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Wednesday 26th, March 2003
Ralphie B

Ralph Barendse is behind Alpha Breed, Ralphie B and Midway. This talented Dutch producer started making music already in the early nineties with mods and Atari’s. His first release came out in 1999 under his Alpha Breed project. Since then we have seen more from him with absolute highlights like Massive, Monkey Forest and the just released Inca which is being hammered by Tiesto since some time already. After some planning I managed to schedule an interview with Ralph in Rotterdam this week. Do you want to know what the outcome of this meeting was? Read on for the full Ralphie B interview...

Before you finished up in the dance scene, what music did you listen to?
- I used to listen to a little bit of everything, this was at the beginning of the 90's. Later I listened to hip-hop and I bought all the Turn Up The Bass compilations, it was the era of 2 Unlimited, Snap etc. After this I turned more towards the German style of dance music and also visited some Mayday parties.

What was your first released track ever?
- Alpha Breed - Beyond The Moon (1999). I had that track finished already for half a year before it got a release (Deal Records) but after I handed out the demo CD it went pretty fast. It was made on one AN1X, I recorded at home. A week after it was released it got on a mix CD from DJ Jean, that was amazing!

You started producing music with some simple keyboards and later on trackers and on with midi. What does your home studio look now?
- Actually I don't have a big studio at home, everything fits in a small room. I have a Yamaha ANX1, an Access Virus, a Nordlead and a JP8000. I also work with Sonar and Cakewalk. I don't need very sophisticated instruments as I always finish my tracks in AMP's studio, which has all the synths I have, plus a lot more professional equipment and mixers.

I also have the chance to work with a very good sound engineer in that studio which really has great knowledge and knows how to finalize tracks. Often other producers ask me what I do to make my sounds so crisp. They ask me on what console the track was finished!

Massive is a track I made myself at home though. This tune was mastered as a whole in the studio, not track by track as it goes the usual way. At home I mastered the track a bit myself but at the end you can't hear the difference actually because this sound engineer did such a great job on it. I think, that if I had recorded Massive in the studio it would have been more clear and pure though.

Where do you get inspiration from for your tracks? Like for Kung Fu?
- Well I made Massive when I just got back from Indonesia. I had not made a thing in 1 month and this is what came out of it. Kung Fu is just a made up name, has nothing to do with Indonesia! In the past I used to play a computer game that was called Inca, that's where the name for that track comes from.

What instruments did you use to make Kung Fu? It has very clear percussive sounds.
- Those sounds come from synthesizers. Also some of sample CDs. The track was recorded and finished in the studio. When I listen to it now though I think the track could have been shorter. I also got some feedback concerning that track, people saying that Money Forest was better, etc.

Kung Fu is well mixed by Misja Helsloot on his Capital CD into MESH - Purple Haze
- Yes. Actually I know Jack (MESH) for a long time now. It happens very often that our tracks are mixed one after the other on the same CD. We work in the same studio also, sometimes we exchange some samples. I am happy MESH will get a release finally, it has taken a lot of time, that track is really excellent. MESH has a very distinct style.

What is surprising that you released Kung Fu and Inca both on your Midway guise. Those two tracks a very distinct. Don't you think Inca would fit better as a Ralphie B production?
- Well, last year I finished the new Ralphie B, Monkey Forest. When Blackhole heard it they said the track was too powerful for a Ralphie B track, according to them this could not be the follow up to Massive. They suggested me to chose another name. (Midway). So last year I started working with vocals but that took more time then I had expected and in the meantime I had started working on some other projects from which Kung Fu emerged. So I needed a B-side for that and in 3,4 days I made Inca. Suddenly Tiesto started playing Inca!

Last month I was called by Blackhole that Tiesto was going to bring out a new compilation and that he needed exclusive material. So if you were working on something, the order was more or less to finish it and give it to them.
In one week I finished a new track and handed it over to Tiesto but somehow at the end he liked Inca more and chose to feature it on his new CD. Tiesto played this new track last week at club Illusion in Belgium. People guessed this had to be some kind of remix of Inca...

So is there already a name for this new track?
- Yes, it will be Amazon. It will be the new Midway - Amazon. But this track is not going to be released any time soon. I have just released Inca.

Do you think your style of music has changed over the past years?
- It has become more harder. If you listen to Alpha Breed, that is much more soft then Inca for instance. I would call the happy trance. I like tracks to be more powerful now.

Why are you not DJing?
- I don't have time for that. I have a full time job as ICT manager. You know how that is, you get home in the evening and later it is weekend and that is the time for me to produce. I know how to spin records but I don't know that many tracks so well, that I could mix them perfectly for a couple of hours. You also need to buy records and play them etc, I don't have time for that.
But I have been contacted numerous times to DJ somewhere. Ben Lost from Lost Language for instance has contacted me and asked if I could spin in some club in Washington! I just had to tell him I am not a DJ.

Do you see yourself as a full time producer some day?
- Not any soon. I really have a good job now and taking up music production as your primary source of income is risky, especially these days. You really have to make a lot of records and remixes if you want to live of it. Look at record labels, last year was a bad year for them but they start to feel this now. Some are going bankrupt right now and I won't tell you any names but more will follow soon.

Your website? Is on the way? Who is making it?
- Yes, it should be finished very soon now! Ask Stian, he and his brother are making it! (laughs). It should get online in a couple of weeks. I have registered RalphBarendse.com and Ralphie-B.com domains.

Mp3, you know the debate. Do you think that pay per song sites have a future for instance?
- No, I don't believe so. I don't know what is going to work. I know thought that big record companies and the movies business have a lot of money and that they will find something.
CDs are too expensive though.
But I would like to see something that you can trace who downloads what and that they pay after this. I read in the ID&T magazine that in Scandinavia they did something like this.
In the US though the trance scene is still very much underground and people don't have access to trance CDs. It's not difficult to understand people download over there but once trance will get more popular and that is what is happening now CD sales will increase. The new Tiesto compilation (Nyana) will be released worldwide! That is very good for our scene. I think the US and also Asia are two big markets to be conquered.

How do you produce yourself, how do you start?
- With the melody. The melody is the most important part. You may be looking for the melody for weeks but once you have it the track can be finished pretty fast. If you start by building up the bassline and rhythm part and once you find a melody, sometimes you discover that these two don't match very well and your track will be left unfinished. Tracks should be made fast, if you are taking months to finish something the outcome may not be what you planned originally and often it will be worse.

What about co-production?
- I have a friend with whom I produce hard style music. We call ourselves 2 Lords and try to release something, maybe some day. This is just on the side though.
When I sit down with Jack it doesn't work out at the end. We have too different ideas. I am more somebody that produces alone.
If I had the chance to work with Tiesto I would do that though!

And remixing? How free are you to do what you want?
- Remixes are great as they make tracks live on longer. But it's a pain in the ass to make them. Very often you have a deadline of 2 weeks to finish it, for me that is not easy as I have a full time job and only time to produce in the evenings. I think that some of my remixes could have been better if I was given more time to do them.
You are more or less free to do what you want. They ask you to make a 'Ralphie B' or 'Massive' style remix, but what is that? Every track is different. Also, most of the time you get small bits of the tracks and you have to do it with that. Like for Solar Coaster, I just got the vocals and the guitar tracks, and you have to start working from there on. Making remixes is not that easy. Producers have high expectations to which you have to live up to. The First Second remix for Misja Helsloot was something I did for him as a friend. We know each other since a long time (school). What is great, is that First Second is getting a release on Eve Records in the UK now, including the remixes, so that is very good.

How do you look back on 2002?
- I am a little disappointed that there was no Ralphie B release that year. But at Innercity on the 21st of December 2002, the 3rd track Tiesto played was Inca! I was there on the fully packed dance floor, that was just an amazing moment. It's for those moments you keep on making music.

What can we expect from you in the coming months?
- Well, the new Midway - Amazon. That one is finished now. It should also get a remix, I don't know by whom though right now. A new Midway after Amazon will also follow, probably at the end of 2003. I am also working on a new Ralphie B production, actually I am working on it since quiet some time now. It will be an instrumental track and maybe will get a B-side with vocals but I can't confirm that yet. I can tell you though that a big producer will remix this track. We are doing a swap, he will make a remix for me and I will make one for him. I can't tell you the name though now as that would spoil the surprise, but he is big, really well known.

What do you think 2003 will bring us?
- I think there is an overkill of hard house now. There is so much of it now in Holland. I think it will die soon though. As for the trance scene I think melodic is not over yet. I would like to see a lot of 'classical' melodies used in trance music again. Also more harder, in the style of the new Inca, if you listen to the beginning of that track, that kind of 'harder'. Also listen to Tiesto now, he plays very varied and some technoish tracks too.

We have a lot of upcoming producers on Trance.nu. What suggestions would you give them to differentiate from the masses?
- The melody is the most important thing. This is the part of the song that people will remember. You have to make something catchy that will stay in their mind.

Do you think that working with Fruity Loops and Reason is enough to make something decent?
- Yes, absolutely. That is a very good start. In the beginning you don't need a lot of hardware. I think that the sound that comes from real synthesizers is better though and the ease of work is greater too. But if you are into trance music try to make something catchy.

Top 5 tracks ever?
1 Binary Finary - 1999
2 Cass & Slide - Perception (Vocal)
3 William Orbit - Adagio for Strings (Ferry Corsten Mix)
4 Thrillseekers - Synaestasia
5 Paul Oakenfold - Southern Sun (Tiesto Mix)

You are a busy man, fulltime job, girlfriend, producer, what do you do in your free time?
- Haha, yes my girlfriend likes what I do but I can't do it every evening. She is not into trance music that much, but she likes the big shots as Tiesto and Armin. I am watch football, I am supporting Feyenoord Rotterdam.

Favorite food?
- Indonesian! My girlfriend is Indonesian. The hotter (the food) the better! (laughs).

Thank you very much for your time Ralph!
- You are welcome.

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