Richard Tichelman – now known simply as Richard – is back.
The 20-year-old Peninsula singer/guitarist, who, despite his youth, notched up many dues-paying years busking on White Rock’s waterfront, has returned from a close-to-two-year absence.
While a year of that was spent in ultimately fruitless negotiations with an L.A. company, Richard stuck with his instincts and walked away from what would have been a 360-degree marketing and management deal.
“It just didn’t feel right to me,” he explained to Peace Arch News.
Armed with the courage of his convictions, and a new manager, Tracey Singer of K Music Management (his mom, and biggest fan, Tracy Tichelman, having bowed gracefully from the picture), Richard has spent the best part of a year working on new material and a new pop-oriented sound.
Although a departure from his previous country-oriented approach, the results seem a natural development; matching the songwriting and vocal ability and good looks that won him awards in an international modeling and talent showcase in L.A. three years ago.
They include a forthcoming album and a new single, Proud – an anthemic tribute to the strong women in his life, co-written by veteran songwriters Brian Howes, JVP and Ryan Stewart – that would seem to be tailor-made for use in film and television soundtracks.
Those strong women include his mom and his sister, Elizabeth, Richard acknowledged.
“I’m truly blessed to have them in my life – they’ve made me what I am today,” he said.
And while any thought of touring in support of his album is stymied by the current pandemic, Richard remains confident that he is charting a positive course into the future.
“COVID-19, of course, has taken a terrible toll on the world,” he said.
“But, for me, while it has affected the usual promotional steps in the release of singles or an album, I haven’t let it impede or stop the work I can do, like concentrating on my writing, honing my craft and preparing myself for the day when I can go out on stage again.”
He looks forward to that keenly, he said.
“Where I come alive, where I feel most at home, is on stage,” he said. “Performing is something that is such a gift – sharing the energy and experience with bandmates.”
But he notes that the creativity of working with others in a studio environment can equal the spontaneity of interacting with a band in a live situation.
“They are both places I’d call home,” he said.
And while he admits that it seems that life has been piling on delay after delay, he remains philosophical about it.
“It’s all to the better,” he said. “It gave me time to learn about myself as a musician and cultivate my sound.”
And that has been the most important development of all, he said.
“I had felt myself wanting to try something new and create something new and to push myself into an unexplored area I may not have figured on going before,” he said.
“When I met my manager she inspired me to go into new genres, pushed me to be a better musician and go out of my comfort zone,” he said.
“She sent me into a room with the guys I’m writing with now. People had always told me, you’ll meet your team when you need your team and after leaving that meeting, I pulled over five minutes down the road and realized how true it was.”
Experimenting with new vocal techniques and guitar techniques led him naturally to the current pop-sound, Richard said.
“To me, it feels as comfortable as putting on my favourite jeans.”
It also seems to knit together all the strands of his life and personality, he added.
“Everything around us designs who we are. I’ve tried lots of different things, including modelling and acting, and I’ve found a bit of myself in all of them – not only the person I am today, but the musician I am today.”
And choosing to work in pop has allowed him to incorporate a wide range of influences in his music, he pointed out.
“I feel like I’ve always had a great appreciation of music of all kinds,” he said – including everything from the free-flowing sound of jazz to the raw emotion of country.
“I’ve never understood the separation of all these wonderful genres. They all have so much to offer and they can all tell the story in different ways.”
And while some of his new songs have a happy-go-lucky vibe, Richard said he also has other stories – just as powerful as the positive affirmation of Proud – that he wants to communicate.
“Some of the songs touch on sensitive topics for me and other people, songs that encourage people to be vulnerable and open about what’s going on with them. I’ve had my struggles with anxiety and depression, for example.
“I have a message and I want to spread it – I’d like to advocate for people who may be too nervous to speak for themselves.”
For more information on Richard and his new music, visit richardmusicofficial.com