The Creative Process of Richard Berger: Insights into ‘Retrovert’

Now I am really excited to introduce you Richard Berger an amazing artist based on LA. His latest album Retrovert is really a perfect piece of work – the combination of deep and inspiring lyrics, melodies on the guitar, spacey synths, and fat grooves is great, and it just makes you want to bob your head to the beat.

Songs like “Another One” and “Ignore Me” are simply those songs that would make your ears happy. Richard, especially, has this funky rhythmic flair and quite expressive melodic sensibilities with synthesizer-driven emotive quality. There are sounds lifting from the classic songs of The Beatles and the psychedelic indie sounds from Tame Impala. But he makes the sound completely his own – nostalgic but modern at the same time.

Even more impressive is the fact that Richard is a completely self-produced musician who also has a day job and works as a researcher at one of the largest film studios in Hollywood. Oh well, what can I say, they are the original multi-taskers; talk about wearing many hats!But his passion for music remains as passionate as before.

I was able to have a brief interview with Richard on how he comes up with ideas, his sources of inspiration, and his experiences as an indie artist. I asked him everything I wanted to know, and I am excited to share the conversation with everyone. Prepare yourself for the musical odyssey of Richard Berger with these magic songs!

Listen to Retrovert below

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What is your stage name
No stage name – Richard Berger is my real name.

Is there a story behind your stage name?
No stage name

Where do you find inspiration?
So many different places – hard to say just one thing – I generally just like to make time for myself on one of my keyboards and just play and tune into whatever comes.

What was the role of music in the early years of your life?
Music has been one of the most important things in my life ever since I can remember. My earliest memories are of the Beatles and Beach Boys – I could not get enough of their music. Then I discovered Steve Wonder, Steely Dan and Fleetwood Mac and so many I can’t name. Discovering new music and new artists is still to this day one of my favorite things to do. There is nothing quite of finding a new artist that blows you away.

Are you from a musical or artistic family?
Not really – my grandmother played piano but nobody in my immediate family plays an instrument.

Who inspired you to be a part of the music industry?
Funny – I don’t really feel like I am part of the music industry. I have been writing and recording music since I was a teenager, but my first official release was an EP back in 2018. And as an independent artist that self-distributes music, I don’t feel a connection to the “music industry” per se. I have met some great independent artists and I like the idea of being part of that community.

How did you learn to sing/write/to play?
I started playing piano as a young kid and took to it right away, but as young kids often do, I lost interest and rebelled against the more formal aspects of taking classical piano lessons. But I still loved playing around on the piano. And, when I bought my first synth in high school, everything changed for me.

I just started writing my own songs. In college, I took some music theory and jazz classes which helped me understand what I was writing. When I started recording my songs, I would always find someone else to sing as I am not a natural singer. Over time, I started singing background vocals and eventually lead vocals on some songs. It is really only in the past 5 years that I have focused more on singing. I am always learning.

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I started playing piano as a young kid and took to it right away, but as young kids often do, I lost interest and rebelled against the more formal aspects of taking classical piano lessons.

What was the first concert that you ever went to and who did you see perform?
The first concert I went to was Billy Joel when I was in high school. Thinking about it, you asked what inspires me….every time I see live music, I am inspired.

How could you describe your music?
I really have a hard time describing it because I tend to blend genres, so it really depends on the song. Also, I really prefer not to put my music in a box and let the listener decide for themselves. If pressed, I will describe it as melodic, introspective – retro vibes but with a fresh new take.

Describe your creative process.
It really just starts with making time to play and being open to what comes to me. I find myself playing some chord progressions that set a mood which inspires me to further express the way I am feeling. I almost always focus on developing melodies on top of the chord changes and then find the words that more or less fit the melody. But my process is really about the music first, lyrics second….but only in sequence, not in importance.

What is your main inspiration?
If you mean my main inspiration to make music – the answer is simple – I don’t have a choice. It is something I just have to do to be who I am. At times, it is the most pure way to express myself.

What musician do you admire most and why?
I could not possibly pick one. There are so many musicians I admire for various reasons. I would say Stevie Wonder’s music has played an important role for most of my life. Of the newer artists I admire, Kevin Parker has created some of my favorite music in recent years. Both of these artists write, play multiple instruments, and have incredible voices. There are so many others I could go on and on about.

Did your style evolve since the beginning of your career?
Yes – for sure. Even when I have gone back to revisit songs I have written years ago…the new version of it sounds very different from how it started when first conceived. I think my musical style has evolved due to a combination of personal growth and the ever-evolving access to new music and new artists that influence and inspire me.

Who do you see as your main competitor?
I don’t. This is not a competition. I love discovering other artists and I love making music.

What are your interests outside of music?
Spending time with my family and friends. I am also a huge cinephile.

If it wasn’t a music career, what would you be doing?
That’s an easy one. Music is not my career. I run a R&D tech lab for the major motion picture studios. I suppose for now I am a just part-time artist. Maybe some day that will change.

What is the biggest problem you have encountered in the journey of music?
The biggest challenge for an independent artist like me is to find their audience. The good news is that it is far easier than ever before to get access to the tools you need to create really high fidelity music. That said, I read somewhere that there are over 40,000 songs uploaded to Spotify every day – and that is just one music service. So, how does an indie artist rise above all the “noise” and find their audience? Please let me know.

If you could change one thing in the music industry, what would it be?
There is no silver bullet to fix the music industry. Any time you mix business with art, there are going to be challenges. I wish it was easier for indie artists to find their audience and for fans to find the new music they will love. I really do hope that people continue to appreciate and embrace new music and the connection they can make to the artist. I know I really appreciate people who listen to my music.

Why did you choose this as the title of this project?
“Retrovert” is the perfect name for this album. My definition is – A dreamer to say the least – someone who appreciates a past time or condition.

What are your plans for the coming months?
I am putting a band together to play some shows here in Los Angeles. I am excited to play the album in front of a live audience.

Do you have any artistic collaboration plans
I am always open to collaboration with other artists. I have reached out to a couple people so we shall see…stay tuned.

What message would you like to give to your fans?
Thanks for listening. I hope you enjoy the music as much as I enjoyed creating it.

Mister Styx
Mister Styx
My name is Mister Styx and I'm a music blogger and an HVAC Engineer. I'm passionate about all kinds of music, from rock to hip-hop, Jazz, and Reggae as a matter of fact I am always eager to hear new sounds as music has no barrier, and I'm always looking for new sounds to explore. Hop on lets go fetch for some new sounds!

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