Raleigh Ritchie, the stage name for singer and actor Jacob Anderson, is a dynamic and layered act from Bristol. Better known for his role as Greyworm in the hit series Game of Thrones, Ritchie has been building a strong foundation for his music by headlining two solo tours up and down the country, as well as opening for George Ezra, and performing on-stage with Run DMC. With his new album You’re A Man Now, Boy on the verge of releasing, we spoke Raleigh to find out more about the release,
HTF: Hi man, how’s it going?
R: I’m good thanks, yourself?
HTF: Very good, thank you. I’d like to start off with the album’s title; ‘You’re A Man Now, Boy’ has a very coming of age vibe to it, is that the main theme you wanted to get across with the title?
R: Yeah, it’s sort of like everyone expects you to be in a certain place by the time you’re an adult – in your 20’s, but I feel the same as when I was 10, and when I was 15. The whole album is about this social concept of “growing up”.
HTF: You’ve added a few of your older songs, like ‘Stronger Than Ever’, ‘Bloodsport’ and ‘The Chased’ to the track list, did you make the decision to include them on the album because you think these songs are a good representation of your brand?
R: Not really, actually. I felt like it missed them when I was putting the track list together – it just felt wrong for them to not be there, you know? Everyone expects a new album to have all new content, which I don’t really agree with at all, and they really do add to the story the album is telling, so it felt wrong.
HTF: ‘The Chased’ was, if I’m correct, produced with The Internet back when you did Black and Blue Point 2 in what I think was 2013? What were they all like to work with, were you in the studio with them or did you just send music back and forth?
R: The Chased was actually produced by Justin Broad. I actually met [The Internet] in LA. We sort of spoke about stuff and they said they liked what I was doing and I liked what they were doing, so we headed to the studio. I’d never really done any remixes at that point either, but it felt like creating an entirely new project in the studio with them.
HTF: You’ve collaborated with Stormzy on ‘Keep It Simple’, as well as Little Simz on ‘Cuckoo’, was that a similar process?
R: Yeah, I was with them in the studio too. It was very cool of them to reach out like that as well because I choose the people I collaborate with carefully, and I really like what both of them were doing, and I love what came out of those sessions.
HTF: Do you consider your music to be R&B?
R: Not really, no. There’s definitely elements of it there, and I understand if people want to label it like that, but I wouldn’t call it that myself just because I don’t want people’s expectations to be that and then have me go and do something completely different the next time.
HTF: That’s the thing with, what we call, R&B at the moment really. It’s just not R&B; everyone’s doing something different and new. On that note, do you think there’s a racial element there, as you have acts like Janelle Monáe, Miguel, and FKA Twigs who could be considered other genres but seem to get referenced to as R&B acts?
R: Yeah, definitely. To say someone like FKA Twigs makes R&B is ridiculous to me because she has more in common with Portishead than she does with Brandy, you know? But she’s brown, so she’s going to get called R&B.
HTF: Agreed. Stepping back a little bit, to when you had finished ‘Stronger Than Ever’, did you think it would be as successful as it was, because it’s been in ad campaigns on ITV, BBC, and Sky Sports?
R:I mean, I was really pleased with the reception it got, but I’m not the kind of guy who’s like “oh, that was successful, let’s play into that”. Like, I really do love that it got so much support but at the same time I don’t really care about the fact that it “blew up”.
HTF: Could I also ask about your music videos, and perhaps the messages behind them? In ‘Stronger Than Ever’ and ‘The Greatest’, and ‘Stay Inside’ too, there’s an element of what I think is portrayed as social anxiety, is that something you yourself experience?
R: Yeah. People might find it a bit weird, but I just don’t deal too well with social interaction when I’m not comfortable with people. Like, if you asked 100 people, 50 people would say I’m like one thing, and the other 50 would say something completely different. It just depends on how comfortable I feel around them. Also with those songs and their videos, a lot of people will interpret them in individual ways to the point where they don’t really belong to me but to the people who listen to them, and the videos are another way of ensuring that sort of connection.
HTF: You’ve grown tremendously in the last two years. I remember seeing you with a friend on Atoor in late 2013 and since then you’ve done another headlining tour, opened up for George Ezra, performed on-stage with Run DMC – what has that all been like for you?
R: Yeah, it’s been crazy. I can’t describe it that well, but the best thing is just having someone on Facebook or Twitter after a show saying they’ve just discovered your music and they really like it.
HTF: Who are five people on the planet, right now, that you’d want to share the stage with in the future?
R: That’s just too hard, man. I’m just not the kind of person that has a list of people like that; I’m more of an in the moment-type of person, which makes me sound very trend-hoppy, but I just look at what people are doing and if I like it I’ll ask to work with them.
HTF: You’ve done a bit of theatre too; do you plan or hope to go back to that at any point in the near future?
R: Not at the moment, no. I’m very scared of rejection, and that’s obviously quite hard to avoid in the film industry like I’ve had a few conversations and meetings but I really don’t deal with rejection that well at all.
HTF: That’s all, thanks for spending some time with us.
Raleigh Ritchie’s debut album ‘You’re A Man Now, Boy’ is available for pre-order here, and will be released on the 26th of February.