Every success story starts somewhere. Los Angeles' Alex Ritchie counts her breakout moment as being asked to perform at a women's rock night at Hollywood's famous Whisky a Go Go after the booking agent heard something special in her rough, homemade recordings on her MySpace page. Over a decade later, Ritchie has worked in a variety of music industry roles with several creative heavyweights, has released her debut EP, 404, and is now the subject of the premier episode of :NEXT, the Recording Academy's new short-run digital series featuring the future of the music industry.
The triple-threat artist, songwriter and producer has cultivated her passion for music from joining GRAMMY U, the Recording Academy's music industry college student resource network, to the Recording Academy Los Angeles Chapter's GRAMMYNext program for future music industry leaders, to her return her artist beginnings with the release of her brand new EP earlier this year. But her musical dreams didn't always seem so within reach.
“I’m the only musician in my family, and I came from a family of humble means; so even though I had conviction in what I wanted from a young age, it wasn’t “realistic,” Ritchie said. "I’d seen my parents suffer from the economy crash in 2008 and, realistically speaking, pursuing something like entertainment was so risky. I couldn’t afford to fail. We couldn’t afford to dream like that. BUT I had unrealistic dreams anyway, and after my first gig at the Whisky I knew that was it.”
After her Sunset Strip debut, Ritchie got to work, honing her self-taught skills in the studio, joining GRAMMY U while in New York and, after moving back to L.A., working her way into collaborations with the likes of Harvey Mason Jr., Gizzle, Snipe Young, Keith Hetrick, Steve “Steve B” Baughman, David Kim, and Lee Major, to name a few. Ritchie also became the youngest sitting member on two Recording Academy L.A. Chapter committees, earned a full scholarship from Westlake Studios & Electronic Music Magazine to attend Westlake’s new Crē•8 Music Academy for music production, and built relationshisp and become recognized by mega-brands such as Delta and Fender.
Working all over the page to develop her blossoming career, Ritchie names her musical influences as, well, everything, noting a specific interest in new music. But one influence that sticks out is GRAMMY-winning pop/rock band Imagine Dragons.
"Imagine Dragons has consistently put forth music that pushed boundaries. They're produced by Alex Da Kid, who's my idol producer," she said. "I really always wanted to marinade my roots from singer/songwriter and '90s rock music to what's going on currently, and I thought they did that perfectly with Evolve. It just made me want to step up my game and really push boundaries and be super free and creative with any of the music I'm working on."
Ritchie poured this freedom and creativity into her new EP, 404, which dropped in May of 2019 and featured collaborations with up-and-coming talents, including The Wildcardz, Snipe Young, and Australia's Nick De La Hoyde. With a strong foundation from her time in GRAMMY U and a supportive network through GRAMMYNext already in place, Ritchie is ready to share her unique personal background and musical talents with a wider audience. She credits her hard work with the Recording Academy's developmental programs helped her find her voice as an artist, hope as a young person in the music industry and the confidence to step out from behind-the-scenes in pursuit of her artistic dreams.
"To be honest, I really milked the opportunities given through GRAMMY U. It opened so many doors to create relationships with a lot of the right people, and also gave me a chance to meet many heroes and listen to their stories about coming up in music. It was a program that gave me hope, especially when it felt the odds were stacked against me. I’m a mixed-race, predominantly Asian-looking LGBTQ+ artist," she said. "When I started music, that combination wasn’t considered ‘commercial;’ in fact, it was more of a hindrance than a help. I’ve definitely always been the underdog in the race, and was often advised to stay behind the scenes as a songwriter/producer. Hearing a lot of those comments from industry people really got to me, so the GRAMMY U sessions really made me feel like it was all still possible.”
With her debut EP out now, Ritchie is currently focused on pitching new music for film and media projects, a world she's already gained valuable experience in by working under music supervisor and mentor Tracy McKnight as an assistant music consultant on projects including Disney’s Wrinkle In Time and Hulu’s Obey Giant. As she continues to amass a diverse mix of experience in the music industry, Ritchie is primed to carry the torch for her generation of future music industry leaders, leading a pack of her peers from GRAMMY U to GRAMMY Award hopefuls.
"The best part about being a 'Nexter' was that I got a whole new family, and It's given me a network of peers that I trust and constantly seek counsil from and work with on the daily," said Ritchie. "They're all killing it right now in their own respective positions. So It gave me that awesome network outside of the family I already had at the Recording Academy. I'm super thankful to know all of them."
Check out Alex's episode of :NEXT above and stay tuned for new editions of the three-part, short-run digital series rolling out each Monday.