…and the Doppler D – Effect

Sound Talks With…Ralphy Grey

Here at the PotCats and The Doppler D-Effect we roam the virtual space in search of high quality non-standard sounds, regardless of genre. One of our favorite selections is indeed our #RetroAir Selections by #TheGreenOne with which we achieve time travel in a musical Synth Wave time machine. It is so exiting for us to find ourselves walking along the border between past and future sounds. Today we had the chance to chat with one our favorite artist and producer in the genre: Ralphy Grey. Load the flux convertor and fasten your seatbelts because we’re going to talk to the future past

Who is Ralphy Grey and what’s the story behind his music?

I am a musician and music producer. I want to move people with my music, entertain them and give them a good time. Whether live or through my music productions.

I live in Berlin and produce my mix of electronic music under the name Ralphy Grey, combining the driving rhythms and basslines of house music with poppy structures and catchy hooks, all with a retro charm.

My love for music started at a young age, when as a child in the former GDR I learned to play different instruments like guitar, piano or drums and formed my first bands. As a student, I DJ’d to supplement my pocket money. With the cassette recorder I recorded music from the radio every night, because records were very hard to get. Later, I created my own mixes. I bounced Music & Sounds back and forth from the cassette recorder to the tape recorder. 

Eventually I studied music in Leipzig and Berlin and opened my own studio.

In 2020 I was asked by a publisher in Hamburg to produce synthwave music. That was the initial spark for my project Ralphy Grey. That’s how my first album “Neon Journey” came into being. But this music is a bit too retro for me. And I love to work with singers. So I experimented for a while and came up with my new mix “Contemporary Retro Electro House Pop“. The first song in this direction was “Halloween is Back“, and I was able to get my old colleague Lucia Burana as a guest vocalist.

Release the Beast” featuring Sandy Sage was released on January 6, 2023, and is a vibrant, powerful electro pop song designed to motivate listeners to bring their inner strength to the outside world.

What is the thing that influenced you the most to make you decide for the first time to go non-standard and take the Synth Wave / Retro Wave path? Was it a conscious decision or did it come naturally?

I love the music of the 80s. Musically, that was an extremely colorful and creative time. I think the freedom and creativity of the 80s influenced me the most. I was or am a fan of many small and big names of the 80s like Depeche Mode, Talk Talk, David Bowie, Falco, Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, Talking Heads … there are so many. In the 80s, everyone invented their own thing. Every artist, every band sounded their own. That’s great. I want that too. Like Italian food: always a little different but always delicious. Music is a playground.

I like and I am very inspired by Rachel K Collier or Elise Trouw or even Daniel Lanois.

With my synthesizers (which by the way are all original from the 80s) I can produce music alone and do not have to wait for colleagues. When I started in 2020 with Sythwave / Retrowave was also the beginning of the Corona pandemic. For me a happy coincidence, because you were not allowed to meet so many people anyway. Perfect to tinker in the studio. I am very grateful that the Hamburg publishing house asked me for this kind of music. Because otherwise I wouldn’t have come up with this idea. I play as a bass player also in different bands – but my Ralphy Grey thing belongs only to me all. I do everything alone – composing, recording, mixing, mastering, video editing, all the content and on top of that the marketing. Only I don’t feel like a singer. But I don’t want to tie myself down either. My current favorite act, Purple Disco Machine, gave me the right idea: Working with guest singers. And from time to time I will be heard with the vocoder ;o)

To get back to the question: Was it a conscious decision or did it happen on its own? Well, he initial spark for synth music came from the request of the Hamburg publisher…the rest came automatically…just like I cook…by intuition and taste….not by recipe.

Where do you think ideas for experimental arts come from, from inside (the mind and the soul), from the outside (the world surrounding us) or a combination of both?

That’s a good question. There are certainly different sources of inspiration and the interaction of different circumstances. Everyone also has a different workflow. I know composers who sit at the piano and write down the notes. I’m going to be more practical.

First, I’ve listened to all kinds of musk my whole life. I had phases of pop, jazz, rock and metal, played Bach … just a lot of different things. I think it’s good to know a lot so that you can form something new like a lump of dough. I have no special procedure. I go into the studio and start…often by listening to a little music…then I record a few beats. Add basslines… when it knocks me off my feet and I start to dance – then I build on it… the… melodies come all by themselves… What helps me is to set a time limit… so I don’t get bogged down but work single-minded on the song. In the evening I make a mix of it and if I still like it while driving the next day, then I continue to work on it… maybe ask for a text and a singer…or it stays instrumental….just like cooking…a little more salt or rather some herbs – you can feel it.

What types of sounds do you prefer: organic, electronic or both?

I’m a fan of many sounds. I love the Miles Davis Quintet recordings from the ’60s – real instruments, real player. The 80s sound like many colors to me and are definitely influenced by synthesizers. But synthesizers are also instruments. I don’t mean keyboards with which you can imitate all sounds from strings to wind instruments or piano as faithfully as possible. Or even Software instruments . That’s not of my interest. I mean synthesizers like my Roland Juno, Fender Rhodes etc. which all have their own unique sound. This is exactly why these instruments create such strong emotions for me. Like a violin or my double bass. I am looking for sound with emotions to create emotional music. Like a voice and a good vocal performance. Have your heard Tina Turner on the song Edith and the Kingpin. One of the most emotional vocal performances for me … of cause we talk about Synth Music but …. I care about feeling. And in my case with my Synth music …. I use mainly my Juno and Moog and

I pursue a certain sound aesthetic…

What’s the most important piece of music equipment for you, the one that is irreplaceable, the must-have on every performance or recording session? and why?

First of all I try to follow my intuition to create music. That’s my first piece of equipment so to say. My taste, knowledge and ears …  I try to tickle the best version, the best performance out of the moment. I can play on my Fender Jazzbass but I sound pretty the same when I play an instrument from my students. The ear shapes the performance. But in the case of Ralphy Grey I need to have my Juno, my Moog. When I started my project I tried to get the sound I wanted with other synthesizers and software. It did not work. Then I borrowed a Juno from a friend and it was a breeze. So I bought a Juno too… in other words … A Juno and a Moog is a must for Ralphy Grey.

What’s the craziest song you have ever listened to?

Haha, this is a cool question … Frank Zappa has done a lot of different crazy music. Victor Wooten or Steve Vai are crazy players …. A crazy song …. Let me think … Spanish Moss by Billy Cobham is in 17/16 – this is pretty crazy and hard to play but sounds pretty “normal” though

I once had a crazy gig – in Dresden…with an orchestra…the Dresden Symphony Orchestra. The conductor was standing in London on the Thames…via satellite he conducted the orchestra in Dresden. We only saw him on the screen. Distance over 2200 km. Mind you, it was 2009.

Have you ever thought of combining your music with a theater-like set up on stage or maybe collaborating with audiovisual artists for a more immersive and complex experience while performing live?

Oh I would love to write or produce music for performances with visuals or light installations. May be I could play laser harp then. Any requests for collaboration? ;o)

What is your newest release about? What influenced you to come up with the idea? And more important, what music/artists were you listening to while working on the concept)

My new electro-house-pop song encourages the listener to free himself from the constraints and turn his inner strength outward. The song title „Release the Beast” asks you to free yourself from the chains. Make yourself proud is the message.

And without wanting to … my next song, which could probably come out at the end of February, has another motivational theme … well …. ;o) it just happens …

I am learning a lot about marketing at the moment to get my music in front of an audience. I am very exited and motivated. I think that’s where my current inspirations come from.

I just hope that no song about content creation or table evaluation happens to me ;o)

What are your plans for the future in terms of production and creation? (Any new albums, EPs or tours coming in the near future?

My goal is to reach, entertain and touch the people. Of cause I can’t please everyone but for those who like my music I’d like to release a new song every 6-8 weeks this year… fingers crossed I can do it. The best help to create this is when my music is shared. That’s why I’m particularly grateful for your support and that I’m allowed to do this interview.

What, in your opinion, will the future of music be in terms of tools and instruments and how will it affect the creators, performers and the audience?

I think what will be a constant is the acceleration of change. In every area of ​​life. So in music as well. Just yesterday I found out that there is already artificial intelligence that creates music. And there are probably already playlists with music that is generated and that no artist has created. Something like that will probably also find his listeners. But I also think that living and true artists will find their audience. A living artist has so much more to offer than a song written by nobody or an AI… people for people … that shows at a concert at the latest. A concert with avatars – sure, that might be something new, but in the long run people prefer to see and hear people – I believe that.

In terms of tools I have never used better new instruments than the old and original ones from the time they were built. Guitars from the 60’s/70’s, synthesizers from the 80’s. But I’m also used to the “old” sound and find the sound of vinyl records pleasant and incomparably good. Young people who grew up with mp3 don’t necessarily understand that and prefer music from Spotify on small mini loudspeakers. It’s a matter of getting used to it and every time has its tools.

What do you think should be the role of experimental and meaningful music (and musicians) in the development of the human race and the creation of a better world?

I think a good mix of everything is optimal. The majority of people hear what is given to them – on the radio or whatever algorithms push them forward. That won’t change. A smaller part is demanding and is looking for music, is open to new and experimental things. I belong more to this group. I think what should develop is to increase acceptance and openness for something new, alternative or different. Art and music can of course contribute to this. Staying curious – that could be a key to a more open society.

If through science or any other method we manage to prove the existence of a creator, god or great designer of the universe and you were chosen to play the background sounds for the first encounter with it, which song (yours or any other artist’s work) would you use for such an event?

If you want to play music for such an occasion, then in my opinion it should be very emotional. It is said that music is the language that everyone understands. Making music and having feelings sets us apart from everyone and everything else on earth. I would go on a quest and look for sounds for joy, happiness, gratitude, etc. Good film music transports feelings very strongly and makes use of all genres with ease. I’m a fan of movies with music by John Williams. He is a master of emotions. I would ask him to compose music for the occasion. I would like to play a small part during the performance.

Go and subscribe to Ralphy’s streaming platforms and follow him on social media for updates:




Here some of our favorite tracks by Ralphy Grey:

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