Music Q&A: J. Ralph/The Rumor Mill

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Once called an electronica wunderkind, music impresario J. Ralph shunned the mainstream album scene and hurtled into the hot spot of commercial music with the now classic VW's "Squares" through his company the Rumor Mill. His love of the commercials music process, four new spots for Nike ID via Wieden + Kennedy, directed by Anonymous Content's Malcolm Venville gave us plenty to talk about.

C: Describe the process of scoring Nike ID.

I scored four spots-"Treasure" "Orange and Green," "Style" and "Explorer." Malcolm Venville is a good friend of mine and we work a lot together. His images and the way he works seem to trigger something in me. I'm able to come up with ideas that distill his goal in musical terms. For Nike, Malcolm and [Rock Paper Scissors editor] Angus Wall wanted something as singular and unique as the spots, to encapsulate the notion of identity and specificity.

C: In "Style," did the kid dance to your music, or was it inserted afterward?

Music was after. It's all about that kid and that performance. He is the spot.

C: Why do you find freedom in scoring spots?

Ironically, films and records have been corrupted by the notion of how much money can be made from it, so you're selling the film and the record directly. So there's a tremendous scrutiny of decisions that go into every facet of the product. The commercial isn't the product. It's something in the hopes of selling something else, and I've found a tremendous freedom there. It's me and Malcolm and not a record-label idiot that doesn't know anything about music trying to copy what's on the radio.

C: What other projects are you working on now?

We just released my orchestral project, The Illusionary Movements of Geraldine and Nazu. It's an unprecedented arrangement in that we circumvented the distribution and record labels and did an exclusive deal with Barnes & Noble.

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