Friday - March 28, 2008
Ryan Hiraoka left no question about where he’s from with his first release, Big Island Music, and his radio hit song, Big Island Ladies. His recent release Hawaii & Beyond also is crammed with tributes to the hometown he loves, but also sidesteps into some smooth R&B romance.
“This album is way more mature,” says the Honokaa High School grad.“Even the Island songs don’t sound like someone straight out of college sang the song - there’s more life experience. I’m trying to separate myself from everyone else, so half the album is R&B. And I took the approach where I didn’t want any of my songs to sound like anyone else’s songs. My thing is that I want to sound like I’m from Hawaii,but I want to sound like myself. I want to be unique in that way.”
The all-original album was inspired by family, friends and everyday surroundings living in small-town Honokaa.As he explains,“I try to keep everyone who gives me inspiration nearby.”
With 100 percent of his time dedicated to his music and his production company, Rubbah Slippah Productions, Hiraoka has big plans to change the design of the way music is sold. He has started by conducting his business basically as a one-man-operation, which cuts costs that are otherwise passed on to the buyer.
“I did everything on the album from the artwork to the songwriting,“says Hiraoka.“And that’s why it took so long to do it, because I didn’t hire anyone to help. I recorded and mixed the album in my house, and took the time and effort to make it sound like it was recorded in the big studio.”
In the works is a second RSP Crew compilation album, RSP Crew Vol. 2, which Hiraoka estimates will be in stores by the end of the year.
For complete updates on Hiraoka and RSP Crew, visit www.myspace.com/rubbahslippahproductions
How has the music business been treating you?
It has its ups and downs, but the good thing is I’m still here and I’m still going, where a lot of people are giving up because the money is really bad because of the downloads and burning CDs. That’s the battle, where people could sell like 30,000 albums 10 years ago, we can only sell like couple thousand at the most now. So I’m trying to create new venues to sell our album. Instead of only selling it through stores, I’m trying to create new marketing strategies. So what I did is, I released my new album exclusively on an online radio station, www.pipeline2paradise.com, the only Island radio station found on iTunes now. So I gave them the album first, and I also released it as a download on this other website called www.islandbeats.com. I’m just trying to do more things like that, and do more concerts where the ticket price also includes a CD. So it’s like $20 to come to the concert and they get a free CD. So it’s basically two-for-one.
What was your inspiration for the songs you wrote for the album?
Life, just everything. I have love songs, I have break-up songs,I have songs about being stuck in traffic, I have a song about a’ama crab syndrome, which is how I felt a lot of people were treating me.
Does this album pay tribute to your Big Island roots as your first album did?
Kind of,but I decided not to put songs just about the Big Island because I did that with three or four songs on the first album. So, with this one, I said it without saying the Big Island - that way no matter what island you’re on you’ll relate to it.
Like I have a song called Living Off The Aina, which basically says how hard it is to live the way it is now, and what we’ve got to do is go back to the old days and living off the aina planting kalo, picking opihi, fishing.
That’s what it’s all about when you’re from an island, and that’s how it should be - it’s island life. That’s kind of how I went about it. I titled the album Hawaii and Beyond because the first half is paying homage to Hawaii and the Jawaiian genre. The second half is the R&B thing, which says we are from Hawaii but that doesn’t mean we can’t do what the boys on the Mainland do. I have like a Dr. Dre kind of track that talks about what we do here. So if you’re talking to a girl here, you take her to the beach instead of taking her to a club. For us,that’s way more of what you want a guy to do.
How is Rubbah Slippah Productions doing?
I used to have to wear my RSP shirts all the time to try to get the name out, whereas now I don’t really wear them as much anymore because it did its job. Everyone in the industry has their own label, but not everyone has their own brand. So I think the brand is doing very well. A lot of people see me and they think, RSP or Rubbah Slippah.What I’m trying to do is one day hopefully have rubbah slippahs that have RSP on them. So it’s more than a label - it’s more like what they’re doing in the Mainland where they have these 360 deals. So everything is tied in together and you get all of it, like the tours, the marketing, the clothes.
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