An Interview With Roman Rauch

Roman Rauch is an artist who boasts a unique and distinguished way of working sampled material. Growing up amongst the backdrop of idyllic Vienna, the Austrian tastemaker took notes from the likes of Gilles Peterson, who’s since gone on to commend his stirring, retrospective productions, in a feedback loop that I like to think’s inspired some other eclectically-inclined youth.

Rauch is the type that favours old analogue gear, dusty 1210s, rare groove records and other objects of that sort. He’s brought top talent to the club scene of his hometown with his Manifest party, which he co-hosts with a few pals. He’s also shed light on local talent through past radio shows on Play.fm and since brought his diverse blends to a host of other prominent platforms and stations. The Austrian native’s released with the likes of Quintessentials, Tjumy Records, Philpot, Intimate Friends, and more recently on his own Secret Crunch and Life is for Living labels.

Between his busy schedule of producing, touring, cycling and managing various projects and imprints, we caught up with Roman for a chat about ‘yacht house’, climbing the Großglockner on a bike with no breaks, and everything in between…

First things first, can you please define ‘yacht house’? I saw this posted on one of your social media pages with a wavey picture of a yacht and I felt like I was missing out on something big!

Hehe, well I remember coming up with the idea on a long hazy studio night. I thought if there’s yacht rock, which I’m a great fan of, then there should be yacht house as well. I guess it’s more about the feeling than a genre. the reaction to my post was also really funny, as some friends of mine got inspired to do their own version of yacht house, which turned out super nice. We always come up with stupid names and this was definitely a tongue in cheek move against made-up genres, which only seem to be made up to have some music writers writing about it.

Your Generell Deep show on Play.fm was always a treat because of the range of music that was played, and how it was blended. What kind of cuts do you enjoy listening to aside from all of that stuff, when you’re not being ‘Roman Rauch’, the artist?

Thanks, glad you enjoyed it. We (Josef Eisl, Sam Irl and me) always had a real blast recording it. As you already mentioned we all have a wide range of music taste. At home, I love to listen to boogie stuff from the early 80s, yacht rock, loads of Brazilian and African stuff, or whatever comes to my mind. I don’t usually listen to club music when I’m at home either, because I don’t want to get distracted or influenced by it for my production; I prefer to take those influences from old stuff.

Yeah, you can tell that you clearly take influence from a broad range of subcultures, scenes and artists. What really jumps out at me is the African American influence – disco queens like Patrice Rushen, Chicago and Detroit-based house-masters like Larry Heard and Moodymann, and 90s Hip-Hop gurus like Nas – not forgetting Yacht House of course. Do you think that you might get involved in projects that are almost completely detached from the increasingly-blurred confines of the electronic music scene in future?

‘Never say never’ I’d say, although I’m enjoying my spot right now, but yeah, always good to try new things and keep things fresh for yourself and the public.

An EIU survey recently listed Vienna as the ‘most liveable city in the world’ – I am only aware of this because I was asked this question at a pub quiz during a recent trip to the Lake District, in which me and my girlfriend woefully came last – how crucial has this backdrop been in terms of cultivating your talents, passions and growing success? Have you always lived there? What was it like to grow up in Vienna?

I think I can confirm that it’s one of the most liveable cities in the world, the infrastructure is great. Imagine, 5 metro stops from the city centre to take a swim in the river Danube, beautiful old architecture, lovely summers, and very reasonable prices. I moved to Vienna in 2001 and have been living here since then, besides a one year stay in Barcelona. I grew up in Salzburg in the countryside before moving.

Vienna aside, where are your favourite cities, festivals and places to play? Are there any experiences that have particularly stood out amongst the rest so far?

My wife and I are huge fans of Asia, especially Japan. We try to go there once a year. Tokyo is an amazing place. Of course, there are many lovely cities in Europe too, like Lyon, Amsterdam and Zürich.

Is there a particular eclectic tastemaker that was a resounding role model for you when you were finding your feet? Or is your style purely the logical conclusion of having a broad palette? Gilles Peterson springs to mind for example, who I know has been a supporter of yours.

Well, of course, Gilles had an impact since his show has been aired by Austrian national radio every Sunday for so long. Same goes for the Solid Steel series by Ninja Tune, which I taped nearly every week from the radio. I felt so honoured when they asked me to contribute to the series.

What is the most standout performance you have seen to date at your Vienna club night – Manifest – and why?

That’s hard to say, as we had so many acts and great memorable nights! We rarely had any acts not blowing us away with their selections, nor did we ever have any problems with missed or cancelled flights, with any of our guests. I think this comes from the personal relationship that we try to keep up with our guests.

You’re evidently a keen cyclist. Is this something that’s more than just a hobby to you? What’s the best two-wheeled experience you’ve ever had, and why?

I’d say more of a hobby, although I worked in a bike shop and as a courier as well. It’s just the perfect balance to the studio work. Getting some fresh air, while you work out is just lovely, plus the excitement you get from it is amazing. There have been so many nice experiences while riding, but one that I won’t forget is riding up and down one of the highest mountain in Austria – the Großglockner – on a brakeless track-bike… never again!

Do you like to listen to music while you cycle, or do you often find yourself riding to give your ears a rest?

I usually wear my headset when I cycle, but not always for listening to music. Often it’s only to answer calls or to protect my ears from the wind. However, sometimes I do like to listen to music while riding. It’s a bit like checking your own productions on your car hi-fi – It’s always good to listen to your stuff with a different mindset, like listening to your music while cooking.

You’re also a self-proclaimed vintage, analogue gear nerd. Which of your old bits of gear could you simply not live without? Is there one single piece of equipment that has been crucial to the development of your sound so far?

I’d definitely say my MPC, since I been messing around with her since day one. I’ve also got mad love for my Emu SP12 and EMAX though, which both just sound incredible if you run the right signal through them. Every time I feel uninspired, I turn on any of those two machines and run stuff through it. The outcome usually inspires the next track.

Your latest LP on Secret Crunch – Down in 1150 – has vibes that range from Lord Quas/Madlib to MCDE and Herbie Hancock. What can we look forward to hearing in the near future from Secret Crunch and any other labels you or your friends are releasing with?

I’m just finishing a 12″ with Tilman for my Life Is For Living label, which should be out by late 2018. I’m also sorting out some 12″ for other labels as we speak, just trying not to lose the overview over my work, as it been quite a productive year in terms of studio production.

Finally, your show on Play.fm had a focus on shedding light on up-and-coming Austrian talent: which Austrian picks should we be looking out for in 2019? Aside from Roman Rauch, of course.

I’m glad that Sam Irl is starting to get the light he deserves. Moff & Tarkin, originally from Iceland, relocated to Vienna a few years ago and I love his productions. Demuja is also killing it around the world. My friends from the Step Back Trax and Luv Shack labels also doing really good stuff, and you should check out the 10th release of the Fortunea label, which gives a nice overview of what’s happening here. Precious K and I also contributed a track under our Twin Peaks moniker.