Let’s jump right into it… thank you for speaking with me Rich..
Q: So you’ve been on many sides of the music business including tv, film, advertising, frontman, session musician and recording artist. How did you get into tv, film and advertising as a musician?
A: Yeah, I’m kind of a music prostitute…I’ll do anything! LOL! I actually like doing different things all the time to keep my interest fresh and to exercise different musical muscles as well as to keep growing and learning. I love the challenge of trying to make something great in any style project I do. The sync biz stuff came about by accident (as most great things do) I was part of a little local songwriting group and a random request for music came in from one of the guy’s lawyer friends. Luckily, the song I wrote and recorded was selected for a huge national tv ad campaign for Audi…so I thought, well, this is probably not an accident, that maybe I’m good at this.
Q: How do you decide whether or not you will work with an artist in studio? Do they reach out to you or vice versa?
A: Yeah, usually one of my music business friends will turn an artist on to me and ask if I’ll work with someone. I haven’t done it in a while because of the Covid and my family being home 24/7 as well as everyone else quarantining. Honestly, I’ve been less into writing/producing for others since most folks don’t listen. Hee Hee.,, I can’t blame them, I didn’t listen to good advice when I was coming up either. As I found later, it’s the surest sign of an amateur, which I also was, to disregard craft for ego. Meaning..artists saying “I think something’s great and finished, because of course it is…I’m awesome!” Without doing the professional thing in exploring options, rewriting, trying new parts..etc etc.. all the things that the real artists do.
Q: Tell me about Heller Highwater Music Productions.
A: Heller Highwater started in a basement on Heller Parkway in Newark, NJ in my old band house. It was my first makeshift studio but it used to flood on occasion…thus “Heller Highwater” LOL…I’ve used it ever since for my productions.
Q: So I first heard Clouds and Thorns on Spotify & instantly loved the song Everything is Possible Now..not realizing this song was released 3 years ago..it sounds so familiar…what’s the story behind this song?
A: Likely you’ve felt like you’ve heard, “Everything is Possible Now” before because you have..LOL..it’s been used in just about everything for many years.. TV shows, trailers, TV ads, etc etc.. Some even before it was ever released under Clouds and Thorns. C&T actually started as a collection of similar vibe songs that felt like part of an album. Because I do so many different styles, it was fun to find some that resonate together and make a “band” out of them. It didn’t seem right that I simply use my name as the artist since it’s only a small part of who I am or what a I do then as C&T got released, it started taking on a life of its own as people around the world started really embracing it and loving the songs. Honestly, it surprised me more than anyone..LOL.
Q: Your latest single, Hello My Old Friend, would make a good quarantine song…is this about anyone particular?
A: “Hello” is just simply about me enjoying connecting with some old friends. The song was started a couple of years ago, and somewhere in the Fall I started envisioning how I could finish it. Unfortunately, my process is long and arduous. LOL.. There’s hundreds of songs being worked on in various stages at the same time.. all while I’m constantly creating new stuff every day. It’s overwhelming mostly. I usually get stuck in 2 places….1 is in singing performance. I’m not a good singer, the songs that do get finished are ones that I can pull off vocally enough to feel ok with releasing.. The second is lyrics. I hate writing them because that’s all about craft and finding lyrics that say something and keep evolving through the song…like a novel in some ways..but done in a few lines. I’m very tough on myself, so very few get finished and it’s usually me just abandoning the process and saying it’s good enough. But back to “Hello” it came at a good time for me I guess, as people are missing their friends during this whole disaster. Hopefully, it’ll get picked up for an ad and really start to find an audience.
Q: What’s up next for Clouds and Thorns?
A: Next for C&T will likely be a bit of break as I try new things….maybe grab a different collection of songs and start a “band” with those as the theme. Likely something a little darker. As much as I love doing the happy C&T songs, I’m really into things that are much deeper.. Of course, there’s literally 30 C&T songs that are in various stages of competition, so I’m sure a few of those will get finished in this year. I really do feel a need to give the fans new music. The positive message I think is really important right now. I know it helps and inspires people. The overall message of C&T has always been “the greatest form of rebellion is to make something beautiful.” We all could use more beauty in our worlds.
Q: Any live streams planned in the future?
A: I’ve been doing these short snippets here on Instagram. Which I like…Especially since the songs I do on IG are likely ones I’ll never get to finish. I can’t remember specific details so trying to perform and and remember lyrics is nearly impossible for me. Doing anything live would likely be ok for listeners, but a disaster in my opinion. Plus, I find I reach waaaaay more listeners doing the sync things and getting on TV shows and ads etc. I’d have to do hundreds of small shows to reach the same number of people as one TV showing. I did all my touring and performing and I’ve retired my leather pants.. LOL!
Q: Where can fans find your music?
A: You can just google “Clouds and Thorns” and tons of avenues show up from YouTube and Spotify..etc.. https://www.richandruska.com/#! has a lot of what I do and there’s a whole section dedicated to C&T. Also, https://www.cloudsandthorns.com/ is the best place to get free content.
Thank you for the great interview.. make sure you check out Rich’s Instagram page as well Clouds and Thorns IG.. I will be interviewing ZachisATourist & The Mighty Pines in the near future… if you have new music or would like an interview, please contact me through IG.
Until next time, I am Your Music Stylist – Linda Dias.