Interview: RM47 Opens Up about “Strangers” and Their Creative Process

Los Angeles-based alt/electro-R&B duo RM47 recently unveiled their new single/music video, “Strangers,” following on the heels of “Needed U.”

Made up of MAAD – recording artist, songwriter, DJ, and model – and Raleigh – music and production – prior to collaborating as RM47, the two worked together on a number of projects, including MAAD’s solo releases such as “Eventually Pt. 1” and Earl Grey’s “Overdue.” Since then, the two developed unique creative chemistry.

RM47’s sound draws inspiration from New Jersey, Nigeria, Chicago, London, Toronto and Tanzania, capturing the essence of their own lived experiences and paying homage to where they come from.

It’s a sound merging soulful vocals over a sonic fusion of sultry guitars, hypnotic synths, the stuttering of jersey club beats, and the funky rhythms of Afrobeat.

Riding a cool, funk-lite rhythm topped by delicious waves of sensuous R&B textures, “Strangers” drips with exotic flavors and the captivating, deluxe voice of MAAD, whose tones imbue the lyrics with seductive timbres. Both MAAD and Raleigh have an irresistible charisma and presence on the screen, at once compelling and spellbinding.

“Take me baby drive me wild / I don’t wanna tame ya, it’s just not human nature / Fire blazing through the night / Touch me, love me, crave me / Ooh, I love the danger.”

CelebMix caught up with RM47 to discover more about the inspiration behind “Strangers,” how they got started in music and their influences.

What three things can’t you live without?

Raleigh: Oxygen, water, and love.

MAAD: I have to agree with Raleigh on oxygen and water. I’m going to add family to that list but to be honest, 3 is really hard to commit too because my list is long!

What inspired your new single/music video, “Strangers?”

When it came to ‘Strangers’ we were inspired by making a record that we could see ourselves performing at festivals. Making sure to encompass what the energy would feel like on stage, seeing the sun setting as we played, and feeling the vibes from the audience.

For the video, we wanted to capture the cinematic side of this record and it’s really lovely how everything came to life.

Who directed the video and where was it shot?

Our good friend Paulo Berberan directed this one. I want to say this is the 5th video we’ve shot together so we truly understand one another. It’s always a mission of ours to make sure we level up with each visual we do. As for the location, we shot it in Alhambra, CA

How did MAAD and Raleigh come to collaborate?

We’ve been collaborating together for a while and a colleague of ours mentioned that we should think about forming a duo since we already have a really solid creative relationship. So here we are!

How did you get started in music?

Raleigh: It started in the womb… It’s always been there, then was reinforced by mom when she bought me a drum set to fill up empty space under the Christmas tree. My dad was a DJ and live sound engineer in his spare time too so there was always music around. I have an uncle who played keys and always gave me his old gear, and another uncle that worked as a radio host/DJ. My sisters and I used to write songs and we’d make up choreography for random stuff.

MAAD: For me, it all started at home. My parents would always play music around the house, and I’d be so inspired that I would sing along in my room and create my own harmonies. I used to love finding instrumentals of popular songs and would write my own verses to them.

Looking back, it’s funny to see where I’m at now because at one point in my life singing was my little secret, it felt like something I had to protect because I loved it so much… now you can’t get me to stop talking about performing and putting shows together. Just the other night I went to a jam session and felt so good to let go.

Where are you from?

MAAD: We’re both from the East Coast, I’m from New Jersey.

Raleigh: I’m from all over New York.

Did your hometown impact your sound?

Raleigh: Most def! Especially the radio and church. Since my family was split up, I heard a mixture of different radio stations in different markets and went to different churches. I also gained some of my first local audience as a rapper/producer in high school. The soundtrack of my grade school hallways was filled with hip-hop, R&B, pop, rock, metal, and punk. At home, I grew up hearing my parents’ music and my older sisters have cool musical taste that I’ve always appreciated. I played in my school’s band and orchestra, and also in church growing up.

MAAD: Absolutely! Jersey Club, house, and disco are some of my favorite genres to listen to. I always make sure to work them into my DJ sets so people can understand where I’m from. We’ve incorporated a lot of those sounds into our own music, so it’s really cool for us to put our own twist into it all.

Which singers/musicians influenced your sound?

Raleigh: Quincy Jones, Berry Gordy, Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind and Fire, PFunk, Usher, Pharrell, Jay Z, Sam Cooke, Michael Jackson, Andre3K, Swizz Beatz, Will.I.Am, Fela Kuti, Ebo Taylor, Timbaland, Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond, Gil Scott Heron, James Brown, James Fauntleroy, Jack White, Krauhngbin, Kevin Parker, Neal Pougue, Rick James, Gamble & Huff.

MAAD: To add to his list, I’ll say Kaytranada, Tame Impala, Kelis, and Little Dragon.

Did your sound evolve naturally, or did you deliberately push it in a certain direction? 

Raleigh: I’d say a bit of both… we just said ‘we want to make music people can dance to’… then worked toward finding what that sound is in a very natural and organic way.

What inspires your writing? Do you draw inspiration from poems, music, or other media?

MAAD: It varies from song to song. Sometimes my inspiration pulls from conversations that I’ve had with friends or something I’ve watched. Sometimes it’s just us in the studio, melodies flowing, and we brainstorm a concept. It’s a different experience each time.

Raleigh: Everything, every experience, everything I consume, everything I observe has potential to be a song. Most songs, for me, start as a voice note of beatboxes and/or melodic and rhythmic mumbles.

What can you share about your writing process?

Our process is different with every song but most of the time it’s us in the studio, vibing and bouncing ideas off of each other. If we get stuck on something we have a few friends that are amazing songwriters that we bring in to collaborate with us.

We do share a bit of our process on our IG and YouTube page, if you follow us (@rm47rm47rm47) you’ll get a peek into the process!

Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now? 

We have to say ourselves, Doja Cat and Kendrick.

What can your fans look forward to over the next six months? Music videos? Live gigs?

Yes, to all of that and more! We’re definitely focused on doing more live gigs, we feel that’s one of the best ways to connect with our listeners and introduce ourselves to new audiences. You can for sure expect more music, visuals, a podcast, and collabs from us.

Follow RM47 Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Spotify

Written by Randy

Randy Radic is a Left Coast author and writer. Author of numerous true crime books written under the pen-name of John Lee Brook. Former music contributor at Huff Post.