Canadian singer/songwriter Ralph has won a lot of acclaim in her native country and a growing fanbase in the United States for the percolating synth-pop showcased on her self-titled debut EP, released last spring. Singles like “Cold To The Touch” and “Tease” were swaddled in ‘80s synths, suggesting Christine McVie teaming up with Carly Rae Jepsen and the ladies of Haim for a summer barbeque jam sesh, while ballads “Lit The Fire” and “Crocodile Tears” showcased a more tender side.
For her latest single, “Girl Next Door” — the first to preview her forthcoming debut album, due this fall — Ralph takes a left turn into more hip-hop-leaning territory, with a guest verse from Canadian rapper TOBI. The sinuous, finger-snapping single is written from a perspective that Ralph will soon find herself among her pop-star heroes before too long, while still attempting to staying true to her roots. It’s Ralph’s very own “Jenny From The Block.”
Below, Billboard is premiering the new single, complete with a tongue-in-cheek lyric video featuring Ralph and TOBI play-acting “normal” scenarios (like playing video games and making snacks) while dressed for the Grammys.
“When you’re an artist getting a little recognition, your friends tend to really joke around and say, ‘Oh, when you get rich and famous, when you go to the Grammys, don’t forget about us,’” Ralph says on the phone from her native Toronto. “I have so many people in my life who would say, ‘Hey, you’re being such a dick’ and take me down a notch. So the song was inspired by that, knowing things change — and I’m hoping things change, because I want to get bigger and better and more successful. That doesn’t mean that I’ll change.”
Though she’s already well-connected in Toronto’s thriving music scene, Ralph wouldn’t mind adding a few more famous females to her rolodex as she continues to build a name for herself. “I’ve been trying to befriend good ol’ Carly one day,” Ralph says with a laugh of Jepsen, who happens to be her labelmate on Canada’s 604 Records. “I feel like me and Carly Rae Jepsen would get along in the same way me and Jennifer Lawrence would get along. I watch videos of Jennifer Lawrence on talks shows and drinking rum and showing photos of her making stupid faces and I think we’d be best friends.”
But for now, the artist born Raffaela Weyman will be hitting the road in Toronto and other territories this summer to further cultivate the stage persona she first gave herself to put a more gender-ambiguous spin on her childhood nickname, “Raff.”
“When you’re making music, it’s nice to have that ability to separate a little from your personal self – you remain sane,” she says. “Recently I got some bad news before a show, but then I had to go onstage and be Ralph and present myself as this funny, lively human. Those are the challenges of having that role, but it’s good to be like that for the next 45 minutes and assume that character, so that when I step off the stage I can deal with how I’m feeling and be Raffa.”
Is that dichotomy a reference to another of her heroes, Katy Perry? In her documentary Part Of Me, the artist formerly known as Katheryn Hudson was crumbling in tears after an intense conversation with then-husband Russell Brand, whilst being elevated onto an arena platform. “Oh my God, I literally referenced this two days ago!” Ralph exclaims. “I had a DJ obligation at my friend’s store, and hours before, me and my boyfriend had broken up. I was bawling, but I had to go out and put on this fashion look and go out in this great way. I kept telling myself when I was DJ’ing, ‘Katy Perry, Katy Perry.’ That movie had some seriously relatable moments.”
With lots more music of her own coming throughout the summer, Ralph should soon be giving fans plenty of material to find their own identifiable experiences.