What influenced you in writing the song, Strange Times?
RK:The song literally came to me in a dream. Seriously! I was bummed out one night with a case of “songwriters block”, and after a few hours in my studio, I went to sleep frustrated and uninspired. I had a lucid dream where faceless people are giving me melody lines, chord progressions and lyrics. So I wake up and run downstairs and scribble it all down on the back of an envelope so I wouldnt forget the lyrics and chords, and went to the studio and made a rough demo of it. It was all there.
How did you come up with the “idea” for the video?
RK: Since the theme of the song was “strange times”, I thought about using old film clips from the 40's & 50's to humorously illustrate that we really ARE living in “Strange Times”. It was my personal creative love letter to that era of film. I loved the old b&w horror and cheap sci-fi, and there are some really priceless moments in those old films. They still make me laugh.
3. How did you get started with your music career?
RK: It all started when I was 7. My parents encouraged me into keyboard lessons. After a while, I got to like it, and after that I was hooked. I played guitar in high school and was in a few dozen bands over the years after that. I had been writing songs for a long while at this point, but it took me awhile to figure out how to put everything together. I picked up the recording engineer bug awhile back so I could produce my own material. I put out a number of indie releases and solicited record labels and music publishers until I got a nibble. Im now signed with two publishers for the tv and film instrumental music I write, but release pop and rock as well.
Who has influenced you the most in your career?
RK: Its quite a list. Beatles, Frank Zappa, Sting, Debussy, Billy Joel, Elton John, Yes, Eric Dolphy. I love jazz! There's others, as well, but they're more obscure. Conceptual music. East indian music is very hypnotic. I'm influenced by different styles of music all the time. I love Lady Gaga's voice, and her pop sensibilities, and can she sing jazz! Dug the Tony Bennett duets album with her and Winehouse and others.
How do you balance being both artist and producer?
RK: You got to have both sides of the brain active for that. The creative and analytical. Its rough wearing two (or more) hats sometimes, which I why I opted to bring in another engineer for this new string of material Im working now. I just want to sit and do the music, let someone else twiddle the knobs. Its easier that way, allows me to focus on just the music.
How do you know when a song is “right”?
RK: My rule is when I can listen to it over and over without hearing anything missing, its done. Sometimes, you can over-think an arrangement or a song. You reach a point where you have to go “alright..leave it alone. Its done. Move on.”
How would you describe your music to people?
RK: Pop/rock and blues, style-wise, mixed with humor and deadly seriousness. If you took Beatles, Pink Floyd, Billy Joel, Mozart and Zappa and threw them in a blender, my music would probably be their alien love child. I try to embrace all styles of music, because life isnt JUST the blues, or JUST all “rock n roll”. If I need to tap into the classical bitstream, I go there. If the song calls for light strings or acoustic guitar, I fit the music to the underlying theme of the song.
What sort of things/situations influence you in writing a particular song?
RK: Its said that musicians and composers create many things from their own lifes painful moments. I used to joke about it and say if thats true, I have about 150 albums left to go to cover it all. But really, its just human relationships, love, lack of love, people you meet, things you have to face on your own. Everyday life that everyone goes thru. Its just that some people cant express it in music or art, so it comes out in other forms...sometimes good, sometimes bad. It all depends on the brush you use to paint your own pictures.
How have you improved your song writing over the years?
RK: I critically listen to quite a bit of music from all different genres. You pick up things here and there. I'll hear something and think “I like that chord change or that rhythm...lets try that...”
Have you ever experienced writers block?
RK: I have had writers block many times. But rather than considering it now as a “block”, sometimes something just needs to cook on my back burners. It may need time to develop further. I have stopped getting frustrated and just go with the flow. I've learned to let the creative process happen naturally instead of forcing it. I think John Lennon once said “if you're TRYING to write a song, then it's not happening. You gotta let it happen on its own.”.
How have you changed since your last release?
RK: Well, I've shifted my focus to not worrying about the little things anymore. Control what you can when you can, put your sails to the wind, and hope for a good breeze. When there's no wind, row. But keep moving in any case. The inertia of doing nothing can be a rough thing to break. The procrastination and stalling. I gotta keep kicking myself to get moving. Being self-employed really means you have to work that much harder to get things done and keep yourself from falling into discouragement and fear. I plan better now. I hire people smarter than me so I can learn from them how to do better musically. I'm still learning, but persistence is the key.
Any advice for todays musicians and composers?
RK: Whatever you create, keep doing it as much as you can. Don't wait for the record deal. Forget about “being a star” and getting all full of yourself. Just be an authentic musician/composer and write what you feel. Get out there and share what you have with as many people as you can. Work your craft. Write and re-write. Learn to listen critically to your own music without personal bias. And learn from what others are doing. Don't copy them, but use different approaches and angles and blend it with your own unique style. Just get out there and do it.