Meet The Artist: Righteous Cypher -
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Meet The Artist: Righteous Cypher

New Melodie composer, Righteous Cypher (the alter-ego of Rob Caviness), is a multi-talented musical force residing in the heart of the American Midwest.

With a diverse skillset encompassing multiple instruments and genres, he has carved a unique niche for himself as a music producer and professional guitarist. His distinctive approach captivates listeners, promising an engaging and immersive sonic experience.

We spoke to Rob about his craft, his journey so far and what we can come to expect from Righteous Cypher on Melodie.

The Interview

Melodie: Hey Rob, welcome to Melodie! So we’ve heard that your musical odyssey began in childhood, producing hip-hop beats with just two tape decks. Tell us about those beginnings.

Well, I grew up in a suburban area and being bi-racial (African American dad and Swedish mom) I was introduced to a variety of music from birth. I really resonated with rap and hip hop, but mainly for the instrumental side of things, which is what led me to listening to the radio, or using the tapes that my mom had and creating samples on a dual cassette tape deck. It was a chore to create anything worthwhile, and I’m glad technology has come a long way in that regard. I also noticed that urban hip hop was sampling some of the songs that I was listening to on my mom’s record player, and being able to blend things like The Young Rascals over a hip hop beat became fascinating to me.

I also had an old electric guitar that was my grandfather’s – it didn’t even have strings – but I would dance around in my room to Guns N’ Roses, Parliament, Kool N Da Gang, Ted Nugent and air guitar on this thing as if I was performing live. I just fell in love with music, all kinds of genres, it didn’t matter to me. If it felt great, or had a served a purpose in my life, whether it be lyrically, rhythmically or energetically, I was into it.

From producing on two tape decks to performing at esteemed jazz clubs and grand amphitheatres! What was that experience like?

Every room and crowd has its own energy when you’re playing live. My job is to resonate with that energy, amplify it and give it back. And that is just one of the coolest things in the world to me. When I play jazz clubs, you have maybe 150 people that really want to intricately listen to your ideas, and hear every note that you are playing, and that makes you play a bit more intelligently and purposefully.

At the same time, my times playing Mile High Stadium for Denver Broncos NFL football games, and stages like that, people want a show… they want your solos to be fast and loud, and they want to see you jumping around, having fun, because that’s what they are there for – things that would get you never invited back to a jazz club! I feel very blessed to be able to express myself in all these ways – from the studio, to clubs, to larger festivals. My music career is never boring or run-of-the-mill for sure!

At the core of your artistry lies a style that seamlessly weaves together live, organic and electronic instrumentation. Has this always been your production style, or did it evolve over time?

I suppose there is a case for both – always there, and evolution. When I got out of the US Marines and attended the University Of Colorado for music performance, I was very much about the organic side of production, and I made a decent living at playing multiple instruments both live and in the studio. As I started to really get into electronic music, and the capabilities that it provided, I found myself listening to EDM – naturally with a guitar in my hands – and playing over what I was hearing, as I always have done with music. And that led to a thought process of “there are no live instruments in these songs, but if there were, what would they be doing?”.

And from there, I have tried to incorporate some form of live organic instrumentation in all of the tracks I produce. Sometimes, I can only fit in a shaker line, or cymbal crash, but I truly try to be able to play even synth lines live, without “keying in” many instruments. I just feel more connected to the music that way.

I was also drawn so heavily to electronic music because it offers access to notes, and ideas that are for the most part “organically” impossible to play live on guitar or piano. But that doesn’t mean that my mind doesn’t go to those places, so it serves as a way for me to be fully expressive in the way that I am able to create the full extent of what I am hearing in my head that I could never play on my guitar or plain piano or organ.

You masterfully interlace the distinct sounds and influences of various decades and styles. Which music genres would you say you are most passionate about and why?

I am currently pretty passionate about a lot of heavier types of electronic music. To be honest, I have a hard time keeping up with what the specific genres are named, I just know what I like when I hear it. But funk/jazz/rock fusion (Soulive, Lettuce, etc..) has always been my favorite music to pick up a guitar and play.

I love how these styles have the ability to intertwine hip hop-esque beats, with a jazzy note selection, and then rock it out. It’s like the best of all worlds.  But I also have a different genre or style of music for nearly every scenario I come across in life. My playlists are insane. One mood for driving to the gym, another for the workout, another for the drive home, etc… I think I typically listen to over 10 genres on a daily basis. I’m just a music freak.

Where do you go when you need to find inspiration for your music?

I live in the country, deep in the woods. And typically, I escape into my woods whether to hunt or fish or just be outside, and can pretty often come back into the studio and just lay down a track that I just wrote while being quiet in the trees. But it starts with hearing things in music that I resonate with and want to recreate in some shape or form. Not the notes per se, but more the energy from particular pieces of music. Sometimes my mind gets a little loud when I have an instrument near me. It’s like the bass player, the guitarist, the keyboardist and the drummer, all want to grab their instrument and play at the same time.

So I go outside where I don’t have access to anything but my thoughts, and it is like all those people go to their respective corners of my mind and write their parts and give them back to me when I get back to the studio. I have a bridge out to an island on my pond, and I think I have written more than half of my music on that island.

What do you love the most about making music?

Music for me is the truest form of expression available to humans. Frequencies and energy is a universal language for all beings. I can say things, and create emotions that are difficult or impossible sometimes to put into words through music. For instance the other day, I was writing a chill electronic instrumental, and wanted some guitar on it. So I put the bones of the track on a 20 minute loop, grabbed my guitar and just played.

I ended up laughing, crying a bit, worked through some things I haven’t addressed from my past, and praised God for a few minutes in there… just a full on true therapy session! None of which I could ever express in words, not how fluently and fully I can through music. And if any piece of music I produce can help to do that for someone else, that’s just one of my biggest goals in life. Every day, my job is to ‘go express something’. And with working in multiple genres, I get to pick what I want to get out that day. And it’s never the same thing. And that is what I love about making music.

What is your DAW set-up like? 

When I owned my big league studio in Denver, it was a Pro-Tools set up, and I liked it and was comfortable with it. But a few years ago, I bought a mixer that came with Cubase, and they were non-subscription based – I could just buy the program outright and get to work. I found very quickly that Cubase is also very intuitive, and has a really user/producer friendly workflow. So I switched and never looked back. Don’t even get me started on plugins and VSTs… I use a lot of the standards, and get plugins mainly out of necessity of not finding what I need for one particular thing, so I just go grab the tool that gets the job done.

What is your favourite track in the Melodie library and why?

‘How Dark The Night’ is not only my favorite track in the Melodie library, but also one of my favourite tracks that I have ever written. As a huge Phutureprimitive and Bassnectar fan, this track kind of embodies the best of what I stylistically like the most about each of those artists, but I put my own distinct spin on it. I remember writing it while I was mucking around in my horse stalls one day, one of those ‘out of the studio’ writing sessions. When I came back in, I sat down, it all just flowed out of me and came together in a pretty short amount of time. It is one of the tracks that really gets across the feel and energy that I intended it to have right from its conception. It is definitely a track that even for me never gets old – I keep it in my listening rotation.

What’s next for Righteous Cypher?

Create, create, create! Continuing to build my catalog, and make as much music as possible! That probably sounds cliche, but it is the God’s honest truth. I am an absolute workhorse, and love to be able to put in 60 plus hours a week in the studio. I just recently came from a conference in Los Angeles where I met a few vocalists that I am currently making a bunch of collaboration tracks with. Everything from Indie Pop, to Epic Cinematic Cover Songs. So branching out is one of my biggest endeavors at the moment.  I also really enjoy the pressure of writing songs in a time crunch, and maybe genres that I am not immediately comfortable with, and that makes me learn, and get better in a bunch of different areas.

I will also say, without a doubt, all of the people on the Melodie team have been above and beyond great to work with, and I hope to do as much work with you guys as possible. I’ve just been so impressed, top to bottom. Sync Producing is a business, for sure, but for composers it’s also how we create and express, so for a company to be able to melt the two seamlessly together has been a highlight of the year for sure. Not all companies offer that, so it’s truly refreshing.

Kat Tamayo
kat@melod.ie

Kat Tamayo is the Marketing Director at Melodie, with 20+ years experience working in entertainment, tech, subscription services, broadcast media and the music industry. She is a music fan through and through and gets fulfilment out of supporting artists and raising awareness of their music.