Interview With RAWards' Hollywood Musician of Year: Ricky Rebel
We recently caught up with 2012's RAWards Hollywood Musician of the Year Ricky Rebel. For those unaware, through the RAW: natural born artists program, 3-5 nominees, in each craft, showcase in their city (54 shows across the nation on the same night). The local community casts a live vote and three local judges, invited by RAW, also cast their vote. These two factors decide who will represent their town in RAWards Finals. Ricky Rebel beat out talented nominees Dree Paterson, Me Vs I and Lauren Grace. Keep reading to learn about Ricky Rebel's musical journey, which includes being signed to Sony by Michael Jackson and working with Madonna.
Q: Congratulations on winning RAWards’ Hollywood Musician of the Year! How does it feel to win and what does this mean for you?
A: Winning Hollywood Musician of the Year has been a great highlight to my solo career. It was an amazing feeling when they announced my name. My parents and fans were in the audience and they got to experience the thrill with me. It was our victory.
It's made me really proud of my band and my Rebel Team. I realized that true success happens when you surround yourself with talented and positive people.
Q: Who would you like to thank? Who helped you with this milestone?
A: I'd like to thank my Mom and Dad for believing in me and supporting my dreams. They have always been there for me and I am truly blessed to have the parents I have. My Rebel team consists of Timothy Triston (choreographer/director), Natalie Tristan (makeup artist), Raquel Tristan, Robin Perine (photography for my album covers etc.), and my band: Alyson Montez on Violin, Conrado Pesinato on Guitar, Palo Henderson on Bass Guitar, Robert Platz on Drums, and my two lovely backup dancers, Layla Luvv and her sister Cindy. I'd also like to thank my fans which I call my Rebels. They've been there with me every step of the way.
Q: How long have you been performing? Do you play any instruments?
A: I have been performing professionally since I was 11 years old. At the age of 16, I was discovered and signed to Sony by Michael Jackson. I was the lead singer of the pop group No Authority. We released a record and toured Europe twice.
Later, Madonna bought us out of our contract with Sony so that we could be signed to her label, Maverick Records. We released another full length self-titled LP and had the second most added song in the country entitled "Can I Get Your Number." We went on two national tours to promote the record, including the Nickelodeon All That Music and More Festival (with the headliners Destiny's Child, Monica, and 98 Degrees) and then opened up for Britney Spears on the massive Oops I did it Again Tour. When the group disbanded, I picked up the guitar and started producing my own material. It's been a long process, but ultimately there is no greater satisfaction than creating your own work from scratch and inspiring people with your music.
Q: Are there any artists you look up to? Who are some of your influences?
A: I look up to My Chemical Romance and specifically The lead singer Gerard Way. The band cast me in two of their music videos from their album Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. I played a character called "Showpony." I got the opportunity to see Gerard work and witness his genius. He had a say in every detail and was such a joy to work for. I wore a helmet in the video but I took it off on one scene and they used it on MTV and that's what helped me get a huge international fan base. It's because of my involvement with MCR that allowed my core fan base to find me and for that I am eternally grateful. I tend to look up to strong solo entertainers. Madonna, Prince and Bowie are my holy trinity. I also love Elvis Presley, Fiona Apple, Peaches, and one of my biggest influences musically are the fellas responsible for the band Depeche Mode.
Q: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard it before?
A: My music is heavily influenced by the 80's and 90's. It makes sense because I was a 90's baby. I grew up in that era, but I am also very inspired by the new sounds like Dubstep, Hard style, classic Trance and Dance, and a little Rock too. I even made an all rock album in my earlier years that's floating somewhere in cyberspace with my old band Harlow. I describe my current sound as Electro, Pop, Rock. My music is synth based but I like to marry the synths with raw organic layers on top like violin, vocals, acoustic guitar etc.
I like the juxtaposition of electronic and organic sound.
Q: Can you describe your first time onstage?
A: The first time I performed onstage was at a Christmas recital. I was 11-years-old. I sang, "What Child Is This?" Looking back now, I realize that I was bold even back then because that song isn't an easy song to sing. I really didn't know much about singing, but I knew that I loved it. That's all that mattered to me. Later on, I danced for Michael Jackson. He told me, "You've got a lot of nerve." In this business, you've gotta have a lot of nerve!
Q: Do you have any advice for musicians just starting out?
A: My advice would be to stay true to your vision.
People are going to try to twist and mold your idea until they break it. Don't let them. Follow your very first instinct. Let people have their opinions and transform when you need to, but don't allow yourself to get sucked in to other people's constant need to compare. Comparison kills possibility.
Q: What are some of your favorite songs to perform onstage?
A: I love being fierce onstage, so I'm usually the most comfortable being over-the-top Fabulous. That usually entails dancing to a huge beat. My song "Get It On" has this energy that is hard to describe. It puts me in a trance, like an euphoric state, when I perform it. That's why I like to open my shows with that song. It really pumps up the crowd, too. I get chills.
Listen to "Get It On" below:
Another song I love to perform is "Straight Jacket." This song is quite meaningful to me, and I hope it gives inspiration to those who are struggling with their sexuality. The video I made for this song is probably the closest to my heart out of all my videos. I was and am still so upset by all the recent suicides happening amongst gay teens. I made a collage of pictures depicting gay violence and literally the crucification of gay people and then showing images of a new possibility of equality and acceptance.
Watch the "Straight Jacket" video below:
"Missing You" always gets a great reaction from the audience. I think they relate to its message (or else they just love seeing my sexy violinist, Alyson, performing her heart out up there with me). Alyson Montez is my "bestie." On top of being an amazing performers together onstage, offstage we share fashion ideas back and forth and she is a true blue rebel. I love her.
Listen to "Missing You" below:
Q: Are you working on any projects at the moment?
A: I have a huge Top Secret project that I am developing, with the producers of MTV, a Rebel reality show in the works for 2013. We have lots of interest from different networks. It will basically follow the life of me and my friends living in LA and being of all sexual orientations and making it happen in Hollywood. My goal is to have a hit tv show. I am also working like a mad scientist right now in the studio writing and producing my second album.The music I am making right now is Epic. I am drawing from an incredibly difficult breakup and I am channeling all that energy into the creation of this record. I lost a lover and a friend and felt the pain and now I am in a healthy relationship with someone new. It's a beautiful thing because at the time you feel like you will never find love again but if you open your heart, love will find you. I know this record is special and, like a child, I can't wait for it to be born. Another thing I'm working on is getting a great manager and booking agent added to the Rebel team, people who could take it to the next level. I'm ready to open for Gaga or Pink. That would be amazing!
Q: Where can we catch you next? Any upcoming shows?
A: All of my new shows are going to be posted on my website months in advance. You can check out my website here at www.RickyRebelRocks.com
Q: What's the best piece of advice someone ever gave you?
A: You are the 5 closest people you surround yourself with, so choose your friends wisely. I am an emotional vampire. I literally suck the energy from someone I am speeding time with. I of course exchange my energy as well, but it seems like I almost become the person I am with, so I especially have to be mindful of who's in my space.
Q: Where can people listen to your music online?
A. All of my social networking links, music, photos, bio, and videos can be found on my official website www.RickyRebelRocks.com
Q: Anything else you'd like to add?
A: I'd like to add that all my music and my new album "Manipulator" are currently available on iTunes and on Amazon Mp3. Please buy your copy today! If not the whole album, I'm sure you'll find at least one or two tracks that move you. My next EP for the single "Geisha Dance" will be available in December along with a fresh new Music Video directed by the amazing YouTube celebrity Joe Nation. Thank You so much Dissarray Magazine for supporting Independent Artists!
For more information, visit:
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