“I think everybody starts singing in the shower,” pop-rock singer-songwriter Andrew Ripp jokes. “That was the place for me. It’s a safe place, nobody’s listening so you can feel free to do whatever you please.”
Originally from Illinois but now Nashville-based, Ripp first picked up his friend’s guitar as a kid. After hearing the Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ “My Friends” on the radio, he taught himself the song by ear.
“I quickly began making up my own song structures,” he said. “Maybe it’s just a God-given gift being able to sit down and play, but I just always could do it.”
You can see this in his recent cover of Justin Timberlake‘s “Mirrors,” where he duplicates himself on guitar, piano and drums.
After he learned guitar and piano, Ripp began his career as a songwriter for acts like Ryan Cabrera, and as is so often the case with young songwriters, he eventually decided to segue into the performer role himself. His third album, April 2013’s Won’t Let Go, was produced by GRAMMY-winning producer Charlie Peacock (Civil Wars, Colbie Caillat), whom Ripp said helped push him in a new direction.
“It was a war to be honest, which is what makes him a great producer; you can hear the tension in that record,” he said. “Music is a feeling and is an emotion. If you’re comfortable in the moment when you’re recording, I don’t know that you’re getting the best out of the song or the experience. Charlie had me in total shambles. It was great, but it was tough. I learned a lot about myself, how to become a better songwriter and artist.”
For the first time, Ripp co-wrote every song on his album. “I’m really good at bouncing ideas back and forth,” he said. “When you can bounce ideas off another personality, it goes some place that it wouldn’t if I was sitting there alone. It’s more exciting.”
The songs on his LP touch on very personal topics, like living the life of an alcoholic (“Rescue Me” featuring Vince Gill) and being patient for love (“It Will Come”). “When I’m singing I need to have gone through the experience to own the song,” he confessed.
He added: “Most of my songs come out of my own experience in my day-to-day life; relationships with people, friends, family. In those relationships there’s a lot of joy but then there’s also a lot of pain. I try to be as honest as I can possibly be when I’m writing a song. I think that’s what the listener wants: total vulnerability from a writer.”
Much of Ripp’s new album came together unlike any of his previous releases, specifically his first single, the radio-friendly “Cool Ya (Nobody Loves You Like I Do).”
“Usually a song will come from me sitting down and exploring different grooves on the guitar or lyric ideas, but that song came from watching some kids playing hopscotch on the sidewalk and they were doing one of those pickup songs they sing while they do hopscotch [that goes] ‘Shimmy, Shimmy cocoa pop.’ They were doing it and I was like, ‘Man that’s so fun and there’s such a spirit of joy in that melody and groove,'” he recalled. “I was like, ‘Man, I’d love to have a song that’s similar to that style.’ So the chorus to ‘Cool Ya’ came to me in that moment.”
Despite the at-times serious themes, the album as a whole embraces a positive, upbeat vibes. Tracks like the foot-stomping “Someone To Love You” features memorable guitar groves and percussion alongside Ripp’s soulful falsetto. Ripp explained how title track, “Won’t Let Go,” influenced the album as a whole. “It was me letting go of control,” he said, “letting someone else in.”