“A high energy palliative”: Ripe’s Robbie Wulfsohn Reflects on One Year of the Band’s Triumphant ‘Bright Blues’

Ripe's Robbie Wulfsohn © 2024
Ripe's Robbie Wulfsohn © 2024
Ripe’s Robbie Wulfsohn reflects on his band’s sophomore album ‘Bright Blues’ a year after its release, diving deep into its creation in an intimate, candid conversation about musical growth, staying power, friendship, and where Ripe find themselves today.
Stream: ‘Bright Blues’ – Ripe




There was a feeling that we’re playing for our lives here.

For the longest time, Ripe’s Robbie Wulfsohn didn’t know if his band would survive the pandemic.

The group he and his closest friends had formed back at Berklee College of Music nearly a decade ago was floundering. They had built Ripe up through touring and word-of-mouth, and now both of those things were on an indefinite pause, with no way to know when live music would be back – or if it ever would be back, for that matter.

So much uncertainty, coupled with interpersonal conflicts and the tensions of being cooped up at home, with a mystery virus proliferating outside, added to Ripe’s internal strife. By the time the band emerged three years after March 2020, they would be three members down from their previous seven-man lineup. The enduring four-piece of Wulfsohn, Jon Becker, Sampson Hellerman, and Calvin Barthel would be in it for the long haul – but back in lockdown, no one knew what tomorrow looked like, let alone the next year or two.

Ripe's Robbie Wulfsohn © 2024
Ripe’s Robbie Wulfsohn © 2024



With the future (both of humanity, and of their band) bleak, Wulfsohn and co. set out to make what they believed might very well be Ripe’s last album.

“There was a feeling that we’re playing for our lives here with this new batch of music,” the Ripe frontman tells Atwood Magazine, reflecting on their sophomore album a year and change out from its initial 2023 release. “[There was this] feeling of, if we’re gonna give it one last big swing of the bat, we wanna put everything that we love about this into this, and hopefully it will reflect that back to us when it’s finished. I think we all went in being like, ‘this is our chance.’ Who knows about last chance – obviously it turned out to not be, but this is our chance to really try and make a statement about the things that we care about in music that we bet so heavily on. Not necessarily always against the trend, but not with the trend in mind.”

If this was going to be Ripe’s swan song, it had better be the best damn music they could possibly make; anything less would be a disservice to themselves and to the group they had worked so tirelessly at over the past ten years. This was their moment to shine; to give it their all, pour in everything they could, and make the album they needed to make. Charts be damned – they were following their guts, and nothing more.

Bright Blues - Ripe
Bright Blues, Ripe’s sophomore album, released in March 2023

The resulting record is stunningly bold, irresistibly radiant, gorgeously groovy, and infectiously smile-inducing. Released March 10, 2023 via Glassnote Records, Bright Blues shines a musical and emotional light in the darkness as, over the course of twelve songs, Ripe capture the power of love, human connection, and above all else, friendship: “The record orbits the ideas of friendships, and when shit hits the fan, the core relationships in somebody’s life are what rise to meet the occasion,” Wulfsohn explains. “There’s something that I find we always come back to, which is that our music is attempting to be a high energy palliative, where we’re not shying away from the things that people look to music to feel better about.”

“But we are still trying to evoke that ecstatic release of a lot of other music that we really love that came before us. The palliative that we fell on in that time was each other – the people that really had your back and the people that you really felt that act of love towards. And it was also a moment of having to redefine that in real time…  to bet heavily on that, that these people that you’d never survived trauma with were the people you were gonna do it with because you believed in them.”

“I think I hear a note of melancholy in that record a year later, which I think is just where it was relative to where we are now,” he adds. “I think the music is kinetic, and I think that those memories of the last year of playing it for fans are not melancholy at all… But I think that there are as many moments of fear and sadness baked into that creation process as there are moments of catharsis and joy. It feels very 50/50 split in that way.”

Cinematic and spirited, Ripe’s second studio album triumphantly arrived five long, turbulent years after their celebrated debut album Joy in the Wild Unknown, and reintroduced them as a wellspring of raw passion, hot funk, and buoyant, catchy indie pop. From the dramatic vision and dynamic energies of album opener “Get Over” to the feverish rush of “Settling,” the fiery disco beats of “Queen of the City,” the restless charm and churn of “The Outcome,” the anthemic warmth and weight of “Brendan,” and more, Bright Blues stays unapologetically true to its name, emanating what Wulfsohn calls an “intelligent sadness”: “[Balancing] the palliative ecstatic energy with this almost melancholic recognition of what the music is for. You wouldn’t need music that made you feel like this if you didn’t have this other thing going on, and trying to figure out a way to balance those things.”

Ripe (L to R: Sampson Hellerman, Calvin Barthel, Jon Becker, Robbie Wulfsohn) © Brent Goldman
Ripe (L to R: Sampson Hellerman, Calvin Barthel, Jon Becker, Robbie Wulfsohn) © Brent Goldman



Out of a time marked by so much personal distance and disconnection, turmoil and tumult, discord and upheaval, real fear and raw pain, Ripe created a thing of utter, undeniable beauty, love, and light.

Recorded “in the middle of shattering and coming back together,” Bright Blues is, even now, a beacon of hope and a bastion of possibility, echoing the power and promise of the human spirit.

“The first record is a record of disbelief that we even get to make a record, and it’s so steeped in that joy and in the youthfulness of that feeling,” Wulfsohn shares. “This is a record that sits as the crossroads point where we, through the making of this record, decided that we really wanted to make this the rest of our lives as much as life allows us to do that.”

“I hope that it gets to be the second album of a lot of albums, and I hope that it gets to occupy its place as the first moment where we really found that faith that this was gonna be what we get to do, and that this will be the way that we process the world with our closest people and come back to trying to love the life that we’re in.”

Atwood Magazine recently caught up with Robbie Wulfsohn to discuss his takeaways from Bright Blues a year after its release. Read our intimate, candid conversation as the band’s frontman discusses the album’s creation and song inspirations, personal and musical growth, and where Ripe find themselves today.

“Because we fought for our lives, it allowed us to do this joyful thing,” he smiles. “I hope that people who find this band listen to the band for as long as they listen to music.”

Dive deep into Ripe in our interview below, and catch the band in concert throughout North America all summer long – find tickets and more information at ripetheband.com!

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:: stream/purchase Bright Blues here ::
:: connect with Ripe here ::
Watch: “Get Over” – Ripe



A CONVERSATION WITH RIPE

Bright Blues - Ripe

Atwood Magazine: Robbie, we’re about a year out from the release of Bright Blues, and I want to start by setting the scene in terms of what this album meant for you and for Ripe. This is your second record, released five years after the first one. Take me back to last February; what does this album mean to you?

Robbie Wulfsohn: The actual release of this record, which was also a while in the making after the genesis of the songs and then after that, the making of the record, was the exhale moment of like, there’s a real chance that we’re gonna get to do this as long as we want to in the aftermath of a period where that didn’t feel certain for a number of reasons. The making of the record was this hot mess of existential dread, and also a really wonderful learning curve on how we could make records and what we wanted to focus on as a band. And a rebirth sounds so high voltage, but the mellower version of that; we entered another period of figuring out what we wanted to be and how we wanted our music to be made and be received in the world, and I think actually having it come out – the actual day of, we had a meetup with some people in the industry to “shake hands and kiss babies,” and I had horrible food poisoning and I was excusing myself every not-enough minutes to go and just deal with that, so that the strangers didn’t know that I was a mess.

But it felt like as it came out, this light went on with that record and with the ensuing tour that happened right afterwards around it. It felt like we transitioned from people that were having a really, really wonderful time doing it, but didn’t have an idea of where it was gonna go long term, to a band that had learned a lot of things that felt like they would extend more into the rest of our lives, about how to approach songs, how to approach a record, how to work as a unit, all those things. It felt like the process of making it and getting it ready to put out and the team you sort of assembled around it as that was happening allowed this new thing to start. And so on day one, it was this nice feeling of celebrating what had already happened and the beginning of this nagging feeling that things were about to be at least a little bit different, upon the release of this thing.

Was it a question of “does Ripe continue to exist”?

Robbie Wulfsohn: Yes, and. We were a band that had built by touring and word of mouth, that now had an indefinite pause on touring and a regression on the word of mouth that we had been good at. We had some people that started the process of Bright Blues with us that we had some interpersonal conflict with, and we ended the record with different people than we started it with. It was just a lot of uncertainty. Obviously now I get to look at the uncertainty with the relaxation of it with us figuring this thing out. But yeah, it was a moment of everything that we had been feeling, that there’s something happening here. And the years leading up to when we actually made the record, even in the process by which we begat the first couple rounds of those songs that went up on Bright Blues, it was this freewheeling, constantly expanding momentum driven thing – we had the luxury of being like, let’s just see where this goes. And then it crashed right into a wall with everything that was specifically working for us.

Ripe © Brent Goldman
Ripe © Brent Goldman



I'm looking at your tour history right now and you were playing concerts almost daily, right up until March, 2020.

Robbie Wulfsohn: We had literally just finished the biggest tour to date. On Valentine’s Day 2020, we played the first of two nights at the House of Blues. We played two nights at Webster Hall in New York. It was just this feeling of, again, something is moving. And it wasn’t on the back of a new record rollout. It was just this thing that we had built that we really believed in was finding people that it resonated with.

At that point in time, you were still touring Joy in the Wild Unknown. Had the seeds of Bright Blues already started to germinate?

Robbie Wulfsohn: We weren’t playing anything off the new record, but in the years leading up, we started to write alongside some other homies that were more on the production and writing side of things, initially almost as a lark, but as it turned out, focusing more on song craft, focusing more on letting the studio breathe as a separate entity to the live show, obviously interconnected, but not – leaving behind the mentality of we’re just trying to bottle this one thing in this other thing. Instead of being like, ‘we probably have to be a band that makes compelling records and has a compelling live show.’ Not to say Joy in the Wild Unknown wasn’t doing that, but I think that our mindset walking in is, we know we have this live thing that connects, let’s try and capture that in the best way we can. And the writing process had started before that tour where we had a demo version of “Settling” in the tank. There was an idea that we believed in this new direction, we believed in working with our friends, Noah and Ryan, who’d wind up co-producing the record. And it was just this feeling of, through the process of making stuff, the next chapter starts to reveal itself.

That began a little bit before that tour and honestly has continued since; we are constantly writing in the hopes that when it’s time to make something, we have stuff we believe in, because the music is good, and we can figure out the world building and the more nuanced stuff after we have songs that we believe hit at the gut level.

It sounds to me like this new record was really informed by the live show and by the experience of performing onstage and bringing songs to life in that environment.

Robbie Wulfsohn: It was the transition from trying to do the same thing in both spaces to trying to make people feel the same way in both spaces – that feels like the best way I can say it. We ran into the wall of, without the other aspects of a live show, without the community there, the ability to see the band, the high volume that things are put out at and the novelty of being in this sort of human moment with everybody, if you take all those things away and just listen to the recording, it’s a completely different experience. And obviously, we just put out a live record. I still very much believe in the live concert as a living document, but it was more about, we have this aha moment that we love triggering with our friends in this space. How do we do that in a space where the first time somebody hears it is without our faces, without anything except potentially just a play on Spotify on the cab ride home?

You were making this in a silo, not knowing if and when the world would open up. “We need to capture what it's like to be at a Ripe concert, when you can't be at a Ripe concert.”

Robbie Wulfsohn: I would say that. I think also, in a way that I think I’m luckily moving away from, there was a feeling that we’re playing for our lives here with this new batch of music. It was made in the summer of 2020 to a large extent. And the feeling of, if we’re gonna give it one last big swing of the bat, we wanna put everything that we love about this into this, and hopefully it will reflect that back to us when it’s finished. I think we all went in being like, “this is our chance.” Who knows about last chance – obviously it turned out to not be, but this is our chance to really try and make a statement about the things that we care about in music that we bet so heavily on. Not necessarily always against the trend, but not with the trend in mind.

Can you share a little bit about the story behind Bright Blues as an album? Does it have an overarching theme to you that really sticks out?

Robbie Wulfsohn: It was the first record that gave us the chance to do a process that we’re now trying again. You’re catching us in the middle of some baby steps towards new music as well. We’re gonna be faster on that than last time. But the writing process was not concept-forward. It was just about trying to make music that resonated as hard as possible. Some of the stuff that I was nodding to even in the conversation already – it felt like explaining the relationships that function as the nucleus of this thing that we’re trying to make. It was a lot of songs that were friends’ stories, or stories that happened right next to me, or stuff that people came into the room wanting to process with me as the lyricist. And I think that, to the extent that the record’s about anything, I think the record orbits the ideas of friendships, and when shit hits the fan, the core relationships in somebody’s life are what rise to meet the occasion. There’s something that I find we always come back to, which is that our music is attempting to be a high energy palliative, where we’re not shying away from the things that people look to music to feel better about.

But we are still trying to evoke that ecstatic release of a lot of other music that we really love that came before us. The palliative that we fell on in that time was each other – the people that really had your back and the people that you really felt that act of love towards. And it was also a moment of having to redefine that in real time. And again, not to always use the language of gambling, but to bet heavily on that, that these people that you’d never survived trauma with were the people you were gonna do it with because you believed in them, and the people that were, not to minimize our early days, the people that were originally people you’d make music with in college and have a great time and be plugged into a social network through that, were the people you wanted to spend the rest of your life building this thing with.

Again, it’s hard to separate the present from the past. This is how I feel as I look back on it sort of since there was something to exist and talk about. I think it orbits this idea of friendships and of reaching for the other to get through the worst things that are happening to you. When I listen back to the record now, that’s what jumps out at me the loudest.



Our music is attempting to be a high energy palliative, where we’re not shying away from the things that people look to music to feel better about.

Why the title “Bright Blues”?

Robbie Wulfsohn: Honestly we had a conversation booked about the name and I went and got my head right and walked around the streets of Brighton just thinking about stuff. I love the name “Joy in the Wild Unknown” but I, for whatever reason, really didn’t want the name of this record to come out of a lyric. I had done a go-over of the lyric sheet and I was like, there’s nothing here that feels like a mission statement and I want to put the entire gravity of the release behind a snippet from something. And so, it was a walk around, in my head I’m listening to the record, I was expecting to bring them five names and maybe they’ll shoot down four of them, but one will be good. And really the only name that came out from that walk was the one we wound up going with, and it was this like “aha moment” where 20 minutes later, I presented it to the guys and it was immediately gravitated towards, and here was this rightness – once the idea was actually ready to look at that, and fed into it becoming a thing.

I do feel like it works with the theme.

Robbie Wulfsohn: That’s the thing, the places where it was sort of rumbling from is “Bright Blues,” as in intelligent sadness. ‘Bright blue’ also as in a sky color, or a nice color for water. It’s not that deep, but it is the attempt to balance the palliative ecstatic energy with this almost melancholic recognition of what the music is for. You wouldn’t need music that made you feel like this if you didn’t have this other thing going on, and trying to figure out a way to balance those things.

I want to talk about influences – you talked about building on the past earlier. When I listen to Ripe, there's two things that come to mind. First, I think about bands like Genesis.

Robbie Wulfsohn: Yes!

Are we a big fan?

Robbie Wulfsohn: At least me and Jon are quite big fans. I grew up with Mike and the Mechanics of all of the side projects to randomly grow up with. My mom was a pretty big Mike and the Mechanics fan, and I didn’t even realize I was getting into Genesis until I decided to do so more self-consciously. A friend of mine who played literally one show on bass with us and then went off to tour with Sky Ferreira, I was hanging out with him years later and he put on “Throwing It All Away,” and I forgot that Phil Collins era. Genesis needs a lot of my time. Turns out that’s the next chapter for me, specifically Duke and Invisible Touch, but the whole gamut, including the Peter Gabriel stuff, is near and dear to my heart. Some people will be very excited to hear that you mentioned that first.

Aside from Genesis, do you guys have any other influences that really resonate?

Robbie Wulfsohn: We’re all over the place as a band. So I’ll name the ones that we’ve recently been chatting about and glom onto. If you pick any two or three members of the band, you get these large overlaps, and if you try and zoom out to something that everybody messes with equally, it gets a lot more crazy. But I would say that, where we’re at right now and what we’ve been chatting about with this next thing that’s going on, Remain in Light by Talking Heads and I Am by Earth, Wind & Fire are things that we really mess with heavily.

To everyone’s credit, everyone is both trying to find the stuff they like and grow the stuff they like. Jon and I were talking about the new Four Tet record recently. Cal and I are both super excited by new NxWorries. I went through a phase of trying to find the stuff I liked from the Smithsonian Folkways label sets, and just trying to find this historic music that felt othered from certain parts of the stuff I’d already been listening to.

We all love music enough that we’re very actively trying to always wiggle out of whatever container we’ve put ourselves in. But as a result, there’s not a shorthand of like, we really mess with The Monkees, The Cars… I think that the stuff that we’re orbiting around right now, not to reuse the word, is the Talking Heads, Earth, Wind & Fire. More is more – maximalism with a purpose. But in terms of what’s in our personal taste, it’s all over the place. We’re excited by all of it.

Ripe's Robbie Wulfsohn © 2024
Ripe’s Robbie Wulfsohn © 2024

You wouldn’t need music that made you feel like this if you didn’t have this other thing going on, and trying to figure out a way to balance those things.



How does Bright Blues sit with you a year on from its release?

Robbie Wulfsohn: I have a huge soft spot for it, and obviously I’m in a period of self-reflection as we also slowly work towards bringing the next baby into the world. It’s kind of funny, because I don’t really associate this energy with the overall sound of the band, but I think I hear a note of melancholy in that record a year later, which I think is just where it was relative to where we are now. I think the music is kinetic, and I think that those memories of the last year of playing it for fans are not melancholy at all. It’s been a really joyful thing to watch people receive this music, to see certain parts of songs take off in the live space in a way that feels exciting and different and new relative to their studio versions.

This isn’t to the detriment of the record, it just is a surprising thing to go back and try your old clothes on and see how they fit. I hear the notes of stress in the album versions because they went away as we played this live for growing audiences, and we reconfigured what we were doing to enter this next phase of where we’re at. So I have a huge soft spot for it, but it brings out a bit of sad every so often when I go back. And I’m 99% sure that’s just a me thing, and it’s not really what I need or want anybody else to feel when they listen to that record.

Again, with the process of new music happening literally right after I get off this call, this next one feels like muscle and real joy in the process of making it, and the other one feels more like something that felt like we were fighting for our lives – and then because we fought for our lives, it allowed us to do this joyful thing. But I think that there are as many moments of fear and sadness baked into that creation process as there are moments of catharsis and joy. It feels very 50/50 split in that way. I think we’re making a more 70/30, 80/20 split with this next thing. And so that extra 30% of “heavy” stands out to me when I go back and listen to that record.

What’s the mindset of this new record?

Robbie Wulfsohn: We’re making this record with the belief that we’ll also make a fourth record and a fifth. We’re making this record genuinely feeling that both the landscape that we’re in and the interpersonal relationships in the band are good for us. Commercial growth is never the primary focus, but we are now in a world where we’re gonna get to make more records. The pressure of this being the absolute everything or else is gone. I really like the record that that feeling made, but you can’t live in that feeling for five years.

You talked about how songs have grown and changed and surprised you over the past year. Can you talk about those songs that have really hit that surprised you?

Robbie Wulfsohn: I think it’s the high energy in execution, but not necessarily as easy to communicate in the record. The three that come to mind for me are “Avril,” “Queen of the City,” and “Say It To Me.” Those are all songs that I have a huge affinity for even before they were in the live space. “Queen of the City” was one where my narrative of it is, it took a second for people to adopt it, but once they did, it became an energetic highlight of the show. And the horn line moment in “Say It to Me” was a place where, I forget why it happened, but one day we just self-consciously committed to making that a moment where we wanted the audience to go off, and they did.

All of a sudden, this song that has a drive-along-the-coast energy became this more explosive thing. And watching the people that care about our music fingerprint the song… By changing the way that they were reacting to it and watching that reaction sustain and keep going the next time we played that song was a really touching moment. And then “Avril,” I think that song is really, really kinetic. When we were first making the record, we knew we liked the song, but we didn’t know how it was gonna be received. And it’s now, again, a place where for the most part we see people singing it back and moving in a way that allows the song to transcend its initial creation, to me.

I think that there are as many moments of fear and sadness baked into that creation process as there are moments of catharsis and joy.

That’s awesome; it’s great that your songs get to live and breathe and evolve.

Robbie Wulfsohn: I hope so. Obviously there’s the inherent weirdness where you make something and then you perform it live until you stop the project. But it’s been really nice to see that growth with these songs. It’s allowed them to pull themselves out of the initial feeling of making them into this new thing where now, Bright Blues is, more loudly than when it was first made, a record that allowed the rest of our lives to happen. I feel that joy and that desire to want to go hit a home run with each of those songs every time we perform them now, because it gets to also be that, and that took a second after release to really get comfortable with.

It was made with so much heart, and you put so much of yourselves into it. Which songs would you love to keep playing forever, for as long as you can, off Bright Blues?

Robbie Wulfsohn: I don’t mean to sidestep the question, but I think that we really want to continue to change set lists and rotate things in and out so that we feel excited to play the whole catalog for as long as we can. There’s a few songs from literally “Produce the Juice” days that are relative rarities, but even those we have under our fingers and try to put in at least once per extended run.

Honestly, I think that's a healthy answer.

Robbie Wulfsohn: Yeah, it’s something I’ve been mindful of for a while. We grew up idolizing musicians from the ’90s and early 2000s, and there are so many stories that proliferate that they didn’t even want to put the hit on the record. They were strong-armed by their label and then they hate playing it live, and that just sounds like taking the coolest opportunity in the world and turning it into ash in your mouth.

That sounds so gut-wrenchingly sad – to succeed in the music industry, write a piece of music that touches the hearts of thousands, millions, whatever, and then to have this curdled milk relationship with this thing that is changing your life in real time and not being able to enjoy it for what it is because of some kink in the fabric. I want to avoid that. I would much rather feel love for all these things that are labors of love. The feeling of hating something because I made it… That just sounds like a vibe killer in a way that I’m down to put effort into avoiding.

Ripe © Brent Goldman
Ripe © Brent Goldman



Speaking of commercial success, “Settling” has obviously found success in the streaming age. What do you think it is about this song that hits? What's your take on that?

Robbie Wulfsohn: I’ll start with a personal and then I’ll do my best to try and speak like I’m not the guy who wrote it. But at least personal, it’s one of the loudest examples of watching something change, even from when it was first written to when it was recorded. Like the subject matter that first begat the song… There were a lot of women in my life who were dealing with bullshit in the workforce, and there were people in my life who were at the crossroads of, do I say something? Do I not? Do I accept that what I’ve got is good enough, or do I put myself at risk to make things longer term better for me?

And it was not intended as a high horse, but maybe even accidentally a ‘high horse’ thing of, no, you can do it, go do it. And it was meant with love, but it came from that feeling-like-I-had-an-answer place at the first day of writing. Fast-forward to when the thing is actually being recorded in its final form, obviously I have none of that confidence. Like, it is just not that place anymore, and it feels a lot more like singing to myself and reminding myself that in this moment, where giving up and walking away from the figurative table is a real possibility, that that’s not what I want, that’s not what feels right, and that this is in fact a moment to power through that heavy, negative complacency and to do something else, whatever that is.

Why I’m frankly excited that that was one that found resonance with people is I can always tap into it… there’s space in that song for it to be at least two things, and over time even more things, and that excites the hell out of me. The multiple natures of a thing are how you can come back to it and have it grow with you and mark different chapters of your life rather than the reverse, which is you listen back to a song, and you are 15 again, which is also awesome. But I’m trying to make music that I can do for longer than my teenage years. It’s nice to feel that inside that song, there’s a kernel of that.

In terms of why other people like it, why I hope they like it at least… we’re not a band that’s easy to shove into an elevator pitch mission statement. But in terms of doing the thing in three minutes and 30 seconds, of showing that this music can be attempting to be palliative and also ecstatic, and that those two things are not mutually exclusive, but in fact are pretty connected… I think that it does the thing that we try to do in a very immediate and understandable way. Again, in terms of writing the song first and then reflecting on what the song is, that wasn’t the goal. But I do think that, in the way that some of the other songs from earlier days have stuck around with people, it is very joyous in execution, like notes of tension in the background piece of music. Riding that line is really exciting to me, and I really hope it connects with other people. I think we did that well in this song, and I’d like to think that that’s why it connects with other people the way that it does.

It's a great song, although it's nowhere even near my favorite song on the album. My personal highlights are probably “Queen of the City,” “Avril” – both of which you mentioned already – and “The Outcome.”

Robbie Wulfsohn: Yay! You are a Genesis fan.

Showing my true colors.
What's the story behind behind “The Outcome”? I feel this moment of coming back into the light from being in the darkness. I love the sense of relief and release that we get.

Robbie Wulfsohn: That song got started minutes after one of the toughest conversations we’d ever had as a band. It was the coming to a head of some of the interpersonal tensions, and we had a conversation in the living room that Jon and I were living in at the time, and then we set up amps in the living room and started to jam. I don’t think it was done self-consciously. I think it was just one of those moments where we needed music the way that a fan needs music as well, in the way that a maker needs music. And so we were hammering out these positive chords and Loskop is a South African… I forget if it’s Xhosa or Zulu, but it’s a term of endearing buffoonery, it literally translates to “loose head,” and it also might be Afrikaans, what do I know… It was this term that my dad would call me, because I’m more ADD than I am anything else. And it was just a childhood term of endearment and this thing vomited out of me, of trying to not worry about where I was going because it felt very loudly in that moment that I couldn’t control that.

I feel like the tone of the song is quietly chiding somebody for worrying about those things, but still in a way that’s joyful – “it’s gonna be okay” is the musical message of that song. And the lyrical message of that song turns into a little more like, “you can’t make it okay.” So you can either enjoy this process by which you find out if it’s gonna be okay, or you can fight against the flow of a river that’s going to crush you if you fight it.

Thank you for taking me through that one. I've talked about a lot of songs that really resonate with me. If folks play this record today, what song or songs do you hope they really listen to?

Robbie Wulfsohn: I feel very grateful to be in a place where I can say, ‘whatever resonates with you on the record still resonates with me.’ There’s not a song here that is not beloved in its own right by me, and I think by the whole band. I think that there’s a part of me that wants to say, since it hasn’t been mentioned, “Noise In The Forest” only because I think that nodded towards something that I think we’re doing with this next batch of music… The way that I’ve described it to myself is we’re letting a little bit of muscle into the process. That’s a song that when we play it, it’s very rooted in the execution of the band and the band only. There are a lot of things going on in this record that were not sonically present on Ripe before.

“Noise In The Forest” still is around a guitar that was played in the room. Everything about “Noise In The Forest” still leads to that muscle of friends looking each other in the eye and executing an idea that they have as best they can. At the end of the day, I want someone to listen down to the record and form their own opinions. And if you’re not gonna listen to the big single, listen to “Noise In The Forest,” because right now the one on my mind is like ‘cool, we accidentally left some Easter eggs about the next thing in the first thing.’ And I think that’s cool. It’s exciting to be able to notice a lineage if you’ve been liking a band for a long time.

It sounds like you're so amped for what's to come. That's probably the most exciting thing for me to hear at this juncture.

Robbie Wulfsohn: Yeah, we’re deep in it. It’s not like I can see the finish line, but I really think that to people that really love Bright Blues and quite frankly, even to people that miss Joy in the Wild Unknown, with a little bit of time and effort and focus, we’re trying to make something that is new in its own right and also folds the things that we love about both of the things that we’ve made into each other, and also the singles around it. It really does feel like we are trying, and fingers crossed succeeding, at doing, relative to what we’ve done, everything at once. That used to be a scary prospect, where we can’t be doodling in the margins and also trying to make pop immediacy stuff, and we can’t bet on the realism of a band playing as well as the metronomic grid aspect of the thing. We took our time, and we are trying our best to see if we actually can thread the needle between all these things that we love in their own right. I really hope we can do it. I’m currently cautiously optimistic that we’re about to do what we’re setting out to do.

Do you record your songs live, or do you track them instrument-by-instrument?

Robbie Wulfsohn: Bright Blues was a product of necessity in terms of how much of it is or isn’t live. Part of what we’re trying to grow into with the next thing is to mirror what we love about what we do on stage, and have the heart of this record be as many people as possible playing together to create that live energy of it being lovingly imperfect and betting on the there’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in of the process of playing with other people.

So do you have any takeaways from Bright Blues? And do you hope listeners have had any takeaways over the past year? What is this record's legacy in your mind right now?

Robbie Wulfsohn: I hope that people who find this band listen to the band for as long as they listen to music. The first record is a record of disbelief that we even get to make a record. And it’s so steeped in that joy and it’s also steeped in the youthfulness of that feeling. This is a record that sits as the crossroads point where we, through the making of this record, decided that we really wanted to make this the rest of our lives as much as life allows us to do that. I hope that it gets to be the second album of a lot of albums, and I hope that it gets to occupy its place as the first moment where we really found that faith that this was gonna be what we get to do, and that this will be the way that we process the world with our closest people and come back to trying to love the life that we’re in.

Obviously there’s a bunch of musical hopes I have as well, but I just hope that people hear the sound of the ‘Ripe’ that we hope to put out for the rest of our lives finding itself. And no shade to Joy in the Wild Unknown, I still love that music, I love playing those songs, but I feel like it’s nice to feel a little older than just blown away that we can even make a record, and instead to be like, it’s so lovely that we get to make records and also let’s make ’em really good!

For those who haven't been to a Ripe concert and who may want to go after reading this conversation, what can they expect from a live show?

Robbie Wulfsohn: Everybody on stage is as actively as I’ve ever seen trying to make you have the best night of your year. And I know that we’re not alone in saying that, but also I’m addicted to attending shows, I’m addicted to playing them, I love every aspect of the live performance for what it naturally gets people to do. And in as non-competitive a way as I can say this, we’re trying to be the best thing that you’ve come across every time that we do it. And we fail regularly. And so come watch people fail at winning the Champion ring.

Ripe's Robbie Wulfsohn © 2024
Ripe’s Robbie Wulfsohn © 2024



All we can do is try! In the spirit of paying it forward, who are you listening to these days that you would recommend to our readers?

Robbie Wulfsohn: I’m obsessed with the new Mk.gee record because I’m an LA hipster now. Honestly, I’m gonna cop out here and say that I love the music that Cory Wong has been putting out because he’s a friend and I really think his ethos is amazing. Also, to sound like a camp counselor for a second, go find three people in the city that you live in that are making cool music and trying to represent the place that you’re from.

Obviously, this doesn’t track if you’re in New York or Los Angeles –go enjoy the fact that you have a massive scene. But I feel like we will forever be a band that came up in a city that doesn’t always have 17 artists trying to make it. The love we got from Boston and the amount that they let a bunch of college transplants become a Boston band because we cared about them and vice versa, that’ll forever be part of the story as to why we get to do this at all. So the records I’m listening to are Cory Wong and Mk.gee, and also go be a homie to your local music scene.

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:: stream/purchase Bright Blues here ::
:: connect with Ripe here ::

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Bright Blues

an album by Ripe



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