Q: I love the vibe in “One” What inspired the song?
CHRIS RUGGIERO: The song was brought to me by my manager, Joe Mirrione, 2 years ago, the first time he and I ever set foot in a studio together. He thought it was a song whose time had come – no one had recorded it or had a hit with it since the original. The lyrics and melody really spoke to me.
Q: What is your creative process like?
RUGGIERO: On this song, the challenge was how I would reinvent the song and make it my own. I did my part by singing it in my own voice and not copying the original record. Joe had the idea to do the choruses in 6/8 time, which was inspired by the Rascals’ song “How Can I Be Sure.” Since being alone can be unbalancing, I wanted it to feel like you’re going a little crazy, so the time signature change was perfect to convey that. I was working with Clint Holmes at the time and, since it was a Harry Nilsson song, Clint suggested that the piano figure be inspired by Nilsson’s “Without You,” so we used that on the verse. When I was rehearsing the choruses, my piano player started playing this thing that I can only describe as a Caliope ragtime kind of a thing. I brought all of these pieces of the puzzle to Charlie Calello, who I think is the most brilliant arranger in the history of popular music, and he did the orchestrations for it. There are over a dozen horns, there are clarinets, there are flutes – he just took it to another level.
Q: Who are you currently listening to?
RUGGIERO: I am always listening to 50s and 60s pop rock. Lately, I’ve added some modern day singers to the mix, but only those who sing songs with strong melodies – because that’s what I’m all about. So, I’m listening to Finneas, Shawn Mendes, Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars.
Q: Any specific influences in the forming of your sound?
RUGGIERO: Bobby Rydell, Paul Anka, Frankie Valli, Jerry Vale – I started out mimicking those singers, because I think that’s what most singers do when we start out. We copy people. I’d like to think I’ve evolved a bit and found my own voice, but I still hear a lot of those 4 singers’ influence in my voice when I hear the playback.
Q: What do you love about making music?
RUGGIERO: It’s kind of funny, for me, it was never about the music as a primary focus. I grew up with music in my house and my grandfather was the one who really introduced me to 50s and 60s music. I fell in love with the music but, unlike a lot of singers, I started singing late in life – at 18 years old – but it wasn’t because I felt like I had music “in me.” The truth is, for me, that I love people – I love connecting with people and making people happy. So the idea that I could reach large groups of people and bring them happiness was the motivator. Now, I’ve fallen in love with singing, too, but it’s really still about the audience.
Q: What would be the pivotal point in your pursuit of music?
RUGGIERO: There was a moment when I saw Frankie Valli on TV, singing in front of what looked like a hundred thousand people at the National Mall in DC. I could not believe the level of joy emanating from the crowd when he sang. The gentleman who is now my manager once told me, “If you ever have a moment when you feel like your life will be miserable if you decide to be anything other than a singer, call me and I’ll help you.” At that moment, I felt that way for the first time and the feeling hasn’t left me since.
Interviewed by Katrina Yang
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