A Conversation with Raven Parque
mathmanmrt: On your MySpace page you list Neuss, Germany, as your location. Is that where you are originally from?
Raven Parque: Yes, born and raised in Neuss, a place very close to Düsseldorf, which was my main playground, because Düsseldorf is the much better location for musical activities. In the late 80's I've also spent some time making music in Berlin.
mathmanmrt: Neuss is fairly close to Belgium and The Netherlands. What's your sense of the music scene in that part of Europe right now?
Raven Parque: There's no real music scene in Belgium or Netherlands I would be interested in. In the 90's some Techno - especially Hardcore Stuff (Gabba) came out of there. But I don't know any Rock or Pop band from these countries which I think I would like.
mathmanmrt: What kind of musical experiences did you have when you were growing up?
Raven Parque: None, because I started making music very late at the age of 22. Before that I was very interested in listening to music and I have a big archive of vinyl stuff, but I didn't play any instrument until the day a friend of mine was looking for a bass player for his punk band. I thought it couldn't be so difficult to play an instrument with 4 strings. And I found out that I had to play just 1 string as a bass player in a punk band. Easy... After this first experience I never stopped making music, and in the following years I've tried to play some more strings on the bass and the guitar. I tried to learn to play keyboards, singing, composing, writing lyrics and producing. I'm still trying... and I will keep on trying.
mathmanmrt: I notice that your first EP, "Thru the Desert," came out in 1995. Are any of your songs on the 61 from that EP? If not, what is the earliest song of yours that is up on the 61?
Raven Parque: No, there's no song from the Raven Parque EP on T61. But in the same year 95 I produced my first CD album "Break Away" from which I took "Vision Thing" and "You Could Be The One" to T61. Though in a different version from the original mixes on "Break Away", which were both uptempo rock style. In 2004, I rearranged and remixed it into today's style and uploaded these versions. But these two songs are the earliest I wrote from all of the Raven Parque tunes that are up on T61 until now.
mathmanmrt: How has your style developed since the first EP?
Raven Parque: I've changed a lot of things through the years from 1993 - 2008. I guess the songs have become more organic. At first because of the different instrumentation. On the last albums I've been using much less electronic keyboard sounds and samples. I pay much more attention to guitars. I'm still using keyboard sounds and samples but mainly natural sounds like piano, strings or original drum samples. I think that the main atmosphere of Raven Parque became more positive and the lyrics have a more autobiographic character. A lot of the older songs had a very melancholy feeling.
mathmanmrt: How do you go about writing your songs and developing your arrangements for the final mix?
Raven Parque: It's almost always going the same way. Playing chords on the acoustic guitar or piano and hoping the right melody will get into my mind. If it works, I go to the studio to record, arrange and develop the new track, starting with drums, bass and guitars to build a pilot playback for writing the final lyrics and rehearsing the vocal parts. After that, I look for missing pieces in the arrangement and sometimes I add female backings or instruments I can't play like violin or accordion for example, played by friends or studio musicians for the mix. Finally, after mixing and mastering, I upload the song to T61 ;-)
mathmanmrt: Three of the songs you have up are covers. I've come across several comments on your wall and in tuneboxes I've received remarking on how good they are, some going so far as to say they're better than the originals. How do you decide what songs you're going to cover?
Raven Parque: Yes, it's a great pleasure for me to see this kind of comments on the wall. I'm really proud to read that it's better than the original. But I don't think so... my cover versions are different from the original songs. And I mean it's the right way to do covers. They should be different, that's the point of covering. The original "No.1" from Goldfrapp is pure electronic with a female voice. So it was easy to be different... And it was also easy to be different from the original playing "Hey Little Girl" in a Latino style. (Sorry, Iva ;-)) But if I feel that a song shouldn't be covered because the original way is the one and only way to do this song, I wouldn't try to record it the Raven Parque way. The decision to remake a song always comes straight from the heart. I have to love the original.
mathmanmrt: I've noticed that two of the songs you have up aren't part of any of the albums you've created on the 61 &emdash; "Don't Like the Sunshine" and "I'll Be There." Are those songs part of an upcoming album or are they part of either your earlier vinyl EP or the first cd?
Raven Parque: Sorry, my fault. After uploading the songs I forgot to link it with the album title. But I fixed it in the meantime. "Don't Like Sunshine" is part of "Rough" and "I'll Be There" is part of the still unfinished album "Evermore".
mathmanmrt: You've said that, for the most part, your songs are a "one man show." Do you ever perform live?
Raven Parque: In the 80's and 90's I performed live with different bands and projects. In 1995, after finishing the first album "Break Away", I found some studio musicians for live performances with Raven Parque. We did a couple of shows successfully, but at this time the music business in Germany was already sick and without the right support from the record company it was much too lavish and expensive to stay on the road. Though recently I'm thinking about performing live again. But not the usual way as a complete band, just as an acoustic duo with two guitars and special parts with guest musicians playing cello or something like that.
mathmanmrt: Ever been to or plan to come to the U.S. to perform?
Raven Parque: I've never performed in the States, but as the producer of Behind The Scenes, which did some shows in the U.S. in Spring 2008 and which will go back to the States next year, I talked with Michael, the singer, about the possibility to do some shows together, even though RP and BTS are different music styles.
mathmanmrt: How did you run across the 61?
Raven Parque: Michael (BTS) told me about T61. So I went to this community and I'm very glad I did it.
mathmanmrt: What expectations, if any, did you have when you first uploaded "She"?
Raven Parque: There was no great expectation when I joined in and when I uploaded "She". But I was totally surprised about the positive reaction of the listeners to my music. I was really surprised but also glad about all the comments, bumps and support.
mathmanmrt: Do you feel like the 61 has met your expectations?
Raven Parque: Yes, T61 has exceeded all of my expectations, much more than I ever imagined. I suppose it works great. I like it much more than MySpace because of this listener/artist system. I love to get feedback so fast after uploading a song. All the listeners on T61 are music lovers and so interested in our songs. And that's the best an artist can get.
mathmanmrt: You have a really great marketing concept by offering to make songs freely downloadable if the current song hits 800 bumps. Do you feel like that offer has helped your songs out? Do I recall correctly that a listener called dwyndal first suggested that idea?
Raven Parque: Yes, you are totally right. The concept of dealing with bumps and free downloads was the idea of Dwyndal. That was a great help for me, because as an amateur at T61 you need some time to understand how the system works and it's very useful to get some advice of a professional T61-member. He told me the T61 listeners are like kids which want to get some candy (free downloads) and they are prepared to do something for it. So, it worked to earn a lot of bumps and points. But not only Dwyndal, there's a lot more kind listeners who gave me a helping hand, good advice and big support. I would like to say thank you very much to all of them.
mathmanmrt: So what are your plans for the future?
Raven Parque: At first to finish the new album "Evermore". 8 songs are mixed and mastered and 2 others are already recorded on my brain-tape ;-) I guess it will be about 12 or 13 songs at least on the finished CD. Secondly is what I already said about creating a live acoustic set. But it takes time and at the moment I'm very busy and involved in other jobs to earn some money... And that's the bridge to your next question...
mathmanmrt: Are you still producing other artists? If so, would you tell us about that?
Raven Parque: Right now I'm working mainly as a composer and producer for TV commercial spots and as a music and audio creator for DVD and web design. In the past I have produced different artists, but the music business in Germany is really getting worse and so there's no great sense in producing unknown artists anymore. But I'm still producing Behind The Scenes because I love their stuff and Michael is a friend of mine.
mathmanmrt: Do you work as an artist on other people's music? Could you name some albums you've appeared on if you do work as an A&R man sometimes?
Raven Parque: I never worked as an A&R for record companies but I did for 'Groovetown Music', when I had to decide which artist should be produced. So I have worked as an artist on other people's music. On every production I played some instruments or did some backing vox, except for Behind The Scenes, which you know from T61. It was only with German artists who had never released any albums outside of Germany.
mathmanmrt: What would you say is the most important question I forgot to ask? And the answer to it, please.
Raven Parque: No, there's no important question left that you forgot to ask. I would like to thank you so much mathman for interviewing me. I appreciate the possibility to talk about Raven Parque and giving the readers of maxbumps.net and the listeners of T61 some information about me and my music.
And again a big thanx to all of them, including you as a listener of RP, for bumping, commenting and listening.