Drummer / Hip Hop Artist
- Cold Steel -
You were back home in California from March until early May;
in fact, you should be landing in Germany right about the time I finish
typing this sentence! You’re then scheduled to spend a few months touring Germany. How are you prepping for the next big leg of the
Seeed tour and what are your personal methods to stay grounded despite the extreme pace and pressure of Seeed's gigantic shows?
We're already in Germany and have had plenty of rehearsals, so we're not stressed about anything. We're just thinking of visual effects we can add to the show, but we're more excited than anything else! We arranged everything in the States so that it'll be smooth sailing when we're gone.
We admire Seeed's ability to be extremely humbled and down to earth (cool) so we mirror their attitudes.
How would you, yourself, describe Seeed’s very giant, very unique
sound? Seeed's sound is absolutely original. Each song grabs your attention and you have to move some part of your body to it. Their music keeps me in good vibes. I'm able to be a performer, as well as a
fan ofthem. “Sometimes we have to take a step away from something
to understand and see things clearly.”
Did being so far away from the USA open your mind to any new thought or musical processes? I love to learn about people, cultures, foods, areas and history. Having the opportunity to travel outside the United States has definitely broadened my knowledge on all those factors and also developed me as an individual. Sometimes we have to take a step away from something to understand and see things clearly.
How do you come up with new drum lines and riffs?
Do you have to go after the ideas or do they come after you?
My drum riffs are all influenced by mood. I listen to all kinds of music of different feels and tempos and arrange my drumming around it.
At first I'll play around with some ideas, build from that, write them out, then record them.
What do you think might be different with this next
leg of the Seeed tour - the festival tour - compared to
the one you all just finished in March?
There will be more artists and bands around that'll also
impact the crowd sizes. I look forward to this upcoming tour
because it'll allow me to sit with other artists on a mutual
level and learn from them.
Ralph, you radiate such happiness and positivity and - especially
on Facebook - you are constantly encouraging and inspiring others.
How do you envision the future in this weird and wild world?
There's a lot going on in the world today. So much, that people tend to forget the little things that makes them happy. From experience, the world can stress you to death and make you feel hopeless and worthless. I'm just trying to give that sense of hope and supply simple guidelines to follow that'll make living a little more enjoyable. It seems like it's frowned upon to live a happy life nowadays, so I'm big on sharing happiness!
Give me a little background about Cold Steel and how you became a part of its line-up. Cold Steel is actually a drum line organization from a university that Harvey Thompson teaches at -North Carolina A&T. I always wanted to be a part of Cold Steel, but didn't get accepted to the school due to the limit of accepting out-of-state applicants. Cold Steel travels and performs all over the East Coast of the States. Since I grew up watching Cold Steel, I had picked up on their music and choreography. I've been best friends with Harvey since I was 10 and with Harvey holding the director's position of Cold Steel, he was able to give me the opportunity to finally perform with the group. It was a true blessing!
You and some of the other Cold Steel members - Keon Galloway
and Justin Campbell - live in different places in the US -
how do you get together to work on new beats and material?
With us living in different locations we're able to use Skype to visually see each other and show ideas, music and choreography. We're all able to pick up on music anddances fast so we can makeup routines right on the spot.
So, how did you first get interested in drums, and do you play any other instruments? I was always interested in music from a young age. My father was a DJ and I always watched over his shoulder and helped him pick songs to mix. But, I grew up in a bad neighborhood and my mother didn't want me to be around the negative influences so she threw me in the after-school marching band and that started my drumming career. I did take a few piano and guitar classes, but at that age I was more intrigued by the drums. I do wish I would've stuck to the other instruments though, haha!
How did you get involved with (German Dancehall/ Reggae Band) Seeed’s 2012 - 2013 Tour and is this the first tour of
such magnitude for you? I thank Harvey for granting me the amazing opportunity to perform with him and Seeed. It was my first time performing with that type of magnitude. It was the best experience of my life!
Was this your first time in Europe or Germany, and what
did that feel like for you? Also what is it like working with
Peter Fox, Frank Dellé and Demba Nabé?
In June of 2012, Harvey and I ran a rhythmic and choreography
clinic for a diverse a cappella group (One World Project) for one
weekin Munich, Germany. That was my first time in Europe and
I was fascinated by the culture. Also in September, Harvey included me with Cold Steel to perform with them at the Ghent Festival
in Belgium. He recorded their practice session in N. Carolina and
sent it to me. I learned a 20-minute show from watching the video.
It was so much fun working with Peter Fox, Frank Dellé and
Demba Nabé! I loved the chemistry they had and their approach
to get work done. They all gel well together and add their own style
to the overall product.