Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The MAN behind the sound: Interview with Gordon Raphael

photo by Alex de Brabant
This GORDOTRONIC is a realization of his life dreams - to express music in the world. Gordon Raphael started singing, making up songs when he was about 6 and also had a painting shown as part of Red Cross International touring artshow.

Gordon studied piano at age 8, crying because he could NOT understand it, plus he was asked to play quietly at his own lessons, which never felt right. Luckily, Gordon joined his friend Steve Kirk’s band, and found rock-and-roll entirely understandable, and yes, much louder! It took Gordon a very long time of trying, getting angry, and ripping stuff up before he actually completed his first real song, but then onwards, he couldn’t stop. Gordon used to wrote songs almost every day, sometimes two or three just for the buzz and energy.

This GORDOTRONIC is really the first time Gordon has released his own songs out into the fat wobbling world, and "HELL YES!" Gordon is super-excited and jumping up and down for this chance. Gordon is mostly known as a music producer thanks to The Strokes, Regina Spektor, Skin, Ian Brown, Ian Astbury, Red Martian  and ultracool and kind bands that Gordon has had the pleasure to record with. Soaring electric gracias, thank you, danke shön, Спасибо, ありがとうございます, Merci bien, धन्यवाद, 感謝你, תודה רבה, tack, så mycket and شكرا (جزيلا) Onwards to 2015!!!

Interview with Gordon Raphael:

As a comparison, what country do you find more supportive of new artists, England or the US? Why?

Gordon: On the indie and DIY level, both countries have young new labels and scenes that are actively supporting exciting new bands. There's a great magazine out of London called 98 Wounds that is showing in 200 excellent black and white photographs the look of the new guitar based music scene there. I highly recommend it! In my mind its easier to make an impression in UK because the country is smaller/quicker for information, ideas and music to spread around. To make a strong impression. I also think that from my time living in UK- that music is a more widespread and popular part of the culture- more common and accepted. Example: In USA when someone ask you what you do, and you say "I'm a musician"- they reply with a knowing smile "Oh, and what do you do for money??". In Uk when a taxi driver asks the same question, and you reply "I'm a musician"- they say "Oh, my son is a music manager, my brother played in Scritti Polliti, and just last week I had Pete Doherty in my cab, a right gentleman that one".

What was your favorite experience in London, music or otherwise?

Gordon: I had a few, sorry! Watching the first big show of The Strokes at Heaven London in 2001. Starting my own club night (Basement Club) with TobyL from Transgressive Records- he was 18 years old at the time. We featured up and coming bands such as The Libertines, Regina Spektor, Bloc Party, Satelite (Mallorca) and my own group Black Light. I also ran sound on The Libertines first tour. Other favorite moments: Recording Miss Machine, working with Boy George, recording Ian Astbury, recording Skin's second solo album. And partying at Filthy McNastys for a year.

When working with your most recent project, Red Martian, what did you find most intriguing?

Gordon: Well, I know Stephen Jones personally- as a friend. And his skills on guitar, with lyric writing and synthesizers is frankly, jaw dropping! He's perfectly capable of recording and producing his own, and other people's music- so i was honored that he asked me to participate in Ghost Into the Fog. For me, the most intriguing part of the project was watching the band members all playing live in the excellent Electro-Kitty studio in Seattle, recording everything onto an Otari 8 Track tape recorder! That means great rehearsals went into the preparation, and the guys were extremely confident and fast in doing their songs.

Personally, what is your favorite instrument and why?

Gordon: Historically its my Arp Odyssey synthesizer. Because you never know what its going to do, and there are literally an infinite number of sounds it can make, all of which cannot be reproduced exactly the next time! I had an early experience where in an admittedly altered state of being, the machine started talking to me in a strange voice that was somewhere between a wind and a bird- revealing the secrets of how sounds and music are made via its knobs, sliders and faders. From that moment forward, I could really get any sound that was in my imagination from the Arp Odyssey. I use it often when producing rock bands, and they are generally in awe at what comes forth from those two strange oscillators.

What was your favorite experience in London, music or otherwise?


Personally, what is your favorite instrument and why?


photo by Alex de Brabant
Disregarding what is classified as "Pop" music nowadays, how would you define Pop music?

Gordon: I define Pop as "what is popular". This concept has mainly disgusted me, but I have
glimmers of hope from the past and the present. The whole televised popularity contest notion, is truly off-putting, and inhumane. So much of what is popular in music, clothing, politics, economics, art, movies, culture- is really uninteresting, life threatening, boring and irrelevant to me, personally. McDonalds is a great symbol of popular culture. Cheap, forgettable, unhealthy. de-foresting the Amazon Jungle to make cattle grazing land- yet makes millions of dollars. At certain points in history, Pop music and Pop art were challenging and actually led the way forward- creatively and intellectually. The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and James Brown were immensly popular with most of them being the MOST populat and highest paid entertainers of their time. These are examples of innovation and true musical power / individuality rising to the top of the pyramid. Right now there are changes in popular culture I see all over the world. Veganism and organic food are becoming fashionable and rising fast as an economic force. Social networks have allowed the rapid spread of direct images and communication to galvanize change for great political causes, and helpful to fight repression and denial. When Andy Warhol and his gang started presenting new ways to think about music and art- utilizing the elements of what was really all around us on daily life, and challenging the notion that art, writing and music ought to be for the highly educated; this was a great rocket-ship of change that still resonates today.

What is your next project?

Gordon: Oh, thanks for asking! Im preparing to release my own solo album, recorded with 10 great musicians in Buenos Aires, Argentina last year. Its my most rocking songs, and I'm thrilled with the results. So a big promotional blitz is underway with a tour of Mexico, Central and South America in the works for early 2016.

Find more of Gordon Raphael:

Official website: http://www.gordotronic.com/ 
Twitter: http://twitter.com/gordonraphael
Red Martian: http://redmartian.com 
Facebook: http://facebook.com/RedMartianOfficial

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