Gina Royale
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Gina Royale

Hardwick Township, New Jersey, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014

Hardwick Township, New Jersey, United States
Established on Jan, 2014
Solo Pop Acoustic

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"Evolution Of A Young Woman As An Artist: Songstress Gina Royale Takes The Big Leap"

She stands before the microphone the picture of unwavering confidence, sinuously fitted into a scarlet dress; her hair turned from wispy chestnut to a pin-straight, deep black. Gina Royale on stage at New York City’s famous Duplex downtown cabaret for two separate shows over two crucial months of her burgeoning career; one in the relative chill of an early-April, Manhattan night, the other in the steaming bustle of late June. During the first, she introduces her new band, bassist Graham Orbe, Liam Kerekes on drums, and musical partner Emily Case on guitar and vocals. The second, once again with the same band—this time a few months of shows tighter—is Royale’s CD launch party for her newest collection of songs titled Brain Waves.

Royale giggles between numbers, introducing each with short anecdotes of their origins, then looks to the band for a count-in, and it is there; pure and strong, effortlessly filling the room; her emotive, chilling voice takes over. It lifts and tumbles through songs about hurt and confusion, joy and loss. She owns these songs; they are like morsels of her psyche and the voice leads us through her journey. The audience takes a moment following the codas to exhale. Then there is a hoot or a whispered, “Wow”, followed by rousing applause; as the morsels are released back to her. And she giggles again; her smile as infectious as her natural instrument.

The maturation of Royale and her combo is stark. A year or so ago she was a determined but soft-spoken high school kid with big ideas and a handful of catchy songs co-produced by her dad and manager, Andrew Rajeckas, a fine songwriter and pianist in his own right. Back then she talked about school plays, petty jealousies, and snide nods to ex-boyfriends. Now, a year into her studies in the Pop Music Program at William Paterson University, having received praise for a music video for her stirring ballad, “Walk Without Gravity,” that increased interest from record companies, and a series of seminal gigs both solo and with the band, she is beginning to ease into tell-tale traces of defiance, a razor-sharp directive, and an appreciation for all that the music has afforded her.

Only moments before, backstage, the members of the band, excruciatingly young with just enough green to allow for snickering and feigned shyness, flop on couches and make passing remarks on the size of the crowd and the minor troubles with the sound check. In the middle of it all, like a port in a storm, is Royale, petite and cautiously energetic. Despite a modicum of brashness and a wry sensuality, she calmly addresses the whirlwind of the past few months.

“I was definitely more comfortable in the studio this time around,” she says, acutely aware of her bandmates leaning in to hear. “And I like my music a little more this time too, not that I didn’t like the songs on my first record, Heir, but I think Brain Waves has more personal meaning to me.”

How so? I must ask.

“I’m a pretty passive person mostly, so the last time I sat back and allowed my producer [Rob Freeman] and my dad to come up with ideas and direction, which was the right thing to do because all I had were the songs and my piano. I had no experience arranging or producing. So, in the end, it sounded little too poppy for my personal taste. Don’t get me wrong, they did a great job, but this time around I was more engaged and had discussions on the sound and direction of the songs.”

This means being more comfortable in the themes of her songs, which, according to Royale has sparked some maternal concern. “My mom wishes I’d write happier songs,” she smiles. “But I’m confident in facing the sadder themes, because I know I’m not a depressed person normally, I’m just inspired lyrically to express the sadder side of myself. I think if I attempted a happy song it would just come out cheesy.”

There is nothing “cheesy” about Brain Waves, and yet even with Royale’s protestations, there is still a palpable pop sensibility to all the “sadder themes”. The title track, played delicately on ukulele, is an adorable paean to loyalty, in love and friendship. “You’re still here…” she sings sweetly, “You’re still here…” as she dreams of what that means by song’s end; “There’s a masterpiece in your complexity now.” On the other side of the emotional spectrum are the aforementioned “darker” songs like “You Don’t Want Me” or the aptly titled “Mean Song” with its dire warning, “…look for the clues/‘Cause they all point to you.”

The collection’s strongest songs are “Battle Cry” and “Let’s Just Kiss”, the former a powerfully combative rocker that snarls with the best of them; “I’m breaking through the boundaries/You haven’t seen the last of me,” she sings with a wink at empowerment and a fist-pump of vengeance. “And this is my battle cry/And it is war tonight.” The epic resonance of the latter, a wonderfully arranged and emotionally-charged ballad, far exceeds the years of experience for such a young performer who now insists on writing a song about physical intimacy that mocks our limited language and ham-fisted gestures. It resounds as personal confession and social commentary. “Let’s just kiss/Just two lips/A kiss does all the talking, when you’re clueless/Let’s just kiss/Savor the bliss/Before I say something that takes away from this.”

When Royale and the band played this song in early April, the room was stone silent; the players deeply focused on their instruments—the singer, eyes closed and hands sweeping adroitly over the keys, throwing her every fiber into the phrasing. The applause was effusive, as if the crowd was suddenly released from the lyrical plot she cleverly devised to share. And in many ways, the band too could feel the release.

“If you listen to the record and then you listen to the band play these songs, it’s completely different,” guitarist Emily Case told me backstage in June. “We get to put our own spin on everything; Graham has put his own thing into the bass part and Liam has added quote a bit to the live drum parts. It works!”

“Since I predominately play jazz, I’ve been able to add a jazzy edge to the songs,” cites Liam Kerekes, as bassist Graham Orbe, who calls himself, “a jazz nerd”, adds, “I think the mutual experience of being in the same music program has created a bond between us.”

“I like everything they bring to the table, because I know them personally,” Gina adds. “I trust their instincts because I know they’ve taken the time and effort to put their flavors into a song.”

It is clearly evident that Royale revels in the camaraderie of her fellow musicians and remains humble with a keen understanding of the road that lies ahead, but there is a tone to her answers these days that transcends the goal-orientated teenaged dreamer I spoke to in the studio as she recorded her debut in the autumn of 2014. Slowly, but surely, this is now a seasoned professional poised to lead a band through a 45-minute set of her songs on a renowned Greenwich Village stage.

When she finally does take the stage on that steamy June night there is a polish to Royale’s performance that was absent last year, or even in April. Supported ably by like-minded artists, she works the crowd during songs, where before she would keep a steady eye on her fingers as they crossed the piano keys. She strikes a seductive sideways glance and interacts with her bandmates, crucially bringing the audience in when needed.

The band works effortlessly through the split between both of her albums, as if she is acutely aware of the building blocks of these mini-dramas she has put to music, how she grew up and into them, and how they are there to keep her steady. And as they venture boldly into the new material, as promised, it sounds rawer than the disc I was sent a few weeks before its release. There are chugging, distorted guitar rhythms from Case crossing over the steadily whimsical piano accompaniment from Royale, balanced on the jazzy backbeat of Kerekes and a tasteful bottom end from Orbe.

Through maturation of experience and the amity of a like-minded musical ensemble, Gina Royale is off and running into the next phase of her career. The evolution of the young woman as an artist has begun. - The Aquarian


"Maria’s Local Radar: Gina Royale"

Every couple of weeks, I find a new artist that is trying to break out; get their name out there, build a fanbase, and put their music in the listener’s hands. Many acts that I write about have been around for a while, establishing themselves in the local market, and building a steady following by playing consistently in the area and releasing new content.

This week, I want to feature a girl who is just getting her feet wet, and making quite the splash already. Her name is Gina Royale. If you haven’t heard of her yet, that’s okay. I was recently sent her music from a co-worker, and as I sit here spinning it, I can already tell that I am a fan. Aquarian Weekly world, please allow me to introduce you to Gina Royale.

Now, I do not know her whole backstory, how she got started, or even what her favorite color is, but I do know one thing: she is out to change the music scene, one day at a time. Gina is a contemporary/pop singer and songwriter from New Jersey. Her debut EP, Heir, is available now on iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon. Upon receiving her tracks, I indulged right away.

The first song I listened to is called “I Don’t Need You.” I think this is a track that many girls and guys can relate to, especially if they are going through a breakup, change in friendships, or even battling issues at a job. It really can be related to any situation in life, good or bad, and that’s why I love this song so much. I think it’s easy to say that this is an “anthem,” if you will. I love the lyrics, and that almost overtook the fact that she has an amazing voice. After swallowing the content, I then realized that the smooth sounds of her vocals are very warm and refreshing. She’s got something here, and I think you all will agree when taking a spin.

The next track I listened to is called “Hello Heartbreak.” This one took me for a real turn. I am not sure if Gina went through something dark in her life or if this song was simply inspired by generic situations, but it is beautifully written. She found a way to turn a topic that can be assumed to be negative into quite the positive experience for me. Take a listen, and maybe you will feel the same.

There is something very unique about Gina Royale; the empowerment of females in the industry these days is very refreshing, and I think she will have no problem at all getting her name on the map. For someone who recently released a debut EP, she gives me the vibe and confidence that she has been around for years (a veteran if you will). I am in love with her songwriting and recordings, and look forward to one day seeing her perform live. If she can ooze emotion through her lyrics on a recording like she has, and have an impact on my feelings through a speaker, I can only imagine the impact she will have on me live. Not to get sappy, but I am a sucker for some good lyrical content.

If you want to learn more about Gina, access her music, find out when she is playing live and just show this new artist some support, you can check out her Facebook page at Facebook.com/GinaRoyaleFan. She also has an official website with everything you need over at ginaroyale.com. I highly recommend you pick up her new EP and check out some of the videos on her website, because I have a feeling you will definitely find something you like. Keep your eye out on this artist on the rise, because she is out to get all of you! - The Aquarian


"Surprise, It’s Gina Royale! Teenage Singer-Songwriter Sneaks Up On 2015"

Gina Royale is recording her first EP of original material. All of 17, the petite, soft-spoken budding singer-songwriter moves about the studio as if it is her bedroom; petting a lazy dog, giggling at the occasional quip, and half-listening as the producer adjusts the levels on what will soon be a drum track for “Tightrope,” a highly stylized mid-tempo slice of pop/rock. You would never guess this is the composer of a track everyone, including her dad, is working hard to realize. And that’s the way Royale likes it.

“I want to surprise people,” she whispers to me later, a wry grin creasing her alabaster, be-freckled face.

“Surprise people” is exactly what she did a few weeks before I stopped in to see her record at Boonton, New Jersey’s Audio Pilot Studio. She surprised me, for sure. I was asked to emcee an event for a close friend, who had survived cancer—a party/benefit in West Milford boasting a lineup of local bands, food and fun. It was a lazy late-summer day, and the music thus far had been entertaining if not mostly forgettable. Royale’s dad, Andy Rajeckas, a pianist, was set to play instrumentals as the guests partook of the catering.

“My daughter’s going to sing a couple of her songs,” Rajeckas leaned over to inform me seconds before I was supposed to announce him. “Her name is Gina Royale.”

And so I did, condescendingly prompting the audience to give it up for the young, adorably quiet girl for which her daddy ceded his modest stage time. She sat at the keyboard, mumbled something into the microphone, and began to softly play. I probably made it four to five feet off the stage when the voice hit me; bluesy, honest, arrestingly emotive. I turned; half expecting to see if someone else had wrested the mic from this kid. Nope. Royale was kicking ass.

Her set was maybe five songs, all of her own material, save for a very moving rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” which in her hands appeared far more meaningful than I’d heard since the ex-Beatle was gunned down in NYC 34 years ago. Throughout, I could not take my eyes from her, not for dynamic or seductive reasons; it was the voice, and the flow of the songs that seemed achingly mature for someone you might cast in High School Musical.

She received applause, but nothing like what I experienced while working my way through the crowd, such as it was. People were stunned that what they had heard wasn’t a CD or wondered how we suckered an obvious recording artist to play at this thing.

My effusive praise made it to Royale’s dad, who for all intents and purposes is her acting manager. And why not? Wouldn’t a manager make sure his client got on a bill wherein she would debut free of expectation and…well…surprise people? And, of course, her manager/dad told me all about her upcoming recording date and here we are.

I am sitting in a typically ragged studio-type couch watching intently as Royale runs down another number that will appear on the EP, “T-Shirt,” a song she describes as an experiment in taking an innocuous item and placing undo import, as in the t-shirt of a boy possessed by a smitten girl; a charming metaphor for an adolescent heart. “I usually start with the title of the song,” Royale explains, as if describing the building of an engine. “I find a unique title and then work out the chorus and find a rhythm to go along with that, work out some lyrics, build a chorus, build whatever comes right before the chorus, and then the rest of the song…in that order.”

Royale’s drummer, Josh Grigsby, on load from a local band called the Karma Killers, the dad, who added keyboards to the tracks, and producer/studio proprietor, Rob Freeman, who also plays guitars and bass on the project, surround her. I can just about make out that innocently proportioned face, those piercing blue eyes, and the obligatory wisp of blonde locks, as she begins to unveil the song—half heartbreak, part defiance, all playfulness. It is already, even without accompaniment, a stellar pop vehicle. Doubtless, anyone would be happy having this as a potential hit. It’s quick to the hook, turns around with panache, and is fueled by the voice that turned a few benefit-goers’ heads only weeks before.

“I want to hear my songs on the radio,” Royale says later. And although it is an obvious statement millions of dreamers might utter in their spare time, this is a young lady who truly means it. “I want people to enjoy my music. It’s not that I am straying away from my own style just so more people will like it, I love pop music.”

Royale began absorbing music at an early age, beginning on flute and saxophone, then enduring the inevitable piano lessons any daughter of a musician would be expected to, but it was hearing Taylor Swift’s Red at age 14 that made her think in terms of composing. “When that record first came out, I thought the lyrics were so amazing and beautiful and deep and I wanted to write songs like that,” she says. Studying vocals from a classically trained perspective provided her a foundation, but it was one that she fought, as more and more classic pop music began to enter her transom; The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, John Mayer would all work as undercurrents to her craft.

And it is indeed a craft for Royale, whose approach to songwriting echoes the Brill Building era of hit song assembly lines, à la Carole King, Irving Mills, Neil Sedaka, et al. To better underscore this workman-like demeanor, she attended a songwriting camp last year at William Paterson University and literally worked at developing her technique of playing with chord progressions, honing melodies, and finding the elusive bridge. “It’s a strategy,” she smiles.

And that strategy will lead her this coming autumn or perhaps even January of 2016 to a college with a heavy emphasis on music. “I want to study contemporary vocals in college, but it’s hard to find a major like that,” says Royale. “30 schools in the country have it. The majority of them are in California, but I’m looking at Berklee College of Music in Boston. They are specifically a contemporary music school in general, so their vocal program is only contemporary. I’m also looking at the New School for Jazz Contemporary Music in New York City, The University of the Arts in Philly, and William Paterson University here in New Jersey, which also happens to have that major.”

Even in the quest for high education, Royale remains pragmatic to the core: “My reach school is Berklee, but being more realistic, it would be William Paterson, which is affordable. It’s easier to get into and it’s a university, so I can still have something to back me up if music falls through.”

And one wonders with all this strategy, schooling and purpose, if perhaps something of spontaneous combustion might be missing from all this songwriting equation. Yet, Royale is not totally unaware of this. “If I didn’t have that influence, I would probably do a long emotional rant on the piano,” she answers matter-of-factly. “I am not a depressing person, but I like to write depressing songs or like songs about heartbreak. I can always draw more emotion from that, and although not that many sad things have happened to me, I feel like I can describe more emotions that way. Every time I try to write a happy song it ends up being dumb and cheesy. My goal is I want to have a radio-appeal song, but I don’t want it to be cheesy. I still want it to be unique on its own.”

Lyrically, Royale combines universal pop tropes of love and loss and yearning with honest experiences from her own teenage life, as in the betrayal of a friend and the infinite coming-of-age battle between integrity and popularity. This is evident in “I Don’t Need You,” the third song on the EP Royale is calling Heir, a clever play on the double-meaning between her moniker and being the offspring of a musician: “I don’t wanna take your calls/I don’t wanna hear your voice/And I don’t wanna kiss your lips/I don’t need you boy” is something of a feminine call to arms for all young girls caught in a bad-boy grip.

This sense of renewed independence, whether autobiographical or melodramatic, is a theme Royale feels comfortable with, as is another original composition she brings up during our conversation that is not included on Heir, “Courage,” fueled with the kind of righteous indignation that could only be roused by growing up.

“Last year I was supposed to sing ‘Respect’ by Aretha Franklin as part of this Memorial Day Veterans’ tribute,” recalls Royale about the origin of the song. “I was so excited; I knew my part and everything, and the day before the show I was kicked out by this girl who was in charge of it, all because her best friend wanted my part. The next day the girl wouldn’t even talk to me, because she felt so terrible. One of my favorite lyrics from that song, and I always hope she’ll hear them, is when I mention her going to James Madison University in Virginia; ‘Your sly tongue won’t take you very far/Take it out to Virginia and see where you are.’”

Perhaps Heir’s most infectious song is “Hello Heartbreak,” wherein Royale defiantly sings a torrid verse of impenetrable fury: “You had all the traits of a crook/Wanted more than what you could have/You have no idea what you took/And I don’t know, I don’t know if I’ll steal it back,” the final line is repeated three times to drive the rancor deeper. It attacks from the opening verse and refuses to let up. It may also be Royale’s most effective Taylor Swift homage, using a bouncy melody to express torment, which is only part of its allure, which hits home when you could swear you’ve been singing the thing your whole life.

Not to say that Royale is overtly derivative, but the arrangement of the songs on Heir reflect a modernity that you would expect from youth, and, quite frankly, what you need to hear from youth, as if heralding a new order or at least reminding you that being young is still as much a weirdly explosive amalgam of exhilaration, confusion and angst as you remember it to be.

But to hear Royale say it, and as she performs it, she is happy sneaking up on everyone.

“I want to be that kid, who, you know, most people don’t expect that I can even sing,” she says smiling, as if it is all transpired in her head already. “In school, I am a hermit. I don’t talk to anyone. I have like three friends. It’s not that I’m shy. I just don’t like anyone in my school. People never assume I sing, and then when I do, I’m this short, tiny girl and they’re like, ‘Oh my God, you can actually really sing! You can really hit high notes!’ I want to surprise people.” - The Aquarian


"Rising Pop Singer-Songwriter Gina Royale at The Duplex"

“Gina Royale has one of the most incredible voices I have ever heard. I have been to many many concerts and Gina's voice is beautiful! Everyone should go see her perform, she is amazing.”

“Gina Royale's show and band was truly inspiring. The wisdom and complexity in her lyrics and the soul and maturity in her voice far surpasses her young age. She was charismatic, talented, endearing, and powerful on stage with a Taylor Swift meets Fiona Apple voice. She was humble and acknowledged her band and fans. The Duplex was a perfect venue for this youthful, bright star.” - Goldstar


"Album Review: Gina Royale - Brain Waves"

Gina Royale writes with an upbeat and engaging style. It could be called pop rock. Royale’s vocals are enjoyable and the songs come along comfortably. Her entry beat out some really talented artists in the New Music Friday competition, so enjoy this dynamic album.

“Fix You” begins with an uptempo style that really shows off Royale’s overall style. Her vocals are solid, even with a breakneck pace on the song. The lyrics highlight a complicated relationship that makes the lead character do a good deal of self reflection. “Mean Song” actually sounds like pop country. There is a vengeful sentiment to the song about writing about an ex. It’s very much Taylor Swift in theme. The overall song, though, is really about interacting with the difficulties of life after a broken relationship.

“Let’s Just Kiss” shifts gears a bit. Although the lyrical focus is still on a relationship, the sound is more focused on a piano and more intimate vocals. It’s a welcome change in the middle of the album. It really allows Royale’s naturally exceptional vocals to shine. It’s probably the best track on the album. Of course, “Battle Cry” that follows is another upbeat song that motivates the listener into movement. It reminds me more of something you’d hear from Kelly Clarkson or someone like that. It’s a rallying song and fittingly a “battle cry.” It’s sure to be inspirational for some listeners.

The penultimate track “You Don’t Want Me” is a bit like a diary entry, confessional and deeply personal. The piano shines on this one, but it still has an uptempo style like some of the others on the album. It makes me think of an artist named Natasha Beddingfield from the early 2000s. There’s plenty of energy to the track as Royale reflects on the complications of unrequited love. The final (and title) track “Brain Waves” is the song that won Royale this review. In truth, it goes in a completely different direction than the rest of the album as a uke solo song rather than some of the other big production elements.

Like I’ve said on other gifted artists, sometimes the production gets in the way of the really solid music. I’d love to hear more from Royale in the stripped down mode of “Let’s Just Kiss” and “Brain Waves” with a bit less of the high production stuff. That said, this is really a nice album for folks who enjoy pure pop music in the 21st century. There are electronic and uptempo elements throughout the album that make it a pleasant companion for a running playlist or to keep you thinking about the “one that got away” in your romantic life. - Ear to the Ground Music


"Gina Royale “For Now” featuring Jon Caplan"

New Jersey-based singer and songwriter Gina Royale, inspired by a wide variety of artists such as Stevie Wonder, P!nk, Michael Jackson, and The Beatles, makes her Elite debut . Today Gina shares her new single “For Now,” featuring Jon Caplan. The single follows two earlier releases “Square Up Soldier,” and “Michelle.” - Elite Musik


"Gina Royale Unveils New Single “March Song”"

New Jersey-based singer and songwriter Gina Royale has just unveiled her brand new single March Song, her anthem to women's rights! I am loving the intricate acoustic guitar strums and how they perfectly mesh with the emotional piano keys. The star of the song is definitely Gina's bluesy voice, as it is incredibly powerful and arrestingly emotive. I really liked how she can show both a vulnerable and anthemic side in this powerful pop song. Gina has crafted quite a women's anthem combining memorable melodies, passionate vocals and beautifully written lyrics. Stream it below! - Caesar Live n Loud


"Listen Up: Gina Royale Brain Waves [EP]"

Her name is Gina Royale. If you haven’t heard of her yet, that’s okay. Many consider her to be the “Badass” version of Taylor Swift. If you want to learn more about Gina, access her music, find out when she is playing live and just show this new artist some support, you can check out her Facebook page at Facebook.com/GinaRoyaleFan. She also has an official website with everything you need over at ginaroyale.com. - Kaboom Magazine


"Gina Royale’s “Michelle” Is As Powerful As Her Vocals"

New Jersey singer and songwriter Gina Royale has released 2 EPs, Heir and Brain Waves. She is back with a new single, Michelle which talks about the pain dealing with “the other woman” factor in a marriage rocked by cheating. The power in her voice clearly expresses the passion that only comes out if one is singing about a personal experience. That we’re yet to discover but the song is beautiful and many can relate to, so when you listen to it too,I guess you will marvel at Gin Royale’s good composition and vocal strength. - Aipate


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

A contemporary singer/songwriter from rural New Jersey, Gina Royale is a driven musician with passion. She draws inspiration from a wide variety of artists such as Stevie Wonder, Broods, P!nk, John Mayer, Michael Jackson, and The Beatles. With a voice so "bluesy, honest, arrestingly emotive", she is an experienced songwriter with much to offer (The Aquarian). Her contemporary/pop style is a combination of clever lyrics, memorable melodies, and an earnest passion for songwriting.

Band Members