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Composer, Producer and Remixer:The Peter Rainman Interview

In Paris

In Paris

I met Peter Rainman through Loic . As a fan of bands like OMD, Erasure, Wolfsheim and VNV Nation among others, you can imagine how excited I am. Peter turns out to be a friendly guy with a great sense of humor. He also lives in Brittany France which is a plus since I also blog about Celtic music. This interview has been done through facebook. So it took us  around three days to put everything up together in case I got follow up questions. I can visualize Peter setting opposite me in some distant future talking like this with his  French vivre bien. I love this! There’s nothing better than getting inside the mind of a musician, where inspiration comes from and of course the quirks that all come being what he is: Compose, Producer and Remix artist.

1.You are involved in interesting projects now. Would you care to give us background information on them?

Well at least I can try! Some of them will have to remain secret until it’s official … I’m producing Red Industrie’s forthcoming album, helping some bands in production (technical advices, but also chats about creating, etc…) such as Buzz… And I do take care of my first album, which is nearly ready. I also support and help my friend Ingo who deals with Electropop compilation. Meanwhile I had some remix request I must work on, at least one a week. So , in order to sum up things, this week I made one remix, two mixes, and I’ll soon after the interview, focus on productions…

2. What’s the music of People Theatre and when or how did it start ?

It started too late comparing with teenage bands. I was 20 years old when I founded People Theatre. Almost too old. I  recorded some grunge music with friends of mine then… gee! They all started so young and stopped two years after or something… Whereas I knew I had music in my veins. It’s not a hobby, it’s my life.

The big problem was to find someone as crazy as me, with music in his head. I was the lead singer in a pop/rock Quatour, so I pictured I’d be the same with another guy composing tunes… I was wrong. I found no one living with my madness so I remained all alone, playing instruments and singing. I used to be very humble : I wanted to be the Erasure or the Pet shop boys of the nineties(wink) !!!

My music is made of songs I have on my mind since my early childhood. They are like bubbles in my head. The only instruments that play my sounds were electronics and still are : keyboards, drum machines… I guess my friends would tell you it’s a mix between club culture, poplife, dark feelings and classic music tips (I do love piano and strings). A good bass line with heavy beat, and something you can remember… Lyrics are not those soulless lines I used to hear in clubs… I write automatically, I’m trying to make a kind of poetry… I say I TRY, huh?

3. Your music is closely associated with William Orbit, Monody, Diary of Dreams, Cause and Effect, Buzz, VNV Nation, De/vision, Partenaire Particulier (as you described). I find it melodic, groovy with a bit of that Gothic atmosphere. So it must be interesting to check out your collection. what were the artists you listened to when you just discovered music?

Thanks for those words about my music. The names you mention are both people I admire and work with. Your list is quite incomplete though. My collection should help you…

First I have hundreds and thousands of CDs since I begin to buy music in 1987. I dislike mp3s unless for demoes.

Second, well i have a very electro-pop British collection : Depeche Mode as many of us (I stopped after Ultra,started with 101 then… well I loved everything from 1981 to Violator!), Pet Shop Boys (complete discography), Erasure / Yazoo (same thing), OMD, Oasis, Blur, Chemical Brothers, New oOrder and I’m a huge fan of Rollo ! (of Faithless and Dido’s brother, etc…), and some CDs from Northern Europe : A-ha, U96… I have some more underground stuff, but bought it later : Psyche, Front 242 to name a few, and some synthpop compilations. I came to that style only few years ago, so I missed the Wolfsheim and Namnambulu era. However I know have some good releases from that period. I also collected some cool French bands in the eighties, such as Partenaire Particulier by the way.

Down below my desk I also have thousands of 12 inches of club remixes, as I’ve been a DJ for 16 years. Daft Punk, white labels…

4.You are a composer, producer and remixer. how do you juggle the three?

I have a strong coffee machine, loooooooool ! Seriously, that’s my job, so I’m quite organised : day after day I know what I have to do, and give me enough time to do it : a remix requires a day, production sometimes more, composition less. But when it’s finished it’s finished ; I don’t often come back on a past work. Actually I hate that.

However my plans are changing a little as I have more and more requests as singer, so I now need to find time to write lyrics and record them… And gigs are coming.

I think I’ll accept less remix requests. I’m making #266 right now, I guess people know I’m a remixer now, especially since the releases with IAMX or the bootleg of Depche Mode « Lilian », or several good works I have very good feedback about : !distain, Psyche, Foretaste, David Carretta…

Don’t worry I sleep and even have a life, a normal one… well if you consider someone singing tunes every time as normal, lol !

5. You mentioned having a wide collection of sounds and your dislike for mp3s. What do you think are the challenges of a musician in this era compared to say…10 or 20 years ago?

Before, let’s say, year 2000, the challenge was quite simple : a band needed to be signed on a label that would take 50% but it included promo, distribution, artwork, mastering, and even production. We used to say : « if we sell 10 000 copies (7 or 12 inches) at 6 or 7 euros, we could have 3 000 bucks at least. If we have 3 or four releases a year, that’s a pretty good income! » We all thought « should i stop working at the factory/office? »

But that was before….

Now it’s much more complicated. Why?

– First because anyone could make music with a simple laptop, or think they could. Daw cost around 500 euros and tons of plug ins are free. My drum machine costs three times more in the nineties, just to make a « poum / tchac!). So you have millions of people making music now… However, let’s face it, 95% are still making useless and soulless stuff.

– Second, the market has change : we don’t think about music, we think about data, we forget about the sound quality. My students are listening to electro music on their phone, it’s hissing all the time and there is no comparison between what the musicians composed and what my guys are listening to… ::sight::

– Final, labels are still working the same way, and as they are losing money, they stop many things : no more promo, for instance. We now all have a « normal » job, and music is only a hobby… I’m one of the few who work in studio everyday.

Nowadays the good equation is : good music + good promo + respecting the people = sales and buzz. It’s a constant pressure.


6. What’s your advice to people who are new to this business?

Advice? Well… According to my little experience, the first advice is WORK HARD. If you come with a demo you made in 10 minutes while discovering your sequencer and you claim to be pro, you are a liar or naive. Every time someone asks me how many times it took me to make the remix, my answer is « 20 years and a day. » It takes ages to understand how to program, compose, record decently. Learn for 2 or 3 years, then start to be known, but before, be humble!

My second advice would be : BE HONEST. Answer your mails, send the work on time, learn about the others.

My final advice is BE PATIENT. You won’t succeed in a year. What people need is time to discover you, to write the name of the band somewhere. I’m now after five years of intense work reaping what I sow… In the end, you’ll see : you won’t be mailing every famous band to work with them, they will write you instead…

But basically, just ask yourself : why are you making music???

if it’s for money, no way. If it’s for fun, well you’ll have fun , but not a longtime fame. If it’s your life, your blood, then welcome on board !!

7.Please give me that top 10 records you’ll bring with you if ever you are marooned for a week on white sandy beach.

I’ll take nothing actually… i can sing along ! But if you insist… well…

any Depeche Mode record before Ultra,

Erasure « Chorus! »,

unreleased song from Vnv Nation,

a decent compilation of the eighties with Bobby O, Divine, Dead or Alive… ans some french songs.

Pet Shop Boys – Introspective or Behaviour (finally, i’ll take them both!)

OMD – SugarTax

New Order – Substance… and Republic, by the way

And, finally, Allegri – Miserere

aaaaaaaaaaaand a compilation including !distain, De/vision, Wolfsheim, the Garland Cult / Empire state human, to name a few!


8.How does your day in the studio starts and ends?

If you don’t want to be mad within a few weeks , you have to mix unexpected moments with routine.

I start evey day by waking up my machines and pcs, of course, around 6 -30 savouring the first of my five coffees. After an hour, mails are checked, inspiration has to come. Dawn is coming. I often use to go for a walk, especially when i’m in my favorite town, Saint Malo. The sun, the sea, the grass and the birds… this motivates me a lot! Songs are not the same when you work in a cave or a hotel room. My songs are Brittany made, the stones are speaking still.

Day ends with… well it depends. It ends with a smile when I composed or remixed and I’m proud of the result. There can’t be a better day than a day of creation ! If it’s a « diem perdidi », well i’m transparent like a ghost and i need a movie or a book. Jane Austen’s would make it. I need feelings and human beings to get inspired from.

9.Tell me about your new song Fallen Stars. I had the opportunity to listen to it, I love it and I want to know what you did to it.

Well first of all, thank you ! It’s one of those stories that just couldn’t exist without internet. I discovered the instrumental song by Mental Discipline months ago, and, I still wonder how, tunes came to my mind, so I took the microphone and sang all the things I had on my mind. ONE take. A kind of magic occurred. I finally put the song on my soundcloud page and few hours after I had a reply from the band saying they just love it, though we tried to contact them for month, that was amazing ! I have a lot of plays on my page, I guess the magic I felt touches some people. What I like in music is, despite some ignorant people, we don’t know how to touch deeply the listeners. The birth of every song is a mystery…


10.Plans before 2010 ends and what will be expect from you next year.

As I have at least one release a week, the best would be to check my facebook page or my website ( www.people-theatre.com ) Electropop compilation volume 5 will be released soon, with a track from Coloured tears I mixed. Digital single from Dual density « Fake » is now available, including one of the most romantic remix I ever made. Remixes for Ostrich, Jonteknik and Babylonia are released or about to be. I’m also very proud of the remix i made for Scorpio. At the beginning of 2011, there will be a very cool analogue remix for Millimetric and a VERY top secret release of song i made, gigs , my debut album…

stay tuned!

11. What your prized gadgets in the studio?

I have a few… I’m not only talking about studio stuff, no, it doesn’t cost too much : two old synths, two old drum machines… even the owner is old, lol !

I’m saying I have a secret garden that means a lot to me… a press kit from Erasure, flowers I had from a gig… memories… Actually I need a kind of imaginary shield to work, to feel comfortable… Of course there are also hundred and thousands of records, including a picture disc from Bronski Beat ( I had a mail from Steve Bronski about it!!) and some signed copies to help me realizing I really work with those guys…


12.How do you say ” Nice to meet you in Breton?”

it depends from which Breton you are writing about… there isn’t one but many… The one we speak here is close to french, very roman i would say, or the things i hear when i go to Jersey…

I guess I’ll go for « t’prendras ben une bolée? » which invites the person to sit down and have a drink… as usual here !Add an Image

13.What’s the most memorable concert you’ve seen so far?

I don’t often go to concert to protect myself and my ears. I protect myself because the stage is calling me and I’m sometimes very frustrated when I’m not singing.

In 2006 , July, Paris, I went to a gig with Waiting for Words and Foretaste. As musician i knew them all well because i remixed both bands but it was the first time we met.

Foretaste’s lead singer, XX, is a fantastic person, sensitive and hypnotic. She knew my fav’ song was « Victim’s heart » and just before the song started she stared at me saying « this one is for someone special »…

Another strong memory was a festival in Paris with Psyche, IAMX, Foretaste and Front 242… and having a beer with them was just fantastic !!! the music takes another strong dimension when you know people better I think… unless you discover they are stupid and selfish, ahem…

14.Parting words to your listeners?

Buy what you love, love what you buy, feel what you hear and share it in a positive way !


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