Exclusive: Five Minutes with Rain Dog

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Rain Dog‘s debut album Two Words in 2014 was critically acclaimed by music listeners and critics alike. As he gears up for There Be Monsters, his second full length project, we had a minute (or 5) to chat with the talented artist!

Hi there, how are you and what are you up to today?

Hey, I’m grand thanks. Today I’m cutting up and processing some old vocals from Kelis.

To those not familiar with you, how would you describe your sound?

I’d say I sound a bit like Djrum – if he had never been to a club before..

What are the 5 most influential albums that have influenced you the most?

Bowie at the Beeb, the live acoustic versions of Amsterdam, God Knows I’m Good and Kooks are among my favourites, they have to have been a major influence because I have never stopped listening to them.

Tom Waits – Bone Machine – I’d say the tone of that album has played a major role in the sound I’ve put together over the years. Also, Dirt In The Ground is one of the tracks I used to teach myself to ‘play’ piano.

KidKanevil – Basho Basho, when I started out making my own beats I couldn’t figure out how he made such clean yet potent tracks. I definitely tried (and failed) to mimic his production techniques. He’s still a big listen for me.

Jon Hopkins – Insides, I was listening to a lot of drum and bass and dubstep around that time, and for me that album was such a great blend between delicate instrumental works and really astute electronic music production. It’s like I had found exactly what I was looking for in tracks like The Low Places andVessel.

Lukid – Onandon, as well as the links it has to hip hop to me it’s everything beat making should be about. I love his noisy and crusty style, his beats are so inventive and unconventional and I was always impressed with how he could make one loop travel so far.

Which other artists are you into at the moment and why?

At the moment I really love Rival Consoles on Erased Tapes. His sound is exactly my sort of thing, textured and dynamic synth work. He’s made some beautiful pieces lately. I’ve just discovered Iam William Craig on Fat Cat Records, particularly the album Centres – it’s an array of noisy, colourful compositions that gives me the impression I’m lost at sea, but absolutely fine with it. I’m also into Edward Scissortongue, he’s wierd, deep and soulful. A good mix.

Are there any key pieces of equipment that you are using to define your sound?

Definitely my Prophet 12 and the Blackstar amps I run it through. I was using the soft synth, Gladiator before I invested in a Prophet. It’s seemed like the smartest option in terms of it’s diversity, it being a hybrid synth with DCO’s and analogue filters etc. I tend to do a lot of resampling of my synth parts, but the hardware in itself has sculpted the way I build tracks these days and has definitely helped to refine my writing process; with Gladiator I could dial in anything, it’s an insane instrument and that was why I loved it, but while the prophet is diverse in itself there are certain limitations bound by the hardware and it’s those limitations that have helped me focus my thoughts a little more.

What would you say some of the challenges artists face today in the music industry?

My experience of the music industry so far has been pretty solid, but thats mainly because I have had unending support from the guys at the label. Perhaps the biggest challenge is standing out as everything is available to everyone on the web these days, so it’s a fight for exposure. For me the biggest challenge is social media, an invaluable tool for any musician. Though I find I want to keep my thoughts to myself most of the time, a great social media platform can have huge advantages and It’s something I know I should invest more time in..

Where do you gather song writing inspiration?

Usually from films and sometimes books. Certain lines and phrases can give me a real itch to put something together. Film particularly as I can lift something straight out of a film and put it into my project. It might just be the ambience from a scene that kick starts something. I also sample tracks I love and use that as a base for writing, for example Choreoathetoid was almost entirely made from Spencer The Rover, by John Martyn. The cello really struck me so I felt I had to do something with it.

Take us through your songwriting process. Are there any particular steps you take when put music together?

I make sure not to sit down in front of an empty project so I’ll usually spend a long period collect samples and laying them out in one large project to see what stands out. I tend to start several things at once, so that I can move around if I get stuck with something too. I always aim to be super organised about things as well, but that inevitably goes out the window when I get really into something.

What’s the best gig you have ever done and why?

I played a gig for a pal in Bordeuax. It was a big and rowdy and I played a solid set. The whole weekend had a great feel, great people and sunshine.

And the worst?

Probably my first live show in Wroclaw. I had never done anything like it before and I was played before Long Arm and Robot Koch so I was way out of my depth. It was all over the shop.. luckily the crowd was super friendly (and patient).

If you weren’t a musician what would you be?

If I had the mental faculties I would like to do something in physics. Or run a sloth sanctuary somewhere.

Do you have any particular gigs or festivals that you dream about playing?

I’ve never actually been to the US, I’d love to play Burning Man.

If you could perform alongside any other band or artist, who would it be?

Probably Portishead. I’d be stoked to do something low slung with Beth Gibbons.

Do you have any information regarding upcoming releases, projects or gigs in the pipeline that you would like to tell us about?

I’m currently in the middle of putting together a new live show so there will be details on that shortly, also my second album drops on the 30th of this month on Project Mooncircle. It was a long time in the making so it’s going to mean a lot to me to have it out in circulation at last.