Soren Rehkopf: Seattle’s Newest Rockstar
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Seattle has long been known as a stomping grounds for emerging rock bands. Recent Seattle transplant Soren Rehkopf has taken full advantage of his surroundings and Seattle’s rock culture to forge his own particular brand of the genre. Whereas most people find it hard to master even one instrument, Soren composes and records almost all of his own instrumentals, from drums to guitar to harmonica. Progressive Man had the pleasure of chatting with this emerging artist to learn more about his musical motivations and how he came to be the talented musician he is.
Hey Soren, it’s great to get a chance to chat with you! Let’s just start off by learning a little more about your musical background. You’re quite the multi-instrumentalist, playing guitar, harmonica, and percussion instruments. Which one of these was your gateway into music? How did you first get started?
I actually first started playing drums very early, while still in grade school, and took private lessons with several people around the Portland area, including Ron Hurst from Steppenwolf. Growing up, I continued to play as a percussionist in concert and marching ensembles all throughout high school, so my basis for moving into other instruments was more than just ‘drums’, I also started to develop an understanding of music theory.
I picked up the guitar during high school as well, and since then I’ve continued to work on improving my playing ability and understanding of Guitar, Drums, Bass, Piano, Vocals, and more. I definitely currently play guitar the most, but I really just love anything that I can make music with.
When did the singing kick in? Did it just come naturally to you or did you have to make a conscious decision to start adding vocal elements to your music?
I’ve always sang with my music, but I definitely haven’t always done it well. I actually did make a conscious decision a couple years ago to work on my vocal ability, and decided to join the Seattle University Choirs.
I realized that my vocal ability was quickly falling behind, and I think that joining the Choirs was probably one of the best things I could have done to turn that around. When I’ve performed live recently I’ve actually had people compliment me specifically on my voice which is a little weird for me cause that never used to happen.
You’re originally from Oregon, but have made the move up to Seattle, Washington for school. Seattle has long been known for its influential role in the rock scene, Nirvana being one of the many products of the scene. How has your experience been with the music community up there? How does it compare to back in Gaston, Oregon?
The music community in Seattle is great. The short answer to how it compares to where I was in Oregon is that it doesn’t. Portland has a great music scene as well, but I wasn’t really in Portland so I never really got the chance to connect to it.
Moving to Seattle was great because I have somewhat particular interests in what I want to do with my music, and in Seattle, living right on Capitol Hill, I’ve had opportunities to pursue those interests that I definitely would not have had back in Gaston.
I mentioned you’re currently up in Seattle for school. How hard has it been to balance music with your school life? Have you been able to find a balance or do you find yourself shorting either school or music?
I actually just graduated this last June! It’s definitely been difficult. I’ve been sure to keep practicing and writing while at school, but working to complete my degree has definitely made it much more difficult to focus on my music to the extent that I would have liked to.
On the other hand, I’ve also had some great opportunities presented to me through being at school here. I already mentioned how I joined Choir to help my vocals, and I also took guitar lessons through the school for a couple quarters.
Overall the campus scene is just a great way to meet other musicians and get your music out there.
Speaking of your studies, you majored in Philosophy at Seattle University. Do you find your studies creeping into your music? Do you ever incorporate any of what you’ve learned into the lyrics of your songs or do you prefer to keep them separate?
On occasion I have tried to fit Philosophy references into songs, but it never works out quite as well as I’d hope. I’ve actually always thought that philosophy and music are very similar though, and in some ways I find that writing and composing a song feels just like writing a really good paper.
Now that we’re talking about what influences your music, I know you’re a big fan of the band O.A.R. Do you find yourself drawing on the band’s sound to get ideas for your own music? Who are some of the other artists you look up to?
I’m definitely a big fan of O.A.R.. My influences are actually extremely diverse, and one of the reasons I like O.A.R. so much is that you can hear all the different influences in their music, be it jazz, folk, rock, reggae, or others. Personally I find myself most influenced by folk, blues, funk, and rock, yet I try to pull from everywhere. Other groups I especially admire are Dispatch, Ben Harper, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Cat Stevens, John Butler Trio, and many others.
Let’s talk a little about your featured song, Lost and Found. Tell us a little about the meaning behind the song and what was going through your head when you first wrote it.
Lost and Found was one of those songs where I had the guitar, bass, drums, and everything else for it done, yet I still couldn’t come up with anything to sing about. The lyrics eventually came to me during a real rough patch I was experiencing with a lot of my life earlier this year.
I never like to tell people what lyrics are supposed to mean, cause they mean something different to everyone, but for me, this song is about not really knowing where I’m going with my life and looking for that answer. It’s about being lost and waiting to be found.
What was the recording process like for the song? Were you able to record it at a home studio or did you go into a studio for it? How long did it take to record and master everything?
Recording is always quite the process for me, and with this particular song it took me about 2 weeks of intermittent work to record and master everything. I do my own recording, and with Lost and Found as with everything else I record, I had to go through and put every track down separately and then play it back while I recorded the next one over it.
It’s quite the process because there can be so many little things wrong with the guitar part that you don’t realize till you’re recording the vocals three tracks later.
Usually I play and sing everything myself, but sometimes I’ll feature other artists and friends on particular parts. In Lost and Found the guitar solos are done by Daniel Reeve and the vocal harmonies are done by Connor Hartling.
What are your plans for the rest of 2013? Are you planning on releasing an EP or playing any shows?
My main focus this summer is going to be playing around Seattle while continuing to write and record. No EP, but I do have a couple singles I plan to record and release online. I don’t have any live shows lined up currently, but that’s something I’m going to be working on now that I’ve got more time on my hands.
Thank you for chatting with us Soren! For people who want to hear more, where can they go to find your music?
I post any new songs I’ve recorded to my soundcloud, https://soundcloud.com/sorenrehkopf where you can listen, download, and message me.