GALO: In the album, you have a very melodic, soft voice with a bluesy, folksy sound at times, like in the song “Empty Page,” while other times it’s more pop or rock, like in “Push Me Away.” Do you have a certain sound or image in mind when creating your music, or is it more in the moment? I know you enjoy experimenting with different sounds.

RP: For this album I wrote a bunch of the songs in the summer of 2012, and then, over the course of the fall, I wrote some more. We did the session in December where we recorded the beginnings of “Lick My Wounds,” we recorded “Blood From A Stone,” “Silver Spoon,” and one of the early versions of “Off Your Feet.” We started to get a sense sonically of where we wanted to go with the record. We knew we wanted to incorporate big, orchestral arrangements, but also something low-land, a la Kanye or Dr. Dre, like really heavy-pitched drums, and stuff like that. We knew we wanted that stuff and a bunch of electronic elements, and big guitars and choirs, and we wanted to see if we could put them all together. So once we had done the sessions we did in December and we tested it out, it all felt very good. I had an idea of what the sonic thumbprint of the album was going to be like. I spent all of February in Paris writing with that idea in mind, and of how I could shape this story within the creative context that all of these sonic elements can live within and build the story, and funnel this sonic idea through it. That’s really how it came to be. I think in terms of the approach to singing a song, it depends on what the emotion of the song is, the story behind it, and what is happening within the song, makes the choice for me on how it will be sung.

GALO: You’re about to start touring for Calling off the Dogs. What is the most exciting moment for you while being on tour? What is the place you’re most excited to visit this year?

RP: I’m always excited to show up anywhere that people show up and care about my music. That’s obviously exciting. I used to play in bars where no one was listening and people sat with their backs to me [laughs]. For me, it’s exciting to get on stage and have people show up that care. That feels like a miracle. I would say anywhere that people show up is exciting. It’s neat to get to travel around Europe because I go to these places where English isn’t someone’s first language, and they come and they tell me that my lyrics are moving them and helping them and things like that. I think that’s pretty neat. It takes a lot of work for people who are not native speakers to sit and really comb through these songs and find meaning and value in them. It’s really flattering to hear that.

Anywhere that I can show up and they’re excited to see me and want to hear the songs — that is the dream. I’m literally living my actual dream. It’s pretty incredible. That’s my favorite part of being on tour. A lot of it is stressful, and you’re away from home, have to get up early and stay up late, and you’re traveling a lot, and “blah, blah, blah.” But at night, after all that stuff, I get to go on stage and play my music for people — that is such a blessing. Anywhere I get to do it, I’m excited.

GALO: In recent years, it’s been in the news that record companies and some artists have clashed and gotten involved in lawsuits with each other. Linkin Park and Madonna, for example, accused their record labels of cheating them out of money that they deserved, and Thirty Seconds to Mars was accused of breaching their contract and sued for $30 million, which inspired their award-winning documentary, Artifact. But you’re known for producing your own music independently. Are these the kinds of disputes that motivated you to record your music outside of a record label? What do you like best about it and what do you find is the most challenging aspect?

RP: I believe that when the right artist and the right company come together they can absolutely have success. If you take a great artist and a very motivated label who wants to do all the right things, wants to use their resources, spend the money to promote the artist, you can absolutely find a wonderful symbiosis. For me, I’ve never been at a place in my career where I’ve found those people that I believed that their company and I could have a positive, symbiotic relationship. So, I always did everything on my own out of necessity. Over the years, we’ve added to the team. But, I feel, by keeping everything in-house, I’ve been light on my feet. When you’re a small company, it’s easier to get things done because there are no channels. If I want to do something that I deem is necessary, then I can do it, I don’t have to ask anyone. So that’s nice. So if you want to go on tour and you have an opportunity, I don’t have to go to the president of some label and say, “Can I have money for tour support? Would it be okay? Do you think the marketing department would get behind this?” I just do it. That’s the blessing of being independent.

And the hard part of being independent is that you don’t get access to anybody else’s resources. If you’re assigned to a major label, there are 100 people working there, so you have access to their resources — their digital promotions department, marketing department, radio department, people that can help you find songs if you don’t want to write songs, or find producers, set musicians, and access to major media. When you think about it, you’re not seeing artists like me (independent artists) — even though I am an independent artist, and I’m at the very successful end of independent artists — you still don’t see me on television, a lot of places that you would see the top-tier artists. And some of that has to do with access that I just don’t have, and that’s the kind of stuff you can get working with the right people. I don’t have anything terrible to say against anyone in the industry. I think if I met the right people, maybe I would have partners. I think, in the end, it depends on finding the right people and them caring about what you’re doing. Otherwise, you can end up in bad situations like the artists that you’re talking about.

GALO: It seems you have hit your stride as a musician and are here to stay for a while. How do you plan on challenging yourself musically in the future? Are there any artists you hope to collaborate with?

RP: After what I’ve done over the last eight or ten years, when I went into the creative process of how am I going to put together Calling Off the Dogs, I really wanted to challenge myself and go to a place that I had never been before — as a writer, producer, musician, everything. On this album, you’ll find more complex song form — songs with tempo changes, key changes, more complex rhythm, time signatures and things like that. I always felt like I wanted to write songs in a simple way that would tell very simple stories that people could grasp and [in which they could] emotionally invest themselves. I wanted to do it in a fairly simple, musical context because I thought the less I did, the more people would pay attention to the story.

And going into this album, to challenge myself, I would experiment with things and go outside my comfort zone by not taking the most obvious choice, and not doing something that I would have done two or three years ago. And a song like “Silver Spoon” has movement. I wrote that in a way that you might compose a classical piece. I sat and wrote a number of pieces and linked them together so that you move through that piece — it begins in a kind of spacey, electronic place, and it gradually becomes a large, electronic space. You then start to hear the orchestra. Soon it’s a big rock band. And finally, in the end, it breaks down into a bunch of people in a room playing acoustic instruments, singing along together. That song is kind of the most shining example of what I was hoping to accomplish with this record. That’s how I want to challenge myself. I want to be able to do what I do, but find new and exciting ways to do it. With the sonic elements of this record as well — we brought in a big string section, horns, woodwinds, and incorporated those with electronic and rock elements [as well as] a choir, and things that you don’t normally hear together. We felt we could make it into one palate that made sense together. I just want to keep painting with new colors because if I’m bored, everybody will hear it. So I want to be excited about what I’m doing. And so, right now, I’m incredibly excited about what I’m doing with this new record.

I would say, right now, if I could work with anyone…since they’re married can I have them both? If yes is the answer to that question, then my answer would be Jay-Z and Beyoncé. I think it would be so interesting to work with them. They’re each at the absolute top of their field. They’ve both managed to have incredibly long careers that have been so successful, and both have challenged the norms of what is possible within their genre. Anybody like them, people with distinctive elements to what they do. I think it would be really fun to work with them. I love Arcade Fire. I think Wayne Butler is a genius. People who have distinctive “voices,” people that have something to say and are doing something interesting, I would love to work with.

“Calling off the Dogs” is currently available worldwide across digital platforms like iTunes and Amazon and is also available in stores. To see a list of Ron Pope’s current tour dates, please visit

Video Courtesy of: Ron Pope.

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Featured image: Singer-songwriter Ron Pope. Photo Courtesy of: Eric Anderson Photography.