I recently had the chance to speak with the mysterious multi-instrumentalist who goes simply by R A N. Based in Miami, R A N has spent the last few years composing, recording, and rediscovering music. After years of playing in rock bands he decided to go it alone, allowing himself to become totally immersed in developing his own sound. Complex soundscapes, intricate beats and moods, and haunting vocals create an interesting listening experience that is often orchestral at times. His debut album will be available this summer. Please enjoy the video preview and track from this upcoming release after the interview.
Christine: How did you arrive at this place in your music?
R A N: I’ve been in and out of rock bands all my life. So much of that stuff was my life and completely fantastic– the lifestyle of playing shows, rehearsing/drinking, the camaraderie, ending up in a studio by any means possible but having no idea who’s actually paying for it, touring, sleeping on whoever’s floor… But then I’d go home and put on classical music or some other labored over studio recording, like Efterklang’s “Tripper” or a Sigur Ros record, that completely swallowed me up. Ultimately, that was always the challenge and an area I hoped to work in– to make a labored over recording, constructed with care that was creative and moving. So, I left Boston in 2009 after graduating college to pursue a girl (still happily together, btw) but very mindful that I was leaving behind the rock band lifestyle I had lived in for forever. I was writing songs on my own I thought for the first time were worth sharing and knew I couldn’t financially afford to record them with anyone else so I began to teach myself how to produce on my laptop. Since, it’s been a total learning process starting with some scratchy acoustic recordings, learning to navigate the world of midi instruments and ultimately realizing that it takes much more than I imagined to fill the sonic space. I like the idea of letting ideas marinate for a long time and refining or changing them over time.
C: I find it interesting that the kind of music you currently make is so deeply influenced by the process in which you make it, it’s not entirely about the finished product.
R: Working digitally on a laptop, with software like Logic or Garageband, gives you the opportunity to change things however you want. It’s hard for me to know when something is done because I always want to keep working on crafting sounds and balancing sounds– probably a negative consequence of working digitally because you’re not cutting tape and being forced to live with decisions. But a positive result of working this way is you can work on a song over a long period of time. With rock bands we would record-record-record, and a lot the performances were strong, but then when it came time to mix and craft a lot of the feel, it was something that was done seemingly too rushed with every song having a similar eq and balance. On this project, I have songs with parts I recorded three years ago mixed with things I recorded last week. It allows me to mix raw energy stuff with more sophisticated sounds. I’m really drawn to the way Dave Sitek from TV On The Radio does that with their productions, balancing blown out vocals or other organic sounds with dialed back, rigid electronic sounds all the time. So much 80’s stuff does that wonderfully– INXS, Love and Rockets… I love that contrast. Exploring the relationship between different sounds is such a rewarding part of creating songs…never a dull moment as the Tommy Lee says.
C: What triggers you, what sparks an idea in songwriting?
R: For me, a song idea isn’t worth pursuing unless it comes during an unsuspecting moment. I don’t consider myself a songwriter because I never just sit down and write as if I know what I’m doing. Ideas usually come when I’m out for a walk or cleaning the house or something and I find myself scrambling to sing a melody or beatbox into my cell phone so I don’t forget it.
C: What drives you?
R: In short, I love art. I’ve applied a strong work ethic and lots of patience to crap jobs all my life just to get by and it’s now time to apply that to making decent art.