White Rock raised singer-songwriter Richard – still best known in his hometown by his full name, Richard Tichelman – seems poised for great things.
But if the charismatic pop recording artist and guitarist’s popular commercial breakout occurs in 2023 it won’t be the result of overnight success.
His latest single – Red Lights – released just last month, will be the title track of a full album, due in July or early August, that may finally put his talent over the top.
Yet, as in almost all such cases, success will have come by dint of years of very hard work – not only honing his musical craft, but in determining a musical persona that truly represents him.
Still in his early 20s, his accomplishments already would be the envy of artists twice his age.
He already has two EPs to his credit, and performances on marquee stages from Toronto to Los Angeles as both headliner and sought-after supporting artist.
His single Hands, which dropped in April 2021, earned him a featured spot in MusicBC’s Artist of The Week, a 2021 Canadian Music Week featured artist showcase, and a placement in the semi-finals of the UnsignedOnly Music Competition in the Pop/Top 40 category.
The same year, he was also grand prize winner in the Jim Beam Bourbon’s Virtual National Talent Search in partnership with Canadian Music Week.
Having gone about as far as he could go through two years of activity curtailed by COVID-19 measures, Richard said he was “so excited to get back on stage again” last year.
That included successful shows at the Wheatsheaf Inn, and the El Mocambo, in Toronto, for the 2022 Jim Beam INDIE Awards, in front of thousands of industry insiders and indie fans from Canada and around the world.
“When COVID first hit, I just really concentrated on writing,” he said.
Through the pandemic he and manager Tracey Singer also took the opportunity to make connections with top writing and producing talents who have helped him refine a new sound that, as the single illustrates, pushes rock and pop elements.
From the hard-hitting, pared-down guitar-riff-and-drumbeat hook, to Richard’s sure vocalizing, Red Lights is a solid attention-grabber.
Like Hands, it’s what he describes as one of his latest crop of “raucous, upbeat songs” – high energy pop tunes that would seem to offer an ideal soundtrack for hot summer nights.
The new song was written during a trip to Nashville last March with David “Messy” Mescon (who has worked with Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande) and Kenny Sharp.
The track was mixed by Mike Fraser (of AC/DC and Metallica fame) and produced by Giordan Postorino (who has previously collaborated with Alessia Cara) at Toronto’s Metalworks Studios.
With the assistance of FACTOR grant funding, Richard is currently hard at work finishing off the new album, but it’s a process that is not without it’s challenges, he said.
One is that he already had an album waiting to be released at the beginning of 2020 that, for the most part, never saw the light of day.
“With COVID, there was no optimal way to show and share it,” he said.
He’s hoping to use a fair number of the songs on the new album, he said. The issue, however, is that he’s been writing a lot of songs – and evolving as an artist – since he recorded them.
“It was a bit of a struggle sitting on that album,” he admitted.
“So much time and effort and love and care went into it. But that project started when I was 19, and I’m 23 now. It’s been kind of funny to see my music evolve and grow since then.”
The struggle now is “finding ways to make this album feel congruent,” he said.
Richard laughs that, like his album, he continues to be “a work in progress.”
He’s come a long way from when, as an early teen, he was a fixture, busking for passersby on White Rock pier.
From a three- or four-year period when he found inspiration in country music and claimed many top spots in local talent contests, to a brief career in photo and runway modelling in his late teens, he’s gone through significant changes in style and image.
“But everything I’ve done that pushed me out of my comfort zone has helped me grow and be ready for the next phase,” he said.
His current approach feels right, he said.
“If I’m in the studio and I find I’m dancing and bouncing around like I would on stage, then I have to feel good about the music and how it will communicate to others.”
Red Lights can be accessed on the Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, iTunes, YouTube Music, Deezer and Napster platforms.