Where did you grow up?
I was in Williams Bay, Wisconsin until I was 10, then we moved here.
What brought you to Sarasota?
My parents. I was 10 and unemployed, so I didn’t really have a choice.
When and how did your interest in music begin?
This is a great question. I would make the argument that the sound of my mother’s heartbeat in the womb pummeled my subconscious into a love of music before I ever saw the light of day. Same thing as everyone else.
A better question is, “when did you realize that music was everything?” My answer to that would be, I think about 5 or 6 years ago now, I finally connected the dots and realized that the universe is made up of vibrations and that music is the best thing I know of to influence those vibrations on both a micro and macro level.
I started playing instruments when I was in middle school. I wanted to play the didgeridoo in band class in 6th grade but was told “no” so I went to trombone. Next year switched to bass guitar, added electric guitar after a year of that, learned synths and drum machines and music software throughout high school…I’m still learning a lot every day…
Did you experiment with other creative endeavors?
Music is half of RaeF. I’m a firm believer in the fact that if you go to see a live performance in 2014, the artist should provide a totally immersive sensory experience as best they are able. I can invite you into a room and say, “I want you to listen to these sounds I made.” But what are you going to look at? For some years what people were looking at was my fingers on a guitar or my mouth near a microphone or whatever my body was doing to produce some change in the music. Eventually I began to raise the bar as an audience member first- I saw Daft Punk and Amon Tobin and all of these live acts that were integrated into these massive, physical visual displays, and not just a couple of LED lights on a stage. So I went down that road, and I began to experiment with lighting and lasers, but more recently I stayed awake for an entire weekend and learned about projection mapping…so by now, you go to see RaeF and you have the music, which by now is just me touching a lot of rubber and plastic to send digital commands to produce the same kind of outbound physical changes that my hands would have…but you can also assume that there will be something very special for your eyes. My next show we’re doing for my birthday, I’m projecting on a massive structure made of balloons. I am going to keep upping the ante on both visual and audio performance/display and recording until my head either overheats or shuts down, and I hope to bring as many good people down this rabbit hole with me as are willing and able, because life is a beautiful journey through space and time and I have gotten very good (if I’m allowed to say that) at reminding people of that fact.
What type of sets do you enjoy playing the most?
I like playing long, late, and loud, in front of as many people as possible.
What kind of work , or opportunities have you been able to find in Sarasota?
I have a job doing software QA that provides my actual means of survival. Musically, lol. We’re trying. There’s a lot of great people trying really hard to make a legitimate scene/economy for original music here.
Does working in Sarasota provide you with any specific advantages or disadvantages? Have you faced any obstacles getting work here?
One huge advantage of living in a paradise bubble sort of place like this is a lack of disturbance. I think many people come here for peace and beauty, and there is an abundance of it here. It is a place that lends itself very well to the actual creation of music. To live in a concrete box a few miles from the beach or whatever, and be recording sounds into a computer or painting a painting or writing a book or whatever shit that you’re into creatively, it’s great. But as far as presentation goes…I don’t know. I feel sometimes like there’s only a handful of people that live here that are really into my kind of output, so that is a challenge. It’s hard to tell whether I could move to LA or New York and be able to have an advantage, but I don’t think it would. I don’t want to live in LA! This is a really nice spot! And there’s the internet. I could go on and on. I already have a little. I think a city too much larger would be detrimental to my overall well-being, but that might just be my way of justifying not having left already to find out on my own.
What appeals to you about working in the music field as a solo artists versus ensemble?
Great question. I work at my own pace. When I get really involved with a project, I am a machine. There are no politics apart from my own internal struggles. You email me and ask if I can do an interview, I can say “Yes” without asking anyone. I decide it’s time to practice out of the blue, at 4am, so I do. I am not an island, though, anymore. I have a lot of help now. It takes a village, really. At the end of the day I facilitate every piece by inviting people into my little bubble and asking for their help. To some extent anyone that believes at all in what I am doing is a part of RaeF, but there are others who play instruments and run sound and talk on the radio and all of these others things that I could never possibly do all by myself without dying.
How did you come up with the pseudonym ‘RaeF’? Is there a story there?
RaeF is my middle name. I capitalize the “F” to emphasize the fact that it is “FeaR” backwards. Fear is the worst thing in the world, so, that’s cool.
Do you plan on staying in Sarasota? What are your future aspirations for RaeF?
Well, I am almost 24 and I have no idea what I’m doing with my life. I want to be happy. I don’t have a lot of plans. I just want to keep making everything better. This one is too hard. I’d like it to be like the end of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, where all the planets align and the world finds peace and the future is beautiful for everyone forever, and their music is the soundtrack for that…also they get the babes…is that too ambitious?