Andrew Ripp doesn’t shy away from the truth. He’s got the spirit of a soul singer: a spirit that finds its home in a mix of pop, rock, and folk music that is honest and engaging.
His recent album, Simple, is a stripped-down reinvention of 2013’s Won’t Let Go. It is a testament to his strength as a songwriter, and it is the perfect vehicle for his genuine and powerful voice. Simple proves that what’s real doesn’t have to be complicated.
NYMM: Why create an album like Simple?
AR: It was literally a fan-requested project. Every time I’ve gotten off the stage for the past three years, someone will tell me they loved the show, bought the record, and then asked when I am going to make an acoustic record. They saw me play an acoustic show, and the record is full band, and they wanted more of the live experience. So I figured I’d just give the fans what they’ve been asking for.
NYMM: Did these songs take on a different life when recording them this way?
AR: Absolutely. Since I tour so much in this stripped-down style, the songs take on a new life when I’m out on the road playing them with a whole different arrangement than I did on the record. I can’t just play a song the same way without the drums and bass and electric guitar. What I have to do is reinvent the songs, and I’ve been doing that over the last year. By the time we went into the studio to do the acoustic Simple record, I had already done pre-production. It came naturally from being on the road and playing the songs by myself.
NYMM: What kind of feedback have you had on this album?
AR: There are several songs on the new record that have a different spark, live. That might have to do with the fact that they come across very simply and easily. It’s easier to hide a bad song with production. When you strip it down, you can really tell what it is. That’s been encouraging, because people have responded well to this record.
AR: “Rescue Me” is a prayer. It was written during a very difficult time, in a moment where I was very vulnerable and lonesome. It was a prayer, calling on a higher power, saying “I don’t want to do this alone”. I don’t like to put my beliefs on other people, but I have to speak my truth. If someone wants to grab onto that, great.
NYMM: What’s it like performing that song?
AR: It depends on the day and what I’m going through in that moment. When I’m in a lonesome place, it really hits home. When I’m in the valley, my heart aches because I’m reminded of when I wrote the song. When things are going great, I sing it from the mountaintop, because I can see where I was and where I am now, and it feels great.
NYMM: Have you had a lot of response to that song?
AR: When I perform that song, I introduce it as a prayer, which gives people the opportunity to connect with it or not. A lot of times, after the show, people tell me what it means to them. I love hearing other peoples’ experiences and where they are.
NYMM: When do you write your best songs?
AR: I generally come up with my best ideas when I’m not trying too hard. Often, when you’re looking for it, you miss it. It’s a weird thing. There are moments when I feel like I’m a vessel for the words, and the spirit just kind of moves through you. Those are the best ones, when I can just get out of the way. The best songwriters I know are the ones who are able to do that consistently. They know how to get themselves out of the way and just be as genuine and honest as possible.
NYMM: What do you do when the well is dry?
AR: When that happens, I put the guitar down. That’s so important, because forcing out a song doesn’t do any good. It just frustrates me. In order for genuine songs to come out, it needs to be fun. I need to be excited about writing. There’s a time when you need to work and push through, but there’s also a time when you need to just put it down.
Photos by Jon Karr
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