Whatever you do, don’t ask Cincinnati-based duo Rjght what genre their unique-sounding music fits into. Because, if they’re being honest, they have no idea.
“We have such diverse backgrounds,” Alex Murtha says of the jazz/rock/electronic/disco band he founded back in 2019 alongside friend and musical partner Charlie Robson. “We wanted to try to pull as much from as many different sources of inspiration as we could, and then see what meshed together and what came out of it, and how doing that could essentially generate our sound. That was definitely the intent from day one.”
Day one occurred in the hallways of St. Xavier High School, when the two classmates were “roped into” performing at the annual talent show. Both had grown up with music, with Murtha immersing himself into music theory and playing the guitar while Robson was a self-taught musician who played piano and sang. And during that talent show performance, the two proved they were good.
They were really good.
So good, in fact, that the duo began playing music as much as their busy lacrosse schedules would allow, often meeting in the music practice rooms of the high school to jam to their heart’s content.
“Alex (Murtha) was into jazz music and a little bit heavier stuff, while I was more into production and electronic and kind of new-age stuff,” Robson remembers. “I think that over time, we kind of learned to love each other’s different styles and the different stuff that we listened to and the different ways that we played, but it was definitely not cohesive right away.”
Shortly after high school graduation, the two headed off to college—Robson to DePauw University in Indiana and Murtha to Clemson University in South Carolina. But soon, the two realized that the music they made together was too good to push to the side.
And that’s when the band Rjght (pronounced “right”) was born.
“The summer after junior year, I basically spent every single day back at Charlie (Robson’s) house, just writing music, learning how to record, learning how to write songs, teaching ourselves software that we needed to get this stuff done,” says Murtha.
It was also during that fateful summer that they began working on production on what would eventually become their debut album, titled A Synonym For.
“All that summer, we were back home in Cincinnati working on music, but then obviously we had to go off to school, but we wanted to still be working on it,” says Robson. “That’s when we started to actually cement our workflow and get the process down of how we wanted to write songs and bounce tracks back and forth to each other.”
Soon, with the help of a few select friends in Nashville’s always bustling music industry, Rjght found themselves in a Music City studio, recording all the cuts that they had originally cut in Robson’s bedroom. Last year, they traveled to Los Angeles to put the finishing touches on their first album.
Now, at 23 years old, armed with full-time jobs and the reality of responsibilities, Robson and Murtha find themselves on the cusp of a musical eruption of sorts, forged by a sound that seems limitless and a catalog of music that has snagged over 500,000 streams on Spotify. But getting to this moment has taken a whole bunch of old school, somewhat tenuous work.
“We are kind of doing it how people back in the ‘70s and ‘80s and even ‘90s would do radio pitching,” says Murtha of promoting their current singles “Explain” and “Happy.” “We spend a lot of time just finding people on Instagram and sending them direct messages. We write emails and visit websites and submit stuff that we are writing. It’s a lot of self-promotion, that’s for sure.”
There are also many questions to be answered—namely, could their success be growing at such a swift speed that it might mean a move out of Cincinnati?
“The end goal is to do music full-time,” says Murtha, who works full-time in mechanical engineering. Robson still works full-time in software sales. “For the time being, we’re trying to make it work as best we can right here in Cincinnati.”
They also have another important piece on their to-do list—to play live as a duo.
“Most of the time that we’ve spent together was primarily during the pandemic,” says Murtha. “We haven’t played live together, but we would definitely love to have the opportunity to play live … things are starting to open back up, right?”
Yes, things are. And it just might be prime time for these two to take on the world.
“It’s just crazy to think that we started going on Google, asking how to record music, and now our music is on Spotify,” says Robson. “Honestly, I think both of us felt the same sentiment that that’s enough for us. Any accolades or any streams or any recognition that we get on top of that is really just a bonus. I mean, in our limited experience of life—at least speaking for myself—this is probably the coolest thing that I’ve ever done.”
Murtha agrees. “I was 10 years old and picked up a guitar, and that’s the moment that my infatuation with music started,” he adds. “So, 13 years later, to manifest this awesome project that I get to work with one of my best friends on, making music that we both love…it’s such a cool feeling.”