At first glance, Alex Ritchie looks like a regular college student, starting her first year at St. John’s University. After a quick conversation with her, it is clear that the 18-year-old wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Music isn’t all of me, but it’s a big part of me,” Ritchie said, describing how her budding music career has affected her perception of herself. “I don’t want to take myself too seriously.”
Although she might not be, the music industry is taking Alex Ritchie very seriously. Her debut performance was at Los Angeles’ world-famous music mecca, Whisky A Go Go, where she played on the stage that artists like The Doors, Led Zeppelin and Neil Diamond had performed on in the past. Since then, Ritchie’s unique sound has become a favorite in the indie-rock scene of Los Angeles.
Her fanbase might still be in California, but now that Richie is in New York City she feels positive that she can start affecting the music scene on the East Coast, as well as the programs offered by St. John’s University.
“Music isn’t taken as seriously here,” she said. Currently, St. John’s does not offer any music-based majors. Students who wish to study music can minor in the subject, but like most performance art programs at St. John’s, the department is small. On-campus performances are limited, and while there are musicians at St. John’s University they do not always receive as much attention or opportunity to perform.
According to Ritchie, St. John’s has already offered her a future opportunity to perform on campus, taking advantage of her talent and possibly opening up opportunities for other students. Ritchie may be performing at the library cafe and at the new D’Angelo Center Starbucks in the future.
Campus performances aren’t all that Ritchie has in her future. When she was auditioning to become a part of California’s annual music festival Coachella, where she would have played alongside artists like Paul McCartney and The Killers, she met the woman who would help boost her career to a whole new level. Hannah Anders is currently the producer for a television show called The Big Stage. Anders was a judge for the Coachella festival, and Ritchie’s performance impressed her. With Anders’ help, Ritchie began work on her first album.
The album is called The Beginning, as it marks the start of Ritchie’s recording career. The album is self-produced and composed of only Alex Ritchie’s voice, a guitar, and a back-up guitar with a sound effects pedal. All the songs were written by Ritchie, demonstrating how personal the music is to her.
Ritchie describes the sound as soft indie-rock with rock and techno influences. She says that she can be best described as a mix of artists like Jack Johnson and Ingrid Michealson. Her influences include everything from Guns & Roses to Bob Marley and Regina Spektor.
“I’m just looking for exposure now,” she said. “I still have a lot of maturing to do.” She explained that she wasn’t as concerned with sales as she was with getting her music out into the public, which is why she plans to upload many of her songs onto her Myspace page. Currently, Ritchie’s myspace page includes the single “College Bound,” which pairs her hauntingly beautiful voice with poetic lyrics that seem to present a maturity that is hard to find in typical college freshman. The simple background music allows Ritchie to become the primary focus of the song.
Although she admits that she has dreams of becoming rich and famous, she also places a lot of pressure on herself to be a role model to others. Uninterested in the idea of being a glamourous, unapproachable diva, Ritchie hopes to stay down-to-earth and be a personable, approachable musician who inspires others to pursue their dreams. One of her major goals is to help establish facilities that will allow young musicians from all backgrounds get the music education that she never recieved.
“I’m completely self taught,” she said. “I only ever had one lesson and that was free. I want to make it possible for other people to get the music education that I didn’t have.”
With her seemingly unfaltering positive attitude and her infectious personality, it is easy to see why nearly a dozen students stopped to say hello to Ritchie during the course of the interview. Her beliefs about human potential are so inspiring that it is hard to not want to begin to believe in her ideals.
“I believe you illustrate your own realities,” she said. “All too often people think they have to keep the card life delt them, but if you just keep working then you can get a better hand.”