In this edition of #CREATORTALK, we speak to Valeska Rautenberg ( @valeska_rautenberg on Instagram). #CREATORTALK is a series of articles and interviews, with a focus on the creative industries and the the talent working within them.
PW- Hey Valeska! How’s it going?
It’s going well, thank you (as long as I don’t watch too much of the news at least…haha). I hope you’re well, too.
PW- So, first thing’s first. For those who don’t know yet, how would you sum up who you are and what you do?
Phew…you start with the heavy questions, ey? I am Valeska, an East-Berlin born lady with a creative heart, a sarcastic mind and a warm and fuzzy soul. What I do is make music, sing, teach music, and work as a voice-over actress. And recently I became a passionate music video maker.
PW- In our initial email, you mentioned that you are releasing a cycle of four EPs, each dedicated to one of the elements. Where did this concept come from?
The idea sort of developed itself while writing and producing all of these songs (the production of the 4 EPs is already finished … woohoo!) because they were all so different in terms of themes and genres that they reminded me of the different elements. Some are as intangible and fleeting as air, others with the weight of a tidal wave while other songs had the passion of a fiery woman ;). I’m not a big fan of writing music according to what would work on the radio or what style could be successful … I guess I just write what feels good and right to me in that very moment. So this is how the elements happened.
Aerial Minds, for example, is full of themes that are, in my opinion, hard to grasp. The EP touches subjects like human weaknesses, loss and it even gets political. Those themes can feel like trying to catch air sometimes. But that’s what music and art in general is for, right? Expressing what can’t be otherwise expressed.
PW- You just released the first of these collections, Aerial Minds. How would you describe the EP in three words?
Intangible, cinematic, intense.
PW- You’ve also released several music videos to accompany the EP. What was the concept behind these videos and the style?
I guess I just wanted to make music videos that look and feel like I see the songs in my mind while writing them. So they don’t have storylines but are reflections/visuals of the sound itself. Watch them and you might get a sneak peek into my brain ;).
PW- You’re based in Berlin. What is something exciting happening on the art/ music scene there that we might not necessarily know about in the UK (and across the world for international readers).
There isn’t a thing that’s not going on here and you could probably find anything you like. It’s a very active and bubbly place. I haven’t been involved much in the art scene in recent years. I have become a bit of a studio nerd and wanted to fully focus on writing, teaching and producing music without being too distracted. Maybe that will change again but for now I like the quiet nerd status. I’m not much of a tourist guide, am I?
PW- This blog focuses heavily on creativity and the real people behind the art. How does creativity affect you on a day to day basis? Do you get super inspired out and about, or is it more of a focused effort, where you can shut off from the world and just think?
Creativity is such a big part of my every day life. Whether I bring it out in my music students, in a production I’m working on or just when I walk the streets and see something I like, film it and turn it into a music video. I guess creativity is something that just comes and goes but if you open the doors to it, it will be a more frequent guest. When I try to force it, it runs away … screaming. My songs mostly come to me when I don’t think about writing a song, like in the shower or while riding my bike. That’s when my unconscious pops up to say hello and occasionally spits out a song I really identify with. This to me is also one of the keys to teaching music. I want to encourage my students to allow music to come to them and then play with it.
PW- In this kind of economy and industry, it can be tough to feel like you’re moving forwards sometimes. How do you battle these feelings when they come up, and do you have any advice to other people who might be struggling in a similar way?
That’s a tough one. I think my advice to anyone would be: Don’t ever compare yourself to others. You don’t know their journey. I’ve seen and heard so many amazing street musicians all over the world playing for a penny and heard so much generic, lifeless bullshit in the charts, so honestly commercial success is probably mostly defined by who has the most money for promotion and hardly ever by quality alone. Don’t take it personally if you feel like you are not “successful” in a commercial sense.
I used to work as an actress, have had some commercial releases and quite a few so called “successes“ under my belt from back in the day, but honestly it doesn’t make you a happier person and it’s all fleeting. I think today’s economy and industry for most people is a very unhealthy environment. So take care of yourself. Maybe try redefining your definition of success. You have the gift of creating and expressing. That in itself is success, isn’t it?
PW- And final question! It’s more of an invitation actually. Use the next few sentences to self-promote the hell out of what you’re up to, what we can see etc, no judgement!
Haha…not really my strong suit. Ok, I will try. If you like heartfelt music that’s not afraid to break rules and touch deep subjects, music that lives in the realm of cinematic downbeat – dark pop meets piano and female vocals, come find me online. There will be the four elements EPs accompanied by lots of music videos and more collaborations with musicians from all over the world – check out my latest one with We Are All Astronauts here: https://open.spotify.com/track/2QCtisCUsyG1XtEqlme0lJ
In addition to that I’ve written 2 neo-classical, instrumental piano EPs that will be released in the near future.
You can also look forward to a lot of opportunities for you guys to collaborate with me on my music videos as well (come find me online and you’ll find out)! And of course if you need advice on singing, arrangement and what not, drop me a line, I share my skill set via Skype. These are all my social media channels and if one of you is a social media manager, maybe you can tell me how to actually deal with them! 😉