Name: Josin / Arabella Rauch
Occupation: Composer, producer, singer
Current release: Josin's new single, "The Darkness" is out now on Mercury KX.
Recommendations: Le petit Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry) & Meditation (Jules Massenet)
If you enjoyed this interview with Josin, visit her beautiful homepage. Josin is also represented on just about every social media channel, including Facebook, Soundcloud and Instagram.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
Looking back, music has always been there - through my parents and then through my own curiosity to create music.
The first non-classical artists I discovered where artists like Björk, The Beatles, Michael Jackson. Of which Björk definitely left the most powerful impression on me. From finding her art uncomfortable and very unfamiliar, to being completely lost in it and feeling every tiny bit of emotion displayed. Maybe this was the moment where I realized that everything is allowed and it's about following your instincts when creating music.
For most artists, originality is preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?
In my teenage years, I wanted to sound like the perfect singer and was very keen on sounding "like" somebody. I forced my voice to do things it wasn’t designed for until I gave up writing vocal melodies completely for a while.
My curiosity for instruments became bigger at that time, I discovered other, not so vocal focused music genres and all of this was a healthy development. It opened my mind set and allowed me to listen to singers I underestimated before. Singers, whose voices are vulnerable - just like mine.
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?
Having grown up in and with different cultures, my sense of identity feels more universal. It´s more based on certain features, philosophies and shared emotions that can be found in a lot of places and around a lot different societies. The only grounding and home-alike thing I found for myself is nature. And that has a huge inspirational influence on my creativity.
What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
Knowing what triggers my own emotions. When I was younger I would sometimes write songs with a preconception. In the end those songs never became songs I loved or wanted to put out. So the biggest challenge, still, is to not betray the very true core of your creation, because it will not sustain if you don’t feel it. There is no production or anything that can hide that.
As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression, be it instruments, software tools or recording equipment. Can you describe this path for you, starting from your first studio/first instrument? What motivated some of the choices you made in terms of instruments/tools/equipment over the years?
This is an interesting question. I started with only piano and voice, that´s the foundation. Later on I got my first computer and started "producing" music with very simple tools, learning about the existence of midi, effects, recording etc.
Since a lot of years I use Logic and wouldn’t say, that I do things much more professionally or elegantly now. Just quicker. The thing is that I’m not too interested in overengineering things and when it comes to creativity, I love if there is enough to make a sound, but not too many possibilities that can distract you.
I think my path is that I learned to be ok at what I needed for my own music, and new instruments or new ways of producing always came naturally over time.
Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
Tape Delay. I think I really need help. (laughs)
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
Deep connection and also having fun. Collaborations are still quite new to me, but I am happy that all of them so far have been very personal. I hate jamming - so bad at it!!
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
I usually start with simple, non musical things: Coffee, organizing stuff, walking the dog, some stretching. Once I’m in the music zone, it's difficult for me to switch back into „real life“ things, like opening letters. It feels like changing universes and the creative space works differently. You never know what happens when you enter it.
So I always try to make a lot of room for it, which can be frustrating sometimes, as the amount of effort you put into it does not equal the amount of output you get from it.
I don’t have a fixed schedule but my life always feels like going from deadline into creative phases. There are no weeks or months, rather songs, projects or places that blend into each other.
Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
Every song feels like a breakthrough work! Maybe because once you have finished something you always ask yourself how did you even do this and will you ever be able to create something like this again? It´s the curse of making music.
But apart from these little breakthroughs, I think the most inspiring thing for me so far, was my very first collaboration from scratch, working on "The Bottom Line" with Ólafur Arnalds. It was the first time opening myself musically, being not solely responsible for every single note and breaking out of my own structures. There is so much more to explore if your inspiration flows with someone you trust, honor and like.
Another breakthrough event would be my opening performance at the Royal Albert Hall for wonderful Ry X. More for others than for myself though - I was just completely shocked that I actually managed to perform in that sacred hall all by myself.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
The sad news: No. At least for me there is no guaranted strategy to enter inspiration. Of course there are mechanisms you learn over the years to make it more probable, like being surrounded by things that evoke emotions, not opening official letters, traveling, limiting or expanding your writing tools.
But I have also experienced that the weirdest circumstances have made songs and ideas. With all that in mind you would go insane by chasing the perfect creative scenario. The most valuable lesson for me is to not force those things and trust that they will find us.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
I think that even if the music you listen to hurts or makes you sad, it heals you nevertheless. It heals you because it shows you that you are alive, feeling things, questioning. And for me the ultimate consequence of sadness is hope.
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?
I am not so strict with that. If the world would function like that, I wouldn’t be right at all time, being genetically and culturally mixed. I believe in a more universal, human based concept of identity and the world.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?
Visuals can work perfectly with sound. It´s like a whole new sense that can be created. But the most inspiring overlaps of senses for me are scents and sounds. From a lot of writing music close to nature, while traveling in a van, this is a combination that always triggers new and old emotions.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
Until now I have never used my music for social or political engagement. Maybe this will happen, but I don’t think anytime soon. My music and my intentions as an artist come from a personal and emotional place, that doesn’t ask for any categorization or judgement. I want it for others to be healing, stimulating or whatever they need from it. Purely free and not intervened by any rational intentions.
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
Everything that I can not write down here. Maybe even answer the purpose of life and death.