#Dabeeside: Exclusive interview with Ron Riley

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What’s up people, It’s your boy Trav Dave and I’m back with another dope interview for the people. This multi-talented dude had a record deal and was on TV before the social media explosion and truly paved the way for artist in our city ‘Columbus, Ohio” to strive to get to the next level. This artist has a story to tell and I got a chance to sit down and chop it up with the renaissance man himself, one time for Ron Riley.


Ron Riley

Growing up, what kind of music did your parents play in the house?

My father, Robert Earl Riley, Sr. was a musician. He was a drummer. My mom sang alto in the church choir. All of my eleven siblings were musical so the experience of hearing great music was a blessing in the Riley house.

We listened to everything from Earth Wind and Fire to Michael Jackson and Prince. George Benson, Tupac, and Biggie, are some others. It just really depended on what mood my father was in. Saturday’s meant choir rehearsal so there were the Hawkins, James Cleveland, and Kirk Franklin as well as others.

When did you know you wanted to be a musician and who was your first musical influences that you can remember?

I always knew being a musician was in my genes and then from lessons and experiences I learned in church.  My ear developed at a young age. My Uncle Lewis bought his son and I Yamaha keyboards. I remember one time staying up all night working on music. At this time I was also trying to be the next Michael Jordan. The question was if I would grow. If didn’t, I had something else to explore.

My defining moment came when I was in 12th grade. I found out I was an entertainer. It was in show choir, under the direction of Cynthia Dybik, that I knew this was what I was born to do. I had all the leads. I took the stage over. I remember seeing the faces of people in the audience and how they responded to me. The reaction I got from my peers made me speechless. That is the moment I say changed my life forever.

Back in 2005, you were a member of a sextet out of Columbus, Ohio called “Fatty Koo”. Can you explain how the group came together and how you guys ended up on BET?

Back in 2002 and 2003, myself along with four other talented kids went on this tour bus called the John Lennon tour bus. At the time, we had no idea that the manager of the bus was connected and worked with David Sonenberg, who managed Meatloaf, The Fugees, Black Eyed Peas, and John Legend. So just being kids, we went on and made honest music that ended up getting their attention. In 2003, we signed a management deal with DAS Communications. In 2004, we began the process of creating the album. On completion of the album, the door opened up for a possible TV series on BET.

At the time, I was really close with David Sonenberg. He would kind of keep me up on things. Either that or I was in the right place at the right time. Black Eyes Peas was the biggest hip-hop act during that time, yet, they were not breaking into the urban market. I was aware of and saw the actual letter Will I Am wrote to the head of BET regarding this issue. They needed urban kids to introduce a pop sound to the urban community and we were those urban kids. So our story was like that of the sheep being lead to the slaughter. We were the sacrifice for them to break into the urban market. With all that being said, we were able to move to New York, continue shooting, and the rest was history.

Do you feel like the BET was competing with MTV and Making the Band?

Somewhat. The funny thing is that while we were on a promo tour with young Chris Brown and Trey Songz, Chopper was backstage and said, “Yeah man, I was really with y’all until you (talking about me) said we’re not making the band.“ I laughed and kept it real but it was all love. We actually had an opportunity to be on MTV but I’m not sure what happened. I ultimately think that would of kept Fatty Koo at our roots for what we were doing at the time.  We honestly were a group fused with pop, hip-hop, classic, soul, and R&B, no urban, that was somewhat the curse, but God has a plan and purpose for all things.

Your work has been featured on movies such as Fat Albert and Like Mike 2, also shows like ICarly. Are you shopping music to outlets independently or do you have an agency that helps you find placements?

No. I’m not currently doing any shopping of my music because the industry has changed so much. I have the power to go directly to the source. The need for third party help as far as an agency is done.

You’re like a renaissance man; you’re a singer/Rapper/Producer/Pianist/Songwriter/drummer/organist now you are into filming. What is it about film that made you want to do that? Do you have anything coming out soon?

For me, film is another world of creation. It’s like a stress reliever for me. I spent most of my years in the shadows of Kanye and then I felt that I really needed to take a break from music, live life, and do other things. I ended up falling in love with it.

I also hated that at this time I was working with this group that looked at me like I was ignorant because they all had cameras. I thought to myself you know what, y’all wack. I’m going to go to school, really learn this craft, and be better than y’all. Let’s just say that drove me to finish school. I graduated December 18, 2015. From I learned in school, I also found they didn’t really know how to work their cameras.

I’m currently working on a lot of animations as well as short films. I’ve been working with different artists on music videos so I’ve been busy perfecting my craft.

You recently got married, congrats on that man. Does being married have any impact on how you write your music or do music period?

Being married does impact a lot of things. My marriage to Amber C Riley is a Godsend. She is the most important person in my life. When I want to get my Yeezy on, she calms me down, and helps me see why that decision or that rant I wanted to go on isn’t worth it.

She Impacts my music because I’m in love, deep in love. I write better. I can make a whole album in a month just for her. My wife is my biggest influence. I love her.

You were awarded the “Key to the City’ award in Columbus, Ohio. Tell us what it was for and what it means to you?

To receive the key to the city back in 2005 from former Mayor Michael B. Coleman, as well as my own holiday, May 26, was like a stamp for me in my city. A lot of artist come out of Columbus and don’t remember where they come from but I did. To be recognized puts me on the Mount Rushmore of Ohio when it comes to this state’s elite.

What’s next for Ron Riley?

Well I’m dropping a new album titled, Until Then, later this year; I’m launching my multi- media company with my wife on 5/29. The company name is 11/27am. My wife, who just graduated with her Master’s in Creative Writing, will be heading that. I’m also launching AmRonic Studios.

I will start back my studies in the fall. I love God and I know I have a higher calling in my life to really change lives so I’ll be studying to get my Master’s in Theology. The rest is in God’s hands.

I want to say thank for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this. Please tell the people how they can contact you and see your work. Please shout out anybody you like.

I want to thank my wife, Amber C, Riley, my family and friends.

Twitter: RonaldDRIley83

Facebook: Ronald Riley

Instagram: Ron Riley