Broadcast Media Production major Eben Ritchie ’23 recently released his debut album, “Bonjour,” which was reviewed by Seven Days. Paula Willoquet-Maricondi, Dean of the Division for Communication and Creative Media connected with Eben to ask about his inspiration and process. The interview transcript follows.
Dean Paula: Eben, first of all, congratulations on your first album! I loved it! And congratulations on having it reviewed in Seven Days! That’s a great accomplishment!
What was the inspiration for your songs?
Eben: The inspiration for writing this album came from being quarantined for the summer, and wanting to make music that put my mind in a better place while I was at home with all of my musical equipment for days on end. Lyrical inspirations/themes were drawn from happy memories, feelings of romance, and other things that were nice to focus on during a time when there’s a lot to be unsettled by in the world. I decided to give the album the name “Bonjour” because my mom is a French teacher, and both of my parents studied the language while I was growing up, so mentally I sorta associate the language with good memories.
Dean Paula: Yes, I could relate to the title as my mother was French, but also because it points both to good memories (good days behind us) and to better days ahead as we overcome this pandemic. So for me your music signals hope.
What was the process of recording/producing the album?
Eben: The album was a digital multitrack project. I would build drum beats and song structures out of virtual instruments and samples that I had collected, and then recorded live guitar, bass, keyboards, and anything additional into my computer. I think the album mainly thrived from my ability to use software to merge virtual and real instruments together, as well as record harmony parts and additional sounds underneath existing recordings of my own playing. On the production side of things, I really wanted to focus on making the album sound poppy and easy to listen to, while still keeping things interesting and sounding expansive. I mixed the album on the same computer I recorded on and just kinda eyeballed it until it sounded alright.
Dean Paula: Yes, you really did achieve that mix or “easy listening” and “interesting and expansive.” Well done!
What do you hope listeners will take away from your music?
Eben: Overall, I hope that someone out there takes to the album as something they feel like they can lean on emotionally. I worry about my friends/family and what’s going through their heads during a time like this and in retrospect I hope the more upbeat and sentimental qualities of the record can help someone through a hard time. That wasn’t on my mind 100% of the time while recording though. At the end of the day I really just like writing songs that don’t exist yet, and that I wish existed, and whatever someone gets out of them is just as well.
Dean Paula: Yes, we all need something like that to lean on emotionally. Well said.
What would you say to first year students coming to Champlain College right now, under these unprecedented circumstances?
Eben: To first year students coming into college during a time like this, and really anyone at all who’s trying to enter a new chapter of their life when seemingly everything about the world around them is working to make that difficult, I would say there’s no pressure on you to handle this perfectly and it’s completely okay to take things slow, be emotionally vulnerable, and process your feelings.. I’ve never been great at giving this kind of motivation in plain text and that’s partially why I wrote this record, haha.
Dean Paula: Thanks, Eben. I hope our incoming and returning students will take your motivational and inspirational words (and music) to heart. I know I will! The truth is, none of us has been through anything like this before. There’s no play book for it. But together, with compassion, perseverance, and resilience, we will get to the other side of this stronger than ever. Champlain College is a resilient and supportive community, and we are all inspired by your music and words.
Erika Skorstad ’21—Contributor