When Raspin Stuwart sings, it's like you're sitting beside him having a warm hot chocolate with the velvety touch of marshmallow. His deep warm tone makes his music very easy to listen to; almost calming, caressing - and very soothing.
I guess this comes with experience from both music and life which makes it all to easy to become a fan.
Raspin has been kicking around the live scene for many years and recently released his latest album NY2LA (New York 2 LA) which he has received raving reviews, (including here on Music Talks) and I asked Raspin a a few questions about his music life and his latest album.
MT/Tracey: When did you begin playing and writing music?
Raspin: Around 13, my sister taught me a few chords and my first song. I learned “Blowing In The Wind” by Bob Dylan. After that I started putting chords together and wrote my first song. My first song was called, “I’ve Always Loved You”-and the rest is history.
MT: Your Album NY2LA has received critical acclaim, congratulations. How long did the whole process from writing to recording this album take?
Raspin: Thank You! The songs are a collection of mostly new and a few older songs like “Lovin’ You” & “You” which I wrote in my early 20s. The process of recording took 5 years from start to finish from recording all the music, background vocals and all the instruments that were added and then the mixing and mastering.
MT: When you write songs, are they written from personal experience or/and do you write with particular messages or stories in mind?
Raspin: The songs just find me and when I write a song, the music seems to come at once and the lyrics pour out. They are not necessarily about personal experiences but might be an emotional state I am going through in life, but there are a couple of songs that have specific messages in mind. “Smoke the Hookah” relates to all the oppression in the world, and “New York 2 L.A.” is about finding yourself and saying yes to opportunities that come your way.
MT: I believe you’ve been playing around the live circuit for quite a while now in the states, what age bracket primarily is your audience?
Raspin: My main market is adult contemporary so I would say 40s on up, but recently I have picked up a younger audience with my online radio station air play. With this album, I noticed more people listening to the lyrics and melody which seems to capture the hearts of a broader audience.
MT: I’ve noticed a track called ‘Smoke The Hookah’ which is reggae track and quite different to your blues tracks. This makes an appearance on both your ‘NY2LA’ and ‘We Do What We Do’ albums. Can you tell me more about this track and what your connection is?
Raspin: The version that is on the album “We Do What We Do,” was recorded live one late night in Hollywood with my band and in one evening was mixed. The reggae version on “New York 2 L.A.” happened when Steve Reid, who’s an L.A. producer/engineer and percussionist, and Bo Astrup, who is also a producer and engineer got together. Steve heard it and said he had a backing track in mind for it which was mostly electronic which makes it different from my other tunes. Bo Astrup put down a great bass line and some friends came in to do the background vocals and then I added my vocals to it. The song is very universal as it’s a song about the repression of all the people in the world-but when we unite, nothing can hold us down – The “peace pipe” of life-“Smoke the Hookah”. The song seems to have legs and resonates with many people.
MT: Do you remember the flower power days of the 60’s? If so, what do you prefer in the way of life and music? Today’s ‘So Called’ Freedom, or the 60’s?
Raspin: In regards to music, I like the music of the 60’s-there were so many of my favorites like Donovan, Bob Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary and Joan Baez-real socially conscious singer songwriters. They spoke out against social oppression, war and freedom which paved the way to many of our freedoms of today.
MT: Do you have big kids? If so, do they follow in your footsteps of a career in music?
Raspin: No Children
MT: When growing up, what artists did you listen to mostly?
Raspin: Harry Chapin, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Cat Stevens, The Doors, Patti Labelle, Bette Midler and Joe Cocker.
MT: Can I ask what’s under the hat? It’s a lovely hat btw. ;)
Raspin: A surprise
MT: Who’s in your trio/band? What are their names and how long have they been a part of Raspin Stuwart?
Raspin: I have been playing with Chris Volak for 6 years-he plays acoustic and classical guitar. I work with several other musicians; one of my new favorite people to play with is Tim Fleming on bass and Cynthia Brando on percussion.
MT: What is your personal favourite song you have recorded to date?
Raspin: This is a hard question since I love all my children equally, but from the “We Do What we Do” cd; “The Bitter End” has a special tender part in my heart because it has a lot of deep hidden meanings related to my life. From the “New York 2 L.A.” album; I just adore the title track and “Lovin’ You.”
MT: I can’t help but think of a particular favourite track of mine which I would love to hear you sing...’New York State Of Mind’...can you record that on one of your next releases? If you like it of course.
Raspin: You have a great sense of musical style and that would be a perfect song for me to sing and I WILL consider it…
MT: What are your plans now that NY2LA is out?
Raspin: I would like to get my music into as many hands as possible for people to enjoy and listen. I would also like to tour from New York to Los Angeles-nothing is better than sharing the gift of music.
MT: Is there anything else you would like to mention and share with your fans?
Raspin: I would like to thank everyone who has participated in my music and has supported it; and for going to my site www.raspin.com and downloading the new cd.
Links to Raspin Stuwart