By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Supported by singles like “Run Away,” “I Need It” and “Faith,” the latter of which whose music video accumulated over 100,000 views in less than a week, singer-songwriter Ratinoff recently dropped his debut self-titled album via Creative Entertainment Network/The Orchard.
“Faith” stood out as his particular favorite because it was written in one of his life’s darkest times and felt in many ways, that the song saved his life and shattered his negativity.
For the album itself, he worked with producers Aldo Muñoz and Wes Sharon (Parker Millsap, Turnpike Troubadours) and felt he accomplished his goal to embody a bold, retro sound.
The Music Bugle had the chance to chat with Ratinoff about his new album and more.
Music Bugle – What were some challenges involved with making your debut album?
Ratinoff – When I thought of making the debut album, the only challenge I saw at the beginning was starting over with a new musical journey and sound, at time there was a feeling of self-doubt. However, it felt amazing as I started listening to how the songs were progressing. I guess that the first glimpse of light was when I heard the first song that was finished. It’s called ‘’Soon Enough.” That song was written almost like a plea for help and desperation in the moment. It was a song that I wanted no association with when I had recorded it, due to the lyrics. I never thought people would be interested in that very deep side of me, but regardless of the very dark lyrics, the music was always uplifting, so that brought light into moments of darkness. I am realizing right now that the biggest challenge was having to accept the person I am – not just the light, but the darkness as well.
Music Bugle – What was your reaction upon learning of the success your video for “Faith” has had so far?
Ratinoff – Honestly, it has been surreal, but I am also grateful and touched that my music is connecting with people. I had always ‘’called all of the shots’’ when it came to my music and quite frankly, I was tired of it. When I started working with Creative Entertainment Network, I let them take the reins. I was quite surprised that everyone on the team loved the song ‘’Faith’’ and decided to launch it as a single. I didn’t know it was going to have the impact that it has. Even though the song is called ‘’Faith,” it came out of a place where I was very much doubting myself and as it turns out, it’s the song that started opening the door for me.
Music Bugle – What would you say are some creative advantages that come with being a singer-songwriter?
Ratinoff – Being a singer-songwriter has been the most rewarding asset I possess. I have said this many times. I am not the best singer-songwriter. Technically, I am very challenged and limited. However, the tools that I have, I exploit them all the way. I stumbled upon many singer-songwriters along the way and when I would listen to their music, I always felt like everyone always sounded ‘’perfect” and in a funny way, I wanted to be that as well. Many of them would make fun of me because I wasn’t the most gifted. Later, I realize that those things that I was made fun of, or flaws, that I had, gave me distinction. I don’t know if it made me great, it probably didn’t, but it made me different. I’ve also been learning to record my own demos. Technically, they sound very bad, but always with a very organic rawness quality about them. It’s a very addicting feeling. I play a little bit of guitar, bass, keys and drums, so I am always coming up with new sounds, or songs. The main riffs or hooks on my songs, have been ideas that I have come up with. My Producers Wes Sharon and Aldo Muñoz took the songs to the next level, but the core of my songs have always come from my musical epiphanies. When you are a singer-songwriter, your music and your lyrics and the way you perform them is the only thing only you can have control of and I’m fine with that.
Music Bugle – Which of your songs was the hardest to write or compose?
Ratinoff – I don’t know if there was a ‘’hardest’’ song to write or compose. All the songs that I have written, I have written in 10 or 15 minutes. However, the hardest song to listen to would have to be ‘’Soon Enough.” I remember playing it to somebody and that person describing it as a suicide note. I never saw it like that, but it’s always interesting to hear other people’s interpretation of my songs. That’s why sometimes I don’t like to say what the songs are about or what I was going through when I wrote it, because then it takes away from the person’s own interpretation of the song, rather than my own.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Ratinoff – “No Retreat, No surrender” and “Action” by Terror Fabulous.
Music Bugle – Away from music, what’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
Ratinoff – I’m great at doing voices. Sometimes, I’ll do a Sylvester Stallone, or even James Earl Jones, or the Emperor from “Star Wars,” or Yoda. (Laughs) One day, I would like to be a voice actor for cartoons.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Ratinoff – I think the pandemic has been hard on everybody in some shape or form. I’ve been using the time to be as creative as possible. I set up my home studio and I’ve been writing new songs.
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you feel the need to escape?
Ratinoff – I usually like going to church, Monday through Friday for the 30-minute mass. It feels good to just go and be there for that time. Of course, right now with the pandemic, they are closed, so I have been spending a lot of time in my home studio. When I put the headphones on, I always feel like I am stepping into a new world.
Music Bugle – What are your goals for the rest of 2020?
Ratinoff – I’m going to be recording an album with producer Wes Sharon at 115 Studios that is set to be released in early 2021.
Music Bugle – What’s something you wish happened more in the music industry?
Ratinoff – There are a lot of vultures out there who take advantage. I have definitely been taken advantage of in the past. It would be great to see the good industry people, the honest, artist-friendly people rise to the top. Finally, I am working with a team that is serious about my music and are helping me take it to the next level. I think a lot of artists get discouraged, because they have been taken advantage of and it’s a pity. I love music, it’s what drives me, however, I couldn’t have made it this far if it wasn’t for my current team and I’d like to see that happen for more artists.