Dave Ralph
by Sean Meddel

Lunar Magazine was able to squeeze in twenty minutes with Dave Ralph during WMC2003. I found him relaxing at the Hotel Astor, amidst the buzzing of two different crews settting up/breaking down set. Ex-Miami citizen and conference veteran, Dave Ralph was at-home calm, answering the droning questions amicably and effortlessly. His Resident Alien CD was coming out March 25th, and this kickoff of sorts for a possible tour. I'd been listening to Resident Alien and I liked Ralph's track, "Giggledropz"...so I asked him about it.

Dave Ralph / WMC 2003 Dave Ralph: The whole thing about "Giggledropz" was really weird, and was one of the reasons I got really pissed off about Kinetic. Originally Naturalized [Ralph's previous CD] was supposed to be a platform to launch a lot of original music. Obviously, I committed a lot of that to Kinetic, and they liked some of it and they didn't like some of it. So we need to put a record on Naturalized to kind of focus a little bit of the attention on that. And I really liked "Giggledropz." So I put it on there. And then they failed to put it out as a single. That upset me on a lot of levels. Because it was all done on a shake of the hands and I was like 'cool' the record was going to come out. And so many people ask me about it, because people really liked it--it was a happy tune. I was going to put it out again, on R:Factor [a label he's promoting]. Then I thought nah, it's long-time old now, and I've got to move on. There so much other stuff I want to put out. So I decided to remix it.

I booted it all up on the computer and I wanted to redo it, and in the studio started working on it. I loved the remix, so I started playing it out. People didn't know what it was, until the melody came in... [hums from "Giggledropz"], and they recognized it ("it's that track"). So on this album I'm just going to give it up to people. My plan is, probably toward the tail end of this year, it will be available on the website for download for all the registered users at R:Factor(www.rfactor-recordings.com). That mix in its entirety by the end of the year, as a free download. As soon as the whole thing with this album goes away... then I can to focus on that. You'd be surprised how many people out there like this song.

Lunar: That was one of the thing I noticed, the song was on the album and then it disappeared.

Dave Ralph: It's just record company bullocks. I was upset, and I got over it. And now the song is back, just as people are interested in it again.

Dave Ralph at the Astor Dave was interrupted twice, politely, while explaining the history of the track. I remarked on the overall ad hoc nature of the conference and how it is often reflected in the hand-shake nature of the doers and movers in the background. To that, he commented—

Dave Ralph: Personal relationships still go for a lot in this business, and I think a lot of people abuse that along the way. And because of the way our industry is recessing right now, the people that did abuse it are going away; and the people who are genuinely there for the love of the music—it sounds so sycophant, it's not—are still around and they're still doing what they're doing. I honestly feel like that. My motto this year is to maintain. That's all I expected and wanted. As long as people feel like that—so many people got involved and wanted to make millions of dollars in this cottage industry. Our music is a cottage industry, it's so tiny. But it's so exciting and it's got color and vibrancy that it's very marketable—for someone sitting in a big fat office anywhere in the world and say, "This might have something in it". [That success] thinking is great, but I also think it destroys the ethics and values that a lot of people got interested for. A lot of people disappeared a few years ago because the commercialism got involved. They just couldn't take it.

I think what is really interesting is that now the money is not there to be made, now that we are just existing—which is great, that's fine with me and thank god for that—it's level, and people are jumping ship. Like rats off of a sinking ship. But the ship isn't sinking. [hand motion] The ship is just going to float. And it's not going toward any specific speed. People are jumping off and I'm so happy about it. 'Cause those are the people I don't want around and I don't want to be involved with. I'm happy they're gone, to rape and pillage the next exploitable thing.

Lunar: Like that, it gives you the ability to go back and do your thing, like making music. Like remixing "Giggledropz." Like creating the album, Resident Alien. For a sizable project like this, how do you let it go...are you satisfied? Or is someone like your manager telling you it's got to be done Tuesday and then it's done?

Dave Ralph: No. It's not like that. I'm really, really anal about being done and dusted—I like to have it done as much as possible, in advance. So if things do go wrong, as they invariably do, then you have a little bit of time. I always get to the airport two hours before my flight; I'm using that as an example for my music. I don't like to leave things 'til the last minute. Because the more the clock is ticking, the more the pressure there is, and the more mistakes you can make. That's only from experience from what I've learned over the years in being an artist and doing productions. Don't leave things 'til the last minute. And with RA, I delivered that in November. It was done in November. The reason it was done in November was that I wanted to give the record company as much time with this album, to make sure that, #1, press got it in plenty of time, #2, it was in the shops at the right time, the artwork is in the right time, etc.

Through experience, I've realized that even though you can say that, for instance that August 10th everything's got to be done. If I was a day late, it shoves everything back a month, 'cause everything is dependent. Well I said fuck that.

I'm going to be "in" on this one. And I don't care as much if that track is really old. I don't care. Everything on there, as far as I'm concerned is a great record. If people dig it, then "thank you." And if you don't dig it...*shrug* well, you cannot please everyone all the time, you know. That's just the way it is. The same goes for my production. I'm not into working like 22 hours in the studio and completely exhausting myself. I get up in the morning. I'm up by 8 o'clock every single morning. I'm probably in the studio by a quarter of 9, maybe 9 o'clock after checking some email. And I'll work 'til 6 o'clock at night at the most. In between may be some phones and some emails and stuff like that. And that's me; that's my work day done. And if I don't do it in that time, unless someone is paying me a stupid amount of money to do it, I'm not interested in it. 'Cause I want to spend time with my wife. I want to watch TV. I want to do the other things that I do in my life. I have other things... that I dig.

Lunar: You're not Dave Ralph all the time?

Dave Ralph / WMC 2003 Dave Ralph: [chuckle] I try not to be interested in music constantly. I think that can be a negative thing. You can just lose perspective of the world. I want to see what's on the news. I want to make my phone calls back to the world. I'm thinking about getting a pilot license, I want to read up on that. I want to fly. I want to do this, I want to do that. There's a lot of other things I want to do. Time management is really, really important. And I've done it before, where I've done sessions, where I've gone 20 hours in the studio non-stop, and I've listened back to the sessions and I think, "Why did I spend 20 hours to do this? Why didn't I spend 12?" It's like, listen to this, listen to that. It's too late to go back now. We're done.

Lunar: After a while, it's just fiddling with knobs. If you get it there, it's there...anymore, you can fiddle all you want. If it's not there, it's not going to make a difference.

Dave Ralph: Exactly. Absolutely. You know yourself, and you'll feel it. I'm never 100% satisfied. But you'll feel it. "This is good. This is alright". I just finished a new track a week before last. And I tried it out. And I was like...eh, it's done. When I listen back to it...I think to myself, I'm just not going to do it until I actually really edit it down and maybe give it to a few other people. It's "done" so that I can play out. So I'll put it away.

LM: Outside of DJing and producing, things like conference and even album tours are not new to you anymore. So what do you look to get out of Miami? I heard you mention something about vacationing in Coconut Grove?

Dave Ralph: I lived in Miami for three and a half years, and I had a residency at Shadowlounge, and I still play regularly at Crobar. So I know Miami, and I've seen it, done it, and been coming here a long time. So this conference, for me, is to let people know about my label—R Factor Recordings. That's the main reason I'm here this year. Apart from DJing, which I like to do. I'll play a few parties while I'm here, but nothing crazy. You know I really could just come to the Conference and not play. Just to hang out [laughs].

But you know, you've got an agenda. And after living here, and being hammered by this place, you kind of stay away from all the things. Now that I've moved away...Last year, I really embraced the conference; whatever was happening, I was right there. I really enjoyed it. This year, it's more about this kind of thing, and meeting people I don't get a chance to meet an awful lot. I don't just mean on an international level. I'm very much about American, I've been so for a long, long time. That's why I moved to New England. So I'm very much about getting to see people that I haven't seen for a long time, and catching up to talk, and passing out some records to people and, you know, networking. And choosing those people really carefully. You know I'm not just willy-nilly going, "that's for you, that's for you, take that, take that." I want the right people to have access to what I'm doing. And everyone else...[waves hand, laughs] go buy it.

But this year is a bit of a clusterfuck, because there's too many other things going on. You've got pro-tennis, pro-golf and MTV filming, Girls Gone Wild filming...but you know, that's good for Miami. I've lived in the city of South Beach; it can suffer literally. For instance in August, it's a ghost town.

Lunar: It's too hot?

Dave Ralph: Are you kidding me, It gets like 115/120 degrees. I remember the last year we lived here, and the A/C broke in our house. I was away, in Europe. I came back and every candle—we love candles!—was melted. You know those big fat ones with three wicks? It was just a blob. It was disgusting and I was like oh-mi-god. And my house was never the same after that. It just got too hot. People survive on what goes on here, between September and April and May at the latest. And then it's done. Miami is done. The people, the models are gone. They all go back to NYC, the model season is done. The hotels are empty. The restaurants are empty and the clubs are empty.

Lunar: So how do you separate? You mentioned you don't want to be Dave Ralph all the time. I don't want to run through your gears and your studio, but do you have a part of your house set up like work-mode vs home-life?

Dave Ralph: Oh yeah, I have my office and my studio. I was very deliberate when we bought the house, I was very deliberate about making sure those spaces were assigned for that particular activities. It's great to get up in the morning to put on your pajamas, scratch your balls and go downstairs and work.

Lunar: So there is a balance...

Dave Ralph: Absolutely. And I'm very sensitive about that. I turn my phone off at 7 o'clock at night. The doors get shut in the office so you cannot hear the phone. It's easy. I live on the east coast, and I know the west coast is 3 hours behind. By 7pm, that's 4 o'clock in the afternoon. If anyone needs to get a hold of me, they would've done it by then. If not, they can leave me a voicemail. I don't actually have a home phone. My life is my cell phone. And when that goes off, if it's off, I don't want to talk to people. Oakenfold taught me that. He actually taught me that one. And it's a great way to live. Becuase when you do want peace and quiet, it's like "off" and you can do go live/do whatever you need to do. And the world is not going to stop. For however long you leave the phone off.

Lunar: So when you are at home in Boston, do you have favorite food—like when you're producing, or do you order out...

Dave Ralph: I cook.

Lunar: You cook? Are you a good cook?

Dave Ralph: I'm alright.

Lunar: Is there going to be R:Factor Recordings cookbook?

Dave Ralph: Right. Exactly [laughs]. I'm a big cook. I cook a lot. My wife cooks. The times we order in are extremely few and far between. We've got to be real lazy to do that. I cook from Asian to Indian to every kind of food you can possibly imagine. And my wife is a great pasta chef.

At this point, I was given the sign that my time is up, so Dave and I wrapped up the personal questions—those didn't really have anything to do with the music per se, but after years of watching him DJ and listening to his music, I wanted to know a little of what made him tick. I tried to preserve the casual tone of the conversation because that's how Dave Ralph comes across—what you read is what you get.

To learn more about R:Factor, visit the website at www.rfactor-recordings.com

Thanks go out to Dave Ralph and Alexandra Greenberg for making this interview possible.

At Amazon.com

Resident Alien from Amazon.com Resident Alien - Dave Ralph

CD 1:

  1. Deep Sound - Luis Diaz @ Sanctuary
  2. Everyday (Chris Fortier's Amped Up Pass) - Prince Quick Mix feat. Ekaterini
  3. Trio De Janeiro - Papa Washington Trio
  4. Winter - Cold Down
  5. 3AM - Spoiled presents Stoler
  6. Full Contact - Ralph & Whalen
  7. Istanbul (Remy remix) - Filmpalast
  8. Lock Up - Thomas Prenton
  9. In Your Eyes - Filterheadz presents Orange 3
  10. Butterfly (original mix) - Tony Thomas
  11. You Are (Panacea) Dave Ralph remix - Cirrus

CD 2:

  1. Pangs of Ambition
  2. Dancing in Hyperspace
  3. Beyond Blue
  4. Footprints (Joshua Ryan Mix)
  5. Giggledropz (Pilgrim's Progress Mix)

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