Valeska Rautenberg’s single “The Forest Song” has just been released. Weaving acoustic elements, storytelling vocals, and piano sounds into electronica and field recordings and thereby creating landscapes; traveling into Indie, Trip-Hop, instrumental Modern Classical and beyond. Valeska is a multi-genre indie musician, singer, composer, a voice-over actress, and a dedicated music teacher. Born in East Berlin to actor Klaus-Peter Thiele and painter Rosemarie Rautenberg, she grew up living and breathing creativity and has followed that path throughout her life. She began with dance and moved to acting before settling on her true calling, music. “Her music doesn’t follow any rules outside of her own inspiration, and so it happens that in the worlds she creates, the Cheshire Cat lives alongside the Steppenwolf.” Her songs inhabit a space between vast deserts, a whiskey sour and submersion in the deepest, bluest ocean, to then eventually pour a spectacle of colours down upon you. In her voice, she reveals all of her many facets to you: sometimes intimate and then intense, sometimes dreamy and then again ruthlessly open…all of that carried by the piano and melancholy downbeats. Sometimes the arrangement is minimal, other times the paintbrush paints a larger picture.
We met the artist for an exclusive interview that you can find below.
Welcome Valeska and thank you for this interview.
What are currently your main compositional challenges?
Honestly, to keep all the song ideas in check. They keep coming and keep flowing out of me. It’s both a blessing and a curse because I will never find the time to turn all of them into fully fledged songs.
Writing a piece somehow comes naturally to me, producing it, however, is a lot of work and takes time.
But I’m not complaining. I am very grateful for all of this creativity pouring out of me.
What do you usually start with when composing?
Anything can inspire me. The process varies a lot. One time it’ll be a little melody I subconsciously hum, the next time it’ll be the rattling of a train that comes alive as a beat in my mind and another time the thoughts that I am pondering will form into some lyrics. The more open the doors of perception are, the easier it is (little William Blake reference joke on the side here ;)).
“The Forest Song” has recently been released with Blue Spiral Records, can you tell us something more?
“The Forest Song“ is my humble attempt at translating nature into music. I wanted to create this notion of being submerged in a vast forest and how its love and power feel to me. That’s why I only used my voice and very few instruments – to keep it natural. Fun fact: The beat is entirely made out of my furniture at home.
I think we desperately need to reconnect with nature and our own inner nature as well, our feelings. For me singing is the way to build that intimate connection with myself.
How do you see the relationship between timbre and composition?
It’s an important one. The greatest composition would lack feeling if the instrument of choice didn’t have the matching timbre to bring it to life. Different timbres inspire the way I play differently. It’s always an interaction, a dialogue of sorts, and therefore very meaningful.
When it comes to singing I need to look for the right timbre of my voice to fit the song the best; until it clicks, so to speak, and it is magical when it does.
Do you feel it important that an audience is able to deduct the processes and ideas behind a work purely on the basis of the music? If so, how do you make them transparent?
Firstly, anybody who would like to know is always more than welcome to ask me. In general I think it’s part of the magic of music that so much is open to interpretation and to the fantasy of the listener.
What’s a typical work week like?
Not so typical … something different every week. I teach my music students singing, composition, arrangement and everything else I can offer them. I do a lot of breath work and emotional work these days and help everybody (including me) to connect to themselves with the help of their voice and music in general. Especially important in these weird and draining times we’re living in. I also record and produce my music and other people’s music and toy around with photography.
What is most challenging about what you do and what is most rewarding?
To not lose one’s spirit in a pandemic, to build up my students when they hit walls of writer’s block and pandemic induced frustrations.
To always reinvent myself and to challenge and overcome the limitations of perfectionism every day.
And … to fit everything I want into one little life and not get swallowed by it ;).
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
To find the balance between everything. To keep growing as a human being and an artist and hopefully inspire along the way.
Musically, to see my dream collaborations come to life.
What else would you like people to know about your job/career?
That I love it.
I’m a multi-genre artist and you will hear a lot of different styles from me in the near future. Spanning neoclassical piano music over to Singer-Songwriter & Rock to Electronica, Trip Hop and beyond. I love exploring and don’t like to stay in boxes. I would love to welcome you on this musical journey of mine.