Music for the soul: Raptors & Remnants reveal “Serpent Sound” single

Raptors & Remnants
Raptors & Remnants

Creating music is about baring your soul, leaving you exposed and revealing your deepest, darkest secrets, wildest dreams and most agonising heartbreaks. For Nicolas Gonzalez, Raptors & Remnants is exactly just that – it is an outlet for him to share his stories of love, death and everything in between.

As the lead vocalist and guitarist of Johannesburg-based alternative rock band Climate Control, Gonzalez has already established himself as a noteworthy lyricist and performer in the South African alternative music scene.

Potchefstroom Herald recently chatted to Gonzalez on his new single “Serpent Sound” and taking his music to different territories.

  1. How did Raptors & Remnants originate? Was it in the works before Climate Control started? Do you feel it is easier to release a solo project having been in the SA music scene for a while now?

It was always something I was doing even before the band started, yeah. I started writing acoustic songs initially, so this is essentially my first musical project. I love writing different styles of music, so writing solo material is just another creative outlet for me. It is easier in some ways because it requires less coordination and joint-decision making, but it’s also more daunting in some ways because you’re going it alone and have to handle most things on your own.

  1. The sounds vary a lot from the melodic metal/alternative vibes of Climate Control. Does this give you another avenue to expand your music career? In other words how do you envision Raptors & Remnants?

For sure. I’ve always envisioned it as a form of exploration in different styles, predominantly leaning towards acoustic, indie and pop. I’ve never really viewed it as one single thing or style, which I like because it prevents me from boxing it in and saying it’s a project for me to create only one style of music with.

  1. The new single “Serpent Sound” has a big focus on guitar. What is the beauty of guitar in your opinion? Why did you fall in love with playing guitar?

It’s the first instrument I naturally gravitated to, apart from drums. My grandfather gave me this beautiful old Spanish classical guitar when I was quite young and I fell in love with the sound. It’s always been exciting to me to just sit down and play and write. It’s a beautiful thing.

  1. “Serpent Sound” has a lot of juxtapositions on love focusing on various elements both lyrically and musically. I really enjoyed the layered instruments! What do you like most about the song?

Thank you! I really enjoy the guitar riffs in it, they’re fun to play and also in a really strange tuning, which is refreshing to write in. I also love playing around with vocal harmonies and making things sound really pretty, so I enjoy those aspects.

  1. The music/lyric video in my opinion is also fantastic. What was your input in the video and what story/theme did you want it to tell?

Yeah, I’m super happy with it. Brook, who plays synths in the band, handled the video for me – he’s a genius. I didn’t really give him too many guidelines or specs, just some visual cues as to the look and feel I was thinking of, and then he just did his thing.

  1. Does Raptors & Remnants give you that option to fully express your own ideas and sound? What opportunities and challenges have you faced with this solo project?

It does, yeah. I can just let things flow as they come and lay them bare, which is really cathartic. That gives me the opportunity to showcase my work individually and also just as a form of release, because I tend to bottle things up. As for challenges, the solo thing does put a restriction on the things I can do live in terms of multi-instrumental performances, so I’ve just been doing really stripped back acoustic shows as Raptors & Remnants. I’d like to branch out a bit with that and get some musicians together to put on something a little different live, eventually.

  1.   What has “Raptors & Remnants” taught you as a musician, in other words how has it improved your musicianship?

It’s definitely improved my musical production abilities, because I mostly record my own tracks and demos, so a lot of my experience in that regard is from trial and error, and just experimenting. I hope it’s also made me a tighter musician, and also helped me branch out to different instruments when I record those for these songs.

  1. Where do you get your inspiration as a lyricist? How do you go about writing lyrics? Do you favour writing personal lyrics as a form of release?

It’s definitely a release, yeah. Inspiration comes from tons of different things, but often it’s just me sort of trying to make sense of the world around me and the things I’ve experienced and observed. I’m a sucker for a sad song though, haha. So a lot of my lyrics tend to explore those sort of emotions. But as for the lyric writing process, I don’t really have any formula. I’ll often write random pieces or phrases and then build around those, or start with the chorus and then move on to the verses and other parts, so it’s sometimes a kind of chop and change process.

  1. I checked out your blog, (http://raptorsandremnants.blogspot.co.za/) and I see you post lyrics and poems regularly. How do you feel has the response been to your blog? Would you encourage musicians to be as open with their creative side?

I’ve actually somewhat neglected my blog a little of late, which I feel bad about! The response is generally quite positive when people do check it out, and it’s always good to hear that someone’s enjoyed or resonated with a piece. I’d definitely say it’s a good thing for musicians or artists of any kind to be open when expressing themselves, and to be as honest as possible. Sometimes you kind of let things flow and then look back at it after it’s spilled out on paper, and realize that it might be a little self indulgent, but I think that’s okay when it’s honest and has helped you overcome something that you’re going through, or to realize that a certain thing needs to change. I like to look at songs or poems or short stories as landmarks that you can look back on, and each one colours that era or time of your life and hopefully leaves an honest imprint of who you are or were at that time.

  1. What can we expect in future? More single releases and an EP/album release? Would you be open to doing collaboration on one of your tracks?

Definitely more material, hopefully and EP or full album sooner rather than later. Definitely open to collaborations! I’ve worked on some recently, but as myself featuring on other artist’s songs, which should be coming out soon, and that’s always a lot of fun.

  AUTHOR
Wouter Pienaar
Sport Journalist

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