The Record : Issue 5 - Alice Ripley
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by Monica Simoes
The Record: Issue 5
The Record gives Broadway performers an outlet to discuss their solo music. We love and support our favorite stage performers but this will be your first chance to really find out what their music is all about. You can learn about their CD's, concerts, influences, upcoming projects and much more.
Broadway performers are officially now on The Record.
Our fifth subject is fan favorite, Alice Ripley, who closes in MCC's WILD ANIMALS YOU SHOULD KNOW December 11 and is playing a concert show, Daily Practice (named for her eponymous sophomore album), at the Laurie Beechman Theatre through December 16.
Alice Ripley received the 2009 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance as Diana Goodman in the Pulitzer Prize winning Next to Normal. This performance also garnered her a Helen Hayes Award, a Drama Desk Award nomination, and an Outer Critics Circle nomination. Other Broadway credits include Side Show (Tony Award and Drama Desk Awards nominations), Rocky Horror Show, The Dead, King David, Sunset Boulevard, Les Miserables, and Tommy. Notable off-Broadway shows include Five Flights (Rattlestick), The Vagina Monologues, and Li'l Abner (Encores). Regionally, she has performed in Tell Me On a Sunday and Company (Kennedy Center, Helen Hayes Award nominations for both), and Shakespeare in Hollywood (Arena Stage, Helen Hayes Award Nomination). Alice will star in the upcoming feature film Isn’t It Delicious and recently completed filming the pilot “Modern Love” for Lifetime. She has written a hundred songs and records and performs regularly with her band RIPLEY.
When did you begin creating your own music?
In 1991 a friend convinced me to try writing songs.
How do you define your music? What genre do you consider it?
I call it pop-punk. Devotees from both pop and punk rebel against any association with the other, so...I guess that's the definition of rock and roll.
What are some of your artistic influences? Who do you listen to?
I was influenced by every genre as I was learning how to make music as a kid: Opera, Pop, Rock, Classical, Punk, Jazz, R and B/Soul, and occasionally I listened to the two musicals my parents had on vinyl: The Music Man and Jacques Brel.
Radiohead, Jack White, Blondie, Bruce Springsteen, The Beatles, Thelonius Monk, Dave Brubeck - these are the bands that are on constant rotation on my ipod.
What does your music allow you to say and what do you hope people take from it?
I return to my music every day, as it reminds me of who I really am. I like hearing from fans that they can relate to my songs, because my main desire is to connect to rhe audience through universal emotions and soul-familiar stories.
How have you grown as a artist from Everything's Fine? What does that album mean to you?
Everything's Fine was an important recording for me, because although I had made demos and performed the songs live, it was the first album of all of my own songs. As an artist you grow as life puts its stamp on you, and the content of your work is influenced by these changes.
What is your favorite song to perform live?
I guess it would be a tie between "Drive" and "Sky".
What would be your dream collaboration?
I'd like to work with Rick Rubin as a record producer.
What is the song writing process like for you? Where do you pull from?
I find my guitar makes me submit to practice time first before it lets me write. Sometimes a song writes itself in ten minutes and other times I might work on a song for years before I perform it for anyone. I think songs are like the bones in the body of one's emotional life.
What is the most meaningful song or album you've written?
They are like kids. I love them all equally!
You recently put out your sophomore solo album titled Daily Practice Vol. 1? How was that experience for you?
I had performed several NYC solo gigs in a row (with my guitar), and called the evening Daily Practice. Shortly thereafter the audience demanded that I record the concert, so I did, and a studio version was released on February 14, 2011 on Sh-K-Boom Records. While I was on the road with Next to Normal, I made two music videos for Daily Practice: "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" (filmed in San Francisco's Muir Woods) and "Essence" (yet to be released - captured with a Seattle, WA backdrop), both shot by John Carucci.
You gave multiple concerts at Dopo Teatro. How do they influence your music?
I definitely enjoy taking cues from my audience. They have already begun suggesting track ideas for Daily Practice Volume 2.
The Live show of Daily Practice included your own music but also many covers. How do you choose the songs?
The live show is a mix of originals, showtunes and rock covers. However, Daily Practice Volume 1 is all classic rock tunes. I choose the songs this way: when I wake up in the morning I usually find myself singing something - words that are tried and true, and somehow need to be said and heard again. The songs that emerge from those moments, they speak for me, so I pick up my guitar and teach them to myself. Sometimes I am teaching myself a Pink Floyd or Kate Bush song, while other times I find myself "learning" as opposed to "writing" a new RIPLEY song.
You now have put out two solo's albums but you also have a band call Ripley. Can you tell us a little about that? Will there be more?
RIPLEY albums are written and self-produced by me and the band (currently there are two: RIPLEY EP and OUTTASITE).
RIPLEY is me (guitars and vocals), Christopher Schelling (keys) and Shannon Ford (drums).
Joni Mitchell once said how crucial it is for singer/songwriters to produce themselves. I try to always remember her words, since she's the expert in my eyes.
Whats next for you? Possible tour? Another Ripley album? Another Daily Practice?
Yes to all, please!
You can now see her play live when she performs solo concerts titled Alice Ripley's Daily Practice on December 11 & 16 at 10:30pm at The Laurie Beechman Theatre, a cabaret space downstairs at West Bank Cafe. The concerts will feature what's being billed as an eclectic mix of well known songs and new compositions. For tickets and more information, visit http://www.westbankcafe.com.
Visit Itunes to purchase Alice Ripley's music.