Known offline as Alvaro Arizcun, Rhaeide brings forward piano arrangements of themes from pop culture including games, TV series, movies, band covers, and original compositions. Examples include The Goonies Theme, Beauty and the Beast, The Christmas Piano Medley, Les Miserables, Hearthstone, and League of Legends.
The genre of epic piano arrangements encompasses Rhaeides style, and embrace the variety of the piano. Cover genres typically change one particular aspect of the original song. Rhaeide does his best to keep the music intact merely written for the piano.
Here are the Questions and Answers for the Switching Styles interview with Rhaeide.
How did you get started in music?
Well, I was 5 years old. So I definitely started at a very young age. A family friend was -and is still running- a small music school in Barcelona, so I started receiving piano and theory classes there at that time. My first piano teacher was apparently very methodical and demanding, so I didn’t like her. I eventually managed to have another one who was much more flexible and let me learn some other music aside from classical.
What was your first experience with music? As well do you mind if I know the name of the music school?
When you say music, you mean in general? As a listener, or musician?
I remember music was always playing loud at home when I was a kid. My mom used to have plenty of old cassettes and vinyls full of a multitude of different styles that let her sing and dance along. Also, my step-father was and still is the trombonist in ‘La Vella Dixieland’, a classic old-school jazz band from Barcelona, so I guess travelling to many of their gigs around the region shaped me somehow too, although up to this point I’ve never had the drive to learn to play jazz music.
As a musician, I would say my creativity started developing at the age of 14. At that age, I bought my very first Yamaha keyboard for €300, and I found myself spending endless hours with its 256 voices and its 6-track song recorder trying to create my own stuff. I’m still very fond of those creations because I had creativity that came from nowhere, in the sense, it was different from everything I managed to listen up to that point.
4 years later I found my passion as a listener, which is Progressive Rock, and I could see that what I was creating years before was in fact kind of close to that genre! The name of the school is ‘La Antártida’
How did your family influence your music career?
Basically by letting me do whatever I wanted at every point. They never pushed me into playing or practising except for this one time when I was around 10 years old and I found myself not wanting to go to classes anymore and determined to quit. They found a way to convince me through the pressure of having bought the upright piano that we had just so I could practice and learn properly. Also, I was always told of how good I was for my age, so I had the extra pressure to live up to the expectations.
What are their thoughts of you as a musician presently?
They have always been supportive here in Barcelona, although they’re not that expressive about it. My dad, on the other hand, has always embraced it with endless devotion, pushing me into making more videos, reacting to them passionately, promoting me and being my number one fan. I definitely got my creative side from him,
I should add just after that: All that from the distance since he has always lived far away.
That’s so very sweet of him! What’s the distance between the two of you?
600 km, the distance between Madrid and Barcelona.
What is the story behind the name you chose as your musician’s name?
It happened in a time when I was an avid fantasy reader, I liked to develop adventure stories in my head when I went to sleep. One of those stories, that lasted for several months, had Rhaeide as one of the main characters, a kind but powerful conjurer that helped in the quest of saving a child that was bound to a powerful prophecy.
Anyways, for the story development I took inspiration from Tolkien and Dragonlance, for the looks and personality, Baldur’s Gate 2, and finally for the name, ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’. I really liked the names of some of the Targaryen members, like Rhaegar or Rhaenys, so I chose my own to be similar. It just came to my mind.
That’s so cool. What’s the proper pronunciation of the name?
At first, I only cared about the Spanish pronunciation. But many years later, several English speakers started to ask me about it and I found I didn’t have any idea of how to pronounce it in English. If it ever reached the point of having to be pronounced somewhere, I would say something similar to “Raid” or “Raidy”, but for me, the Spanish pronunciation is the one I’m familiar with. Any other just sounds “weird”.
Out of my own curiosity, did you ever publish those stories?
As for the stories, I thought of writing them at the time of the development, but unfortunately, I never did it.
How would you describe your sound?
I never thought of describing my sound, I don’t even know if I have one! Since I’m specialized in arrangements, I would say it’s flexible and faithful in that regard. And when it comes to my composing, which I hugely explored in my early stages but since then I’ve hardly made a noticeable progression, I would describe it ever-changing, but mainly uplifting, since the way I do create is by following my emotions, and I can only play and find inspiration if I’m in an uplifting mood.
That’s pretty fair, it’s a fluid kind of music. Who inspired your music?
As an arranger, I first need to listen to the song and then the ideas of how I could arrange every part start flowing in my head. The result often meets the expectations, so I keep trusting my intuition. I like the challenge and overcoming the difficulties that often appear in the way.
But the actual inspiration comes from imagining people liking it and wanting to learn it. That’s why I tend to arrange pieces that don’t have many covers or at least approach them in a way that people find unique. As a musician and more specifically as a composer, I would say all the music that I’ve listened to through my life is suitable of inspiring me without even acknowledging it. But beyond the music, I would say what inspires me the most is the artist itself and its drive to create, to grow and to leave a legacy of any kind.
Why do you do piano arrangements specifically?
I’ve attempted some orchestral and instrumental arrangements in the past, but I’ve never felt enough motivation to get into music production, and since I don’t play any other instruments I’ve ultimately stuck to piano. I eventually learned that there’s a huge deal of people wanting to play their favourite pieces on piano, and it happened that every time I examined official sheet music books of any kind I found them to be very basic and boring. So tried myself and I found that I was capable of doing it.
Do you have an arrangement that sticks out as a favourite?
That’s a tough question because I have favourites for different reasons, so I’ll mention a few. My favorite arrangement to listen to myself is the Dead Silence theme because I believe I was able to transfer the soul of the movie into my recording and I really feel the chills every time. The arrangement I’m most proud of is The Avengers theme; I still remember the amount of blood I sweated to solve the puzzle with that one. On the other hand, I consider the Baldur’s Gate 2 theme to be the most beautiful I’ve played for the memories it personally brings. Also, because it was my first ‘viral’ video and because I was able to perform it in a wonderful Steinway & Sons piano. Finally, the one that has brought more satisfaction in terms of public response is undoubtedly the Beauty and the Beast Prologue, it’s the fan-favourite.
Some other special mentions: The Goonies theme for its difficulty and energy, the Christmas Piano Medley because it always brings my mood up, Les Miserables for being the most emotional one, and of course, the Horror Medley Part 1 since it’s the one that put me on the map of Horror music on YouTube.
What’s the process for creating an arrangement? Is it different for each one?
No, it’s almost always the same and it’s pretty simple. Basically, I try to respect the original version as much as possible, and since most of the orchestral soundtracks offer more than a single piano can perform, the challenge lies in finding ways to fit the most of it in an adequate manner. For that, I never change the bass nor the main melody, and for the rest, I tend to fill the right hand with chords or secondary lines, and the left hand with rhythmical pulses and occasionally chords support or parts even part of a melody when is inevitable.
How do you choose what songs to create piano arrangements for?
The basic rule for me in order to decide if I want to play a piece or not is that I like it. So the ones that come to mind first are the ones that are personal favourites of mine. I also listen to suggestions that come from subscribers or friends, but in that case, they have to meet the basic rule. Another way is accepting a commissioned arrangement that comes from people who want either the sheet music to play it themselves or to watch myself play it in a video.
Why did you start posting videos to the internet on platforms such as YouTube?
I don’t remember what or who exactly triggered it for the first time, but I started only 3 years after YouTube’s release, it was the novelty, so I guess I wanted to see how would it be to share my recordings with people from around the world like other artists were doing at the moment in a very fast-growing platform that YouTube was.
What are your thoughts on YouTube?
I’ve always liked YouTube as a platform, so as a regular consumer since its inception I’ve never grown bored of it. It’s true there are things that I don’t like or haven’t liked in the past, but I’m a person that always chooses to focus on the positive aspects of things when the negative aren’t in my hands to solve, so in the case of YouTube I’ve enjoyed it a lot, both as a consumer and artist.
How does it compare to other music platforms?
I can’t really say because I’ve never tried any other music platform. For example, I didn’t know until very recently that in Spotify I have a bigger number of listeners than many of the artists I listen to on a regular basis! When it comes to listening to music I’ve become old-fashioned as I still my phone as an MP3 device or just a music player on the PC. I also follow a lot of different artists on YouTube, because I like to see with my own eyes other people’s creativity, not only listen to it.
That’s a good way to do it. I still have all my music on my phone! In general, how does the internet impact the music industry?
It has changed it completely. Now you don’t need a label to be listened to or promoted because you can do everything yourself and be fine. It has broadened the possibilities for everybody and because of that, the overall industry has grown significantly.
How has the internet impacted your music career?
It has made it possible, as simple as that. I don’t know if I would have developed it if it wasn’t for the Internet and especially YouTube.
Now for an overall question, what is one of the largest obstacles you’ve had to face in your music career?
Well, 6 years ago I started developing a wrist injury, and since then my music life has become much harder. I’ve gone through a good number of doctors, physiotherapies, healers, a surgery, all of it without significant results, and so far I have no other choice to accept it and overcome it through mental strength. I still have faith in finding someone that finds a way for my wrist to heal.
That’s really rough, I’m sorry to hear that. How do you overcome it?
So far I haven’t been able to overcome it successfully and that’s why I have barely been active for the last 2 years. But right now I’m on a personal quest to get back on track. I feel I can play through the pain and I have the motivation, although I know that’s not enough, I also need the constancy. So will see how I perform in the next months.
What advice would you give to cover artists just starting out?
Invest in decent equipment, it’s very important to offer decent quality, both audio and video. Focus on covering songs that you’re in love with and be a perfectionist, seek for the best take possible. Learn a bit of video editing, it will make your videos much more pleasant to watch. Be patient if you don’t get recognition right away, it often takes time, which you also need to get better.
Do you have any concerns with copyright?
Well, copyright is a serious matter for artists like me that mainly do covers. I cannot monetize my covers unless the Content ID System detects them as songs with copyright, and only then they may allow you to share a small amount of the profits, which is basically nothing. I have also had issues trying to develop my sheet music that forced me to stop that activity, issues that I’m still trying to solve.
It is sometimes a difficult matter to understand because every country approaches it differently and there is a big mess when it comes to not making mistakes if you want to avoid getting into trouble with the law of who knows which country.
What solutions have you found to work through those concerns?
I haven’t found any that fully satisfies me yet. I tried purchasing licenses individually, but it’s a pain in the neck. I tried years ago to join Musescore but I didn’t meet the requirements somehow, I should try again and see if they have made it easier for artists like me to join. I have also had a few offers from several independent sites, but so far I am not fully confident in making that move.
What would make it easier for cover artists like yourself?
I think right now we have more opportunities than ever to develop and grow successfully, so there’s no excuse to not try and find your way. But to say something, it would certainly help to have a better copyright system on YouTube, because right now it barely does the job, and many people are still abusing it to make a profit from other content creator’s work.
What do you see for the future of your musical career?
I don’t really like to foresee the distant future, and I don’t have a specific goal that I want to achieve. I prefer to focus on the present, which includes recording the pieces I have been preparing and work on preparing the next ones to come. I will see if in time I have other motivations or opportunities, for which I’m always open to considering. Could it be composing? Or joining a band? Or performing around the world? Time will tell.
That’s a good way to put it. Do you have specific projects that you’re working on?
I have a bunch of pieces that I’m planning on recording soon and also some ideas for the upcoming Halloween. Aside of that, I want to make tutorials of some of the most requested songs of my channel, and lastly, I have a couple of collaborations in the spotlight that can be fun and challenging to assemble.
My last question is, is there anything that I didn’t ask about that you are wanting to share?
Well, since this will be the last answer, I would like to thank everybody that is supporting me right now, especially my girlfriend and my closest family and friends, it means a lot. I also want to thank my followers and fans. Some of them have been there for years already, waiting patiently for me to come back and deliver more content. I can’t wait to start making progress again, because this is my passion and I’m in debt with myself. Last but not least, thanks to you Dylanna for the interview, it was fun and even therapeutic!