Berlin-based singer and composer Valeska Rautenberg has worked as a musician, producer, teacher, composer and voice-over actress for many years now and has started releasing her own music again in 2017, after taking a few years off for her private life.
She paints with sounds. Her voice creates colours. Images come alive in your mind, you wander through them, discover them, feel them. Valeska Rautenberg takes you with her – she doesn’t give you a choice other than to follow her into her cosmos of music.
See our exclusive interview with her below:
What are some of your earliest memories of music?
Ha! Me going crazy to ‘Jump’ by Van Halen in the living room after kindergarten. It was awesome, I loved that song! I guess, I must have been around 4 – 5 years old.
Take us through your songwriting process. Are there any particular steps you take when putting music together?
Not at all. Each song has its own life and it is my task to accept that and to nourish its growth. The music I’m releasing at the moment is instrumental – neoclassical, ambient piano music – like the first single‚ ’Twilight’, off the upcoming EP‚ “Into The Still White – Songs For Piano, Wind & Water”.
My piano pieces usually start with a melody that suddenly comes popping up from my subconscious, which sparks a certain mood. Then I’ll go from there and see what happens. Or if I’m somewhere outside and I hear a sound that interests me, I’ll record it on my phone and use that field-recording as the base and play along to it on the piano.
My vocal music lives more in the realm of Trip Hop, Downbeat, and Indietronica. The starting point for me is mostly with the voice or a lyrical theme, and from there I’ll start to develop the song further. Sometimes it’s the other way around and I’ll build the beat first and let that inspire me. I guess there are no rules and no “right way”. Whatever works for you is the best way. Your job is to accept that there are a million different ways and to be open to letting the song come to you ;-).
Studio work and music creation or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?
I used to be on stages a lot and loved it … it’s exhausting as well, but back in the day, it was totally my thing. These days I’m more of a sound nerd. I love composing and creating sounds. It has become my language. Maybe one day I’ll be drawn back to the stage but for now, I’m geeking out over my newest plug-ins and love to create music, whether it be with the piano, my voice or any instrument under the sun.
What is the most memorable response you have had to your music?
Oh, I was fortunate to have had a few memorable responses so far and it always warms my heart. To hear people say how much a song touched them or how they could identify with the lyrics, or how one of my songs inspired them to be creative themselves is such an enriching and powerful experience. Getting a message from a stranger from the other side of the globe letting you know they enjoy your music honours me.
One very memorable moment was when one of my songs was compared to the feeling of the cherry blossom scene at the end of the Last Samurai movie … that was quite something.
If you could put together a radio show, what kind of music would you play?
It’d span a lot of genres – from Tori Amos, A Perfect Circle, and Hozier, to Godspeed You! Black Emperor … music has to touch me, make me feel, be meaningful … no matter the genre.
Name five artists and their albums who would appear on your radio show
Only five? Oh, dear …
Fiona Apple – Tidal
Pj Harvey – Rid of me
Tool – Ænima
Radiohead – Amnesiac
Portishead – Dummy
What would you like to achieve with your music? What does success look like to you?
Of course, every musician wants their music to be heard … and I want that, too. I just don’t want to compromise or to step down from my musical convictions in the process.
I love being an indie artist these days … it’s a crazy jungle but it enables you to do everything by yourself, which is a lot of work, but you get to do everything the way you want to do it. That’s amazing.
Success to me is being able to create the music I want to create.
I make my living with music, I get to write my music on my own terms, and have a couple of thousand monthly listeners – that to me is already a success and I’m very grateful for that. If I were able to reach and maybe touch even more people, that would, of course, be wonderful. But in the end, success to me is simply to be happy.
One last thought to leave your fans with?
Love what you do and do what you love and support indie musicians 😉 That’s where the passion is. And thanks to everyone who’s shared, supported or bought a song from an indie artist.
Follow Valeska Rautenberg online