As Mark Flash mentioned before, Mark Flash, De’Sean Jones and Raphael Merriweathers Jr. are teaming up for a new live high tech jazz trio called Satori 3. Electronic Directory catches up with UR and Tunnel 7 man Raphael Merriweathers Jr. to talk about the Satori 3 project, his forthcoming collaborations, and Underground Resistance.
Interview with Raphael Merriweathers Jr. by Kazuumi Ishii
First off, thanks for taking the time to talk to us here at Electronic Directory. Firstly, I guess recently tracks / remixes released with both Ray 7 and Andre Womack monikers have become a little scarce, what has happened to your production as of late ? So it seems you both find it hard to sit down and get some new tracks out, either together or individually ?
Well after we did the Black Presidents album we took a break, while both still working. But we have been working on new things for 2009.
There are many artists with different projects, but only few get so popular with all their different projects. You are one of them. What drives you to produce many-sided electronic music ?
When I start a track I just start it whether it be for a particular project or just something I have to get out of my system I just go with what I feel. I just like to do music.
Is there such a thing as a leitmotif that connects all your different projects ? Maybe in the basic structure. For example I think your rhythm patterns have something specific which, I thought, is somehow audible in any of your projects.
That’s hard to say I guess you can say that everyone has there own sound, so maybe there is such a thing as my leitmotif.
Tell us a little about your production process.
My process is really just a creative one. My track can start from a sound in my keyboard, a sample of a voice, what hardware I’m using, who I’m working with or where I’m recording. I basically then just step into the studio and let it happen.
De’Sean Jones, Mark Flash and Raphael Merriweathers Jr., you guys have teamed up to show off a new live high-tech jazz trio called Satori 3. How did that come about ?
It came out of us hanging out at different gigs and plus the fact that I (Ray 7) and Mark Flash both play percussion and De’Sean is a great sax player who will play any style of music, so it was just the thing to do. Plus we all get along, which really helps.
As we know, Satori means ‘enlightenment’ in Japanese. Why is the trio called Satori 3 ?
Well De’Sean thought of it. He really loves Japan, it was his first time there, so when he said the name we both said that’s it. And we all love coming to Japan, it’s one of my favorite places to play and visit. So that’s why we chose that name, it just seemed to fit us so well.
How do you produce together ?
That’s easy we just work the track out until we feel it is finished.
Sum up the Satori 3 philosophy ?
Our philosophy is to enlighten and excite our audience with a new and interesting fusion of music.
You’re also playing as Universe 2 Universe/Galaxy 2 Galaxy and a few months back played the Metamorphose Festival – how did it go ?
As always every time I come to Japan the shows are great, the love we receive from the audience is great which makes me do the best I can do. It was a great time seeing friends that I have made during the years from my many visits to Japan.
I was surprised that you guys performed a lot of cover versions – ‘Black Bottom Stomp’, ‘Freedom (Make It Funky)’ and ‘Starlight’. Who’s idea was it to cover these classical works ?
We all like the classics.
Electronic Music has also changed in that it is welcoming a live element back in with performers playing instruments and singing in the clubs and rocking electro has become pretty big too – how far do you think this blending of sounds and genres is going to go ?
Well as far as it can go, whoever is willing to do something different. I always wanted to see people playing and singing live. I mean that’s what live is to me. Sometimes people just seem to think you just push a few buttons and a track comes out because of the kind of equipment we use, but you still have to play it.
If there was one track from the UR back catalogue you would like to remix what would it be and why ?
Wow that’s hard to say. I feel the tracks that come out on UR are just what they should be, it is what it is.
I was going to ask more about UR generally. At the moment there are a lot of really exciting, interesting new producers including Bileebob, DJ Skurge, Mark Flash… How do you feel UR is changing ? Is it even UR anymore ?
I like the fact that UR has new people coming in. I have become friends with a lot of the new people and plus they bring a breath of fresh air to UR… UR is always changing.
What are your plans for 2009 in the way of performing and production ?
My plans are to keep doing what we do. I’m working with a lot of great people and I feel blessed to be able to work and travel. Just to name a few, there will be more UR and productions with MIXWORKS, TEK BROTHERS, LOS HERMANOS, JAMES PENNINGTON, BLACK PRESIDENTS, SATORI 3, and a group called EXECUTIVE and, I’m also working with a new spoken songs artist called CHERRIE AMOUR.
Finally, you have worked with so many artists over the years. Who would you give your left arm (or leg) to perform with ?
I truly can’t answer, I like working with everyone, so lets just say if I have to give a arm or leg to perform with any one, I guess it wouldn’t be much of a performance. I feel blessed to be able to do what I do. And I can’t say who, because I like them all.