With Raimund Mathias Hepp: an interview with the artist of "Chapter One"
Raimund Mathias Hepp is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, and artist from Austria, currently based in both Vienna and Los Angeles. His roots are in film music where he honed his craft of expressing emotions through expansive soundscapes and storytelling melodies. Additionally, he has been part of the music team for the renowned Hollywood in Vienna gala, provided additional orchestrations for a well-known ABC TV-series, and contributed as synth programmer to Hollywood blockbusters like Roland Emmerich's Second World War drama, Midway (2019). As a solo artist outside of the film world, Raimund composes minimalist, instrumental, and experimental music, with influences ranging from neo-classic, classical minimalism, to contemporary electronic music. In this case, he is his own director, creating music for the films in his mind to lead the listener through a unique inward visual journey. Raimund enjoys musical simplicity as a backdrop for more out-of-the-box and complex sounds by employing an assortment of sonic colors, weaving in traditional dissonance so skillfully as to bring it all the way back to assonance in the listener's ear. His solo albums frequently include contributions by some of the finest musicians from the world of film music and classical music. For example, the solo musicians on the current album are also frequently featured in the work of film music composers Hans Zimmer or Christopher Young. When not composing, Raimund perpetually seeks new inspiration from walks in the rain.
Hi Raimund, you are an emerging artist but with different results already achieved, can you tell us briefly what artist you are?
I am someone with a broad interest in various styles, both as a composer and as a listener, which can complicate things when you're dealing with an audience. In contrast, as a film music composer, it is more expected that you mold your style to the requirements for each movie. Even the decision-makers in the film business like to know the same...and often won't accept multiple answers. I have to admit that I have a hard time handling this. If you ask someone "What kind of person are you?" and the only answer is "I'm a funny person", I think this would be pretty one-dimensional. I think that, style-wise, I have three main "personalities" as an artist: one that loves and composes orchestral music, one that loves and composes minimal & experimental music, and one that adores electronic music. Sometimes I even manage to bring them all together.
What are your influences and your musical references?
When it comes to post-classical music, my first discoveries were Nils Frahm, Max Richter, Joep Bevling, and Olafur Arnalds. They are so well-known that it is really hard not to stumble upon them. But this was the trigger to dig deeper and see what is out there. I would not say that I have certain artists as references, rather as benchmarks...which is a slightly different approach. If there is a reference, I will I will more likely pick up an idea pick up an idea that is already common to several artists and then add my own twist. For example, for my current album one of the ideas was to have some "dirt and grit", say, by leaving the noise of an effect pedal in a recording. Make it part of the whole thing, turn it into something musical and embrace it as something that tells a bit about how something was made rather than clean everything up. It was one of many very intentional choices between perfection and imperfection throughout the album. I liked idea not to make everything too perfect and artificial-sounding. This is for sure something where I was influenced by other artists. But for the next album, I might try something completely different. Sometimes I do also have reference points that are maybe in the same ballpark as I am, style-wise but are examples of how I DON'T want to sound, which will also guide me in certain directions.
I think that composing itself is almost like meditation in the sense that I focus on something and forget about time, unless I'm under a tight deadline. In that case, I will also plan a lot more and set much more precise daily goals.
How was your latest album born?
Mostly out of an accident. I wasn't planning an album when I wrote the first piece. I just wrote some pieces because I felt the urgency to compose something that would also reflect my emotions at that time, and where I was free to do what I want. I happened to like the outcome and decided to write more pieces to have enough music to release a full album.
At what time of the day do you like to compose? Is it an expressive urgency due to an inspiration or do you meditate and plan everything with scrupulous criteria?
If I have a choice and if I'm not bound to strict deadlines, then I prefer to compose at night. It seems that I need this sense of "isolation" when no one else is around and also there is no noise that will even suggest that someone else is busy nearby. You can also simulate this feeling if you have a studio in a basement with concrete walls and no windows, but for me, this is not the same. I prefer "organic" and natural silence around me. I think that composing itself is almost like meditation in the sense that I focus on something and forget about time, unless I'm under a tight deadline. In that case, I will also plan a lot more and set much more precise daily goals. Composing becomes then much more a craft than a journey.
What is the meaning of music for you?
For me, music can fulfill various needs: it can satisfy my curiosity and desire to discover something new, it can provide a welcome distraction and make me forget bad times, it can amaze me when someone comes up with something I didn't think of before, it can make me feel good and strong. Music is something that I really need in order to feel balanced and happy. If you were looking for a deeper philosophical answer, I'm sorry to tell you that I don't have one for you. I think a lot about this. Someday my ideas might be more developed and I might feel confident enough to give an answer publicly. But this is not yet the time.
What would you answer to those who ask you why you should listen to your music?
Music is very subjective and everyone is looking for something different. Maybe my music can provide you with something of what I mentioned in the last question. My hope is to satisfy a bit of all of those aspects. Maybe this is the special thing about my music.
Could you kindly anticipate us something about your upcoming projects?
I have some ideas, but they are vague. I'd like to continue the spirit and standards that I set myself with the current album, but try some new ideas as well. However, it will always be my goal that the result will be melodic and have the ability to draw the listener in.