‘I was only 15 years old and I was already friends with Michael Jackson’: Ricky Rebel talks with So So Gay

Ricky Rebel may not be a name that immediately rings a bell, but any hardcore boyband fan should immediately recognise his face as that of the multi-named former No Authority lead singer Ric Felix (aka Ricky Godinez and later billed as Ricky G). While the four-piece experienced relatively minor press coverage and no chart success on these shores, the quartet managed minor hits in the States. Despite their relatively tepid acclaim, Rebel has never given up his goal of superstardom. The 32-year-old may have been out of the spotlight for the majority of his post boyband career, but he is determined to cash in on his teenage stardom and credible connections as he launches his latest project.

While it would be easy to write Rebel off as just another wannabe comeback, his quirky, colourful image and potent pop sound set him aside from the fodder. But before we turn our attentions to the present day, it seems only just to re-acquaint ourselves with his formative period. Clearly proud of his early days, he excitedly explains, “The highest point in my life has been the day we got signed to Madonna’s label, Maverick Records. At the time Epic/Sony was just sitting on the album. Maverick came in and bought us from Epic and released our record in time to join Britney Spears on her Oops, I Did It Again Tour. Being on tour with Britney, working under Madonna’s label, and having the second most added record in the US (‘Can I Get Your Number’ – No Authority) was definitely the highlight of my boyband days.”

‘I was only 15 years old and I was already friends with Michael Jackson, signed to his label and touring Europe. My life was a whirlwind of press, photo shoots and performances. We even released our début album in Neverland Ranch. It was and still is the life I’ve always wanted.’ While to the outsider the No Authority whirlwind may sound like a dream, it was more of a star-studded storm. For all the glorious connections and awe-inspiring talents that Rebel found himself in the company of, the pressure to succeed was immense. ‘It was difficult being told what to do, though, by the label and management. I’ve never been a person who likes following the rules.’

I’ve gotten many doors shut in my face and loads of empty promises, but here I am today, still working, creating, and inspiring new fans.

For all the fun and frolics, there was a downside to the short-lived celebration by the US media. As with many a failed popstar, once the dizzying lights fade, what is left is simply a shell of the driven, determined talent who had got caught up in their own hype. A humble Rebel bravely admits, ‘When the group ended, I went into a depression. I sort of lost my identity. I had to fight my way back to get where I am today. I’ve gotten many doors shut in my face and loads of empty promises, but here I am today, still working, creating, and inspiring new fans. I can’t stop because being an entertainer is my destiny.’ Having never lost his determination or talent, Rebel successfully fought his inner demons and pacified the internal questions, Ricky Rebel returned to the scene, but this time ensured that he had a firm grip of the reigns.

Despite his independent approach, Rebel is fully aware that re-entering the spotlight will be met immediately with comparisons to his teenage career. The reality is something he appears entirely nonchalant about, ‘At this point I wouldn’t mind being compared to my earlier work, but to be quite frank, the only thing that would be considered ‘my work’ in that pop group would be my vocals and the choreography for our live shows. I was only allowed, by the label, to write one song on one of the albums. I got to help with some vocal arrangements here and there, but that’s about it. I am proud of the vocals I did, though. I literally would spend hours in the studio doing all the background parts because I am so fast.’ While there is a clear pride about the part he played with No Authority, Rebel is not someone who is unable to see the shortcomings. Having learnt many a worthwhile lessons from the experience, he continues by explaining just how his own project differs. ‘The label wanted only name writers like Rodney Jerkins, who’s worked with Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé, to write and produce our first album. The music I make now is 100% ‘my work’, being that I write it, produce it, sing it, and perform it live. There are no strings attached to me. I am truly an independent artist, Self-manufactured. I am my own manager, publicist and booking agent. I would be the happiest person on the planet if the UK embraced me and my music. I love the UK.’

Adamantly he announces, ‘My goal still has not changed. I want to be my version of the greatest entertainer the world has ever known,’ before the real question of his current output comes to the fore. Having been awarded Independent Artist Of The Year at the RAWards, Rebel is an artist who both excites and engages. An artist with a message and a creative flair, who has learnt the hard way that sometimes you have to just push to the extreme in order to stand out in an overcrowded discipline. In his own words, ‘I am a dynamic artist. I am a dramatic artist. I am a deep/sensitive artist. I am a flamboyant artist. I am a sexy artist. I am a fun artist. I am a freaky artist. But most of all, I am the best at being Ricky Rebel. There is no one out there quite like me.’

I hate that kids kill themselves for being gay. I want to change all that and prove that you can be gay and highly successful in any career path you choose

While his current single ‘Manipulator’ explores his own experiences within a challenging industry, he is insistent that he is far from motivated purely by personal gain. Through the re-telling of his own trials and tribulations, he believes he can connect with others. While he notes, ‘I have a purpose to help the LGBT community, especially gay teens. I want them to love who they are. I hate that kids kill themselves for being gay. I want to change all that and prove that you can be gay and highly successful in any career path you choose,’ it is clear that he is aware that his experiences are not purely related to the LGBT community. ‘Manipulator’ is an incessant earworm that manages to cover victimisation in a non-throwaway manner. As our conversation draws to a close, Rebel confirms, ‘It’s a common theme in many peoples lives. We want to be loved, but we have to sometimes disconnect from the people we love the most if the relationship becomes toxic so that we can discover a new possibility. That is what I have had to do over and over in my life. Like a cat, I always end up on my feet because I turn to music. That’s ultimately what I want to do for my fans. My message is this: Rebel the darkness, shine your light. I want to heal people through music.’

To find out more about Ricky Rebel simply visit www.rickyrebelrocks.com or follow him on Twitter (@RickyRebelRocks)

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