Reflections In Hindsight

Grace in the Rearview Mirror…it's closer than it appears

  • Ephesians 4:29

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    Thank you for your encouragement and support for the past three years. We've had fun connecting with you and hope you've found useful material here on Reflections. And here's the but... Reflections In Hindsight is closing on December 21, 2012. Elaine and Sophie and I can be found over at http://authorculture.blogspot.com; April can be found at Clash of the Titles, http://www.clashofthetitles, http://www.aprilgardner.com and watch for news for more novels from her!; Janet is ever-present on the Internet with her very special words of wisdom and grace at http://www.janetperezeckles.com, and Luther--who knows where he'll show up next, but I'd watch my back if I were you... Book Reviews are always important, so I, Lisa, will continue to offer them through my blog, as well as those promotions for your new books or book launches, or your news.
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An Interview with French Horn Rebellion

Posted by Ben Erlichman on February 17, 2011

Ben Erlichman (BE): Our very special guest today is Robert Perlick-Molinari of the up-and-coming band French Horn Rebellion. Thanks for taking time to give us some insight into your life as an musician.

Robert Perlick-Molinari (RPM): Of course! Thanks for having me, you sexy dog.

French Horn Rebellion - Rob's standing up behind his older brother David

BE: Rob and I have been friends since our freshman year in high school. He is one of few people alive who is allowed to refer to me as “you sexy dog.” ;) So Rob, how did you get into music?

RPM: My mom forced me to take piano lessons, then horn lessons, and finally singing lessons.  Then I found out I really like the horn, so I went to school as a French Horn Performance Major.  You could call me a momma’s boy, I wouldn’t get too offended.

BE: You went to Northwestern University for college after high school. Did you major in music there or something else?

RPM: Oh yeah.  I definitely majored in music.  Northwestern is like a conservatory; a lot of hours are spent working on your craft in the practice room and in ensembles.  I learned a lot from it though, especially by playing in orchestras and chamber groups.  You really get to understand part writing by being part of something like that.  I try to carry that into FHR’s music as much as I can.

BE: FHR was born at Northwestern, grew up in New York, and now tours the world, right? How did that come about?

RPM: It’s all true!  I started the group because I was sick of French horn players falling in line with what their music professors were telling them.  It’s called a “Rebellion,” because through the music I’m trying to encourage horn players to be musicians, above anything else.  It’s not how fast you can do a trill, it’s not how perfectly you can do a slur, it’s about the music you’re making.  I was able to make sounds on my computer that I thought could do this better than a French horn.  So here I am, in this group.

Around that time, my brother was working with a lot of artists in New York City who were not thinking ‘out of the box’ either.  He dug where I was coming from, and so decided to help out on some of the group’s production.  He slowly but surely ended up becoming a full member of the band.

After I finished school, my brother and I headed straight to the road, playing every city we could get a gig in from New York to Los Angeles, playing every small town you can think of- Springfield, MO, Lubbock, TX, Clarksville, TN – in an attempt to spread the word about what we were doing.  A lot of the shows were terrible, but some of them went really well.  Through those good shows we met a lot of great friends- and so we were asked to play at this music festival in Austin called ‘South By Southwest.’  It was there that we met our current managers, and the rest is history!

(Watch French Horn Rebellion’s ‘Up All Night’ Music Video here.)

BE: Where in the world have you toured so far? What’s been your favorite place to visit?

RPM: We’ve been nearly everywhere!  We’ve played in France, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, the USA, and UK.  This year we’re going to be going to Asia for the first time, which we are really excited about as well!  I think my favorite place is Brazil.  A lot of beautiful people live there… (wink)

BE: You’re now the author/composer of multiple excellent songs and remixes. Which one(s) are your favorites? Which ones were the most fun to write?

RPM: Well thank you very much!  Don’t know if I’d call them excellent, we’ve got a long ways to go with our music! But for now, I think the ones that were the most fun to write were the ones that sounded like it.  ‘Up All Night,’ the FHR remix of Tigercity, and ‘Beaches and Friends,’ were a ton of fun.  Sometimes remixes come quickly, and sometimes it takes forever to get a good idea to come out!  For example, the remix we just did for the Newsboys took a lot of time to get right.  I’m not sure when it will be released, but I promise it will make you dance!  On the other hand, our remix for Sleigh Bells was done on a flight between NYC and LA.  It came out like lightning!

BE: Which do you enjoy working on more, remixes or original songs? Why?.

RPM: I like to do them equally.  Remixing culture is a lot like jazz for producers.  It’s a way to make something that is sometimes very solitary (producing) into a collaboration.  I love the challenge of trying to take something, flip it around, and make it into a completely different idea.  As for original tracks, those are fun because you’re starting with an idea that is brand new!  What can I say, I just love making tunes.

BE: A couple of your songs have received critical acclaim recently, especially ‘This Moment.’ What are some good things people have said about your music and some accomplishments you’ve made recently?

RPM: It was iTunes’ single of the week in Japan! That resulted in us getting around 30,000 downloads of that song.  As far as accomplishments, we haven’t really achieved many.  I suppose the best we’ve done is chart #9 on the electronic/dance charts in France for our single “Up All Night.”  Aside from that, we’re a pretty underground group right now.  Sure, we’ve travelled a lot, and played with a lot of really cool bands, but we haven’t achieved success on a massive scale.  I think it’s better that way actually.  We have little peer pressure for us to sound a certain way–we have a lot of artistic freedom.

(Watch the Music Video for ‘This Moment’ here.)

BE: Honestly, I don’t like all of your songs right away. Sometimes I have to listen to them several times until I really “get” them. Do you hear this a lot?

RPM: Yes, we do get that a lot.  I think that is part of the reason why our rise in popularity has been so slow and steady.  We just keep making music, and slowly, but surely, we’ve been getting more and more fans.  If we continue at the rate we’ve been going, we will eventually have a big, and very loyal fan base.  That’s the key to making music, I think.  If it’s really good, people will be into it.  Some music just takes longer to “get.”

BE: The flip side is that some of your other songs, in particular ‘This Moment,’ ‘Up All Night,’ and a few others, are insanely catchy and easy-to-love right from the first listen. Why do you think that is?

RPM: Well, some songs are catchier than others.  I think the album we’re releasing in the US this April is a perfect example of what we try to do with our music.  In that album, there are moments of joy, and moments of sadness.  It’s got the whole human condition.   Some parts of life are catchier than others.  Sometimes life is difficult to get through, other times it’s a breeze!

BE: We’re a group of writers here at Reflections In Hindsight. We have lots of readers who are writers as well. How do you go about coming up with lyrics that go so well with your music?

RPM: I think lyrics are sometimes our biggest weakness.  I try to create mini-stories within songs, and in the album, we created a giant story.  The album is basically a modern day electronic-psychedelic rock opera.  The lyrics were made to fit in within the story of the album we created.  As far as the creative process, lyrics really start with syllables, and words for me.  I have an idea of what kind of syllable I want, then fit words, or a small phrase, into the syllable I have in mind.  Either that or I have a word, or catchphrase, that evokes a lot of images, or emotions, and I try to fit it in so that it works.  Lyrics are really just syllables and powerful words or phrases to me.

BE: Could you briefly describe your conceptualization/writing process for writing your music and your lyrics for us?

RPM: I’m a firm believer that you have to write music with purpose. When approaching a new composition, I always ask myself the end goal I’m trying to achieve.  While writing the album, every time I approached a new song, it was always asking myself how each song fits within the larger composition. Also, when approaching a remix, I ask myself the same question– only instead, I ask how I can make my track fit within an awesome DJ set. How will my track fit?  Will it be at the beginning, middle or end of the night?  I think all creativity has to have direction.  It’s like building a grandfather clock.  It’s something that is beautiful in the whole, but needs to have all the specific parts be methodically put together.

BE: As writers we are tasked with creating a “platform” for our writing. A platform is similar to a fan base–it’s a dedicated group of followers who not only love your work but also help spread it around to their friends and people they meet. As a musician, how important is establishing and developing a platform? How have you done gone about doing this?  What advice would you give to other creative-type people (like us writers) who want to build their own platforms?

RPM: To make a great fan base, you have just got to keep doing what YOU do.  Succumbing to outside pressures of what you SHOULD do will always lead to failure.  In today’s society, there is a niche for every artist, as long as you are being true to what you feel is right.  Every person is unique, and so therefore, no two artists should ever be the same as long as they are being true.

(Visit French Horn Rebellion on Facebook here.)

BE: What does the “publishing” process look like for you when you’re working on putting out a new album? How does that differ from the process of publishing a song on the internet or through other mediums like iTunes? (maybe differentiate between putting out hard copies vs. electronic copies…that’s a big debate in the writing world right now).

RPM: In music, the terminology is slightly different, but I think the equivalent for a musician would be signing a record deal.  In today’s world, there are very few record labels left.  Most people download their music illegally, so it is almost impossible to make money on recordings.  Most money in the music business is made through royalties that are traditionally paid directly to the writers, and skip the record label.  So, a lot of artists (like us) self-release recordings through our management, and sign deals as individual writers for royalties.  Unfortunately, there is very little money to be made in the purchase of music recordings.  We make most of our money through live shows, radio plays, and commercials using our music.

BE: As a Christian, I can listen to your music and not question whether or not it’s something that would contradict my faith. I love that about your music. What’s more, I think your music actually has themes that resonate with Christianity more than the average listener would catch at first listen. Can you share with us your mentality when creating your music as far as making it “easy listening” for a wide variety of people, including Christians?

RPM: I think it resonates because a lot of our music deals with the human condition.  It encourages people to discover who they are, why they are here, and what they want to do as they confront the future.  I think anybody interested in these things (which a lot of Christians are) would like the music.  Admittedly, the music does not make literal references to God, or Jesus, like The Newsboys or DC Talk do.  It is secular music.  However, the music does encourage the listener to be an inquisitive person–striving to understand yourself and your environment in a strikingly honest and generally positive way.  I think that’s a pretty universal thing–that any religious person could dig.

BE: You’ve got some incredible stuff coming up including a US tour with Yelle and an awesome remix of a popular Christian band called the Newsboys. Can you tell us about these things? RPM: Well, we are very fortunate to be doing these things, and I’m really excited for both of them.  We’ll also be touring in Europe and some of Asia.  It looks like there is a good possibility we’ll be playing with MGMT in Hong Kong. I’m really excited for that!

BE: What’s next for French Horn Rebellion?

RPM: Our album comes out this April in the US!  There are also release dates around the world, so watch out.  You can buy the album right now anywhere, but it will be imported from the UK, so shipping will take a few weeks.  Check our website for news, and dates! (http://www.frenchhornrebellion.com)

BE: Thanks so much for stopping by. Any last words of encouragement for those reading this blog, specifically for writers, and specifically for readers?

RPM: Do what you do, and don’t be afraid of anything!

One Response to “An Interview with French Horn Rebellion”

  1. Good advice for all creative types…don’t be afraid of anything! This is a great interview, Ben, and thanks for posting it. The name of the group caught my eye since I live with a family of brass players – my husband (quite accomplished in his own right) and two daughters, the oldest of whom has attended Belmont University in Nashville, another great music school (she auditioned at Berklee – in voice instead of with her trombone – but we don’t talk about that anymore). Congrats to you and all your band’s success, Rob! I’m definitely going to have my family read this great interview. And, uh, thank you, Ben [oops, almost called you by that “other” name]. Thanks so much for sharing with us today! Blessings!

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