Photo by Amanda Hernandez
When I first laid eyes on Carl, the musical genius behind Radere, I was drawn to him like a moth to a flame. I knew there was something different about him that I needed to discover. During our first conversation, he noticed my treble clef tattoo and instantly began sputtering out his opinions on trendy music and how “rock concerts” can be rather generic. I knew then that he was in fact a musician. Anyone can strum some chords, anyone can find a beat and hum along, but only a true musical phenomenon can do what Carl does.
He hears ordinary tones and sounds differently than your average person. Everything from the sound of flicking a rubber band to the sounds of nature is music to his ears that he records, loops, layers and turns into an amazing composure. Each of his pieces pulls you in slowly and leaves you breathless wanting more. The ambient genre is mostly for trained ears and only a gifted artist can compose such striking soundscapes.
Give us a brief bio on Carl Ritger?
Born in Philly in 1984. Raised in the ‘burbs. Went to high school. Went to college. Ultimately graduated from college and am now working as a copywriter in the Philadelphia area. I also make music sometimes.
Tell us a bit about the electronic/ambient music scene in Philly?
It’s a pretty small community, to be perfectly honest. Philly isn’t really known for its electronic music! There is, however, a rather dedicated core of people who are always putting together events around the city. There’s a real focus on quality and doing the best we can with the limited resources and small audience. Unfortunately, the focus is less of experimental/ambient artists and more on more dance floor-oriented acts. Quite simply: there’s a lot of techno and dubstep going on in Philly, but not much of a left field contigent. Regardless, it’s a great scene to be a part of and I’m happy to say that I am a part of it.
What is the meaning behind Radere? How did you become Radere?
Radere is actually the Italian verb for “to shave.” It’s a reference to the word “raster,” which is essentially defined as a pixel-based data structure used for representing or delivering graphic content. A big element in my work has always been reducing sonic material to cells – whether it be a loop or some sort of rhythmic pattern – and then arranging those cells into a shifting, evolving organism.
I originally used to work under the name Chairs, but my work evolved a lot after I graduated from college, so I decided to retire that moniker and start fresh.
What is your musical background? At what age did you become interested in creating music?
I’ve been involved in music in one capacity or another since as long as I can remember. I started playing violin in the 3rd grade and played in orchestras until I went to college. At some point, my parents bought me a guitar (I wanted a drum set, but they weren’t having that), and I’ve just sort of always been tinkering with music ever since.
When did you actually start composing ambient-esque music? Have you always produced this genre?
I started moving away from “traditional” forms at the end of high school. I bought a sampler after hearing Radiohead’s Kid A LP and played around with creating more beat-oriented material. I didn’t start making ambient or drone music really until I went to college and began exploring the possibilities of computer-assisted signal processing and digital recording.
What other artists have influenced you and your signature sound the most?
I can really credit two specific albums with inspiring me to do what I do. The first would be Keith Fullerton Whitman’s Playthroughs and the second is Tim Hecker’s Radio Amor. I stumbled across these records freshman year of college and they just totally flipped some weird switch in my mind. Since then I’ve discovered a ton of music that has refined my aesthetic approach – especially the stuff that Taylor Deupree releases on his 12k label – but those two albums are really where it all started.
Between your albums I’ve noticed you’ve gone through phases. Can you give us an idea of how you are producing your music now compared to your past work? What programs you use – do you focus on field recordings, instruments, layers, looping, fusion…etc.
It’s impossible not to evolve when you’re making electronic music. With new software comes new possibilities, and it can be really difficult to step back and keep it simple! When I started out, I was using Fruity Loops, a mess of guitar pedals and a 4-track tape recorder; but I’ve been using Ableton Live as the center of my recording set-up for probably the past 5 years now. When I was working on A Process in the Weather of the Heart, I was doing everything inside the computer. It was a purely sample-based record and I did all the arranging and editing digitally, processing a mess of field recordings and guitar loops into a noisy stew. For Maple Drip, I brought a lot of that outside of the computer. The guitar parts were played live with only a minimum of computer processing and mixed over a bed of natural sounds. I think for that it was actually sampled snowmelt water and the Delaware River.
How are your compositions evolving?
I just finished a set of tracks that I’m hoping to put out soon that indulged my desire to do a more “organic” record. It was all pretty stripped back guitar drone stuff…no overdubs or anything, just straight live guitar looping. Now that I have that out of my system, I’m developing a whole new processing set-up and starting to take a lot of my compositional process back inside the computer itself, creating shifting layers of loops and field recordings. I guess you could say I’m almost trying to make my tracks seem more static as I’ve been rather fixated on the possibilities of repetition here lately.
What set up do you use for your live sets? What kind of events do you prefer performing at?
Right now, my live rig is in a bit of a state of flux. I was using my laptop, guitar and a few pedals to do live looping previously, but with the latest iteration of Ableton, I can do all my looping right there on my computer. The last show I played, I just had my guitar and laptop…but who knows how long this will last. I kind of missed having those pedals there to tweak live.
As far as events go, I’ve really been scaling back the number of shows I book for myself lately. As I mentioned earlier, Philly is something of a techno town, so I’m always relegated to the beginning or end of parties. It can get a little tiresome, so I’ve been opting to put my energies into recording and experimenting with new ideas rather than developing new live sets…which can get rather time consuming. That said, I really enjoy smaller gigs in sort of “non-traditional” spaces. I think intimacy really helps what I do in a live environment.
Who have you shared the stage with?
Anduin, Jasper TX, The Sight Below, Svarte Greiner, Lusine, Mux Mool, the Andrew Weathers Ensemble, Machinedrum, a whole mess of DJs…the list goes on.
What are your plans for the future of Radere? What have you been working on since your last album release? – What’s next?
I’ve been recording a ton lately. I have about two albums’ worth of material ready to go. I’m starting to shop that stuff around to see if anyone is interested. I’ve got a remix coming out on Moodgadget later this year for A Setting Sun, and he and I have also been working on a collaborative project. I just played a couple shows and am working on setting some up for the fall. Other than all that, I’m looking to start doing some more multimedia type projects, presenting my music with visuals and maybe even getting into doing installations…
And finally – where can we hear or see a glimpse of you? Any upcoming events?
Not in the immediate future, no; but I’m working on setting up some shows in Philly for the fall, including one with Benoit Pioulard. I do, however, have a new E.P. coming out shortly on Rural Colours.
You can see, hear and probably even meet Radere all over the Philadelphia electronic music scene. More specifically you can listen to him here on his Soundcloud page. Or check out new album A Process in The Weather Of The Heart at Full Spectrum Records.