Oly Ralfe – Music Making In New York

A while back we mentioned that Oly Ralfe would be performing at the CMJ Music Festival in New York on Saturday October 20th. NY correspondent, Gina R Snape, met up with him while he was there to ask him a few questions. Here’s what went on:

© Gina R Snape

Oly Ralfe could be described as “a true Renaissance man”. Not only did he showcase his own talent at the CMJ Music Festival, he also recorded the other bands. A modest, sweet and softly-spoken guy, he took a few minutes out of his busy day to talk with The Velvet Onion:

What are you doing over here for CMJ?

I just finished a new album, and the label is called Highline Records; it’s run by a girl from NY, so she’s doing a showcase. CMJ is a festival in NY. So I’ve used it as an excuse to come to NY for a gig! The album will come out next year.

What’s the album called and can you tell us a bit about it?

I’m still contemplating names, actually. So, any suggestions are welcome! It’s a sort of a comic tragedy. I think it’s still recognisably Ralfe Band, but I think I produced it in a slightly different way. It’s a bit more crafted and there’s some different musicians playing on it. So it’s, yeah, it might be a slightly richer sound. It’s very much about songwriting, the new album. Some of the songs are quite personal, maybe less of the Gypsy-ish European stuff. But there’s still a bit of that there in the melodies. That’s just how I write, I think.

Do you like being in NY?

Oh, I love NY. I’ve been here quite a few times in fact, with the Mighty Boosh documentary. In fact I made another documentary here about a Bob Dylan stalker called The Ballad of AJ Weberman, so I came here three times for that. So I love NY.

Are most of the people who know you here Boosh fans?

Maybe, yeah. Maybe it’s mutated into other listeners as well.

Is Highline a new label that you’ve signed up with?

Yeah, we’re about to sign on the dotted line so it’s like ‘hot off the press’…unless there’s a last minute hiccup in the negotiations of the massive advance (laughs). Highline set up their own showcase, so there’s like five of their acts playing today in Pete’s Candy Store, which is like an amazing little old sweet shop. And the room we’re playing in is actually a train carriage, I think, so that’s quite magical.

Postscript: Heather from Highline later confirmed that Oly had indeed been signed to the label!

Will you be touring with the new album?`

Yes, definitely. Well, we’ll be doing stuff in the UK. We’re actually playing in January in London. And I think we’re doing one in Liverpool, and gigging in Oxford as well. So they’re like little “preambles” I suppose to the album coming out, when I’ll do a bit more sort of sustained gigging. And hopefully come back to America. I think we’ll attempt a tour. I think we might come to Austin to do SXSW – I think Highline are gonna do a showcase there.

Are you going to be playing with any of the new members of your band?

Yeah, I’m playing with Garro, who’s been involved in the album. And then I’m playing with a couple of other guys  – Joe and Mike – who I’ve never played with before! We’ve done like one rehearsal – they happened to be here. So it’s a bit of a ‘low cost gigging’ experience this one, a cobbled-together band. So, it should be fun. They’re off touring with Piney Gir, who are another band on Highline who I know from London, who Londoners might be familiar with.

© Gina R Snape

Can you tell us what you were up to recording the other bands and this gig?

Oh I’m just helping out, doing a little bit of filming for the label so they’ve got a little bit of a momento. Multi-tasking.

I think we’ll just make a little sort of mini video about the showcase to tease and tantalize you.

Is anyone going to record you?

I hope so! That’s a good point. Maybe I’ll have to film myself! Banging on the piano, with a bunch of musicians I’ve never played with before!

Anything else you’d like to say to the readers of TVO?

What can I say? Keep the faith! And let’s get The Boosh to make a film before they get too old and grey!

Maybe you can resurrect your sea shanty band?

Yeah, I’ll dust off the jumpers…

Oly went on to give a terrific performance – five songs in total including two from the forthcoming album.  Switching between guitar and keyboard, he captivated the audience.

We promised Oly that we’d mention Highline Records (tick) and all of the bands at the showcase. So big up to Sweet Lights, Correatown, Backlights, Piney Gir, Leland Sundries, and of course, Ralfe Band. You can check out the bands via a showcase sound page on soundcloud by clicking here.

Many thanks to Oly for taking the time out to chat to The Velvet Onion. Don’t forget to look out for his new album and the promised tour in the new year. We’ll be telling you all about it as soon as we hear something…so keep peeling for more Ralfe Band news.

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