Are you a touring artist? You need to scope these tour hacks from Toronto's Ralph
She's currently celebrating the release of her excellent debut album, A Good Girl.
After impressing us plenty a couple of months back, Toronto artist Ralph has just dropped her much-anticipated debut album, A Good Girl, blending her old knack for synthy disco vibes with new found appreciation for electro-pop and R&B. It all combines in the cocktail shaker for a special mix: "I wrote A Good Girl over the course of a year, maybe a little more... and a lot happened in that year. Because I use songwriting as a type of therapy and a way to explore my feelings, the songs naturally began to reflect everything that was happening in my life. Sometimes I was hurting, other times I was the one hurting someone else, and then to make it more complicated, sometimes I'd be both."
To mark its release (stream it below), Ralph has sent us a pretty bloody handy little bunch of tour hacks that are guaranteed to keep your fresh and ready to destroy any and all stages you come across on that tour life:
TOUR HACKS - Healthy Tips for Tour :) :) :)
I remember talking about touring with a couple musician friends, and they were like “ohhh boy, get used to eating shitty food, drinking a ton and gaining a bunch of weight.” They thought it was “cute” that I was talking about healthy food choices and going for runs. And I was like...wait, why is this the accepted norm? It’s fucking 2018, everyone is talking about mental health and self love, meanwhile the music industry just maintains this archaic lifestyle of partying on the road and feeling like garbage on the road? I refuse to validate that. If anything, I think the last couple years have proved that musicians are extremely vulnerable and prone to self-harm and danger, likely due to the constant stress, lack of sleep and feeling disconnected from friends and family.
In order to aid volatile artists, we should be encouraging lifestyles that make us feel good inside and out - personally, if I don’t feel good mentally and physically, then I fall apart. There’s no way I can perform show after show feeling like that. So, I started doing silly little insta videos while touring - a kind of “eating healthy on the road with Ralph”. I didn’t want to make it preachy, so I inserted some personality and jokes. I made a “green smoothie” that apparently looked like barf and showed viewers how to exercise while getting your nails done. While creating these segments, I came up with some pretty solid tips'n'tricks:
1. Chia Oatmeal avec Tim Hortons tea
I’m personally allergic to wheat, so when we’re driving through the prairies and the only food avialble is Tim Horton's bagels and sandwiches...I’m screwed. Solution? Pre-tour, stock up on Chia oatmeal packets (you can buy a box of six packets, so maybe bring a couple boxes) - option to buy normal oatmeal if Chia aint your thing, but try to stay away from flavoured ones since the sugar content is crazy. When you stop at Timmy Ho’s, you can just ask for hot water (bonus: it’s FREE) or if you’re feeling adventurous, get a tea and add your oats to that for a flavorful treat. My personal favorite is Chai or Apple Cinnamon. Health benefits? Both are low in cholesterol, high in fiber, and fill you up for hours, plus Chia is high in protein and calcium.
2. Pre-made salads are your best friend
I’m not talking about the A&W salads or the sad, overpriced Tim Horton's salads. I like to buy salad mixes from the grocery store and keep them in a cooler bag so they stay fresh - bring your own big bowl so you have room to create your salad masterpiece while sitting in the van. Also, it’s cheaper because they’re always between $4.99-$6.99, instead of $13 for a tiny limp iceburg lettuce bowl. Personal faves: ‘Mann’s Rainbow Salad’, full of sliced cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and red cabbage, ‘Eat Smart Wild Greens and Quinoa Salad Kit’, and ‘Eat Smart Sweet Kale Kit’. The nice thing about these salad kits is that they come separate from the dressing and toppings, so you can add as much as you like. Pre-made grocery store salads like potato or slaw are FULL of sugar and fat, because they’re made with a lot of salt, mayo and oil. If you’re thinking “these salad kits sound boring”, you can always buy add-ons to toss in the mix - try spicy chili coconut chips, hemp heart toppers (I like ‘Onion & Garlic’ flavour), alfalfa sprouts, and avocado. Health benefits? Greens boost your metabolism, they’re full of minerals, they make you feel full and give your energy, AND they’re full of folate which lift your mood! Coconut chips are low in carbs and sugar, hemp is full of omegas and protein, sprouts are antioxidants, and avocados are rich in good fats and potassium.
First, check that none of your bandmates are anaphylactic! If you’re in the clear with that, stock up on nuts for the road since they’re super filling and full of omega 3 acids, which promote cognitive performance. I personally love tamari-roasted almonds and cashews. I’m also addicted to almond butter, which I use as my sugar craving cure - instead of reaching for a chocolate bar or gummies, I just have a spoonful of my favorite Maranatha almond butter. I also recently discovered ‘PB & Me’, which is almond butter powder; you put a couple spoonfuls in a bowl then add a little water, and ta da, you have a creamy almond butter that is way less calories and fat than normal butters. If you or your bandmates are allergic to nuts, there are tons of nut-free spreads that taste just as good, crush sugar cravings, and have positive health benefits - ‘Wowbutter’ is soy based and has tons of protein, while being low in fat and calories.
4. Turkey slices:
If you are a producer who has worked with me, you have probably seen me eat turkey slices out of my bag. It may not be glamorous, but turkey is a lean meat that’s super high in protein and keeps my energy going all day. I don’t eat beef or pork, but I do eat chicken, turkey and fish because I found out years ago I was majorly lacking in protein and my doctor was worried. Sometimes on the road I’ll buy lettuce and make little lettuce wraps on the road - all you need is a big leaf, a slice of turkey, and maybe some dijon mustard (I’m a freak for mustard, I always have it with me on the road). If you’re not a meat eater, there are really good veg options you can swap in - I love ‘Marinated Tempeh’ in the smoky maple meatless bacon flavour (plus tempeh is high in fiber and is a probiotic).
5. Protein Powder
Not to sound like a gym rat, but I have a morning routine when I’m not on tour and I almost always start my day with a zucchini smoothie bowl with protein powder. I’m always trying to get more protein in my body because it makes a huge difference in how I feel and look. So, I bring my protein powder with me on the road (I buy the 264g bags, they’re easier to pack) and try to make shakes when I can, even if it means just buying a little thing of almond milk and shaking it together in a bottle in the car. You can also get yogourt (I don’t do dairy, so I buy milk-free coconut yogourt) and throw a little in there, maybe add some granola for a little parfait snack (I’m obsessed with this granola called ‘Julian Bakery Pro-Granola’ which is keto, paleo, sugar free AND gluten free so it’s insanely low in carbs and calories, but super satisfying and crunchy and delicious).
6. Cut Out the coffee
If you’re a singer, you have to be super conscious of your caffeine intake, since caffeine dehydrates you and your vocal chords. I love coffee more than anything, and when I’m in a car for hours I could drink like five, so it’s been challenging figuring out a different option. Lo and behold ‘Caf-Lib’, an organic coffee alternative made from barley and chicory. You just add a couple spoonfuls to hot water, put some almond milk in there, and you have a deeply satisfying hot beverage that resembles coffee but doesn’t strain your voice. I buy a jar and bring it with me, it’s crazy how easily I’ve adjusted from real coffee to drinking an alternative - yes, if you’re a coffee snob you will taste a difference obviously because it’s NOT REAL COFFEE but it’s pretty close and it’s a small sacrifice to feel and sound good.
7. Run Wherever, Whenever
I’m a runner, so it feels weird going on tour and not using my legs. I also find if I don’t run for awhile, it affects my mental health and anxiety, so it’s super important for me to keep active. When touring, I always bring my work out gear because you never know when you’ll have a second to hit the hotel gym or go for a hike in between cities (recently we had eight hours to kill in Newfoundland so we went for a four-hour hike). I also get creative with running to and from my music-related obligations. Why not run to and from sound check, if the weather is nice and your hotel isn’t too far? OR, if you’re feeling ambitious, go to bed early after your show and wake up before you leave town for a morning run! Maybe even a brisk little walk, if running isn’t your thing. Clearing your head and feeling those endorphins does so much for your mood, it’s crazy.
8. Put Sparkling Water on Your Rider
It’s super easy to drink on tour, because we often include alcohol on our artist rider and after a performance it’s nice to have a free, celebratory drink...or six. To offset this situation, why not ask for sparkling water (flavoured or not) on your rider, instead or as an addition to booze? Yeah, it sounds bougey but it’s way more exciting than normal water and I find that it’s actually super refreshing and fulfilling and usually distracts me from drinking. I’m not saying tequila is the devil, but it’s good to have a happy balance. Drinking every night is so exhausting and dumps so many calories and carbs and sugars into your body, not to mention it makes you feel like shit in the morning. Just remember - if you do get sparkling water and you’re the singer, drink it AFTER your show. No one likes burps into the microphone.
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