When I first listened to Rider Connections new album “Colour Me”, to say it was a curveball is an understatement. It was most certainly a welcome curveball though. It’s not often we get Reggae, or rather it’s not often we get good Reggae, but “Colour Me” really is top drawer quality. And while I was listening to their new album I started reading about the band (multitasking, I know right!) and found out that what I thought was a tight drummer was actually a beatboxer. Ok, I’m definitely hooked!
The name had me puzzled too, so I just had to find out the story behind that and the band. Philipp and Moritz very kindly answered my questions.
Could you tell us a little about how the band formed and how you came up with the name Riders Connection?
I am Philipp, the singer and guitar player from Riders Connection.
The name „Riders Connection” found its beginning in the streets of Italy, where I made music with an Italian friend, Andrea(drums), whilst traveling all the way from north Italy to Sicily. On this tour we played music for one month to make a living, and to afford to carry on traveling. We met a lot of cool people and made a lot of Connections which are still current. Unfortunately the paths of Andrea and myself separated after this tour, which was the „Birth Tour” of Riders Connection. During this tour the name was made on a roof under the stars of Rome.
Moritz and myself, the beatboxer have known each other for the past 18 years. We started to perform as a duo on the streets, which after time gave us the confidence and experience to start performing at venues across Berlin. One of the venues was called Al Hamra and this was where Riders Connection started to evolve into a more fixed band project. Myself and Moritz recorded the first live record at Al Hamra in 2010 with Bakri on Darbuka and this was when their music started to spread across Berlin and receive a great response from their growing fanbase. In 2011 we met Aleksej, the Bass player, at a jam session and then once again on the streets of Berlin where we invited him to come perform with us at our first official concert in Berlin. After the show he was asked to be a fixed member of the band and this was when Riders Connection became a trio. Since then we have been touring, recording and making music together.
I’ve been listening to “Colour Me” which is fantastic from the outset with Meetasaya and I’m struck by the diverse range of genres your music draws from. Was it a conscious decision to go for a particular sound or did it evolve naturally and who have been your main influences?
Since we started to perform live, we always combined different styles of music to make our own unique sound. At the beginning the decision of which style a song gets was made by intuition and improvisation, soon after the arrangements evolved naturally to their present form. We realized that diversity in style suits us well, as we are only three people on stage most of the time, who are not playing very sophisticated solos.
We are all big fans of reggae music, but we also love Electronica, Folk and Hip Hop. You can hear those influences when seeing us perform live. When it came time to record our debut album, we first decided that it would be a live album. Soon after we found ourselves in studio realizing that we wanted to use studio possibilities to make the songs finer, instead of trying to emulate a live performance. We kept most of the live arrangements from the rhythm section, and then followed the advice of our producer on several points. After the basics were recorded, we invited some friends, which we met along the way, and who we already invited as guest musicians for our live shows, to give every song a special musical colour. The variety of style is more obvious and makes the sound more interesting to us.
During this procedure we hadn`t had any specific influences, it all felt logical and natural to us. We as musicians have of course a lot of “heroes” , like Bob Marley, Gentleman or Kurt Cobain, but there are so many great artists which we love. That is maybe a question in itself.
Could you tells us a little about some of the tracks on “Colour Me” and the stories behind them / what inspired them?
Eleo for example is a song I personally think everything started with. I (Philipp-singer) was alone in Italy on the streets of Ferrara, trying to get the opportunity to perform at a street music festival called „Buskers Festival” . Unfortunately I had no chance to compete against the amplified music of the other buskers as I was only performing acoustically, so I sat on the sidewalk, looking sad and hopeless, with no opportunity to earn money. A girl saw me like this, her Name is Eleonora, she invited me for dinner and let me stay at her place for one week. When I was down she picked me up by believing in me and saying that I have to go on because people need to hear my music. From that day sharing my music became my life’s mission. The Song „Eleo” is for her. For me she is the Mother of Riders Connection!
Are there plans to have a video accompany the two singles off “Colour Me”?
” Colour me” is in production right now. The content is secret, we will let you know when it is out on Youtube J
Moritz’ beatboxing is fantastic, was it the intention of doing that as opposed to having a drummer from the start of the band? What advantages (asides from storage and transportation costs) does that hold over having a drummer with full drumkit?
I started beatboxing at the age of 16, without the intention of being a beatboxer. I always wanted to be an instrument, it first started randomly in clubs with drunk rappers and other beatboxers and then in winter 2009 Philipp and myself started making music together at an underground station in Berlin. It was a new way for us to communicate with each other. At this time he was already a street musician and I thought the combination of his voice with my beats brought the music we made to another level.
The audiences took it so well that we went on further and in my mind it was clear that I would not learn any other rhythmical instrument because what we had fit so well together. Of course there are frequencies that I can’t fulfill in the band but for that we have friends who are percussionists and who go with us on tour from time to time. The inner core can only exist through this unique sound of Philipp’s western guitar, his powerful voice, Aleksej the groove catcher who just brings everyone to go with the flow and my beatbox sounds. This combination is unique, compact and special in its own way. If this band would play with drums, have another bassist or Philipp wouldn’t sing the way he did then the magic would not be there.
Our music is a result of a unique fusion of sound and energy.
I was reading your Tumblr with great interest, and was interested in the post where you were playing Dunoon Township, could you tell us a little about that and how much impact that moment had on you?
Well we had a great time in South Africa overall. The People and the Countryside inspired us to write new songs with the memories that were created. We played over 30 shows in very different locations for very different people.
We must say that the gig in Dunoon, where we played for over 30 children in a Township school, was the most inspiring and the most emotional concert we played whilst on tour in South Africa. The children were so beautiful and so grateful that we didn’t know if we should laugh or cry. To see under what conditions they are living and learning and on the other side to see how real they are, how they see the world and how thankful they are for every little thing they get, made us sad and happy at the same time. Yes, this was definitely one of the greatest experiences we´ve made in South Africa.
Have there been other moments whilst on tour that had an impact on you?
For sure, the concert in Dunoon showed us that we can do more, than just being musicians who make people dance. We learned that the message in our music can help people think more clearly, make them look into their own hearts and think about what they can do to make a difference in this world we live.
We don’t have a more concrete message than to take care of each other as we are all brothers and sisters in this world and music is the language we can all communicate through.
South Africa made us believe that we can go everywhere by playing music, that there is nothing you can’t do. Because music is love and love doesn’t have borders.
Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3tLW_3fY9U7FDXBu5R-VNg
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ridersconnection
Website – http://www.ridersconnectionmusic.com/
Instagram – https://instagram.com/ridersconnection/