Ralphie B: "Trance is where my heart is & always will be!"
Some producers simply leave their mark. Ralphie B is one of them. This level-headed Dutchman has held on to his very own sound ever since stepping into the trance game. 12 years after his big hit with ‘Massive’, he still knows how to create the most transcending melodies and mind-blowing breaks. His latest tune ‘Ragnarok’, a highlight of Armin’s ‘Universal Religion Chapter 7’ compilation, was just released on Captivating Sounds. All the right reasons for us to hook up with him, and ask him all about his trance fascination. Ralphie B:”Euphoric synth riffs playing the most advanced melodies… that’s the best thing there is right?!“
Hey Ralph! What’s up? How are you doing?
Ralphie B:”Hey, I’m doing great! Thank you very much.”
Congrats on the release of ‘Ragnarok’! What a TUNE! How did this one come into being?
Ralphie B:”Thanks! It’s funny, I wrote the melody about a year ago but didn’t quite finish a track around it. A few months ago I listened to it again while checking old files and thought: hey, what a cool theme, and so I finished the track as it is. It’s a bit on the darker side and harder track than I usually make but still it fits the Ralphie B sound. It could have been a Midway (my other alias).”
One thing always makes your tracks stand out – the melody. Always brilliant. Do you think that defines a Ralphie B track?
Ralphie B:”Yes definitely. Most important to me is the melody, next to a good ‘drive’. I spend a lot time on melodies, I really need to get that special dramatic or euphoric feeling. That means not using the standard ordinary chords you hear everywhere. Many melodies I write don’t survive the time as I get bored easily. I could make standard tracks out of it and release it, but it would just not be the Ralphie B standard.”
What was your reaction when you heard it was going to be on Universal Religion Chapter 7? Do you still feel that excitement after all these years, or are you the all-typical down-to-earth Dutchman?
Ralphie B:”Yeah, I was very pleased and proud to hear that Armin picked it up. It’s not easy to get on it because there are many good tracks being released. I also think it’s cool that it’s a live CD, you don’t see that a lot anymore. Being on these kind of highly acclaimed Cd's spreads your music to so many people in the world to savour and enjoy it. That’s what I make music for!!”
Will you always go for trance – is that where your heart is in music production?
Ralphie B:”Absolutely, that’s where my heart is, always has been, always will be. I mean: Euphoric synth riffs playing the most advanced melodies that’s the best thing there is right?! I tried to make different material, always failed. Got bored. Except for lounge music which I find pretty enjoyable to do as well. For my tracks ‘Ragnarok’ and ‘Icarus’ I made lounge versions. I’m planning to do it with every new track.”
Your first track release was in 1999, meaning you’ve been into trance and dance music for quite a while. What do you think of its recent developments? Has dance music lost its integrity?
Ralphie B:”Dance music is bigger than ever. What’s cool nowadays is that every bedroom producer can just release a track and be discovered as a new talent very quickly. The negative side is that we are overloaded with average stuff haha. As for trance it’s great to see it has gotten so many fans all over the world. I really like the promotions and events Armada is doing with the ASOT parties, the tweets, the streams and so on. It makes it possible for the young and old to enjoy the performances and music LIVE and be part of it together. On the music itself. You hear more crazier sounds nowadays than before. The weirder the better. There’s a lot of creativity. That’s a big plus. Of course the majority of tracks are just recycled ones or similar to others. I’m not very impressed easily but still every time someone makes a killer track again that stands out. Also nice to see the real uplifting melodic trance sound is on its way back. I guess ‘trouse’ is past its peak!”
People will always remember you for ‘Massive’, which has grown into a big trance classic. Do you think you’ll ever beat the success of that one?
Ralphie B:” Hahaha..good question. It’s very nice to have a classic like that in the pocket. I’m very proud of it. It’s quite difficult to beat it though, because it was made in the earlier years of trance when it was still coming up and very new. The ’Massive’ chords bring back memories to people. That’s what made it a real classic. Times have changed but I’m sure I’ll write something better or I might even have written it already!”
An important part of your career you’ve spend as one half of First State. How do you look back on that time and what do you think of the project now?
Ralphie B:”It was a great time back then. I travelled all over the world as part of First State. Some big trance tracks were made in that time like ‘Sierra Nevada’ and ‘Evergreen’ and a decent album ‘Time Frame’. I think we were the first to combine beautiful melodic parts and raw pumping parts in one trance track. First State was heading to be one of the biggest trance acts of that moment but at some point the chemistry just wore off and it was time and best for me to move on and go solo again. I believe First State has turned into a commercial act, doing pretty standard house tracks. It’s copying other people’s hits, trying to make some bucks. There’s a big market for that stuff, but to be honest I’m glad I’m not part of it.”
Right, let’s keep our focus on the future! What new tracks are in the pipeline for Ralphie B?
Ralphie B:”I’m currently working on the follow up of Ragnarok. It’s gonna be big and melodic as well! Finishing it soon. Next to that I’m busy with Mesh (Jack Molenschot) to make a follow up to ‘Seize the Day’, a co-production I did with him earlier this year for Armada. Jack and me go way back. We already made tracks together when trance as we know it did not exist yet :-).”
What about DJ’ing, do you still do it? Is there anywhere we can catch you play in the next couple of months? ASOT650 maybe? ;)
Ralphie B:”Some time ago I decided to fully focus on producing only cause that’s what I like best. But it itches a lot nowadays. It’s true that there’s nothing better than to play your own music to the people and see their response. So who knows I’ll pick it up again!”
Get 'Ragnarok' on Beatport right now!