Interview: Jessica Ricca’s future in music and more!
Interview by Brooke Vokoun
At only 22-years old, Jessica Ricca is a singer-songwriter from New Jersey, with a promising future in music! Her growing fan base, and a life-long passion for music, Ricca has been able to tease the world with her musical talent! In recently signing with C2 Records, she’s given us an inside look to her music career, and what’s in store for the upcoming year!
Listen to her album, “I Am Okay” on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/1WwDa2zjf8oGaHCl4b8sAf?si=E1MF1r6sSFKAHh4TIzewrg
Photo by Nick Stefanchik (@nick.stefanchik)
You seem to have grown up in a house filled with music. Can you tell us how you first got involved with singing and songwriting?
Yeah! I was about seven years old, and I watched my sister start taking singing lessons. I wanted to so bad, but my parents thought I was too young. They waited and they held off for a couple years, and then, they put me in when I was probably like 10. It wasn't until I was probably 14 or 15, that I started wanting to learn how to play the piano, to have a backing track to my music. I used the internet, taught myself a couple chords on the piano, and at that point, my younger sisters were also taking lessons for singing and piano. We all just together, were doing music collectively. Then I got bored of the piano, and I’m like, ‘I'm moving on to the ukulele.’ And once I got bored of the ukulele, I moved onto the guitar. Now I’m happy that I learned all of them, because I have a lot of options when it comes to writing music.
From watching your YouTube videos and TikTok videos, I noticed that you have a really good relationship with your sister and your dad, and he’s your stand-in manager. What has their reaction been toward your music and songwriting?
My little sister, she’s really funny about it. Like she obviously loves me, and thinks I’m a great singer, but she’s always just like, ‘I want you to get famous so I can pull a Dixie D’Amelio and be the famous sister.’ So, she’ll joke about it a lot, but she’s very supportive also. My father, he’s very supportive. As soon as I told him about this whole music competition, he jumped right in and was like, ‘don’t sign any contracts, we have to look it over.’ So he took over and became this father manager. I wasn’t getting annoyed, but I was like, ‘they’re going to hate me, because you’re asking them so many questions.’ And he was like, ‘I’m just protecting you.’ Now whenever it comes to legal contracts and whatever, he's always there to look it over and help me make a good decision. He's also very excited for me, as well.
Speaking of the Music Madness competition, I saw that you got to fly out to D.C., and visit the C2 records. What was that experience like for you?
That was so great! I think that weekend was the weekend I decided that I just want to do music for the rest of my life, because I left there thinking, ‘I had so much fun, imagine doing this for a job.’ I met a whole bunch of people. I made so many new friends around my age who are involved in the company, as well. I left there with one of my singles recorded. Recently, about a week and a half ago, they flew us out to California to the other studio, and we got to record four more songs just towards the new album in the summer. The people are great, and very supportive. I am just very happy that I fell into this opportunity out of nowhere, and I’m making the best of it right now.
Most, if not all, of your songs have a really strong feeling of relatability, and a lot of personal connection. How do you think your experiences in life have been influential toward your music?
I like that my music is relatable, because I know a lot of people are struggling with things people might not talk about. When they have somebody or something they can relate to, they don't feel so alone, so that's the number one thing I always try to do. I don't want to make music that's just words, like what they play on the radio. I want there to be a meaning and a message in there. Some of my songs are about mental health, some of them are about relationships, but I really think that when you put a meaning to a song and it's not just random words, people really take to it better. I think with my experiences, sometimes it’s hard to put them into words and to put them on paper, and it's helpful for other people. So, I just think about that the whole time like, ‘if I get this down-- it sounds good and it’s relatable-- then people are going to enjoy it.’
Were there any songs that didn't make the cut?
There was one that I really liked, but I didn't think it was my kind of music yet. I wrote this song, it was about an ex-boyfriend, and I was really mad at the time. It was called, “To The Boy Who Broke My Heart,” and it was kind of a joke song. I called him selfish, and a bunch of curse words. But I was like, ‘this isn’t me. I’m going to hold off on this.’ It was a funny joke song for TikTok, but I'd rather be real. I don’t want to make fun of anybody, or be mean to anybody in my songs. It was just made in a time of anger, but we’ve moved on. That’s in the archives: it probably never will be released, but it was fun writing it and getting the anger out.
For your album, “I Am Okay,” what was it like producing and writing the songs on your own?
What I did was, I set a date for myself to have it all done. I released it on my Instagram, ‘This album will be out on November 20th.’ Meanwhile, I only had two songs recorded, and I was like, ‘I’ll find a way to make it work.’ I had the Coronavirus, and through that whole time I was thinking, ‘I have nothing else to do, and I'm probably going to record all these songs.’ I was in my bedroom, in my little apartment: I lived on a main street, so trains and cars were passing all the time. It was so hard to get a good take of the song, but there's minimal production on it, because I don't know how to produce music. It’s probably just a little bit of reverb and instruments I recorded, not even plugged in. It was just straight to the microphone. It sounds very raw and kind of one-take recorded. Mostly, because it was. And, it has an acoustic feel to it, which is much different than what I've been doing recently. I know a lot of people enjoy the acoustic vibes that I give, but I think I can show them I can do much better when there's much more effort put into the songs. I do enjoy my songs on that album, I really do, but looking back at them, I know I could have done so much better and I could have put a lot more effort. I still like the fact that it's all raw and barely produced, and people can just feel the way I feel, like a raw experience there.
In your songs “Sweet Connection” and “Middle of May,” you describe struggling with understanding your feelings, like you mentioned mental health, and the pain that sometimes follows relationships. Did you gain any take-away lessons from going through these experiences?
Oh, definitely! I learned a lot more about myself and how I acted in relationships, and a lot more about other people--when they’re being genuine and when they’re not being genuine. I can look back and pick out every single relationship I've been in, and I can see what was the problem, where I was a problem, where they were the problem, and I've learned from that. Going forward into other relationships, I'll be able to know what is right, what is wrong, what I can put up with, and what I shouldn't. In the moment, while I felt like either I was crazy or that person was crazy, I reflected on what really happened then, who was really in the wrong, and I've learned from it. I'm very happy to have this opportunity of writing music and people hearing that it has happened to me, because it helps me reflect, and learn about how I feel and how that person probably felt. So, now I’d say I’m very well-versed in how relationships work.
Photo by Nick Stefanchik (@nick.stefanchik)
I originally found you a couple of years ago from your covers on YouTube. What is it like transitioning from primarily covers, to now being able to perform your own songs in front of a fan base?
I really love it! I love posting the original songs more than covers. Sometimes you have to post the occasional cover to keep them interested, because some people like original music, but they won't give it a chance. When they see a cover that they like, they’ll press on it, like a song that they’re a fan of. I wasn’t afraid to post my own music, but I was like, ‘it’s not going to get as many views, but I'm still going to post it,’ But then when “Sweet Connection” hit the internet, and it already has 700,00 views, I think. It’s so crazy how this one song that I wrote about my feelings, so many people relate to and are enjoying it. I put it on Spotify, and on my app I still see that ‘8 people are listening to “Sweet Connection,” and 6 people are listening to this.’ It has really helped me as an artist to grow, you know, like I don’t want to be a cover artist. I want to do my own stuff, and it was very helpful that I had such a solid group of fans that enjoyed my own stuff, and stuck around for it.
Speaking of your growing fan base, do you think they’ve had really significant impacts on your music career?
I think so. I think in July, it was when the “Hey There Delilah” video went viral. Before then, I wasn’t really posting to my YouTube--maybe like once a month--just to have it up there. I wasn’t really getting views on it. As soon as that went viral, and I started seeing the growth, I pumped out so many covers and so many songs just to post on my YouTube, because people were requesting they wanted to see it. I think that helped me get into the groove of making music and wanting to. Before then, I mean of course: I liked music, and I liked writing, and I liked recording. But now, I felt I had a purpose to post for people who were asking me to.
Are there any musicians or artists in particular that have been a big inspiration for you?
I love The Lumineers, Hozier, and Bon Iver: they’re my favorite. I don’t think I write music like them, but I really like the way they write lyrics. They're very metaphorical, and you really have to think about it. Then once you understand them, you’re like, ‘I get it!’ I like how their lyrics are not very straightforward, and sometimes I try to take inspiration from that in some of my songs. But besides that, when I was younger, I always loved Demi Lovato: I thought she was great. Miley Cyrus, she’s always breaking society’s standards which I love, and that's a big inspiration to me, as well. The Lumineers, Hozier, Bon Iver-- they just make some great music. That’s my trio of songwriters I listen to all the time!
Who is an artist that would be a dream collaboration for you?
I love Noah Cyrus right now! I think she is so underrated, because she’s Miley Cyrus’s sister. Some of the songs she makes are so good, like “July” when she came out with it! It’s a very popular song and people loved it, but people don’t hear her other songs, which I think are great.
If you had to describe your vibe in three words, what would they be?
Everyone always asks me, and I just don’t know how to explain it. I would say relaxing. I always describe it as vibey, but that’s not a real word! I don’t know..maybe like, real. I never explain it in words, I always explain it as: you’re driving on the road with your windows down when the sun is setting. That’s how I feel like my music would be played. I can never explain it in words, I have to explain it in situations!
I've been noticing, you've been teasing videos of songs that you're performing and still in the process of writing. Any insight to what's happening next for you?
Well, I can give some information, because it's not even done yet. I’ve had an album planned of I think, nine or something songs, and I’m adding a couple more of some collaborations with people. They're all very different from each other! While one song might be a very, slow piano song, the other one could be like an upbeat, female, Machine Gun Kelly version. It's going to be an album of just, ‘you don't know what you're going to get!’ This song can be a sad song you want to cry to, and then this song could be an angry song that you want to scream to, because you're just so mad at somebody! I think that’s so great, because a lot of artists stick to one genre, which is great! That’s awesome that they’re perfect at doing that one genre, but I just haven't found that for me yet. I don't know, I feel like I want to do everything! I’m going to use this album as an opportunity to: try everything out, see what I'm best at, see what people take to the best, and then continue on from there. I’m excited for this album! Even though my album before was my first album, this is going to be my first fully produced and marketed album that I'm going to put out into the world, and hopefully people take to it. I’ve put in a lot of effort into writing these songs with the help of a couple other people in the company--Tres Simmons and my friend, Jon (Jon Devereux), is on the guitar and plays for me--they’re great in helping the process, too! I’m very excited, and it should be out definitely before the year ends, hopefully, in the summer!
If you haven’t already listened to Jessica’s music, make sure you check her out on Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube! She also has Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok accounts. She is currently hosting a promotion on her Instagram for a group Zoom call with followers once she hits 50k, so be sure to check that out as well! Also, make sure to look out for her next album planned to come out this year!