Interview: Rhett Price Rocking The Violin!

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I know Rhett doesn’t like it when people call the Violin an instrument for nerds and definitely not guys – hey, my first instrument was the violin so I’m allowed to stereotype, but this young up and coming rocker is changing people’s opinions. His rocking violin covers  of Katy Perry has been blowing up on the YouTubies. He recently had a successful show in Washington, DC and is currently on a multi-city tour and working on releasing his first Album. We even share a love of Demi Lovato.

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I grew up in a town in the desert of West Texas called Midland, where I began playing violin when I was 4 years old.  My older sister had been practicing piano one day when my dad walked in to find me on the piano bench, playing the song my sister was practicing.  I’m not sure how bad it sounded, but it was enough to convince him that I should take music lessons.  They didn’t want my sister and I to fight over the one piano we owned, so they bought me a tiny little violin, and after a few months of suzuki lessons, I switched to fiddle lessons and the rest is history!

The Violin isn’t exactly a “guy’s instrument” what attracted you to it?

I hate it when people label instruments like that.  The best violinist alive isn’t a woman, and the first virtuoso to ever live – Nicolo Paganini – wasn’t either.  Not to say that a woman couldn’t be the best, it’s just that it doesn’t matter.  What matters is that artists find instruments they love, to create music that means something and moves people.  Everything else is meaningless, even this fantastic leather jacket i’m wearing! haha  I love the violin because it ROCKS.  Everyone plays guitar and piano, and growing up I always wanted to go down my own path rather than following what was cool at the time.  Not to mention, as a kid I wasn’t particularly smooth with the ladies, but playing my violin always seemed to get a lot of attention, and i liked that!

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How do you go about breaking down the stereotype of violin players?

Everything – from my appearance to the music I play – is COMPLETELY different than any violinist I’ve ever met.  It’s even in the little things, too — classical violinists hate seeing my shredded bow hairs flying everywhere while I play, but to me it just doesn’t matter.

How would you best describe your music and what influences you?

My music is a mix between a 4 piece rock band and a catchy pop band.  I’ll play my version of a Zeppelin tune, then turn around and play a jazzy, poppy Suit & Tie.  I listen to a lot of different music, but the way I write/arrange a lot of songs is very influenced by a couple of my favorite artists: The Maine and Pharrell Williams

Your YouTube videos are starting to take off, can you talk a little bit about your process for putting a video together? Do you predetermine what you think will be popular, or just play what you like?

My process is this: I watch a million videos, spending hours thinking that i’ll see something that will inspire a video idea, just to decide I don’t like those ideas.  Then i constantly think about video ideas, most that i’ll never use, until an idea just comes to me that makes me say, “that’s it!”  If I only played what was popular I think i’d go crazy, so I just play what I like.  I heard this new song by Robin Thicke that I immediately thought, “MAN that’s killer!  Kinda Motown, kinda pop.”  I loved it, but didn’t think it would become a hit, so I didn’t do a cover of it.  The song was Blurred Lines.  After that, I decided to go with my gut.  On this next video, I think it’s going pay off big time.

When you create a song what comes first the lyrics or the music?

A lot of people are confused when I tell a story behind the meaning of a song because my songs are instrumental, but as you said there ARE lyrics to my songs!  I usually write the chord progression first to capture the mood, then I sing the lyrics/melody at the same time and work it out from there until I’ve created what I was looking for.  It’s been a HUGE learning process the past year, so I’m really stoked to be going into the studio for my first album this summer!

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How would you describe the current state of music – from a business (and creative) standpoint?

I think this is the best time in history to be an artist!  The internet not only allows people all over the world to find my videos, but allows me to talk to them too!  On my birthday, the first person to tweet “happy birthday” to me was in Turkey.  That’s amazing….ten years ago that wouldn’t have even been possible.  Creatively, it can be hard because so much music exists and there are so many amazing artists who, in an online world, have as much of a voice as the next guy.  At the same time, now I can easily get in touch with amazing people to work with – my entire team started working with me because of social media connections.

What has been your favorite concert in the last few years and why?

I saw Demi Lovato a few weeks ago and she COMPLETELY blew me away.  The staging was amazing, her band was on point, and her entire set, including a very touching/inspirational speech to the young girls there, was beyond entertainment.  I think that’s what I loved most – she is using her position as an artist to make the world a better place and to inspire others.  So awesome!

What has been the coolest thing to happen to you, besides the tour, since you started this adventure?

There have been a lot of crazy things happening over the past year or so – from playing at a party for Rob Gronkowski to playing on the Red Sox’ owner’s yacht – but the coolest thing that’s happened was playing with my favorite band, The Maine, on stage in Boston.  I really look up to those guys a lot and they’re always more than willing to offer advice or any help, which means a ton to me.

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What other instruments do you play? 

I actually went to college for saxophone performance for a year, before leaving and going to Berklee College of Music for a year for violin performance.  I write a lot on guitar, but I wouldn’t consider myself a guitarist in any form of the world!I’m launching a huge campaign so that my fans can be my record label and we can create my debut album together, without a label.  I can’t wait!!!  Videos on the campaign will be posted at youtube.com/rhettcprice and facebook.com/rhettypants

All photos by Andrew Markowitz.