Raph Solo’s Journey to Self Love
// Written by Mike Bahr | Photos by Michele Martinoli –
Born to Lebanese/Chilean parents on the Gulf of Guinea in Nigeria, West Africa, Raph Solo is a singer, songwriter and music producer. He has released three full-length albums, including The Anonymous Icon, featuring the hit singles “Star” and “Good Morning London”.
Many of Raph’s songs reflect on his personal journey of finding love and overcoming trauma. While he is a proud gay man today, he wasn’t always so. Just a few years ago, Raph underwent reparative therapy in an attempt to cure himself of his homosexuality. It was a harrowing experience that damaged his self-esteem.
He continues his journey into self-acceptance and self-worth with “Word of Love,” the title track from his new album, releasing this month. It incorporates grand pianos, big synth riffs and electronica with gorgeous, soulful melodies. We spoke with Raph Solo from his home in London.
Self worth is major theme throughout the “Word of Love” album. Has it been a challenge to accept yourself?
I have had to fight to be myself. It took strength, which I didn’t know I had.
Is it true you underwent Conversion Therapy?
Unfortunately, yes. I wanted to try it after a failed relationship. I guess, maybe, I was looking for a lifeline.
What exactly did it entail?
Conversion therapyfocuses on finding the psychological roots of homosexuality. The program believes that if you can go back to where “it” occurred, you can fix it.
Was there ever a point that you thought the conversion therapy might be successful?
When you are trying something as drastic as conversion therapy, you want to think it will work and that it will convert you. It didn’t. Instead, it made things worse. It made me feel like I was an abomination and that my life was a curse. I doubted who I was and if I was even a good person.
What ultimately made you realize that you could not change your homosexuality?
I couldn’t rid myself of the feelings. I finally came to the conclusion that if you’re gay, you’re gay. I had to give up on conversion therapy. It then took a whole year of additional therapy before I was able to arrive at a place where I did not hate myself. Luckily, I am a believer in God, the higher being, and I don’t believe God would want me to hate myself.
Is self-hate why you were unsuccessful in love?
It certainly played a part in it. I also probably wasted a tear too many on guys I shouldn’t have. I would drive into eight brick walls trying to make things work with a guy when I should have stopped at two.
Do you think that maybe you were Mr. Wrong?
I am sure I was for some of my exes. We all mess up. I am certainly no saint, in any shape or form. I have my flaws.
I can be very headstrong, demanding and intense and that can scare a lot of guys.
Besides your obvious good looks, what do you bring to a relationship?
I am loyal and honest. I say it like it is. I’m always happy to meet in the middle and maybe, at times, I will even let my partner have his way because I want to please. However, I will not compromise myself anymore.
Because you have found self worth.
And you found Mr. Right.
My partner and I met three months after I ended a long relationship. I wasn’t looking for a relationship at the time, but I liked him. We clicked. There was something that felt special. Like most couples, we make our mistakes and we have our little clashes and power struggles but we haven’t given up on one another. Two years later, we are still together, taking it day by day. I say day by day because love is a job. I think Mr. Right is the one who doesn’t give up on you. He sticks around and admits when he is wrong and makes and an effort and doesn’t take the relationship for granted.
Are you writing songs about him yet?
There are some songs on the album that deal with our relationship. One song in particular is ‘Broken Hearts’. It’s about fear of love and how a painful past can jeopardize a new love. It’s about being strong and not letting past mistakes ruin you. It’s probably the biggest adult lesson I’ve learned.
Raph Solo’s “Word of Love” is being released globally through Angel King Musique and is available on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon as well all other online retail outlets. Its music video is available on YouTube. For more information, visit raphsolo.com
Follow Raph Solo on INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK @RAPHSOLO