Part 1

Name: Raja Ram

Nationality: Australian

Occupation: Musician / DJ

Current Release: Shpongle - Carnival of Peculiarities EP on Twisted Records  
Recommendations: Flute concertos by Bach (Rampal on flute). Anything by  Toots and the Maytals /The Body by Bill Bryson / Vermeer is my fave painter.

Visit www.shponglemusic.com to buy music, merch and get the latest tour news.

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?

I  started writing when I met Graham Wood in the late 80’s. I bought a Yamaha CX5 Computer in London and started writing right away. Before that I had try to learn many other instruments: trombone, piano, drums, recorder, and I was useless at all of them. But music was always my passion and I couldn’t get enough.

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?

When I started learning the flute at 22, I started to get serious. I went to the Melbourne conservatory and studied Bach and had some jazz lessons as well. I soon realized that I HAD to go to NYC and study. With the masters.

What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?

The creative challenge is just doing it, practicing every day. I had a job selling real estate, but spent most of my time jammin’ under bridges by myself until I met a few musicians in Melbourne and we sort of jammed away.

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?

I just wanted a sound that was cool and the flute did it for me. I fell in love and that was it, my silver princess, and so I went to NYC and studied with the great Lennie Tristano out in Queens. That was hard, as he was very strict.

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?

I love making stuff with other people. I don’t do much, as Simon will confirm. I sit on the couch and tell stories which I make up and we laugh and swap ideas around. He is a genius so it's easy for me.

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?

My Day...up around 4 or 5 in the morning, a lot to do. I have a painting room and a music room. I’ve been living in the same house for 53 years with my wife. No routine, just get on with the unfolding day. I listen to a lot of music, hours and hours, always trying to hear new things and discovering wonderful music. Indian, classical {Bach}, all sorts jazz, Monk and Trane, all of the bebop era.

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?

Red Rocks has to be very special. Those two shows are like the peak event of my life. Also, Israel at Dawn in the desert, amazing. Japan, London, all groovy memories.

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?
I have always been a toker. 50 years of blasting and loving every moment. Painting all day, improvising life. This is the real art, the rest is easy.

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?

Music heals. It makes you feel good. Bob Marley, Toots and the Maytals, Monk, Konitz. These stars elevate one to a higher plane and that’s what it's all about.

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?

Music is for everyone. You can't put notes in prison, it’s for all. I have always wanted to give it away. The joy has always been in the creation.

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?

My approach is to have fun and share it. This is a game we play well or not. Love is the major key and all of us are trying to shine. What a brilliant time for us all. Being an artist is important. We have a responsibility to get people high and happy and release something special we all can share.

What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?

Death is OK, disembodied consciousness. I have felt it on DMT and I look forward to it when the right time comes, unaccompanied...

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?

Music can express just about any emotion and now we are entering a new phase. This is the beginning. Probing the sonic barriers, discovering new sounds and a new way to say “Hurray.”

Thank you all for your support and we hope you like our new release. It’s very, very different, but I think we found something. Loads of Love. Stay safe be happy and keep rocking hard......love as ever always RajaRam.