an interview with

vulfgang rainstorme

Beyond the Record: Welcome! Tell us a little bit about who you are and how you
got into making music.
Vulfgang Rainstorme: Thank you for taking the time to chat with me! I’m a solo
recording artist from Newfoundland, Canada. I started writing and producing when I
was 19. By that time I had spent the entirety of my teen years listening to music more
than I did anything else. It was my food, water, religion, and love affair. It really
helped me, especially, to cope with tremendous depression I had suffered from for
many of those years. It all started with a laptop for me. I had been playing guitar since I
was 12, but was never really confident in my ability. The same goes for singing; I felt
passionate about singing and I really respected the voice as an instrument, but I lacked
the confidence. So I downloaded whatever free DAW I could find, and started making
simple beats. Then I started writing melodies and progressions. I found a certain solace
in the fact that I could make instrumental music completely on my own, with a
computer, and actually get results. As much as I wanted to play the guitar and sing,
doing MIDI based instrumentals at least satisfied the main urge to compose and
relieved me a little bit of the prospect of having to devote all the extra time required to
practice the guitar and sing. I quickly graduated to buying a copy of Ableton Live,
which I still use to this day, exclusively. I eventually got around to developing my skill
as a guitar player and singer, because in the long run I did not want to be primarily an
instrumental artist.

BtR: And at what point and time did you actually dedicate yourself and pursue
this as a career?
Vulfgang Rainstorme: After a very transformative emotional experience in 2015 when
I moved away from home for a while and conquered the depression that plagued me for
years, I was instinctively compelled to start releasing my music, which, until then, I
had been making for no one but myself. I felt it was time and that I finally had the
confidence I needed, though even then I wasn’t entirely convinced that I would be able
to make a career out of it. I just wanted my music to finally be heard. I wrote and
produced my first album, “She Painted This for Me”, which is a dark, conceptual
record about toxic love, over the summer of 2016, and released it on December 6th of
that year. My mother actually ended up passing away only 4 days later, from cancer.
She didn’t even know that I had released my first album. That experience was the final
kick-in-the-pants for me, so to speak, and I immediately became consumed by the need
to make music my life; something that I had fantasized about as a teenager but always
questioned whether I could actually make happen. I’ve experienced the deaths of a lot
of important people, too many considering my age, and losing my mother truly opened
my eyes to the fragility and shortness of life. It was equivalent to a spiritual awakening;
I simply realized there was no reason to hold back and doubt myself any longer. This is

what I wanted to do. Now, I work on music every day—even if all I get done is to EQ a
kick or rearrange a hi hat. That’s a big part of my philosophy as an artist; never go to
bed until you can say you got something done, no matter how significant.

BtR: Do you feel as though your childhood aided you in such a way to be creative
person? If so, how?
Vulfgang Rainstorme: Music has been integral in shaping who I am for as long as I can
remember. My earliest exposure was to two key artists in particular; Elton John and
Celine Dion. My mother, every Saturday of my life as a child, would blast her CDs
while she cleaned the house, and these two artists were pretty much all she listened to;
the same handful of albums were all she owned and played over and over relentlessly
for years. As a kid, you know, I hated it, it drove me crazy, but it wasn’t until my tastes
matured as I entered my teens that I realized what a powerful effect the music of Elton
John and Celine Dion had on me. I guess I can’t really define it specifically, but there’s
something about hearing the same songs on constant repetition that has a way of
uniquely defining you in some way, maybe in some ways you aren’t even consciously
aware of. The maturity and power and, let’s be honest, total over-the-top quality of that
particular music—especially in Celine’s voice and the huge production of her songs—
being exposed to that as a child I think ultimately led to me believing that inhibition
has no place in music and performance. That belief pretty much led me to discovering
and falling in love with artists like Ween, Prince and Frank Zappa. These were
musicians who channeled something and didn’t let inhibition or fear of seeming too
“out there” hinder their creativity. In turn, I think it takes being able to tap into that
feeling yourself a little bit in order to truly appreciate that kind of music. It’s hard to be
a 15 year old guy and listen to Prince when everyone else around you listens to what
they’re fed on the radio (at least where I grew up). It takes a certain kind of courage
and commitment to true creative expression, and I think, in me, that came from being
able to sing along, word for word, with Celine Dion songs by the time I was seven.
Kind of a weird image. I started to see performance as a form of freedom, and “weird”
to me was the ultimate freedom.

BtR: You claim that for a long time while dedicating yourself to your art,
people didn't know you were a songwriter. Why was this?
Vulfgang Rainstorme: I grew up shy. Debilitatingly shy. I was an only child with a
single mother. My dad was a stranger to me, but he died when I was very young. I
experienced a lot of isolation growing up. My mother was very reserved and didn’t go
out a lot, in fact, reiterating my previous remarks, the only time I ever saw her come
out of herself was when she listened to music. I don’t mean to present anything I’m
saying as a sob story, but living with loneliness became totally natural to me. Almost

necessary at certain points in my life. I grew to become very comfortable in my own
company, and when it came to making music, I escaped into it. It was the first time I
really had a way to express things inside me that I didn’t know how to express any
other way. A condition of that I guess was that I kept my music to myself, almost
protected it, because it was so completely mine. For a long time I didn’t want others to
know what was going on inside me. It was sort of a strange thrill to go out and interact
with people, and despite how uncomfortable and inadequate I felt in some social
situations, I knew that I had my music at home waiting for me, where I could be who I
wanted. Having that secret empowered me a little. All of this, however, is very contrary
to the person I am today. I love sharing myself and my music and have had nothing but

a positive experience since I began releasing.
BtR: You recently released an album called "A Yellow Spot". Tell us a little bit
about how the album was recorded. Give us all of the little details. Where, what
influenced this creation, etc.
Vulfgang Rainstorme: The music on the record evolved over a period of 6 or 7 years—
I’m talking at least 100 separate bits and pieces and sketches of musical ideas, kept in a
folder on my 10 year old MacBook, that I shaped into an album over a brief but
intensive period of a few months. To speak frankly, when my mother died in December
of 2016, I felt an internal charge to release the music as a dedication to her on her
birthday, which was 3 months later, in March of 2017. And I did that. I like to equate
the process of making the record to going through a photo album of your favourite
memories, and staying up all night in a candlelit room and putting them together into
one crazy, cathartic collage, then going out in the morning and plastering it on a giant
wall somewhere for everyone to see, without taking the time to second guess or
"perfect" it. That's essentially how it went. And I'll be the first to say that, technically,
the music on “A Yellow Spot” isn't perfect. It's not meant to be. I easily could have
spent another 6 months to a year developing and fine tuning the album and, as an
unknown artist, it wouldn't have made a difference to anyone. But that wouldn't have
been in the spirit of what “A Yellow Spot” is. Going through my huge, totally private
collection of random demos, that no one else had even heard, and shaping them into a
definitive statement, for better or worse, is what “A Yellow Spot” represents. The
music was inspired by a myriad of different experiences over the years, but it was the
act itself of releasing that music into the world that is dedicated to my mom. Putting
together and releasing that record ultimately lent a lot to my development as an artist
and was essential to my becoming more confident in pursuing music as a career.

BtR: The first track off this record is of its own entity. It's incredibly
unique in such a way that I have yet to hear something produced in such a
manner. What inspired you to create Semblance?

Vulfgang Rainstorme: Those words mean a lot to me, really. That particular song is
special. You might be surprised to learn that it’s over 6 years old, and one of the first
serious things I ever wrote. Of course, the original demo was a far cry sonically from
what it is today, and it evolved a lot over those years, but the basic elements—the 9/8
drum track, bass line and the chord progression—were all written when I was about 20
or 21. It was originally titled “Elaine”, who is my aunt with schizophrenia.
BtR: The sounds heard off that track in particular, as well as many others off
this album, are also unique. How did you get those tones? What equipment did you
Vulfgang Rainstorme: To be perfectly honest, I’m not a “gearhead” in any
interpretation of the term. In fact, I hate gear. I take a very minimalist approach in my
production process. My current home studio set-up consists of a Mac desktop with
Ableton Live, Yamaha HS8 studio monitors, an Audient id22 USB interface, Grace
m101 pre-amp, an Electro Voice mic for vocals and a bare bones M-Audio MIDI
contoller. That’s it, I don’t even own anything else. Everything I have is what I use to
make my music. When I find something that works for me, I stick with it until it
breaks. The synth sounds come from plug-ins, which again, I don’t use a lot of. I have
maybe 2 or 3 main plug-ins that I pull sounds from, and even make use of the stock
Ableton library. I then spend hours and hours reshaping, manipulating, and adding
effects to stock sounds until I get the tones I want (or discover new tones that I’ve
never heard). I often make my own synths from very obtuse sources, like my own
breathing or weird sounds around the house, and turn them into MIDI patches that I
can write melodies with. The prospect of sitting down with complex hardware and
trying to figure out how it works makes my head hurt. It’s very important to me that
when inspiration strikes I can sit down at my desk and produce as quickly as possible
until the muse flutters away. One key thing I’d like to acknowledge in how I produce
the sounds that I do, is that it’s not so important to me to achieve unique sounds and
tones in and of themselves, as it is to achieve unique combinations of sounds. One
particular synth part could sound interesting enough on its own, but I really get off on
taking that part and layering it with another interesting part that could serve as a total
contrast. With the right blend and attention to subtle detail, the result of putting very
different sounds together is often very exciting and I pursue this a great deal in my
work. I hear music very deeply, and I love dense arrangements. There’s definitely value
in listening to music loud through good speakers, but I’m all about headphone music,
and focus a lot of my effort into producing songs that translate best through
headphones. My favourite albums are the ones where you hear something new every
time you listen to it.

BtR: I question if you are able to take these tracks to a live setting. Do you
see this as something that is possible in the future? How do you see one of your
shows being hosted? Any visuals?
Vulfgang Rainstorme: I don’t perform live, which I guess is an obvious conclusion to
draw based on the way I’ve presented my story thus far. I prefer at this time to focus on
my recorded work and building an online fanbase. I do dream of putting a backing
band together someday, however. I have a number of songs that I think could translate
live in a really interesting way, but with a “A Yellow Spot”, I do agree that the songs
would definitely have to take on a very different character in a live setting. By that
same token, I feel like if I were able to find the right musicians, bringing those songs to
life could be a very exciting endeavour. I’ve also considered doing solo live YouTube

BtR: Who inspires you to write and produce music? Give us a few artists, but
also people you may know personally.
Vulfgang Rainstorme: My relationship with my mother was very influential in shaping
my basic principles as a person and my approach to writing the kind of music that I
write. The way she raised me bestowed me with a stubbornly independent personality,
which of course has a lot to do with why I choose to have total control over my image
and creative output. I have been a semi-practicing Buddhist since I was 16, so that also
informs my motives as an artist. As far as other artists I look to for inspiration, I am
forever indebted to Prince, above all. I could rattle off a list of other important
influences (Ween, Joni Mitchell, Frank Zappa, Nick Cave, The Cure, Mike Patton, Les
Claypool, Shannon Hoon, Morrissey, Nick Drake), but Prince’s music and the cult of
personality he built over his career affected me the most. He’s a near mythology figure
in music, and that kind of mystery excites me almost as much as the music itself. I tend
to gravitate toward musicians who not only make art on their own terms, but who also
have a great story.

BtR: Outside of music, what else are you passionate about?
Vulfgang Rainstorme: Studying and making my best effort to incorporate the teachings
of Buddhism into my life is something that is very high on the list of things that I
consider most important. It is a lifelong practice. And contrary to how I’ve kind of
made myself sound like I never leave my house and do nothing but work on music, I
love life! I’m passionate about all experiences, whether grand or mundane. A perfect
day for me could be mowing my lawn, pruning trees, and relaxing afterward on the
couch with a beer and a Haruki Murakami book, as much as it could be flying to
Brooklyn, NY just to watch Ween perform live from the edge of the stage (which I did
a few weeks ago, and yes, it was incredible).

BtR: Where can people find your music? When can we expect your next record or
Vulfgang Rainstorme: Currently, I stream all of my music on, but
Vulfgang Rainstorme can be found on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, and pretty much
any high traffic digital platform. I don’t make much time for social media, though
Twitter and YouTube are my main areas of focus when it comes to online interaction. I
have a lot of material I’m working on simultaneously, and am ahead of myself with
enough material for my 3rd and 4th records. My first 2 records, “She Painted This for
Me”, which has a lot of spoken word, and “A Yellow Spot”, which is all instrumental,
exist on their own terms and are each unique in their own right. My future work will be
closer to what people would call more “traditional” songs, at least in the sense that I
sing a lot more on my new material and incorporate recorded guitars and bass. I have
no release dates set as of now, but I do have a new song coming very soon, unlike
anything I’ve released so far.

Beyond the record presents

Music news, album reviews & interviews