Your experimentalism has taken you on a journey through different areas, like programming and electronics. Have you found any overlap between music and programming?
R1. First of all, thanks for inviting me.
Right off the bat, the DAW's [Digital Audio Workstations] we use to make music are literally a simplified form of programming (a bit like WordPress or other kinds of interfaces for programming without coding).
The advent of music on computers paved the way for geeky kids like me to become musical producers. If you asked me back when I was in high school what I was going to major in in college, the answer would have been programming.
Beyond my limited programming experience, I believe there’s a big parallel in the way a programmer and a musical producer develop processes for organizing and systematizing big sums of information. For someone on the outside, if they were to look at one of my projects, it may appear to be chaos or a bit random, but when all is said and done, there’s a simple logic, whether it has 5 tracks or 500.
How do you view yourself? As an inventor, a creator?
R2. I see myself as someone who believes he can imagine, grab that idea and create something. I think the act of believing in that is what defines me the best over all other.
You’re a new dad. Has paternity changed your creative process?
R3. I don’t think so. I just think it continued the natural evolution of my process, becoming more efficient and pragmatic. I’m more aware of the time wasted because I have less time to waste.
Is there an algorithm to your success?
R4. I believe musical success comes from the artists honesty, just like in any relationship. I think the more honest I can be with myself through the process, the more people will connect with my work.
What weight do you attribute to visuals and branding in an artists relationship with the audience? Who are your main inspirations?
R5. I think it’s very important, especially nowadays when you can reach a tremendous audience that doesn’t necessarily speak your language. I think visuals can be very important in that way. Having said that, I still see myself as a toddler in that area. Burna Boy and Rosalia are good examples, though both are very different visually and musically. I’m taking notes.
You began singing your songs because no one wanted to do it over your beats. These quickly rose to national anthem status and in a certain way, you became Slow J after the rejection. What advice can you give to people who want to explore their own way to success and how to deal with a “no”.
R6. When we really want something, we can’t allow the factors out of our control to stop us from reaching it. That DIY mentality is what got me to where I am now. I’m still 100% in favor of collaboration, just not as an excuse to not reach my goals.
As a follow-up, what role does doubt and uncertainty play?
R7. I’m honestly not sure (pun intended) but looking back at some moments I had, I can tell they stimulated me, made me get out of my comfort zone and that took my farther than what I had though initially.
It’s funny how some of the biggest leaps in my career happened with less planning, almost as if they were simply taking place. There’s power in letting it flow and accepting what comes our way. Oh well…
Currently, creating is very linked to some technological support. What tools do you use in your creative process?
R8. MacBook Pro, UAD Apollo Twin Solo, Yamaha's HS8, Ableton Live 10, AKG C414. I also record a bunch of audio notes on Evernote (Samsung S10e) that I then import to Ableton to sample or use as a reference. The goal behind my set-up is to allow to capture inspiration whenever it strikes as quickly as possible.
In a time where physical formats have been overrun by digital, are we still able to create without technology?
We’re able, I just not sure if we would want to. Technology in music is a double-edged sword, where the lack of limitations can be paralyzing. That’s why I record the essential ideas on my phone and only move to Ableton after. It’s easy to lose inspiration while looking for the right sound in a library with thousands of options.
We live in a time of constant change and personal and professional adapting. What would you do if you weren’t in music? What would be your reinvention?
It’s tough to say, I think I’d probably follow programming. On one hand I’ve always had a passion for tech and on the other the day-to-day wouldn’t be all that different from my current one (except concerts, but I’m not a big fan of those ahaha)
Are you living the life you idealized?
I constantly live and idealize ahahah. But currently, yes, I do think I am.
Who should we interview next? What question would you like to ask?
Steve Jobs. Question: Have you met Bob Marley?
Essential tech object?
Portable computer (currently Macbook Pro)
Drop the baby off at daycare at 10am, have breakfast at the studio, start working at 10:30/11:00, eventually have lunch and stop work at 7pm to workout, followed by dinner. Depending on that day’s inspiration I either go home or I keep going until I reach the point of having ideas I’ll regret the next day.
Work time? Mornings, afternoons or nights?
Currently all three.
What company would you have liked to have founded?
App you would have liked to create?
Method or chaos?
Developer or designer?
iOS or Android?
Windows or Mac?
Jobs or Wozniak?
Ronaldo or Messi?
I don’t know, man.
Best place to eat in Lisbon?
Pateo do Guincho? (This is way out of my jurisdiction)