Hey guys! So I recently fortunate enough to do a quick interview with the music producer as well as producer ‘Gordan Raphael’. I haven’t been able to do too many interviews over the last months with all of the exams from college in May and now jobs and other pursuits, but I hope to be able to bring more frequent reviews to you guys in the future!
1.) Q: Hey Gordon Raphael, nice to be able to able to speak to you. So my first question is did you grow up always knowing you were going to be musician and music producer? Or did you have other aspirations that you wanted or thought you were going to pursue?
When I was 6 I wanted to be a great doctor that could help cure the worlds illnesses. My first real job was as a clown entertaining children at borthday parties- but by the time I was 10 or 11 it was clear that music was the most important and powerful way to spread messages and unite people. From then on I have been almost entirely single minded about making music.
2.) Q: I know that you’ve traveled around the world to record music, to places like Mexico City, Lima in Peru and Cape Town, South Africa to name few. Did you have any favorites? And how were the music styles different then in the states?
I experienced a feeling that in England and Germany many of the young people in bands worked much harder and more seriously towards becoming well rehearsed, and writing super powerful song structures. In England they had a sense that this would pay off, and get them really well known- but in Germany they felt like no one in the world outside of Germany would probably hear them, but they did it for a sense of musical completeness, groove and perfection. In Argentina the people feel positively patriotic to guitar based rock, becuase several amazing composers (see Charly Garcia and Luis Alberto Spinetta ) actually used music as a vehicle to spread messages of hope and intelligence during some of the most horrific dictatorial regimes there. Each geographic region and cultural area brings something of its history and soul into their music, even if its using bass drums and guitars / keyboards and voices. From my experiences I found huge similarities, and stunning intrinsic differences in the rock of every nation. I can only describe it as distinct flavors. The main dish is very familiar, but the local spices make it rare and wonderful.
3.) Q: Now tell me a little about the days running your studio in New York. What did you like and dislike about the location and atmosphere up there?
My studio in New York was heavenly. It was right in the middle of the East Village, with clubs surrounding me, Joey Ramone rehearsing upstairs and 20 restaurants (good ones) within a 5 block radius. The strip on Ludlow Street below Houston was 2 blocks away and was at that time the best place to see live music and hang out in the USA. I had a strong dislike for my landlord, and was evicted during the recording of Is This It for goddamn noise complaints!
4.) Q: Back in Washington recently, you worked with Red Martian to help record and produce ‘Ghost into the Fog’. Tell the readers a little about the escapades while working on that EP? What did you learn from recording and producing for other artists around the world, that helped out with this bands EP?
The escapades involved meeting Stephen Jones and quite honestly being blown away by his guitar playing, atmospheres and knowledge of analog synthesizers. We recorded guitar, bass and drums onto an 8-Track tape recorder and built the songs fairly rapidly from there on thru the mixing. All of the Red Martian musicians were stellar and on point, making it very smooth and fun for those sessions. I learned very much how to listen to bands and musicians to understand what they actually were looking for in each individual sound, as well as the overview of the final impact. Red Martians style of musical presentation is very unique, including lyrically- and I really had to understand how the ration of “expert precision” and naivete needed to be balanced.
5.) Q: What part of the production process did you find the most challenging while working on ‘Ghost Into The Fog’? As well as the most gratifying?
The first challenge was to return to my orginal pre-digital relationship to working with analog tape- combining an entire bands worth of microphones down to 8 channels for the music. Then would eb recording a vey small amp and allowing it to sound huge. Finally, I wanted to bring out the lyrics and subject matter of the songs in the best way possible- which took much concentration from me, and great patience from Mr. Jones.
6.) Q: Can you describe your creative process while working on the Red Martian EP to us? How does a song go from an initial thought to a complete song? Any favorites from “Ghost Into The Fog” that you would recommend to new listeners who haven’t heard the EP yet?
I have to say that the organiziation of these songs was very thoroughly pre-built when I arrived on the scene. My job was to bring out the best in the performances, and capture as much of the energy and excitement of the band playing live in the studio as possible. I was also freeing up Stephen to focus on his guitarcraft, instead of doing both the engineering job. and the music. (He’s a great engineer as well)
7.) Q: Tell our viewers a little about working with your artists, like ‘The Strokes’, ‘Red Maritan’ ‘Spektor’, ‘Sky Cries Mary’, etc? What knowledge did you gain from each of them that made you an even better producer?
Ever since I started playing music and joining bands, I have been lucky to work with very intelligent and powerfully talented players, composers and philosophers. I had two of my own bands in Seattle- called Mental Mannequin and Colour Twigs. The people I meet on the path of music all have some unique abilities that really inspire me and in many cases “blow my mind!” I usually learn great lessons from all of them as I try and pinpoint exactly what areas they are excelling in. Julian Casablancas is one incredible composer, and his command of rhythm and melody, not to mention his powerful singing- are all incredible. Regina Spektor- pure magic, watching her play and sing those songs- all performed live in the studio. Sky Cries Mary was a band I joined, and it was the first band I was in to tour, make real records and have great success. This put me in a great place to take the next steps both as a producer, and for my own songs. Working with hundreds of bands has improved my sense of groove, my ear for pitch and helped me understand mixing.
8.) Q: And lastly, what do you like to do for fun outside of working on music? And what is the next step for you?
Outside of music, I enjoy going to Cafe Vivace on Broadway (Seattle) and writing in my notebook. I also like to ride my bicycle at home in Berlin, and eat vegan superfoods there. My next step is releasing my new album in 2016, and touring Mexico, Latin America and South America in March.
Bonus Question: Q: What other producers or artists do you see as your primary inspirations?
Producers/Engineers: Tony Visconti, Eddie Offord, George Martin, Eddie Kramer, Jimmy Page.
Artists: Leonard Cohen, Frank Zappa, Hendrix, John McLaughlin, Rick Wakeman, Wendy Carlos
and Hieronymous Bosch.
Great, thanks for the awesome opportunity to interview you for our site! And if you guys want to check out one of the music groups he produced be sure to check out RED MARTIAN’s “Ghost into the Fog” on bandcamp today!