In 2013 German musicians Ron Rajan and Patrick Spencer White started making music together. After composing a lot of songs, they founded R.O.N as an electronic-pop act. Performing on stage as a trio, with drummer David Grossmann, they released the debut EP “Signal” in 2015 that gives an initial taste of the album which comes out 2017.
Apelzin.ru used an opportunity to talk with frontman of the trio, Ron Rajan, about new German invasion in the digital era.
Ron, can you share some stories about the first ever band meeting and rehearsal? (I mean something like the kind you would be telling to your grandchildren one day, sipping a wine or beer in a rocking chair).
Patrick and I met at an Irish Folk Festival back in 2012 on a hot summer day. But it was quite accidental. We were introduced to each other by a friend who is a photographer. We all went to the same school. We had some cider together and started talking about music. It was like a fusion of two energies as it got apparent that both of us were hungry to make music and create something new.
We followed that spark and from then we wrote music together on and on and on. We equipped our own recording studio and build for example a voice cabin for recordings by ourselves. We gave all our energy and motivation to our „baby“ and went with the flow of our inspirations and images of music.
So at first, it was some kind of studio project, which wanted to get on stage. We searched for a good drummer who could deal with electronic drums also. And we found David, a well skilled musician with good experience in performing.
And because a music project or band is like a family, we were relieved to see that he was such a warm-hearted and open-minded character. During our very first rehearsal as a trio, we laughed all the time and had great fun, although we were very concentrated on taking the technical hurdles that come along with electronic music… but it was the best thing that can happen to get theses three energies together for playing on stage.
What’s behind your band name R.O.N?
The name of the music act is actually my normal name! So we used the fact that I am the face of the project to give it its name. But we used it in a more digital and artificial way, because for us it is more than just a band. It is a fusion of art.
What kind of musical/cultural background do you have?
Patrick started with being a DJ since he was 14, then as a producer since he was 16 and was playing and composing in a rock band for more than 10 years. But his real origin is in electronic music and creating sounds on different synthesizers! David started playing drums as a child and went through different styles like in big-bands and getting pop experience also. He is a brilliant live player, but worked as a studio-recording musician as well. He is like a metronome!
I started with dancing lessons in primary school after being a very curious child in case of getting in contact with every kind of art or culture. Then I went to some kind of German „pre-primary“ music school, and had violin lessons, a gospel choir, symphony orchestra, chamber music, more dancing lessons, private acting education, working as a model and studying art and sport. I was lucky to be born in a very musical family. We were 6 children and everyone learned an instrument. We even had a brothers-sisters-band called Just4Fun when we were very young. We also had our own tv-station „K-TV“ with a daily program of music videos, talk-shows and short clips. So from childhood till today I swallowed everything that inspired me and transformed it in drawing, painting, sculpturing, dancing, playing, composing, writing, acting feeling!
Ron, you are fond of playing violin, singing, painting, making sculptures, fashion… #undtanzen? What else the world doesn’t know of your interests?
My family and me are fascinated of purebred Arabian horses. So I grew up with them as we always bred, worked with and loved Arabian horses since I was a child. You can even see two of them in the music video „Flugmodus“. The black stallion Darion and the white Gasar. They were so brave to work with the camera and lighting team and running through the synthetic fog in the middle of the night. I am very proud of them!
What was your first ever crash in art?
It was a positive kind of crash. A crash of emotion. As a teenager, I played in a young symphony orchestra project that gathered all kinds of nations and religions in one body of sound. Every single youngster pushed his full energy into the music as we played the last part of Beethoven’s 9th symphony. It was such an extraordinary experience of being a part of this huge massive body of sound! Your whole body gets in vibration and you got this Dolby-surround feeling as you sit in orchestra position. You give your body, your instrument into the wave of the other musicians to create one massive sound. It was so amazing to feel that live as a young musician and till today I always feel the music with the whole body and soul, like a soundbox, a resonating body.
How does individual background influence on your group sound? Who has the final say in regards to creativity in your band?
R.O.N sounds like R.O.N just because of the individual musical background of Patrick and me. The merge of our different experiences and intuitions, the fusion of knowledge and feelings makes the music what it sounds like. For example, I am very interested in bass- and snare-sounds. So, with Patricks technical know-how and our ideas of sound, we work on it until we are satisfied. So the final decisions we always make together, because we are always in a workflow. In the end, there is a very last correction session in the studio, where we make minimal final decisions…. or scrap the whole thing, haha! And it´s the same in case in photos or video shoots and so on…
There is a stereotype that art requires sacrifice. What did you scarify?
Art itself does not know sacrifices! And if it feels like you have to require a sacrifice you better let it be. You do art, because you want to, because you have to. And it doesn’t matter if it is painting, composing or making a music video. Of course, I finished university studies far beyond the regular time and invested a lot of time, effort, money, emotion and energy. I followed so many different interests like acting, modeling, sports, visual arts, I even started writing a script for a music movie and dreamt about combining every discipline of art. People told me I should concentrate on just one. But that was me. And that is what turned me into the person I am today. Just because of this mix I was acting in a fashion movie in Berlin or played violin on the catwalk. This is why I draw pictures called “Metamusique”. Experiences I don’t want to miss. I will keep on „sacrificing“ if there will be further interesting results to come along and I want to encourage everyone who wants to try the same! Just do it
What track can be considered a turning point of the ‘R.O.N.’ history?
Hm, I would say there are three of them. The very first song Patrick and I wrote is called „Gimme reason“ and is written in English. It´s a powerful and dramatic 80s synth dance song. Finishing that song, we knew that our fusion was the best thing happening to us and the we have the same ideas of making music. Then, with „Wie viele Tage“ we switched to the first song that we wrote in German. It felt good to write and perform in your mother language. The lyrics felt like naked and pure. And of course „Flugmodus“ is a turning point. The work on the music video, the pure minimal sounds, the people dancing and singing in front of the stage… we love it!
2015 was a rather hard period for the music biz, but you were rather brave to release your EP ‘Signal”. Could you tell what challenges you faced with and how did you cope with it?
We did it for the music. We wanted to let our first songs fly into the musical landscapes of social media and the stages that we played on instead of letting them age in a shelf. We were not brave, but followed our naturals. But of course we had and have challenges to deal with. It´s really hard work if you have ambitions to share your music with the whole world, ha-ha. So you have to take the risk that your songs are refused by radio editorial teams, because you have to compete against the major labels. You have to spend a lot of time and money. You have to have endurance, patience and keep your faith. But even if there are just a few people who dance on „Flugmodus“, we know it´s worth it and that we have to keep on!
Tell us more about EP “Signal” working process.
We had a lot of songs and needed to choose four of them to release an EP. We have enough songs to make an album (and indeed, we want to release an album, too!), but we needed to check out how people would react to our music. So we decided to release the EP like kind of a very first „signal“.
In terms of songwriting and composing, most of the time we start out with a raw instrumental that Patrick made and my work on the lyrics and melodies for verse and refrain. From there on we just go with the flow.
We share ideas and try to realize a lot of them. We work with what comes out of ourselves naturally. But we let ourselves be influenced by many things around us: аrt exhibitions, other performances, nature, books, relations with friends, family and other people or for example movies, like a movie called „Oh, boy“ I watched at night… I was in Berlin for a model casting (I didn’t get the job) and then went to the cinema.
It´s about a young man trying to find himself, but who is lost in Berlin without money in the end and without perspective. It was filmed in black and white. I was deeply impressed, because I was reminded by myself and my way through life. Then I strayed through the city on my own, reflecting on a thousand things and on nothing and climbed on the roof top of my agency. I sit there half the night just watching on Berlin from above and then wrote a song called „Stadtträumer“, directly translated it would be called „citydreamer».
I should say that your video “Flugmodus’’ captured me. It reminds Kraftwerk and Modern Talking. I don’t know what you think of that comparison, but both German bands were very popular in XX century at least in my country. Can you say new German electro-pop invasion is ready to start?
The invasion has already begun! We´d love to play in Russia. Friends of mine were on tour in Russia and they were extremely excited about the Russian music culture. Most of the people just love to listen to music and have a really good time. The „eastern“ passion for art and music is wonderful. And due to my family background (Ron’s family history from father’s side dates from the Middle Ages in Montenegro — edit.), I feel related to Slavic and eastern European countries.
Of course we are influenced by Kraftwerk. They are unique. Every electronic artist is in a way influenced by them, because they just did so much and set milestones for electronic music in general. And regarding Modern Talking, I grew up in the 80ies, so of course I know them and there are a few songs I really like. But they are not well known by people younger than us. And today they are considered a little bit cheesy. But you are right with your combination of these two associations. Maybe they can describe our style to Russian ears. And we would love to send some beats to your country!
What you think to be the strongest side of German music, and yours as well?
That´s a difficult question, because the mainstream music market is massively influenced by American or British music. So, if we talk about contemporary German music, there was a big scene of singer-songwriter growing in the last few years who wrote their music in German and get the mother language back in focus. So this will get back to the roots is maybe a strong side of German music.
Some decades back in time, it was quite usual to write and sing in German. This time was called „Neue Deutsche Welle“. So if you ask me, what´s the strong side of R.O.N, I would say the combination of voice, violin and electronic beats. „Neue Deutsche Welle“ in a suitable modern electronic way.
Seems that you made a lot of live shows, about 500. Could tell us about the most memorable one?
The release show of „Signal“ was amazing. We planed the whole show ourselves and had a professional team around us to make it perfect. We worked for example till 4 in the morning on the concept and programing of the light show just on the day of the show! It was exhausting but thrilling at once. It was our full passion and motivation what we gave into this evening. It was pure us. And the atmosphere was so lovely, warm-hearted and full of energy. I will never forget that…
Who is your personal hero in the music history? Someone who you’d say can do no wrong?
Michael Jackson is definitely one of the artists who influenced generations of musicians just like me. He achieved so much in pop music in general and opened doors, for example to new levels of creating music videos.
But honestly, I think every single musician is a hero who did his own thing in realizing his personal style of music, even if it didn’t influence on other artists or did even generations after his own death. What would classical music be without Beethoven or Bach? Or decades after them with our Schönberg or Berg? Looking at contemporary music, we are thrilled by Moderat, Robyn, Tina Dico and many others. To create something is a beautiful thing to experience.
Could you describe your art (music & lyrics) in three words?
Voice + Violin + Electro
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