Ray Heberer has been a regular feature on this blog. The now 17-year-old prodigy is attending the Tiapei American School. As well as studying at a prestigious school and working on numerous music projects (Haemic and Bloodred Fullmoon and Reclusive Forest Council – and those are only his metal projects), he’s also writing and publishing a book one chapter at a time and dabbles in too many other interesting things to name. Aside from all that, Ray’s a fascinating guy with a lot to say – so enjoy the interview below and feel free to ask him more questions and shout out in the comments.
First up, what are you currently working on right now/ have just completed?
Well, as the school year has just ended and the summer season is beginning, I am preparing to record a lot of new music. Firstly, I have my new Bloodred Fullmoon album which is called A Change In Seasons. It contains most of the Winter Solstice EP songs remastered, and has 12 songs in total. The main difference you’ll hear, aside from vastly improved production quality, is the more prominent presence of keyboards in the album.
Also, Haemic is working on a short, 5 song EP. It’s based off of “A Machine Self Aware”, which is the song with overlooked potential in Fields of Sanguine. I’ll be rerecording it, and thus taking another shot at that ridiculous shredding lead guitar part, as well as recording 3 more very typically Haemic symphonic blast-beat ridden tracks, 2 of which will be continuations of the “Machine Self Aware” theme. Finally, there is a very interesting instrumental track that will be closing the EP.
On the non-metal side of things, I have 3 non-conventional hip hop pieces that I’ll most likely be releasing in August that are loosely inspired by Plato’s tripartite version of the soul.
Can you tell us a little about your different projects and what makes each one unique?
I’ll start with Haemic, since that’s probably the most well-known project, relatively speaking. The Hungarian Adam Farkas is the main mastermind behind Haemic, who does the compositions. I’m really fond of his style which is rooted in melodic black and death metal with symphonic and experimental leanings. It is always a pleasure to interpret and learn the guitar parts for Haemic songs.
Bloodred Fullmoon is my earliest project. It has its roots in my earliest attempts at compositions in 2009, back when I was part of a band. The band never left the ground, and none of the compositions ever saw the light of day, but some of the better riffs continue to be given second life in newer songs. Unfortunately, the Winter Solstice EP is pretty amateur in all regards, but I felt the compositions in it deserved to be remade in the new album. The style of Bloodred Fullmoon can be described as melodic death metal. Although there are a lot of modern melodeath bands emerging recently, I hope I can distinguish myself as my compositional skills mature by maintaining a sense of unity throughout a wide spectrum of dynamics.
Dreams of Winter is a project I’ve been steadily working on that is often unheard of and overlooked by those who are aware of my other projects. I collaborated with the German Konrad Hauch to compose an album’s worth of classical-music-influenced doom metal opuses. The debut album entitled Delicate Flowers is a complex concept that I hope will stimulate intellectual and emotional responses in those who dissect it. It will finally be ready for release this Winter.
These are the projects I’m currently active in. Aside from these, I have future plans for my progressive project Reclusive Forest Council, which shows a wide range of stylistic variety. I am also helping one of my friends create a post-hardcore/genericore album, which will be fun since I’ve always loved breakdowns. Of course, I have plenty of surprises prepared, so look out for them.
You recently started a blog at http://rayheberer.wordpress.com/, which is a mixture of discussions about your recording projects and more personal thoughts and essays. How are you finding blogging as a creative outlet and way of communicating with fans?
Unfortunately, I only have time to write a few words a few times a year. It’s not so much a way of communicating with fans as it is a creative outlet. You see, before music became my passion, I was more of a writer. I dreamed of publishing books, instead of releasing albums. Although obviously my life goals have changed, I still love writing occasionally, and so I use my blog to reflect on significant events in my life or just ruminate over various topics.
Can you tell us about the process of writing music with people who live in different countries? What are some of the benefits and challenges?
It’s actually a lot easier than it may seem. Communication and exchange of media and ideas is made possible through mediums such as email, facebook, and mediafire (or other file-hosting services). The benefit is that I can have an opportunity to collaborate with any random talent I might find on the internet. The challenge is that nothing ever happens in a timely fashion. There is no opportunity to just lock yourself together in a basement, really jam creatively, and find a great sense of flow. Projects made with this form of international collaboration often take a long time to complete, and aren’t terribly efficient.
You’re a man of many talents, and you have several different bands on the go at the same time – how do you spread your energy between so many different styles and projects?
Having several different outlets is actually a boon to my productivity. I can be in very different moods in terms of what sort of music I feel like working on and I usually have an outlet to do so in. I’m fortunate because as a student and a virtually unknown independent musician, I have no time pressures, so I take my time with everything.
Of course, it becomes very stressful at times. The main thing that helps me rejuvenate my energy would have to be the support from my friends. I have found that girls – as long as they aren’t trying to stir up drama in your life – are great supporters and listeners. Guys, on the other hand, are great for reminding you to not take yourself too seriously and call you a few names to prevent that ego from swelling too much. Despite the ways in which I’ve stood out as more than a student, I really am a quasi-regular kid going to some international high school. I have the same issues and problems that most teenagers have. Therefore, I usually have the same methods to alleviate the pressures of said issues as most other people in high school.
What do you do to promote your music? What have you found to be the most successful ways to get people to listen to your albums?
Honestly, I find promoting my music to be a very distasteful process. I really wish I had a manager to do it for me. Since this is not the case, I tend to just send messages to listeners, radio stations, and bloggers (such as yourself) in the hope that they will give me a chance and listen to my music for a few minutes. In the end though, it is the music that speaks for itself. I hope that as I continue to release more substance with better quality, people will start to notice and my music will be heard then. So I guess my plan is that making good music will be my most successful way to get people to listen to it.
Can you offer any advice to other young musicians?
My main advice is to not forget one’s identity and to never lose sight of one’s dreams in the face of adversity. As I mentioned, I started composing in 2009. However, I didn’t manage to record a single song until September of 2010, more than a year later. My experience with music has been filled with frustrations and setbacks. The thing that has kept my looking forward this whole time is knowing that I could be creating a product that offers entertainment, healing, communication, inspiration, and all those many gifts that music brings to us. I really have a strong sense of who I am, and what I want to achieve. This is more important than talent, resources, or training because in the end the will to succeed will overcome those products of circumstance.
What’s next for Ray Heberer?
I’m starting off my summer in Yreka, California attending a concert of my friends in Abandoned Gods who are playing to raise awareness of the imminent completion of their debut album As The Heroes Die (which may contain a guest solo of mine in a bonus track). My birthday’s on June 6th, so I’ll be turning 17. I hope I’ll be able to find some people to celebrate with me. Other activities this summer (besides the music releases I mentioned) include getting a driver’s license in Canada, canoeing for two weeks, and attending a family reunion (of my American half, obviously).
My senior year’s going to be my most active year in terms of music. Everything I’ve worked on throughout 10th and 11th grade is all culminating next year. Be on the lookout for many things from me this coming year of my life.
You can keep up with Ray’s various project via his blog or his Facebook page. You can even read the chapter of the book he’s writing as he publishes them. I’ve also previously reviewed Winter Solstice by Bloodred Fullmoon and Haemic’s Fields of Sanguine, and I’d recommend giving both of those a listen.