20 Oct 2018
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This Flight Tonight - INSIDE THE MUSIC: The Flight Tonight

02 Nov 2017 // An interview by Alex Moulton

With the upcoming 5th anniversary of their EP Friendly Fire, Ralphe from This Flight Tonight took the time to chat with Alex and Chris, the Inside the Music Crew.

You can watch the video below: 


Alex: Today we have Ralphe from This Flight Tonight. Tell us about the band. You’ve been going since 2009?

Ralphe: Yeah, our first official record Friendly Fire came out in 2012. I’m the songwriter behind the project, and a band appears to help perform live, and I work together with great musicians in the studio.

Alex: The band that you work with, is it the same people each time?

Ralphe: Not at all. I just use it as a creative song writing outlet for myself, but didn’t want to call it “Ralphe”; I wanted a theme. This Flight Tonight is based off the emotions you get when you’re at the airport, sitting in the departure lounge.

Alex: You have released several EPs, is making music a continuous thing for you?

Ralphe: I’ve got my own recording studio which is a blessing, and I studied audio engineering, so I’m writing all the time. When there are enough songs I will release it, but historically that ends up being every two years. If I’m feeling super inspired maybe once a year. But I write all the time and cut it down to the best songs, trying to get a theme. Behind the scenes always writing.

Alex: Do the varying other members contribute to the songwriting?

Ralphe: They do. Whenever songwriters join the project, we do everything legit, so everyone is an APRA Songwriter for royalties. I’ve had writers leave to go overseas but I still register my set and they’ll still get their cut. The main thing for the project to survive is to play shows. I’ve had some really cool songwriters in the past. The most prolific would be a guitarist from The Temper Trap, who wrote Sweet Disposition. The guitarist contributed on one of my records. I got that through a musician I was playing with in London, who was their roadie. They were bored in the hotel in Melbourne, had their laptop and soundcard, I had my tune, and he played a riff from Melbourne in his hotel room. They are cool, I got to meet them backstage at a gig in London.

Alex: Have you done much overseas?

Ralphe: I lived overseas for a year and a half, otherwise not much. I’ve got family in Australia. I try to visit my mum once a year in my birthday month to treat myself, and do gigs while I’m there as I have a couch to sleep on. London, I was definitely a part of that scene for about a year and a half. Once of the best experiences was performing at a Kiwi festival in Boston Park to a few thousand people. I Am Giant and Tahuna Breaks were performing with us it was a really cool festival. For a small kiwi musician, festivals don’t come by often, so it was a really cool experience. Great to share the stage with those kiwi acts.

Alex: Describe your style of music

Ralphe: The style has progressed throughout the Eps, so I’ve always been a fan of making rock music dynamic, with soft parts, then it kicks in. To sum it up, 90s tinged rock, but I try to experiment. One of the EPs was laid back acoustics; just me and a piano & guitar. I don’t like to stick to genres as I like to experiment. But there must be consistency throughout an EP. I’m just some dude playing pop-rock songs.

Alex: I ask, because I remember reading about an EDM project?

Ralphe: Yeah, before the rock saga I was really into DJing, going to raves and doing the music myself. I had a residency at a pool hall in Newmarket for two years playing house. I do dabble in electronic music and producing. I wouldn’t highlight it because there are so many better people that do that style. It’s just me experimenting and having fun. I’m more known as the songwriter.

Alex: Has it affected your style of music?

Ralphe: I guess if you were a chef and you were known for a specific style of dish, you still need experiment. With rock music, if I’ve experimented enough with synths or EDM producing it does sneak its way into the music. I wouldn’t want to box a person into one thing. I’m inspired by anyone and everyone. The main thing to catch me is a good melody and good tune. The one thing I learned from EDM for rock is how to properly build up a track and drop it down, like in a rave. Experimenting with those elements.

Alex: So you prefer certain songs rather than certain artists.

Ralphe: I think so especially with this single driven generation. There are great albums that I grew up with, like Radiohead’s OK Computer, which I love. I still love album artists, but I play a lot of covers, so I wouldn’t just play ten Radiohead songs. I tend to play the best of the best. It’s one of those habits I’ve picked up. Definitely single driven.

Alex: How did you get into music?

Ralphe: I grew up in Mt Eden and had a piano teacher that lived next door, and it all stemmed from piano lessons. As I got older I really got into guitar because you don’t have to be as good to be live. The piano is a really technical instrument. It’s a great backbone for songwriting. I enjoy guitar a lot more these days.

Alex: When you learned piano did you go through the examinations and grades?

Ralphe: I did do the Alfred’s courses, classical piano. Never went to university for piano, instead did audio-engineering. I’ve actually got a YouTube series called musicstudios.co.nz, where we visit studios around New Zealand. What was the question? The piano is good in terms of theory, with chords and chord extensions and things like that. Finding root notes. It’s good to have that theory, even with other instruments.

Alex: You’ve mentioned a single driven industry; how do you work in the system? Your website has them all free to listen to, but still available to download?

Ralphe: I like to rebel. I try to avoid the popular systems. Most people say to use Spotify and streaming. For my music, nothing is on Spotify. I used to have some stuff on there when I was on a label, but as soon as the contract ended I took it all down, I just wanted to do it differently. I wanted to connect with them directly, even if it is just one guy in the Netherlands (true story; there is a guy with a podcast from the Netherlands that promotes our music which is awesome). I love bandcamp as a platform. You can still get the app, and stream it, and if someone streams it enough, you can ask them to purchase your music if they like it. If you don’t you get a little heart emoticon break. I like bandcamp as if someone buys a single, it goes straight to my account. I love the straight-to-artist thing. I don’t think you’ll ever see our music on Spotify or iTunes.

Alex: You still get some good traction though, even a shoutout from Chris Martin of Coldplay?

Ralphe: They were plugging one of their albums and for a while they had this thing known as the hypno-feed, and they’d feature something arty each week that the band liked. It was just a competition to submit your stuff, and for one of the days, our animated video for Friendly Fire was on there. It exposed our music quite a bit, and I got exposed to other cool music too.

Alex: I believe it’s the 5th anniversary of Friendly Fire?

Ralphe: We are actually doing a show at the Portland Public House on the 23rd of November. Free entry. We are playing with Geoff Ong and his full band and Kindred Vice. The band doesn’t come out often. Just to celebrate the anniversary this time around.

Alex: You have some songs to play for us today?

Ralphe: I think I might play Lately. This is the one that had the guitarist from Temper Trap feature in. I don’t have his awesome licks so I will be simplifying it, I’ll also play a new song, Know This Feeling.

 

About This Flight Tonight

The name "This Flight Tonight" conjures up images of the emotional departures and arrivals at airports. It's those moments of change and new beginnings. It's that spur of the moment decision to take that flight tonight, to escape and set for adventure.

The project begins and ends with one sole songwriter; Ralph Warren Engle. "I write songs as a form of therapy for my own loses and life changes, and I'm set on a musical journey with whoever is available at the time to help arrange and perform the songs." This Flight Tonight project has seen some great contributing talent come and go, just like life's arrivals and departures.

Influences are Radiohead, Coldplay, David Gray, Temper Trap, Pink Floyd and Jeff Buckley.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for This Flight Tonight

Releases

Paradise
Year: 2016
Type: EP
Friendly Fire
Year: 2012
Type: Album

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