INTERVIEW: Cal Raasay | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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We caught up with Newcastle-based electronic producer Cal Raasay ahead of releasing new EP Still on Friday 27th April.

Tell us a bit about your music?
It comes from an ethereal place in my mind that is a mixture of memories, emotions and real places. I write to discover more about this place, and hopefully create a sonic means of taking you there too. A friend of mine described my music as the lovechild of a threesome between Sigur Ros, Bon Iver and Pink Floyd…I can only assume thats a good thing?

How did you get started in music?
There are two answers to that; I started learning to play guitar and write music to impress a girl when I was 13… it didn’t work, but carried on playing and writing because it was this never-ending voyage of discovery. I started the journey to releasing my current body of work in 2015. After graduating, I remember sitting in my flat and realising I was surrounded by guitars, keyboards, amps, speakers and other random music equipment (my student loan was well spent). After this small epiphany, I spent a few months figuring out a more cohesive way of working on my music.
It wasn’t until a rare full-family holiday, whilst staring at the horizon from the western isles of Scotland that ‘Cal Raasay’ became a fully formed soul. Not long after, I found studio space to rent in Newcastle city centre. Within the space, I built a soundproof room so that I could make as much noise as I needed without disturbing all the painters and writers and designers in the neighbouring studios (One of which is an awesome oil painter called Josh Raz). Everything I’ve released so far has been recorded and produced in that room.

What’s the inspirations on the new EP?
The short answer is a remote, steep sided valley with a deep loch/lake. I wrote the bones of the EP in the week shortly after buying my first piano last year. Like any new instrument in the studio, the piano seemed to extend the creative map in my head to a new realm of ideas. As I continued to play the pieces, I realised that my head would wander off to that valley, each track conveying different weather/seasons. The name ‘Still’ comes from that sense of calm that the valley possesses, regardless of the prevailing conditions.
In terms of musical inspirations for the EP, I would definitely say Johann Johannsson, Jon Hopkins and Nils Frahm.

What does the rest of 2018 have in store for you?
Hopefully a lot of good things. I’m always working on new material in one way or another. Besides my music, maybe a few trips to places with minimal amounts of buildings and noise.

You’re working on new EPs too, what can we expect from them?
They’re called Rona and Ozymandias. Rona feels oceanic and lyrically deals with a lot of personal themes, whilst Ozymandias is highly charged and is a political statement of sorts on a few areas…good and bad. That’s about all I can say right now.

What’s the most important thing to you when pulling together new tracks?
It has to ignite something in me or be born from an intense emotion. Usually the tracks that make it all the way through to being released are the ones that I lose myself in for hours or days at a time. I don’t think about hook lines, catchy lyrics or radio friendliness; the music I make is the result of an inherent need for a creative outlet.

Where do you find influence generally?
Everywhere. It could be another artist’s work, a film, a place, a person I meet, a situation, a sound I hear in passing. The incubation period for my tracks is where the ‘magic’ happens, it all goes into a vast metaphorical mixing bowl and what comes out is the music you hear.

Any plans for live shows?
Definitely! We’re hoping to do a couple of local shows towards the end of the year, once the EP releases are out the way…then touring next year! I might be able to squeeze in a couple of stripped back solo gigs over the summer too.

Cal Raasay releases his new EP Still on Friday 27th April. He will also release new track Three to coincide with Piano Day on Thursday 29th of March.

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