Charley Raiff Is Extraordinarily Different

Interview by: Shaine Freeman, Music Editor and Host of The Miews Podcast
Photographer: Pascal Bernier

charley raiff

Being unique may not be the popular way to go in today’s music biz, but its the only way Charley Raiff knows how to do it.

Please tell us who or what inspired you to play piano early on?
Watching conductors. Leonard Bernstein was a huge influence as a kid~ and what I realized is I could get a diversity of voices on the keyboard like Lenny seemed to be doing with his thing. Part of what got me into improvising and composing is it finally let me choose all that.

When did you realize that being a songwriter and artist was something you had a passion for, and what sparked that desire?
I had always known I had talent with words. Around 18 years old I started to actively listen to Bob Dylan and deep cuts of The Beatles, and that’s when I knew it was time to start mixing lyrics into music to make songs. In terms of being an artist, probably nobody influenced me more than Jimi Hendrix. That may seem strange considering he’s more commonly worshipped by guitarists. His spirit and his songs really bled through to me. It got me in that kind of way that you get the first time you really feel like you’re rocking out, you know?

Every musician is a music fan as well as a critic. What is your biggest pet peeve about much of today’s music?
I don’t know if I have any pet peeves, but I think what has happened to songs is that they have become so over produced, that for me, it becomes impossible to tell one that really strikes me or not. I love electronic music, but I think the over-infinite possibilities that computers grant can have the reverse effect. These immense advances in technology and creative possibility have stunted the chance that we create something that is really special, in my opinion.

Let’s talk about your project, “In Persona”. You’ve got some great songs on there. Why did you choose “Tell Me” as your 1st single and video?
“Tell Me” seemed to be the one that was catching people the most. As an unsigned artist, too, I’m wary of my own decision-making~ because artists who don’t take advice usually end up dead, for lack of a better word. Independence is a gift, but also a curse if you’re not careful. You gotta see what’s vibing the most with your populous.