His latest album is almost an hour of great electronica… It’s called We Become Ravens and it was released on 7th of October under n5MD label. I’ve asked Ruxpin about the album and all the 17 years since his first solo release… Here’s Q&A with Jonas Thor Gudmundsson – Ruxpin.
Ruxpin: In front of my studio live two ravens. Everytime I sit down to compose they are there – side by side. I became fascinated with them. In my last album “This Time We Together” they are heavily featured there as well. The cover has a flock of ravens and lots of the track titles refer to them.
Those two ravens are sort of metaphor about me and my girlfriend. We are both sort of flying around through life – sometimes without roots. We have moved around a lot – currently living in Estonia. No matter what the external factor of life is, we are always together. In a way we have become ravens.
Bartek: 15 tracks, almost an hour worth of music. Where was it crafted and how long did it take you to create We Become Ravens?
Ruxpin: I’ve gotten some critique about the album being too long, but I just feel that albums in general are too short today. Maybe people don’t have time anymore for such long albums. It was mostly crafted in my apartment in Tallinn over the course of three years. Shortly after the release of my last album I had an idea for the next one, but it took a while to mold it correctly. I didn’t want to rush things too much, so I’d always take some steps back and tried to see if what I’m doing is something that I’d be proud of later in life. I didn’t want it to be a single-serving album – something that would serve a mere role of satisfying certain lust or urge (for example dancing or to chill). I wanted it to be somewhere in between. It was suppose to be vague in that sense that it should be thoughtful yet would manage to make you stomp your legs once in a while. About a year ago most of it was ready, but I felt the overall sound of the album was too similar to what was going on. I wanted something different – a little bit more organic touch to it. I managed to trick my good friend, Jose Diogo, to mix and master it for me. He gave the whole album a different sound – something that I’d been looking for. I admit I was terrified giving my songs over to someone else for mixing, but I’m very happy with the result.
Bartek: Which song out of those 15 compositions is the closest one to you?
Ruxpin: I think I’d have to say “Softly Said Hello” as it was one of the first tracks to be completed. I started working lot of the other tracks with this one as a reference. I made the first sketch shortly after my previous album went to mastering and I kind of knew from this track that how the next one would sound like. I wanted it to be melancholic, yet playful. Serious, but still with room for experimentation. I should have said some cliché that they all mean a lot to me – which of course they do!
Bartek: This record is a continuation of your previous album, This Time We Go Together. Tales about two wanderers travelling together through life and about love that conquers all. Are those stories from your own life?
Ruxpin: As mentioned before, yes in a way. Lot of metaphors, but ultimately they are somehow connected with events from my life. I’m a wanderer through life and love has conquered everything so far – and will continue to do so. People worry too much about material things. I have amazing parents, great brothers and a lovely family of my own. Ultimately the only thing that matters is loving and being loved. I’m rich in that way.
Bartek: I realised that We Become Ravens is your 10th solo release (8th full length). It’s been 17 years since you put out your first Mission EP in 1999. How has your music evolved throughout the years? Music-wise, where are you now?
Ruxpin: It’s already been 17 years… I first had a track on compilation in 1996 – when I was 15 years old. I’ve been doing this for a while now – and of course I’d like to believe that I have grown and evolved. Very often someone would mention to me that their favorite track is something that I did long time ago – and I’d think to myself “why don’t they like the new stuff?” I guess I wouldn’t be doing this if I always felt that I was in the same place. I’d get bored of myself – and others would probably get bored of me as well. I hope that my music is telling a story – or at least helping someone else to tell their story. To be honest, I don’t know what I’ll do next. I have few ideas of what direction I want to try – but I guess it’s gonna be my journey to find out where I am now, music-wise.
Bartek: I always pay attention to album covers. We Become Ravens is a very aesthetically pleasing record, the vinyls are beautiful as well. To you, how important all those other (non-musical) aspects of releasing an album?
Ruxpin: I’m very fortunate to have Erika Tu, an incredible artist from Lithuania, to do the covers for me. She has done the last few covers for my albums and she always manages to amaze me. The non-musical aspects mean a lot and they are here to work as a gateway into the music itself.
Bartek: Lastly, let me quickly ask you about your touring plans. Poland?
Ruxpin: I really want to – and there is a good possibility that I’ll be there very soon. I’ve heard great things about playing for polish audience – and Iceland has a great connection with the country. I don’t want to say too much about the possible concerts in Poland as I don’t want to jinx it. Hopefully I’ll be there soon enough.
I would like to thank Olga from n5MD team for her fanstastic job and help. You can also read my review of We Become Ravens – here. It’s in Polish, so you’ll have to use google translate.