself, I won’t remember anything, so I literally ran out of the water as if a shark had appeared. My friend was like, ‘What the f**k?’ and when I reached for my phone and vocal noted myself, she was just like, ‘Ugh, artists are so insane.’”
Weyman was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, and gathered much inspiration from the famed Canadian city. “Toronto has such a rich and diverse music scene, I think it’s had a big influence on me. I had friends doing so many different kinds of music that I was inspired all the time. I sang backup for my brothers friends’ hip hop albums, I did harmonies for my friends in the folk world, I’ve sung at tiny house shows and I’ve sang at sold out shows with hundreds of people. There’s just so many opportunities because Toronto is so filled with creativity and multifaceted talent. I’ve always felt really supported and embraced by the music community in my city. It’s made me feel comfortable experimenting with my own sound because I know people will always have my back,” Weyman explained.
Weyman is the perfect mix of quirky and confident, imaginative and realistic. She dreams of one day playing Coachella (because really, who doesn’t?) and if she was able to collaborate with any artist, dead or alive, would do so with Prince (“I think we could create some sexy disco falsetto realness”). Although lately she’s been skyrocketing onto the music scene, she still values spending time with friends and family: currently, she’s on a road trip in California with best friend Warren to see a friend’s band play, having adventures that involve “fresh cherries, 7 million coffees, late nights and too much tequila.” If Ralph is the girl next door, then we’re definitely moving in.
Lucie Turkel is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.