Interview | Questions & Answers With Sarah Ragsdale
If you already know Sarah Ragsdale, you will agree she is blessed with a golden singing voice. The New Jersey’s Piano Woman joined me in an exclusive interview to discuss her music career and the single “Paranoia”, taken off her new album ‘Whimsical Romance’. Watch the gorgeous music video directed by Douglas Ferguson below!
1 – When does your interest to play the piano become your passion?
My piano playing really stepped up when I started playing in the piano bars. I was on the spot every night and had to think quick and be on my toes (or fingers?) to keep the audience involved and entertained. This experience made me realize just how powerful it is to be able to be the whole band with your hands!
2 – Did you have any formal vocal training?
Yes, I did have classical vocal training and I think it gave me a great foundation. Pop singing is very different though. It’s more like talking really, and that’s even how I rehearse sometimes. However, I definitely think that you can hear my classical vocal sounds pop through here and there on some songs, and having that versatility in style is liberating.
3 –Who motivated you to start a music career?
I picked up things here and there from a variety of people. Nobody can really tell you exactly the way you can or should do your own career, but taking advice and influence from family, friends, and just other interesting people along the way gets you to your own unique way of doing things.
4 – What feelings arouse in you while listening to your new single “Paranoia”?
Nostalgia. I can picture all of the items I talk about: “haunted mansions, broken dolls…summer turning to fall, riding horses, mountaintops”. They are all real events imprinted in my memories, and nobody can see them exactly like I do. Yet, I try to give you the most similar emotion as possible through song and video.
5 – Are the lyrics intended to attract listeners of romantic music?
The lyrics are not intended to do anything other than tell this story of lost love and these memories associated with it. However, I would be happy to hear that romantics love it!
6 – How much different is this song from your previous releases?
I have done many piano ballads in the past, including some live acoustic recordings, that have a somewhat similar style. However, this song is unique for the album. The other songs on “Whimsical Romance” are mostly up-tempo, but this one slows it down with a more introspective take on love.
7 – I love the snowy scenery of your latest music video. Did you face any difficulties during the filming of the clip due to cold weather?
Well at one point we got lost in the park! It all looked the same with the snow covering up everything. Oh, and then we were going to shoot on a carousel, but it was closed down due to the weather! So we improvised with a snowman!
8 – Is your next single another ballad or are you open to exploring different styles?
I love that question! It’ almost like two different personalities…the up-tempo or the ballad. I’m still working on the release of this album “Whimsical Romance” which has mostly up-tempo tunes. However, I do have some new material in the works which continue the exploration of the ballad!
9 – Who would you dream to collaborate with?
That’s a really tough question because I would love to collaborate with so many people! But, I will throw one thought out there… Andy Grammer. I like his style, his story, he’s a fellow pianist…I think that would be really fun!
10 – What’s the best music advice you have ever been given?
The best advice is that it doesn’t take money to do what you love, just using that creativity to its fullest!
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Exclusive Interview: VE/RA Discusses Techno Hit “Love & Peace”
I had the opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation with VE/RA, an up-and-coming Techno musician, to talk about her recent popular single, “Love & Peace” in collaboration with The Rocketman. During the interview, she talks about the process of creating her unique and powerful sound, juggling her music career alongside other responsibilities, her aspirations as an artist in the long run, and various other topics.
1 — How did the idea of mixing elements of Rap and Techno come about in your new track “Love & Peace”?
The Rocketman and I, both being Techno artists, decided to create a track in our genre. However, we wanted to make it unique and distinct. Upon discovering a Rap vocal, we immediately started building music around it.
2 — What was your reaction to receiving support from industry heavyweights like Charlotte De Witte, Nicky Romero, and Maddix?
After finishing the track, we sent it to Charlotte de Witte. Over the weekend, while scrolling through my Instagram stories, I came across a post where she was playing “Love & Peace.” Overwhelmed with excitement, I immediately called The Rocketman. Getting support from Charlotte de Witte is a huge deal within the Techno scene. Soon after, Maddix also supported us multiple times, which was great since I’ve always enjoyed his productions. A little while later, I received a video of Nicky Romero playing our track on the main stage at EDC Mexico. It was surreal to see the huge audience react so positively to our track. In short, it was a very cool experience!
3 — Did you face any challenges in achieving the hard-hitting sound?
No, not really. The track was there within 5 hours. After finding the vocals, a hard-hitting kick, psy bass, acid line, and trance synth were built around it. The result was not overly complicated, as simplicity was key.
4 — What do you think sets “Love & Peace” apart from other Techno tracks?
“Love & Peace” is a highly accessible Techno track that appeals to a wide audience. While Nicky Romero and Avao are not necessarily Techno artists, they still play the genre. Additionally, the Rap vocal adds a unique touch to the whole sound.
5 — Can you share any details about your upcoming collaborations in 2023?
No, unfortunately, I can’t say anything about that this time.
6 — How do you balance your music production career with other commitments?
I still live at home with my parents, so my expenses are not that high. I do this on purpose, to put my full focus on my music career.
7 — What’s the most unforgettable experience you’ve had while performing on stage?
That was when I was playing at Dutchweek in Saalbach, Austria, on top of the mountain. My sister, father, and his girlfriend were with me. After finishing my performance, my father stood with tears in his eyes and said, “I’m so proud.” My sister also wrote me a message expressing her pride. The warmth and positive energy from both my family and fans always stay with me the longest.
8 — How has your music evolved since you first started producing?
I made a lot of strides in the field of producing. I took private lessons producing in Den Bosch, and took a lot of online courses, including those from Alex Stein, ANNA & Wehbba, Amazingblaze, and UMEK. I also took a course at the Herman Brood Academy and learned a lot from other producers.
9 — What are your long-term goals as an artist, and where do you see yourself in the future?
I would love to set up my own label and event. Besides that, I would love to travel the world and share my music with as many people as possible. There are too many events to list where I would love to play, but one of my biggest dreams is Tomorrowland, Awakenings, Ultra, Time Warp, EDC, and Soundstorm.
10 — Finally, is there something else you would like to share with your fans?
I want to thank my fans very much for all the support I have received. I get so much positive energy from them all the time. You can expect new tracks from me this year and I will be debuting at a lot of cool events. Keep an eye on my socials and hopefully, I will see you soon!
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Unpacking The Meaning: T@NE Talks His New “Autumn” Remix
T@NE is a multi-talented artist who wears many hats – musician, saxophonist, composer, producer, rapper, vocalist, and director. His recent collaboration with Dronez resulted in an epic remix of a new track called “Autumn.”
In this interview, he shares his inspiration for the remix, how the collaboration with Dronez came about, what sets this remix apart from the original version, and much more…
1 — What inspired the decision to remix “Autumn”?
I felt the composition really lends itself to being remixed. I mean you can remix anything, so yeah it’s great to hear what someone else can do with the work. And, it’s a great way to collaborate with people and build each other’s brands.
2 — How did the collaboration with Dronez come about?
I was studying (and still studying) the genre Future Riddim and I was listening to a track Dronez released called “Quest;” I was thinking to myself, man Dronez is gonna rock a remix of “Autumn.” We should work together, let’s collaborate.
3 — What sets this remix apart from the original version?
One of the main things was to give Dronez the freedom to do whatever he wanted with the track. When discussing what to do, I said to Dronez, “go in and do your thing” and yeah he demolished it; Dronez absolutely rocked it.
4 — What kind of emotions do you hope to evoke in listeners through this remix?
You know, the beautiful thing about putting out work is that everybody can get something different out of it.
For me, it’s hey, just keep believing in yourself, keep believing in your dreams, and put in the hard work. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from my experiences it’s that not only do you have to be the hardest worker and smartest worker in the room, but you also have to be up working before everybody else. I try to set my alarm for 3:30 am/4:00 am because those extra hours of correct practice really add up in helping you to be prepared for when opportunities arise.
Whatever it is you do, your career, romantic relationships, or friendships, it’s about really trying to bring your A-game all the time, and that comes in the preparation and putting in the hard work. So yeah, keep working and always try and be a better version of yourself.
But, like I said what people get from our work, I really believe depends on the individual.
5 — How did you go about selecting the beats and harmonies for “Autumn”?
For the original, I had been talking to my friend Be Steadwell about working on a song together, so I went to her place and we pretty much wrote the whole composition and lyrics in like three days, I remember working on a few chords when I got back to my place.
And for the remix, I sent Dronez some stems from the original; the vocals stems, guitar stems, keyboard stems and some synth and pad stems. Stems are exports of the individual tracks out of a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), that you can then import into your production/mixing session in another (same or different companies) DAW.
The vocals already had production on them (i.e. EQ, Compression, Reverb, Delay, Etc.) by my guy Johannes Raassina, and then Dronez added more of his own production to the vocals.
So yeah, once Dronez had the stems from the original, he used some of what Be and I composed, and then he came up with his own incredible composition.
6 — Can you elaborate on the concept that the lyrics convey?
Be Steadwell wrote the lyrics, I just remember her composing all these lyrics on the spot, I was thinking to myself this is incredible.
7 — The artwork looks very striking! What was the idea behind it?
Thank you, yeah the album artwork is by my guy Fishman Art 89, he’s amazing. Fishman has done a lot of our album covers, I love working with him.
This artwork is a variation of the original. The lady on the cover isn’t anyone in particular, that was just my idea that I had for the cover; usually, when I think of a song there’s also a visual that comes into my head that goes along with it. So I’ll sketch out the concept and send it to Fishman, then Fishman will send me a few of his sketches, and we’ll pick one and take it from there. But yeah, I really just let Fishman go in and do his thing.
8 — Do you have any plans for future collaborations?
I would love to collaborate with Dronez again, and whoever is down to collaborate. I love collaborating with people whether it’s for an original, remix, or anything else.
9 — Are you already working on your next release?
Yeah working on more music projects with my bandmates, and also working on my Nightwing script. I really believe I’m the guy to play Nightwing and direct the film. It’s coming along great, at the moment I have around 106 pages of script. I’m not gonna say too much about the script at the moment but I will say Batman/Bruce Wayne is in the screenplay and I’m writing those parts with Ben Affleck in mind. So yeah just working on that.
10 — How do you see your artistry evolving over the next 10 years?
Just taking it one day at a time, trying to make sure I put the correct hard work in and keep moving forward.
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A Look Inside Moon And Aries’ ‘Break The Matrix (Episode Three)’
Jordana Moon, who is a member of the musical duo Moon And Aries, talks about the new EP ‘Break The Matrix (Episode Three).’ This material draws inspiration from the idea of breaking away from the old world and building a new, healthier paradigm. Learn more via this exclusive interview.
1 — What was the inspiration behind the concept for your new EP, ‘Break the Matrix (Episode Three)’?
Hello! This is Jordana Moon speaking with you today. Thanks so much for your time and inquiry about our latest “Moon And Aries: Break The Matrix Episode 3”
That’s definitely a loaded question that leans into a loaded answer, but I’ll do my best to give the cliff notes. Tom (Aries ) and I have a deep fascination with how reality works in this realm or matrix. Concepts of laws of physics, the law of attraction, laws of nature… things like that. Exploring the illusion, the limitations, the potentials, the infinite perspectives of truth …the ultimate truth. Why we are here? Who are we now and where are we going. These are the questions we explore in the full trilogy of “Break The Matrix”. Basically, challenging and breaking free from the old World to help create a new, healthier, paradigm.
2 — How would you describe the creative process of this project?
Tom and I talk about the concept of each song for a few months before Tom begins his initial ideas for the composition. We flush out the idea, see how it’s resonating through our lives, and then Tom captures the essence of our thoughts and feelings and puts them into his incredible compositions. So, we talk about each song individually and explore the concept of the album in full, simultaneously. We sort of live the concepts during the making of each song. Then I write the lyrics once the composition is near to complete, and it unfolds from there.
3 — What was your favorite song to work on from the EP and why?
Illumination Society. Tom and I love this concept a lot. It’s like, the whole trilogy leads up to this song. It’s a song about winning! The instrumental is so dynamic and I loved writing the lyrics in sort of a rap song type of way! This song has become our calling card.
4 — Is there a formula to create such futuristic sounds?
Yes and no. I feel like if you are in a state of creative channeling, almost like meditation, you’ll become a very clear channel of what the World possibly needs to hear. Indie music has the potential to be at the very tip of the music industry because we don’t need to play by the same trending rules. So, we have creative freedom. But from the conception of a song to its release, is usually a 9-month period for us. So, we need to always be hanging in the future and bringing that into the now in order to be at the forefront of the industry. Like the musical Marty McFly!
But, on the flip side, we are just doing what comes naturally to us. Some people think our sound is very nostalgic! Some think it’s current. Some think it’s futuristic because of the Sci-Fi type of concept. Tom and I are just acting on impulse and intuition. Creating the music, we want to hear.
5 — Did you face any challenges while working on this material?
This project was actually pretty smooth. We just had finished writing a 9-song album and a 5-song EP and we worked out a lot of kinks with those songs. Sometimes my lyrics are not in full alignment with my emotions if that makes sense. So, I have to get all of me to surrender to the song so that my vocal performance is on par with Tom’s instrumentals and my lyrics. My voice has to really sell the song. And I’m not going to lie, sometimes it takes me 8 to 10hrs to record a song, especially if I need to transmit a deep level of vulnerability.
6 — How does ‘Break the Matrix (Episode Three)’ differ from your previous works?
It’s definitely the episode with the most energetic songs. All dance floor vibes, a little more playful, a little more fun.
7 — What is your message to your listeners with your latest release?
Honestly, we just try to create music that activates and puts people into a higher state as they listen. If you feel better during and after, that means the most to us. If you’ve had a few existential moments, even better 🙏🙌
8 — Can you talk about the music video for your recent single “From Another Dimension”?
The music video was created by our friend Lissete Real from Ecuador. She’s actually made around 10 of our videos, I believe. We love animation and simple videos that don’t overcomplicate the song’s meaning. This video highlights a lone astronaut who is both on land and in water. Now, it doesn’t exactly go into which planet he’s on, but water is consciousness and rebirth… so he’s on his existential journey of self-discovery, no matter which dimension he’s in. There are infinite versions of ourselves, and you could say there is a version of ourselves “watching and waiting” as we look upon the version of ourselves that is exploring and discovering.
9 — As a duo, how has your collaboration evolved throughout the years?
Tom and I have now known each other for 3 years! But have still not met in person! We are 9 hrs apart lol We will be meeting in person soon tho. And as we get to know each other better, our music becomes more cohesive. Even tho we clicked right off the bat, like anything, you grow and evolve and naturally get better if that’s what you desire. So now when we go to work on a song, our vision, and our truth is much more aligned.
10 — What can we expect from Moon And Aries in the upcoming months?
We will be re-releasing all 3 episodes as one full concept album. That will happen very soon! And after that, more music, and new concepts. We’ve got a lot we are working on right now. And we also have big plans (currently a secret) but that also revolve around meeting in person and performing live on stage together. So, stay tuned for those updates!! Thanks so much for chatting, it’s been a pleasure.