Ricky Godinez had worldwide success as the lead singer in the pop group No Authority that was signed to Michael Jackson’s label (SONY Records) and later to Madonna’s Maverick label. The group released two albums, toured Europe twice, opened for Britney Spears and had a hit song called “Can I Get Your Number.”
In 2010, Ricky Godinez became Ricky Rebel and My Chemical Romance invited him to star as “Showpony,” one of the main characters in their set of videos for “NA NA NA” and “Sing”. In 2012, Ricky released his “Manipulator” LP that included music featured on the hit MTV animated series “Good Vibes” and was awarded ARTIST OF THE YEAR at the 2012 RAWards.
Ricky Rebel’s 2013 single, “Geisha Dance”, spent ten weeks on the Mediabase Chart (The chart that powers “On Air with Ryan Seacrest”). Now Ricky has just released his much anticipated solo album, “The Blue Album” which is already available on iTunes
1. How long have you been doing what you’re doing and how did you get started in the first place?
I started professionally dancing and singing at 11 years old. Before that I was ranked 15th in the state of California in competitive gymnasts. The gymnastics world was extremely strict. I was training to go to the Olympics and in order for me to stay in gymnastics and not burn out, the coaches put me into dance classes. I ended up falling in love with dancing. Performing live was the part that I loved the most. I finally wasn’t being harshly graded w a score card and judges, I finally just had an audience. I fell in love w the freedom of performing versus competing.
2. Who were your first musical influences that you can remember?
I was influenced by the Pop Gods of the 80’s & 90’s. I grew up worshipping Prince, Madonna, Michael Jackson and David Bowie. My brother bought me a Madonna album and it changed my life. I remember watching her perform for the first time on MTV & I thought, “that’s what I’m going to do when I grow up.” My parents played a ton of Beatles growing up so I can hear influences of them in my music as well. Especially John Lennon.
3. Describe your experience as lead singer with the group “No Authority”, under Michael Jackson’s Label with SONY Records?
Being the lead singer of the pop group No Authority and being discovered by Michael Jackson and signed to his label with SONY was a dream come true for me. I grew up idolizing Michael Jackson and suddenly he was my boss. Our album was called “Keep On.” It was produced by Grammy award winning producer Rodney Jerkins (Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, JLo). We threw a huge album release party at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch and it was one of the most exciting experiences of my life.
Hanging out with Michael was also an amazing experience. He was a genius and also possessed an incredibly human spirit all at the same time. We played on all the rides at Neverland Ranch, we watched movies in his private theatre, road his motor bikes etc. It was like I was living a dream. I even danced in his studio. He told me that I “had a lot of nerve” because I was not afraid to dance in front of him. He only said people had nerve when he thought that they were brave people so I took it as a huge compliment.
4. From one Superstar to the next – “No Authority” moved to Madonna’s Maverick Label next. Do you have any specific recollections from that experience?
Yes, I remember getting the call that Epic records was going to drop us from the label but not to worry because another label was going to buy the album and release it for the summer just in time for us to open for Britney Spears. I was nervous that we wouldn’t get picked up, but when I found out that Madonna’s label Maverick Records wanted to sign us, I almost died. Madonna was my musical hero and she had the ultimate say on who was signed to her label. We blew away the execs with an acappela version of The Star-Spangled banner, contracts were signed, and suddenly Madonna was my boss. I could not have been happier.
5. With “No Authority” you toured Europe twice and also opened for Britney Spears. You also worked with My Chemical Romance on their videos. What were the major things you learnt from those experiences?
I learned how to perform in front of thousands of people. I learned how to perform under pressure. I am a seasoned performer because of my past. I have tons of confidence on stage because of all the experience I’ve had opening for acts like Britney Spears and My Chemical Romance. When the music kicks in, I completely lose myself in the moment. I am all heart onstage. It’s amazing, no matter how sick I am or how hurt my body feels, I turn into a little kid when I am in front of a crowd. I truly come alive.
6. Solo studio work and music creation, or interacting with an audience in a live environment, which do you prefer and why?
I love both processes but I think I love interacting with a live audience more. I usually like activities that get my adrenaline going. Being on stage gives me such a rush. In the studio when I am making music, I am much more relaxed. I usually do it with as little clothing as possible and I am usually in a chill mindset. I do my most writing when I am driving. Not the safest thing to do I know but I find that by focusing on something else other than writing, great stuff comes out of the subconscious mind.
7. How and why did Ricky Godinez become Ricky Rebel?
Ricky Godinez become Ricky Rebel in 2010. For 4 years prior to that I was struggling in my career constantly attracting people who tried to control me and change my sound. I finally made the choice one day to release my own music and stay true to myself. It was right at the same time that I worked with My Chemical Romance in the Na, Na, Na music video as the character Showpony. I met Gerard Way and saw how he worked and how awesome it was to see an artist in control of every aspect of the video, image, etc. It forced me to finally say “my music is great, I am going to release it, I am going to perform it, and I am going to do & say everything that I want to, even if that means some people are not going to like it.”
I basically became Rebel when I started following my own and vision and not people telling me that my dreams were not possible. Being the character Showpony also helped a lot in the Rebel transformation. Showpony was a very popular character that Gereard Way created & by playing Showpony, it allowed me to connect with all of the My Chemcial Romance fans all around the world. I finally had an audience. I have My Chemical Romance to thank for that.
8. On which one of your songs do you think you delivered your personal best performance so far, from a technical and emotional point of view?
The best song I have ever written and produced is on the new LP “The Blue Album” and it is called “Desire.” “Desire” is the culmination of everything I have learned in my career. I love my vocal performance on that track. It really shows off the fact that I am a technically trained singer. I am stretching my vocal range and there is raw emotion on that track and the production is tight. I also love the fact that my musical twin Alyson Montez (Grammy award winning violinist) is playing throughout the whole thing. It sounds the way I feel inside most of the time. It’s honest, beautiful, sad, & dramatic all at the same time.
9. Which ingredient do you think is most essential in making Ricky Rebel’s music and presence unique in a over-saturated pop music world?
The most essential ingredient in making my music and my image stand out of the crowd is simply being me and having the courage to just be me. I am extremely unique. I have a message and that is to “Rebel against the darkness and shine your light.” I am doing this for more than just personal fame and recognition; I have a cause that I am fighting for. I am fighting for the person that is being bullied in school and wants to die instead of live because they feel like like an outcast scared and alone. I am a stand for freedom and equality. I wrote the song “Rebel The Darkness” on my new record for people who are struggling with being different.
There isn’t any one out on mainstream radio or TV that sounds like me, dresses like me, looks like me, writes like me, produces like me, performs like me, and has the same message as me so unapaologetically. Ryan and Macklemore wrote a song about gay rights and equality and they are not even gay. I am one of the rare artists out there who actually is fighting for the community and actually IS the community. There are so few of us out there in the mainstream world. There need to be more male artists out and proud so that we can be an example for young kids in the LGBTQ community and kids being bullied for being “different.”. I am King of The Rebels because I talk the talk and walk the walk. For better or worse, I own the fact that I am different. No one does Rebel better than I do.
10. If you were forced to choose only one, which emotion, more than any other drives you to stay in this tough business. Is it joy, anger, desire, passion or pride and why?
Passion is the key to life. If you lose the love of doing it, then you should quit whatever it is you are doing. The passion I feel for making music and being an entertainer has never died, even after all these years. I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.
11. Which aspects of the processes involved in music business excites you most and which aspects discourage you most?
The most exciting part of the business is making my fans happy. Giving them products (music, merch, etc.) that they love. Hearing stories of how my music has touched moved and inspired them and even kept them from committing suicide etc. That is the most gratifying part about the business. And of course every write up we get, every accolade we win, every amazing show we perform, every time someone buys an album is a triumph in and of itself. I live for that kind of success.
I hate the politics involved with the industry. A lot of it is about who you know and how much money you have to spend rather than raw talent. Artists can actually buy their way to the top. I also dislike the homophobia that exists in the music industry. It has gotten so much better over the years thanks to openly gay artists like The Scissor Sisters, Adam Lambert, Sam Smith etc. But we still have a long way to go. Until I hear a love song that I have written for another man on the radio top 10 than I won’t stop. It’s never been done, but I plan on changing all that.
12. Tell us something about the completion of “The Blue Album”. Who did what, to make this album a reality?
I worked for over 4 years on the writing and the production of the album. I laid down all the synth lines and drum programming, guitar, vocals etc. I also called my band to play on the record. Alyson Montez played Violin on several tracks and so did my guitarist Conrado Pesinato. I even had one of my super fans who runs my street team, Rachel Strauss, sing backgrounds on a track called “On My Own.” She and her friend Zanney came to my studio to lay down their vocals. She was so excited and they did an excellent job.
The album was mixed by Claudio Cueni (JLO) & I. We took painstakingly long in the mixing process to make sure everything sounded the way I wanted it to. I am definitely a control freak when it comes to my work. I like to collaborate, but I prefer to sit in my own world and create and then invite my superhero friends to come over and lay down their own sparkle.
13. Is the music produced on “The Blue Album” exactly where you want your sound to be today? Or in retrospect, would you change anything tiny little thing ,on or about the Album at all?
Nothing is ever perfect. In a dream world, my album would be produced by David Guetta, Avicii and Deadmau5. A lot of artists go that route and pay 100’s of thousands of dollars to work with these producers, but at the end of the day, if that were the case with this project, then it would not have been as authentic as it is now. It would be their vision of my music. This is where I am at in my life musically. I am a perfectionist at heart and nothing will ever be as good as I want it to be. Period. But being perfect is not the goal. Authenticity is.
14. What is the best piece of advice in this business you actually followed so far, and one you didn’t follow, but now know for sure that you should have?
The best advice I ever heard was “never compare yourself to anyone else.” That is the greatest advice I have ever heard. To me, Art is not a competition. When you compare your art to someone else, you kill possibility. That’s why I tell my fans to always “Rebel The Darkness, and Shine Your Light” and what that basically means is don’t compare yourself to others and get trapped in negative thinking, instead, channel that energy, create, and share your light to the world.
The advice I should have followed was going my own route sooner in my life. A lot of people supported the idea of me going solo and sticking to my own music, but I didn’t believe that I was ready. I wish I would have followed my heart right from the start.
15. You’ve already won some awards, so is going Platinum or winning a Grammy important in your scheme of musical things? And if you were forced to settle for only one choice, which of the two would you ultimately prefer and why?
It is one of my dreams to win a Grammy. If I won a Grammy, they’d probably ask me to perform. That would make my life. I think I’d prefer that more than going platinum.
16. Do you consider Internet and all the social media websites, as fundamental to your career, and music in general, or do you think it has only produced a mass of mediocre “copy-and-paste” artists, who flood the web, making it difficult for real talent to emerge?
As a rule, I believe that the cream will always rise to the top and that everyone deserves the right to create and express themselves. I think social media is important to artists these days. You have to have a strong presence on-line. People want to know if you give a shit or not. I care about my fans. Social media is a great way to connect with fans. Mediocrity is in the eye of the beholder. If someone loves a band or an artist, who am I to say they’re mediocre? My hat goes off to anyone out there in the world making a name for themselves online and/or offline because 9 times out of 10 they coincide with one another. If your making waves in the real world, then you are more than likely making waves in cyberspace.
17. Do you consider Video essential as a support to your music and how involved are you in producing your videos?
Yes, I believe that video is essential to my music. I love making videos. I feel it’s a commercial to the album. I am very involved in the making of all my videos, the concept, the message, etc. Joe Nation is the mastermind of several of the greatest videos I have ever created. Joe directed the “Geisha Dance” and “Savior” music videos. Those videos were the best videos that I have ever produced. Geisha Dance looks like a movie and that’s because Joe is a genius. It took a long time to make, but it was worth it. I love every part of that video.
18. What do you think is the biggest barrier you have to face and overcome as a solo performer now, in your quest to achieve your goals and any solid commercial success?
I have to face the barrier of people saying NO over and over. People are afraid to take a chance on the unknown. Some radio stations and promoters may not play the record or book us in their venues because they do not know who we are yet. Mass exposure is my goal above all goals. The second people see us perform/give us the opportunity to play live they are always blown away and shocked at the response the crowd gives this band. We have something special and it’s just a matter of time before the world knows it.
19. What is the ONE thing you are NOT willing or never prepared to do, in your quest to achieve a successful solo musical career?
I am not willing to compromise my vision of who I am and what I want. I am not going to all of a sudden get tattoos all over my body and start taking tremendous amounts of drugs and alcohol to try to fit in. I am going to stay true to me and do what I do best, Be Fabulous. I am a different kind of Rebel. I treat my body like a temple. I am a certified Pilates instructor and take great pride in my body.
20. Tell us about any new projects or ideas you will be working on in the near future, and how fans can connect with you?
My next project is going to be making another music video for The Blue Album. I was thinking of doing an underwater video for “Desire” and something super fashion oriented and sexy for the “Boys & Sometimes Girls” track. My designer friend who created the company Grace & Murk LLC makes a ton of my costumes for the stage and I think that we are going to be collaborating closely on that video. In August the band is going to be featured on a TV show called SOCAL BEAT on TWC and I am also currently filming a reality show that is going to be featuring my life as a solo pop artist & a celebrity Pilates fitness guru, so stay tuned for that. For all current Rebel news log on to www.RickyRebelRocks.com