Bergen To Crenshaw: Ralph Myerz Interview

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RALPH MYERZ REVEALS THE STORY BEHIND HIS NEW ALBUM SUPERSONIC PULSE

TELL US HOW THE FIRST SINGLE OFF THE ALBUM, “TAKE A LOOK AT THE WORLD,” FEATURING FELLOW BERGEN FRIENDS ANNIE AND ROYSKOPP CAME ABOUT.

Røyksopp, Annie and I are from the same music scene in Bergen, Norway. Røyksopp had already released a couple of brilliant albums under the aliases Alania & Those Norwegians before I got properly started. Around the time they became Røyksopp I had been making music for a couple of years and we were all staying in the same building making music in our respective studios. So you had Røyksopp, Datarock, Bjørn Torske, Annie, Kings Of Convenience and a few other cats as well as the Telle office at the same spot. People were staying up late and checking out each others stuff and we could all borrow equipment from each other or get help with tracks or just hang out and have a few beers. Very special atmosphere that I think contributed a lot to the electronic “wave” of music coming from Bergen in the early 2000s.

The first proper tour we all went on had the line up of Ralph Myerz & the Jack Herren Band, Røyksopp, Annie, Erot and Bjørn Torske. Traveling all over Norway about 100 people max came to see us at the different venues…:) I released my debut album, A Special Album, in 2003 together with the Jack Herren Band on the now sadly defunct Emperor Norton label. It was in many ways the best of the music that was made during that period of time, and it was a great start for me as a producer / artist.

Røyksopp had released Melody AM and we both went on long tours and kinda lost contact for a few years as we were so busy with touring & recording new music. We have all been friends for a long time – around 15 years + without ever really working together, as we were so busy with our own projects. As it´s ten years since my debut and since I’ve worked with so many good artists on Supersonic Pulse, I wanted to have something extra special which could connect the dots from the Bergen days and 2013. I had this track that I thought would be perfect for Annie, so I asked her and she said yes straight away! After recording the vocals in Berlin and after I did the first rough mix, I knew this track would be taken to the next level if Røyksopp did the final mix & touch.

HOW DID YOU END UP MAKING MUSIC WITH SO MANY AMERICAN RAPPERS? A NORWEGIAN ELECTRONIC PRODUCER IS FAR AWAY FROM CRENSHAW?

Hahaha!

It´s actually a very strange and coincidental start on this. I had been producing a lot of hip hop since I started making music. I started out as a more of a hip hop dj/beatmaker and did a lot of stuff for more unknown rappers, mostly in the US. One day, I was playing with my band, Ralph Myerz & The Jack Herren Band, in Vancouver at an outdoor festival. This group of mean-looking dudes approached the stage…and while I’m playing I see them standing there and kinda look mean and a little scary! After the show I didn’t even use the stairs from the stage, but jumped off on the side to avoid what I thought was trouble! And then the scary guys came backstage and said they knew one of my tracks, “Savannah,” and that´s why they stopped to check it out.

They also told me they were working on music for the Blade TV show and were namedropping a lot of well-known rappers. I was a little too jet-lagged to understand all this…coming straight from Norway via LA to play a show in Canada – was a little overwhelming at the time, so when they invited me to this party I gently turned it down! But luckily I invited them to our next show at Victoria Island, one hour drive outside of Vancouver. That night I regretted my decision a lot, as I understood that these guys had worked with pretty much all of my favorite rappers…

Next day at our soundcheck, a jeep comes rolls up to the venue and the guys from yesterday actually came to our soundcheck!!!!! After that I spent a few days in their studio in Vancouver. Hector Delgado is now the one who mixed the rest of Supersonic Pulse and also introduced me to so many of my favorite rappers that I’ve been so lucky to work with. Forever grateful for him taking the time out to check a second show by the band. Hector Delgado has worked with Snoop, A$AP Rocky and many many more…and is a GREAT engineer and producer.

DA YOUNGFELLAZ – WHERE DID YOU FIND THESE GUYS? THEY ARE AMAZING!

Øystein Fykse, the designer behind the SSP cover art, lived in Brooklyn for many years. And one of his friends there introduced him to Da YoungFellaz. Øystein, one day, gave me a mix tape they had done and told me to check it out. That mix tape was just crazy good, just the kind of beats I’m into with very skilled rapping and also better lyrics & topics than most rappers have nowadays. So Øystein contacted them for me and sent some of my beats to them. They got straight back with “Weekend Star” which was the first song we did. YF then introduced me to KQuick, one of the most talented singer/artists I’ve ever worked with.

He did the hook for both “Weekend Star” & “A Dream You Can Feel” (perhaps my favorite track on the album). I’ve had YF over in Norway many times – we even did the opening of the World Championship of Winter Sports here in Norway – 120 million people watching! LOL!

Also we have had many good times in New York with them, as I’m producing a lot for their releases. Amazing artists that will go very far with their music very soon. And once again it was somehow coincidental that we met.

WAS IT A PLAN TO RECORD AN ALBUM WITH TRACKS RECORDED ALL AROUND THE WORLD OR DID IT JUST HAPPEN THAT WAY?

Yes, actually it was Øystein and me planning at his kitchen. I wanted to do something that seemed quite impossible at the time. I wanted to have most of my favorite artists on my next album and I wanted it to be a crazy record that explained all my musical references and genres that I started out with and also to have a pop element / catchy version of my inspiration sources. We also wanted it visually and musically to be a project that we could look back on while we were at the retirement home! That was actually the whole motivation behind this record, we wanted to make a music / visual scrapbook of what we had been up to. At the time it was just something we were planning / dreaming about doing, and to be honest it seemed a little far fetched, but one by one I actually managed to get the artists I wanted on board. George Clinton, Roxanne Shanté, Snoop Dogg, Kurupt and last but not least Annie & Røyksopp.

WHERE DID THE ALBUM TITLE SUPERSONIC PULSE, COME FROM?

Supersonic Pulse just came to me one day, and I knew that was the name. It’s an album that takes its inspiration from disco, hip hop and early ’90s house music. And it´s very urban music, and I feel it pulsates like the big cities it was recorded in. And it´s Sonically very on point! And it´s Super!

YOU NOW HAVE YOUR OWN WINE BRAND? HOW’D THAT HAPPEN?

I have always been into red wine, especially Italian red wine. Although there´s some pretty good American ones too! I lived for a while in San Francisco and I would always check out the vineyards in Napa Valley On my tours with Ralph Myerz & The Jack Herren Band, I’ve been lucky to travel around Europe many times and checked out local wines and vineyards. For many years I wanted to be involved in making my own brand, but either the wine has not been as good as I wanted it to be, or the chemistry between the farmer and me has not worked out…there´s quite a few characters making wine!

Until a few years ago…then I went to a vineyard in La Morra, Piemonte, Northern Italy – well known for their quality wines such as Barolo.I met Alessandro Veglio who presented some of his wines and I was completely stunned by his wines. I tried to tell him that I was a musician that was interested in working with him. Due to my Norwegian pronunciation and Italians not being that good in English, he thought I said I was a magician that was into wine – so for a few days he was very suspicious, but also anticipated a show with cards and rabbits! Finally I got him a CD of my last album and he understood what I was trying to say…

My girlfriend and I had a Wine & Vinyl evening every Friday while we lived in San Francisco. We would go to Amoeba or Rasputin and pick up at least five albums on vinyl. Then we went to a wine store and got two bottles of extra fine wine and went home to listen and relax and enjoy. We figured out the world would be a calmer place if everybody else was doing this as well, so now we have three different vintages of red wine named after those nights: Ralph Myerz´ Wine & Vinyl Barolo DOCG, Ralph Myerz´ Wine & Vinyl Langhe DOC Nebbiolo and Ralph Myerz´ Wine & Vinyl Barbera D´Alba DOC.

We strongly recommend a bottle of red wine & your favorite album on vinyl at least once a week!

 

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