It’s been a stellar year so far for Richard Tichelman, but the humble Peninsula-raised singer-songwriter – who turns 18 later this month – isn’t letting that go to his head.
He may have recorded his latest single, Leaving Tonight, in New York in March, and finished his first music video – for Gamblin’ Man, released to YouTube earlier this month.
He may have formed a new backup band that rocked the audience on Canada Day at White Rock beach, played to an energized crowd of 240 at the video release event in Abbotsford a week later, and is set to support him in two performances for Sea Festival on Aug. 5 (the second as a lead-in to headliners The Powder Blues Band).
He may have received word that Gamblin’ Man has won him a place as a semi-finalist in the teen category of the international Unsigned Only 2017 contest.
Last, but not least, he may have completed Grade 12 through home-schooling, which enabled him to spend more time developing his musical career.
But Tichelman isn’t forgetting the importance of giving back in return for all the guidance and encouragement he has received from such mentors as guitarist Jim Black (who is helping spark his three-piece back-up band, along with bassist Julia Jakubow and drummer Caleb James).
That’s why last month he was back at his old elementary school, Chantrell Creek, in a assembly in which he mixed performances of four of his songs with life advice for students.
The advice focused on two main points – that young people should always be open to trying new activities in search of their joy in life, and that, rather than simply following others’ paths, they should concentrate on being the best version of their own personalities.
Tichelman, who acknowledges he had his share of being picked on for being ‘different,’ and discouragement from pursuing music during his school years, said he wanted to give a positive message that went beyond singling out negative behaviours such as bullying.
“I decided to try and help the kids in ways in which I wish I’d had somebody to help me,” he said. “Particularly for those kids going from Grade 7 into Grade 8 and, like me, not having much of an idea of ‘high school culture.’
“I wanted to show the kids that if you can find one or two things you really love and can become the best at them, you’ll live a happy life and find joy no matter what other people say. It’s something we all have, it’s just a question of are you willing to put the work and the time in?”
Tichelman has also been busy mentoring other youngsters through guitar lessons, while following his own advice to try something new by studying acting and performing in two short dramas with White Rock’s The Drama Class.
A plethora of community performances so far this year, also included singing and modeling at the Pizzazz International Model and Talent showcase in June.
His work with Pizzazz founder Dale Harding since 2015 was instrumental in developing poise and winning the opportunity to record in New York. It was also through a modelling event that he met fellow Pizzazz model Shelby Scott, featured in the video for Gamblin’ Man.
“I met her last October at an event called Faces West on Denman Street, and we chatted. When we were planning the video and when it was suggested that we needed an actor who was blonde, I said ‘I know just who we need.’”
A poetic road-movie style tribute to the possibilities of unexpected romance – Tichelman said it was inspired by the relationship of his sister Elizabeth and her boyfriend – the five-minute Gamblin’ Man, directed by Brandon Deutsch of Element 8 Studio, seems like the beginning of a movie.
A fun shoot, even though it started in December and was finished in May – by which time Tichelman’s winter wardrobe was becoming uncomfortably hot – he said it has whet his appetite for more movie work.
Could acting in a feature film eventually be another ‘something new’ for Tichelman?
“Most definitely,” he said, noting that La La Land has demonstrated that the movie-musical genre is not necessarily passe. “And Beyonce recently created a whole movie around one of her albums,” he said.