Sometimes a single soul glides across your life and touches your heart in the most inspirational and celebrated fashion. It causes you to take a step back and dispose of all pessimism and negativity and realize that humanity is good. The abundantly talented and beautiful songwriter, dancer and recording artist Ricky Rebel is one of those enchanting souls.
Ricky was discovered by none other than Michael Jackson, signed to Madonna’s record label, toured with Britney Spears and was the lead singer in the boy band No Authority (“Can I Get Your Number”). Somewhat reminiscent of Adam Lambert, yet an artist in his own creative right, Ricky is releasing his second album, “The Blue Album.” The lead track, “Starts,” is an instant “I’ve got to hear that song again” tune combined with a sexy dance beat. “Savior” is more of a ballad, holding much thought and meaning, just screaming to be heard, while “Boys and Sometimes Girls” is just pure fun! Quoted from that song: “I’m the kind of gay guy that likes girls that touch my rear.” It has the potential of becoming an anthem.
Ricky Rebel has a story to tell, one declaring him a happy ending and an amazing beginning all at the same time. He has emerged victoriously from the decline of the boy bands and has reinvented himself with a vengeance and a strength that can be caressed when listening to the seductiveness and clarity of his masculine voice and when examining the words of his songs. If you haven’t experienced him yet, it’s imperative that you do!
Ricky, why don’t you begin by telling our readers about your new album, “The Blue Album.”
“The Blue Album” is a record that I wrote around the time that I changed my hair to blue. When I changed my hair blue a bunch of things happened in my life that really kind of rocked my world. I was in a relationship, and I was ”in love.” I was gonna be engaged and then married. Then we broke up, and my heart was broken.
Yeah, it was crazy. I was in love at that time, so I wrote a couple of songs about that, and I wrote a lot after the break up, of course. It was really hard going through all that. So I channeled all of my energy into my music and my craft, and I just ended up finding new love after that. Then I wrote a bunch of love songs. It’s just like life kind of circling and going through a kind of healing process, and that’s what the album is about. It’s “love after loss.”
I love that.
It’s just one of those situations where I realized that through it all, if I channel my creativity through music and art, I can get through anything.
So is your hair still blue?
Yeah, my hair is still blue. It’s electric blue right now. It’s like, when you have blue hair, colored hair, you just walk around everywhere and people smile at you. It’s a really cool thing.
Now, you actually met Michael Jackson?
How was that?
It was … surreal. I got to go to Neverland Ranch and hang out with him. One of my fondest memories I had was dancing with him in his studio. He had a recording studio with a real theater and a dance floor. And he said, “Let me see some dance moves.” I said OK, and I showed him some of my dance moves. I’m a trained dancer, so a lot of what I do is like ballet, jazz. And I showed him some of that style, and he was like, “You’ve got a lot of nerve. I like it!” So it was great. Michael was the first one to really discover me, when I was in the pop group. From there we were on tour with Britney Spears. We released a couple records. It was a wild ride! A whirlwind.
How much fun have you had in your little life?
I’ve had a lot of fun through the years. I mean, meeting Britney Spears was amazing, too. At the time I had a little crush on her. I used to let her on my bus. I took little photos of her, and I used to say, “OMG, I’m so excited to perform on the same stage as Britney Spears!” When I met her she was really sweet too. She was like, “Ricky, are you reading that book?” I was carrying around a book called “Conversations With God.” She was like, “OMG, I love that book!”
I know that book.
You know it too? Serious?
OMG, that book kind of changed my life when I was a kid. It really transformed my thinking. So apparently it touched Britney too, and she was like, “If you need any of the other books, I have all the books. I’ll lend them to you.” That was really sweet.
That was. So you were in this boy band when boy bands were extremely popular. And then what happened?
What really happened was there were conflicts within the management and the record label. It was political.
So you wound up doing everything besides being an artist.
Yes, exactly. I had become a company, and now I’m super excited about it. Now I like being this type of artist. I have to OK everything. I have to OK every single photo, I have to do the editing for the video. We just played at the Avalon, which was one of the coolest performances I’ve done so far. I’ve been wanting to play at the Avalon in Hollywood. It’s a big nightclub in Hollywood. I love it so much, because they have a huge “Tron” video screen, and I’ve always wanted to have my videos play and sing at the same time and have like a real kind of Madonna-eque show. I finally accomplished that at this particular show. Mya was there and got to see my soundtrack, and she was just blown away. Mya came up to me and said, “You are a badass!” Yeah, it was just a dream come true, not just because I got to perform there, but I felt like my rebel mafia was responsible for getting me up there. Not just me, my people. My violinist Alyson Montez, she’s a Grammy Award-winning violinist. She’s constantly giving me ideas for the show. She’s like my twin. We’re so alike, and we love each other. So it’s her and my drummer Robert Platt. He’s a straight guy that’s down for anything. He’ll do whatever. I’m like, “Put on makeup.” He’s like, “OK, great.” It’s me. I have great PR, a great manager. Like I said, at the end of the day it’s really about people you surround yourself with.
Now, you have a little gay story to tell. I understand that people advised you that being gay might hurt your career.
Oh, absolutely. Managers, countless producers, would tell me that “only if you weren’t gay.” I had one producer who locked me in a room and would read bible verses to me and told me I’m going to hell for being gay.
It was. It was a really abusive relationship. That’s the thing about the industry. One piece of advice I give to up-and-coming singers who come to me, I try and let them know that the industry is gonna try and tell you what to do and who to be. When you’re really young you believe that. You feel, “Oh, if I could change that part of myself, if I could hide that…” But in reality, the only way to make it is to reveal and expose, to be brave enough to open your heart to your audience. That’s actually what you’re doing when you perform. You’re connecting with the crowd. How can you really connect with somebody if you have a secret inside? Who you choose to love is a big part of it. I wrote a song called “Straight Jacket” off my last album, which talked about that. It really doesn’t matter who you choose to love as long as we’re loving someone. And then I have a new track off “The Blue Album” called “Rebel the Darkness.” “The Blue Album,” I’m really proud of it. It’s like a time capsule of the time that I went through, and I’m totally in love now, and I’m happy and there’s lots of great things happening in my life right now.
OK now Ricky, pick two celebrities that you would love to have as parents.
I would love for Madonna to be my mom. My mom’s gonna get really upset about that. She’s like, all you do is talk about Madonna. Mom comes first, of course. Having Madonna as a mom would be pretty interesting because there’s so much to learn from that woman, especially in the music industry, and I’m sure she’d be willing to teach me everything if I were her son. I think as a father, I would like Brad Pitt to be my dad. Not only because he’s really hot, but also because he seems like a really good man. He seems like he really loves his children, he’s soft and he’s gentle. He’s a Sagittarius, and I think he would get my personality and know how to keep me somewhat in check. It’s hard to keep this rebel in check.
Great choices! By the way, did the members of the boy band know you were gay?
The boy band always suspected since we were kids that I was gay, but my sexuality is pretty complex, like my song “Boys and Sometimes Girls.” I mean, I had girlfriends. One of the greatest relationships I’ve ever had was with a woman. So it was a little complex for me. I would make people scratch their heads. I was really in love with this woman. We fell in love on tour. She was in a pop group called I-Five. It was like a Spice Girls thing, and me and her hit it off.Do we really fall in love with people’s bodies or do we fall in love with the soul that’s inside? For me it’s really about who the person is on the inside. It’s not about the vessel that we’re being carried in, the body, but the spirit within, kind of unspoken to. She kind of really helped me through the whole process. On tour I kind of [explored] my sexuality. I got really upset: “What if the record label finds out about this shit? I’m gonna get in trouble.” I was really scared about that. And she came up to me and said, “Look, no matter what, no matter who you choose to love, Ricky, you are beautiful. Don’t worry about it. It doesn’t matter.” I was like, “She’s right.”
You are a new addition to a crayon box. What color are you?
Yay, a new addition to the crayon box! I’ve always thought about colors. We’re just gonna go with royal blue. My crown represents “The King of the Rebels” – that’s what I’m proclaiming – so royal blue.
One of the drag queens is going to steal that crown. Now, you’re standing naked in a store window, holding a sign. The sign can only have one word. What would it read?
Of course it’s gonna say “Rebel.”
If you were a porn star, what would your name be?
Wow, it would be Sonny Coolcrest.
How do you think people would communicate in a perfect world?
With feelings more. Focus more on communicating with feelings more than thoughts.
Who would you pick to play you in a movie of your life story?
As the older version of me, I want it to be Keanu Reeves, but the now version of me, it would have to be Jake Gyllenhaal.
Do you believe in love at first sight?
Absolutely! I fell in love with my dog the first time I saw him, I swear to God. His name is Brian. He’s a little baby poodle.
That’s the best answer ever. Ricky, I cannot wait for New York to get to know you.
Me neither! I’m nervous about New York, because I’ve heard that people in New York are very driven. I think I super belong there, because L.A. is a little more casual. It’s kind of like the surfer lifestyle – let’s go to the beach, let’s get a tan. I’m like, I hate the sun. I’m a vampire. I feel like I belong more where people get things done. It’s coming to a theater near you.It’s coming.
What is the one thing that you would want me to know about you?
I want you to know that I care. I really wanna help the community. I wanna be a role model. I wanna be someone that people could say, “You know, if Ricky Rebel can do it, I can do it too. I don’t have to hide, and I don’t have to heal myself because I’m different.” I care about the people who were treated unfairly because they’re gay or they’re different. One day I wanna see a sea of rebels out there that are touched by my work. Musical heroes are a big deal, and I want to be a musical hero. That’s my thing.