THE fascinating and candid Ricky Rebel…
talks with me about his new single, The New Alpha, and what its story is. He tells me about his experiences with Michael Jackson, Britney Spears and Adam Lambert; being inspired by Madonna and the albums mean the most to him – the songwriter talks about his future and what we can expect going forward.
The American sensation discusses his bisexuality and support of the L.G.B.T. community; a gender-fluid society and not subscribing to the myth of ‘men need to be men’ – he ends the interview by selecting a classic Madonna cut.
Hi, Ricky. How are you? How has your week been?
I am doing well. My week has been productive.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I am a Billboard Top-40 recording artist who has toured with Britney Spears. Notable tracks on the Billboard charts include Boys & Sometimes Girls - a bisexual anthem - and If You Were My Baby - an '80s-inspired love song that has Prince’s actual synth on it. I am also a strong advocate for freedom of speech and expression and L.G.B.T. rights.
The New Alpha is your current single – it is from the album of the same name. What can you reveal about the song’s stories and the themes address on the album?
The New Alpha is a record about freedom.
On the album, I sometimes express myself in a way that can be seen by some as politically incorrect. The New Alpha doesn’t live in a box of labels that society tries to impose on him: he lives outside of the box. The themes I explore on The New Alpha are sex, power; materialism and love. My favorite track is called Magic Carpet. It’s a sexual song with Middle Eastern undertones.
Style and creating your own image is important. We have had some great musical style icons like David Bowie and Madonna. Who do you draw inspiration from?!
I draw inspiration from the two artists you just mentioned. I am lately inspired by political figures who are out there speaking their minds for free speech. I think it’s important that we fight for speech that we disagree with just as hard as speech that we agree with. One day, it might be your speech that is repressed.
PHOTO CREDIT: Kentö
I believe you are friends with Adam Lambert. How did you two meet? Is it true you raised Adam’s closet when you needed a stage outfit pretty quick?!
Adam and I met at the clubs in Downtown L.A. We used to gather a group of friends, dress in wild outfits; wear makeup and dance the night away. One night, I was headlining at the Roxy in West Hollywood and had nothing to wear. I called Adam for help and he let me raid his closet. He is a very generous guy. In return, the only thing I had to do was re-feather his jacket.
Do you think society wants ‘men to be men’ and not show their feminine side?! What do you think about that and the rise in gender fluidity?
I think society doesn’t even know what a real man is. A real man is a man who can be authentic with who he is. A real man tells the truth. I identify as all-male, all-man every day. I can wear makeup, high heels; a dress, stockings; a suit and tie (sometimes at the same time) and it has nothing to do with my gender. These things are an expression of my creativity. I am absolutely not gender-fluid. I do not turn into a woman when I impersonate one. I’m acting.
Has your bisexuality ever caused issues in music? Have you been told to hide your sexuality away?!
Absolutely. I was told, at the beginning of my career, to stay in the closet or else I would never make it. I was even locked into a sound booth while someone read Bible verses to me informed me that I was going to Hell. I knew that, one day, being honest and open about my bisexuality would be seen as a strength, not a weakness.
Do you recall when you got into music? Which artists did you grow up around?
I started singing professionally immediately after I started taking dance classes at eleven-years-old. Before that, at five-years-old, I would sing Annie and Grease every single moment of every single day. Growing up, my mother and father loved The Beatles and Queen. They were always playing great music like that during my childhood.
I am a big Madonna fan. Is it true you have worked with her label? (My favourite cut of hers is Take a Bow). Do you have a personal standout Madonna song/style period?
I was signed to Maverick - Madonna’s record label. My favorite era was The Blond Ambition period. I remember taping the entire show and performing it on-repeat in my room. I loved the fact that she would miss notes and not perform some of the dance steps perfectly, but she did everything with beauty and confidence. She was my hero when I was growing up.
Is it true Michael Jackson gave you some advice? What did he say to you?!
Before I signed to Madonna’s label, I was signed to Michael Jackson’s label MJJ records. He told me that I should stay away from girls because they break up bands..
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
I want to headline a ten-city West Coast tour in the U.S.A. with other talented artists.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
Learning that I charted on the Billboard chart was an amazing day! I loved being invited to perform at the Cannes Film Festival. The whole trip was like a dream. The people were beautiful, warm and welcoming. They loved Boys & Sometimes Girls.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Prince - When Doves Cry
That album is the closest thing to perfection.
Madonna – Music
That album taught me how to produce. It’s simple in its production style. Mirwai is a genius.
David Bowie - Reality and Low
David Bowie taught me to love my voice. He sings in a lower register like mine. He was the first rock-and-roller that I could identify with vocally.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
I would love to open for Britney Spears again. She was such an amazing person to be on tour with. She’s a lot of fun. Plus, we could talk about memories of being on tour together. On my rider, Britney and I would have to do Pilates together in my dressing before every show.
How important is it being on stage and playing? Is it possible to describe the emotions you feel when connecting with fans in the audience?
Performing is everything to me. I feel most alive when I am on stage. The connection you feel is the closest thing to oneness. When I performed at New York City Pride this year, people were exuding so much love. It made me cry. The L.G.B.T. community has fought so hard to be where we are.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Stick to your original idea of who you are and what you stand for. People in the industry will push and pull you in many different directions and waste your time. Don’t let them. Stick to your first version of who you set yourself out to become. That is the best way to succeed.
IN THIS PHOTO: Saint Heart
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Every week, I go live on Instagram, Facebook and Periscope (@RickyRebelRocks) at 12 P.M. P.S.T. for all of my fans on a show called #TuesdaysWithRebel. I have featured some great artists that I am currently producing and/or just great friends with like PrettiBoiRoq, Glass Battles; DJ Hector Fonseca; Davis Mallory, Saint Heart; Twinkle Time etc. - all people that I love and admire. Elena Nazaroff, my stylist, also gives them a mini makeover. It’s a lot of fun.
IN THIS PHOTO: Glass Battles
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
My chill time consists of working out, doing Pilates; listening to political podcasts (relaxing to me, believe it or not), getting facials; eating, napping and having sex. That’s a great way to unwind.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Erotica - Madonna. That’s my spirit animal song
Follow Ricky Rebel