LA Sessions

Larissa Ruppert: The Voice of ‘Two Against’

LA Sessions is Orchestral Tools’ new studio production toolkit assembled to recreate the sun-drenched LA studio sound. Because this collection is designed specifically for song production, we thought we would take the chance to speak to Larissa Ruppert, the voice behind Two Against—the song featured in the LA Sessions video. We spoke with Larissa to find out more about the track, and her musical journey so far.

When did you first start singing and making music?

I started to play the guitar at the age of ten. My first experience with singing was performing covers. I wrote my first song when I was a teenager. It grew out of my first heartaches and longings. I wrote the song, recorded it, and uploaded it to YouTube. It worked out great, as I was actually able to win back the heart of the boy I was writing about. In fact, it is the song I perform in the LA sessions video—it’s called Two Against.

It’s a beautiful song. As you wrote it as a teenager, has the track evolved and developed over the years?

Two Against has been with me for a long time now. I have recorded it in different versions, with different bands, as well as various solo interpretations. The song itself—the lyrics, melody, and picking—have never changed. The performance you hear in the video is the same as I first sang it back when I was a teenager.

Does this ever-changing approach happen with a lot of the music you make?

I have other songs that have evolved or changed over time—usually through the lyrics or melody. I am too much of a perfectionist to declare a song as complete, but sometimes things just fit.

Not only are you a singer, but you’re also an instrumentalist. What are your first memories of learning to play music?

My parents are musicians. I learned a lot from both of them. I mainly play string instruments—preferably the guitar. When I was a child, I accompanied my dad on stage with the tambura. He taught me to play Bossa novas on guitar and showed me a few things on the sitar, santur, tabla, and Chinese harp. I also play a bit of banjo, ukulele, and bass—but I have to point out that I’m not even a quarter as good as my dad!

"My parents are musicians. I learned a lot from both of them."

Your father introduced you to a great mix of instruments. You must have loved having all these instruments in your home?

My father traveled a lot when he was younger, and he learned a lot of different instruments. He was particularly interested in Indian instruments. Through him, I learned about different musical influences, but my interest in it didn’t come until later. As a child, I was a bit uncomfortable with the fact that the whole house was full of extraordinary, exotic instruments.

When I was young, I accompanied my father on stage during his sitar concerts. They were often embarrassing for me. Only much later did I find an appreciation for non-western music. The powerful, inherent melancholy and heaviness of eastern music fascinates and inspires me to this day. It has definitely influenced my style of music.

As you began to grow older, which musicians inspired you to pursue music further?

The first band I remember listening to during my childhood were The Beatles. I owned all their LPs and covered most of their songs when I started to play the guitar. Later, when I started writing lyrics, I was really inspired by Bob Dylan. In my opinion, he is one of the masters of songwriting. I also love the blues. I’m interested in many styles of music and how they have developed.

"I was really inspired by Bob Dylan. In my opinion, he is one of the masters of songwriting."

In terms of your voice, you have a unique and distinct tone. Were there any singers that inspired you to experiment with your voice, or did it come naturally?

I am not a trained singer; I was never interested in that. I find it charming when voices sound natural and unrefined, sometimes landing off-key. I identify with singers who can express their emotions—artists like Tom Waits, Janis Joplin, or Édith Piaf.

How would you describe the music you make?

I always find it difficult to put my music into one category. I like to create deep, sparkly sounds with a melancholic mood. Sometimes people describe it as dirty, smoky, or gloomy. I remember one compliment I had after a concert, which sums up the style of my music pretty well: “Your songs are like whisky and milk”.

When writing your own music, how does your creative process work?

My process depends on the circumstances. Sometimes I create a melody or a guitar riff from an emotion. But sometimes I discover a certain topic that interests me, and I want to write about it. When I am commissioned to work on music, I use a different approach. Last year I composed the title track for a documentary. The emotions and imagery of the film helped me to create the mood I was searching for within the song.

Can you tell us more about that song?

The song, in fact the whole soundtrack, was produced by Sascha Knorr. It was for a travel documentary called Somewhere Else Together, directed by Daniel Rintz. The film follows a couple on a motorcycle trip from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, and then on from Cape Town to Morocco. It deals with a lot of questions regarding the concept of home, and the fulfilment of life.

In my mind, a soundtrack should express an emotion that contributes to the mood of the film, and supports the atmosphere of the images. It is fascinating what the combination of music and moving images can create.

"With LA Sessions, I have the courage to try and produce on my own."

What do you like about the LA Sessions instruments?

When I imagine my songs in my head, they are always so much bigger and grander than I am able to realize with just my guitar and voice. When it came to recording and producing my music, I was always dependent on other people to help me—the technical side always put me off. With LA Sessions, I have the courage to try and produce on my own.

"music is, and will remain, an indispensable resource in this world. It gives meaning to life."

The pandemic has taken its toll on the music industry, and times are hard, but what advice would you give to aspiring performers and producers?

It‘s a really tough time for artists. Not only with the pandemic, but the rise of streaming services has presented a bitter change. It has made it easier for the record labels, but a lot more difficult for musicians to make a living from their music. But music is, and will remain, an indispensable resource in this world. It gives meaning to life.

There is a nice quote from Victor Hugo which says: “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” Just go for it and be creative!

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