Ralph Talks Bringing Authenticity, Identity, and Bops to New ‘222’ EP

· Updated on October 4, 2023

Canadian indie pop artist Raff Weyman has found a tried and true musical lane since putting out her debut song, “Trouble” under the “Ralph” moniker in 2015. Songs like “Gravity”, “Tommy”, and “Gimme” are cool, danceable jams ready for radio-play. The accessible, enjoyable formula has earned her thousands of fans across platforms, millions of streams, charting tracks in Canada, and an opening spot on Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2019 Dedicated Tour.

On her new EP 222, she’s not just expanding her lane; she’s going all-terrain. With new collaborators and a new guiding mantra, this artist has found her way to some of the most varied and exciting sounds of her career to date.

“When I was writing this EP, I decided that I wanted to work with new producers and new writers,” she tells INTO in our exclusive chat. “I was feeling a little bit lost in my musicality.

“I found that some of the male producers I had worked with were not great with the idea of having an artist who wants to be more involved in the creation and the musicality. So I worked with a couple of new producers who were like, ‘Yeah, if you want to write a demo, bring in the demo and we can work off of that,’ which was so fun for me.”

This fresh blood has audible since she kicked off the 222 era with the sexy sapphic single “Scary Hot”, a track perfectly situated at the cross of cute and sultry with bright octave jumps and a beat late-’00s Britney would be proud of. There’s nothing else on this project (or possibly in her catalogue) quite like it.

“It’s funny. Like, there’s a ballad at the end with a full choir in the background, and it’s one of my favorite songs. You’ve got ‘Scary Hot’, which is a short little hot pop bop, and then ‘Just A Rose’, the first song, is like Prince meets Robyn meets spoken word,” she says. “Every song feels super me and really fun and interesting and different. I’m excited about every single one.”

Her renewed focus on sonic variety and her public bisexual coming out with “Scary Hot” seem to go hand-in-hand, in a way; the majority of the musical inspirations Ralph cites for this project are openly queer women artists, too.

“Take someone like Rina Sawayama,” she explains. “When you listen to a Rina album, it’s kind of all over the place and she does a lot of different stuff, and that was one of my influences. Like, I’m just gonna go with my gut and just make interesting stuff.”

Further inspirations for 222 include bi artists Charli XCX and Mabel, as well as iconic queer-beloved singers like Robyn and Caroline Polachek. She notes Polachek specifically for “her authenticity and her drama”, two well-selected words to describe the artist’s recent sophomore album Desire, I Want To Turn Into You.

“Charli, Caroline, and Rina, especially: those were probably the top three big inspos for this EP,” Ralph continues. “Not even necessarily sonically, but more in the sense that I feel like they’re making really cool sh*t that feels really true to who they are.”

She branched out with another rising queer artist earlier this year, featuring on Canada’s Drag Race winner Priyanka‘s single “Bad B*tches Don’t Cry”. Ralph was brought in to coach the queens through their musical challenges during Priyanka’s season back in 2020, and this new collaboration brought the pair’s journey together to a satisfying full circle moment.

Though Ralph has been influenced by LGBTQ+ artists for years, this project is her first real foray into working her own queer identity into her music.

“It’s exciting having this be the first body of work that I’ve put out as an openly queer artist and incorporating that into the songs in a way that feels comfortable for me,” she says. “When I wrote ‘Scary Hot’, I was like, ‘This feels good. This feels like an excellent representation of me and what’s happening in my life.’ There’s a line about me hooking up with my girlfriend, but like, it doesn’t feel performative.”

Though no one’s taken her coming out as any kind of performative gesture, there still seems a lingering hesitancy from her to take up space and visibility as part of the community. Throughout our chat, she almost solely refers to the LGBTQ+ community as a “them” rather than an “us”, something she didn’t realize until it was pointed out.

“I have, like, Impostor syndrome about it,” she explains. “I say this to my girlfriend all the time. She’s like, ‘I get it, because you were an “ally” for so long.’

“I get in my head. I have to tell myself, ‘You’re not an impostor if it’s just true, Raff. Nobody’s questioning you, because it’s just true.’ As someone who is very emotional and cares a lot about the people around me, especially the queer community, I want to always make sure that they feel good and that they know how much I love them and that I feel very grateful to be a part of the community now.”

This public exploration of both self and sound are two ways that this artist sees her music evolving to meet the current moment.

“The current moment has people wanting authentic artistry,” she notes. “Like, with ‘Pain Relief’, there’s a story behind the song and I’m comfortable telling it. I’m very candid about the mental health and the jealousy and, like, the personal bitterness.

“I was really close to just quitting music because I didn’t feel happy and it wasn’t making me feel good anymore. And then I wrote ‘Pain Relief’, and it did feel cathartic writing that all out, and kind of being like, ‘Oh, I really see through to my bitterness.’”

Following the release of her Gradience EP back in 2021 and a subsequent breakup, Ralph entered a period where she found herself “hitting a wall” and wondering, “Am I out of music?” Those feelings of doubt and grappling with the difficulty of her path came to serve as inspiration for this new EP’s title.

“When I started dating my girlfriend, Jamie, she was like, ‘It’s so funny, you keep texting me at 2:22. You’ve done it a couple of times. It must be your angel number,” she recounts.

“Basically, ‘222’ means you’re on a path that might feel hard, it might feel a bit discouraging, it might feel really challenging, but it’s the path you’re supposed to be on. You’re where you’re supposed to be right now, so stick with it and it’s all gonna make sense.”

The number became such an effective and recurring mantra that Ralph had it tattooed on herself as “a stamp to remind me of where I was…and that I’m connected to my path.”

This focus on her path has Ralph looking to the past as much as she is towards the future. As inspired as she is by other artists, one of her main inspirations for this latest project was her earliest project as Ralph: her self-titled 2017 EP.

“I think Ralph is my favorite body of work that I’ve put out as Ralph up to this point,” she says. “I wasn’t trying to be anything yet.

“My goal with this EP, and with my artistry now, is to kind of use the beginning of Ralph as my inspiration. I love the Ralph EP and I feel really strongly about that kind of interesting, authentic risk. I want to remind myself to try to tap back into that place.”

It’s that same sonic variety and daring nature she admires about artists like Sawayama and Polachek that she values in the Ralph EP. Rather than growing away from her past, the growth that she’s experienced as an artist in the years since lends itself to her rediscovery of her roots.

“I’ve come a long way in my confidence and not being bowled over by people who think they know my project better than me,” she says. “And although I’m a different person and more confident in who Ralph is, it’s nice to use the very start as a guide.”

As far as what’s next for this singer, the 222 Tour is right around the corner — and she could not be more excited. After playing huge shows as an opener, she’s ready to have her name starring on the marquees for a few months.

“It’s always scary when you’re doing a headlining tour, because everyone who’s coming for the most part is coming for you. So when you’re waiting to sell out, it’s always a bit scary. You’re just like, ‘Who loves me?’” she laughs.

“I’m excited to meet the new fans. I love seeing people that I recognize from doing shows over and over again in the same places, but it’s always nice meeting new fans and hearing their stories. And I’m excited to sell out all those shows. Every single one.”

222 is available on all major streaming platforms (and it slaps on all of them):

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