Photo: Mariah Hamilton / Fancy PR

Ralph Gives Canadian Queer Pop a New Name with ‘222’

Eschewing male producers who didn’t necessarily see her creative vision in the past, Ralph also came out as a member of the LGBTQ community this year.

30 June 2023

Since arriving on the Canadian pop music scene as Ralph in 2015, musician Raffa Weyman has amassed a significant discography of club-friendly dance-pop whose sound had naturally gravitated towards queer influences. Not to mention she opened for Carly Rae Jepsen, a millennial gay icon, on her Dedicated tour in 2019 and appeared as a judge and coach on the inaugural season of Canada’s Drag Race.

Suffice it to say that Ralph’s pop music had all the classic markers of a breezy, carefree night at a gay bar. But with her latest EP 222, she’s changing the narrative for the better. Eschewing male producers who didn’t necessarily see her creative vision in the past, the singer also came out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community this year. These personal and professional shifts are distinctly noticeable in her new music.

Her new EP is titled after an angel number representing openness, faith, courage, and trust. “When I started dating my girlfriend Jaimee, she pointed out that I kept texting her at 2:22 and said it must be my angel number,” she told me. “After that, I kept seeing it everywhere. The last two years have really felt like a roller coaster of personal growth and change, but the idea of 222 gave me strength and inspiration. Since the EP was all about taking risks and discovering new sides of myself, 222 felt like the obvious name.”

Ralph believes that coming to terms with her queerness has added a new sense of authenticity to her work. “Which was maybe lacking before since I was holding back aspects of my true self,” she said. Her collaboration with Canada’s Drag Race winner Priyanka, “Bad Bitches Don’t Cry”, was an integral part of this personal process. “I really wanted this whole project to feel incredibly reflective of the person and artist I am now: a little older, a little wiser, a little more comfortable with my sexiness and sexuality. I feel really comfortable and happy in my life right now, and that’s had an impact on everything. I think there’s more joy and power in this EP, including the visuals.”

Speaking of visuals, the singer also directed her first music video during this era for the track “Pain Relief”, an experience she described as magical, loving, and supportive. “I really credit that to my Los Angeles crew, which included a couple of close friends, a cousin, and friends of friends,” she said. “[They] understood my vision completely and wanted to help bring it to life. I’ve always creatively directed everything, but I’ve been really intimidated to take the wheel fully, but this EP was all about re-invention and conquering fears, so editing, producing, directing, let’s go!”

Drawing inspiration and influence from an array of other queer artists for 222, such as Rina Sawayama, MUNA, Fletcher, Troye Sivan, Kehlani, Remi Wolf, Christine and the Queens, and Arlo Parks, Ralph took on a more hands-on role in the production of the project. She received a co-producer credit on “Just a Rose”, which she describes as the most symbolic song on the EP. “It was the first song I’d written in a while that made me feel excited,” she said. “I needed to write a song that hyped me up, so the lyrics are all about having a comeback and feeling confident in your craft and in your worth. I love that it shows off my vocal range, too. It really does represent this new era of Ralph, who is stepping into her own conviction.”

But coming out as lesbian is never without its challenges, especially for women in a male-dominated industry. As such, Ralph has spoken about how she experiences imposter syndrome as a queer person, in that she doesn’t feel “queer enough” by certain standards. “I was really scared about overstepping or seeming inauthentic,” she told me. “But I finally had to tell myself that no one is doubting you except yourself.”

She said she’s received some messages on social media from other queer people who have experienced the same phenomenon, where they always felt like they were queer but didn’t have enough “evidence” of it because they’d only had a history of opposite-sex relationships. “I think we have to remind ourselves that sexuality is a beautiful spectrum, and we need to be gentle with ourselves and others as we figure that out,” she declared.

Ralph is headed out on tour again this fall in support of 222, a show the singer is excited to bring to life. She’s planning some choreography inspired by the likes of Janet Jackson and Christina Aguilera and is making many outfits for the tour herself. “I want them to be wild and polarizing, and I want my audience to be encouraged also to turn a LOOK!” she exclaimed. “I [also] want to throw in a fun new cover and maybe a Ralph song we haven’t heard in a while.”