Interview: 5 minutes with Soulitaire

Austria-based indie singer-songwriter Martin Rotheneder, aka Soulitaire had an early introduction to music and picked up his first classical guitar at age 6. Changing the pace as he got older, he started playing electric guitar with his first band and found his groove by covering grunge and blues songs from the ‘60s and ‘70s. Switching pace again, he was pulled towards jazz training in guitar and attended Gustav Mahler Konservatorium for education. He released his first album That State Of Mind playing under the name Ben Martin, on Wohnzimmer Records, where he recorded all the instruments himself and recruited some friends to back him up live. Soulitaire is the sum of all the experiences the artist has had in the past. Working on numerous collaborative projects, such as pop band I Am Cereals and Indie-Pop band The Black Riders, and most recently, Jaramouche, from this Soulitaire started to take shape.

Today, Soulitaire has released a track titled titled ‘New Breed‘ which you can stream below.

We spoke with Soulitaire about the recording process and guitar pedals:

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

There’s nothing more exciting, more satisfying, more profound than creating something new from scratch, especially with music. It’s a most humbling experience, making me feel both tiny and at the same time at one with the universe. Sitting down to write and record a song and being able to press play some time later to listen to something that hasn’t been there before is just unbelievable, every single time. And sharing that with other people, especially in a live situation, when everyone is alert and open to the music in this very moment is just the best experience ever.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

The sound creates the world my ideas come from. The natural sound of my acoustic guitar and the way I tune it that is.

Does your material feature any collaborations?

No, not yet.

What’s on your current playlist?

Dan Auerbach – Waiting On A Song
Fleet Foxes – Crack Up
Phoenix – Ti Amo
Sinkane – Life & Livin It

Thundercat – “Them Changes” & “Show You The Way”
Frank Ocean – “Solo”
Anderson.Paak – “Come Down”

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

I like to take my audience on a journey through the worlds I create with my music and lyrics, so at best we together are all very alert to the subtleties of the moment. I’ve heard people call this “enchanting”, which obliges me to keep this certain energy going throughout the show, not only with music but also with the things I say between the songs.

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

I use a rather unusual open tuning on my acoustic guitar, add distortion and reverb to it’s natural sound and play drum-beats with my palm and fingers on the instrument. Plus I use a singing technique called “mouth trumpet” sent through some reverb to create synth-like sounds or melodies.

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

My recording studio is also my office and a very small room in my apartment. When I record I have to close all doors and windows to avoid sound leakage so it quickly gets quite hot and steamy in there. I’d first record the guitar/drum/instrumental part, which is usually done in a few takes without overdubs and only two microphones, then a rough take of the main vocals to get a good feeling for the song and then carefully add vocals sounds, backing vocals or mouth trumpet to make things interesting and give them a certain depth. Then I’d record more vocal takes until I got the emotion for the song right.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

There were three: at first when I was a little kid (age 4-6) and first experienced improvisation, then at 12-13 when I watched the films “The Blues Brothers” and “Woodstock” and then on March 7th, 2015 when I more or less accidentally wrote the song “In Between This Noise” which became the starting point for Soulitaire.

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

Nothing special, I’m not a “things” kind of person

Any emerging artists on your radar?

Pressyes, Leyya, Schmied’s Puls, Mavi Phoenix, Lausch (all from Austria)

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Guitar-like instruments that are challenging to play (partly broken, strangely tuned, oddly sounding etc.), letting my fingers discover new things to play; going for a walk; going to sleep while listening to podcasts or even to other music; cooking; boredom; silence

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

I play a Blueridge BR-180A acoustic guitar both through a DOD distortion pedal into a Fender Princeton Amp with reverb turned on to 5 and directly into a Behringer X-Air 12. For some songs I occasionally add some delay coming from a BOSS DD-20 Pedal (using the “analog” setting that’s meant to imitate a Roland Space Echo) or some more Reverb using a Line6 Verbzilla (especially in “New Breed”)

Any side projects you’re working on?

No, not at the moment.

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

I have the habit to constantly come up with stuff on guitar I can barely play, so I have to constantly practice in order to get my ideas across. My vocal skills have greatly improved by singing cover songs at weddings.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

I’m collecting ideas for new songs in between playing live shows.

Purchase ‘New Breed’ by Soulitaire via iTunes

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