Word came down last week of the passing of Ralph A. Rjeily, a respected audio engineer and contributor to the formative years of modern European heavy psychedelic, particularly in Copenhagen. Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective, whose Altered States column premiered a couple weeks back, sent the following remembrance. The Obelisk sends condolences to Rjeily‘s family and friends.
Ralph A. Rjeily Jan. 22, 1971 – Aug. 9, 2012
Ralph A. Rjeily died of testicular cancer on August 9, 2012. He was a good friend and a prominent person in the Copenhagen underground music scene. Ralph was a father to two children and a husband, who had a very understanding and cool wife, who supported his true dedication to the Danish music scene. Ralph was a concert promoter with 3rd Tsunami and managed and did live sound with On Trial when I first met him in the late ‘90s. In 1999, together with Hobbiten (On Trial), Ralph and Lars Lundholm (Runs the Black Tornado studio where On Trial, Gas Giant, Øresund Space Collective, Baby Woodrose, Dragontears and many other bands have recorded) formed Burnt Hippie Recordings, where we released On Trial, Dark Sun, Gas Giant, WE, Korai Öröm and a compilation CD for a space rock festival that never happened. This is when I really got to know Ralph. Below I will recall a few great times we had.
I still remember well when I travelled down with Spids Nøgenhat to the really fun Swamp Room Happening in Hannover in 2000. It was a great lineup, with the Bevis Frond, Mandragora Lightshow Society, Spids Nøgenhat (the only concert they ever played outside of Denmark), Lucky Bishops, Noetics and a few other cool bands. After Ralph had done his job of doing sound he could have a good time like the rest of us. We all had a great time and someone gave Ralph some mushrooms and he and some others disappeared. We ended up having to go back to the place to crash and when we came back the next morning Ralph was nicely sleeping on the lawn in front of the club. Nick Hasselby took a picture of us all standing around him before we woke him up. Ralph was always a great guy to hang out with and have a good time.
Ralph produced the Gas Giant Pleasant Journey in Heavy Tunes (will be reviewed in detail soon on this blog for the Altered States column) session in 2000. I was working with the band at this time but not yet playing with them, while Ralph was setting up their gigs, doing their live sound and working in the studio with them so I spent a lot of time with Ralph. Some of my best memories of Ralph and Gas Giant were when we all went on tour in October 2002 with Gas Giant and Colour Haze for 5 gigs in 7 days. We started off at the Sojo in Leuven, Belgium and off to the Bern-kastel Kues for a great two days including an amazing party with Mama Cool. It was a mix of good and bad times though as Ralph came along agreeing to be paid based on how many people showed up and the turnout was pretty poor for most of these gigs so for several he got no money at all. Things really hit the fan when we got to Nurnburg and after the soundcheck, people were a bit tired and hungry, and Stefan (guitarist in Gas Giant) accidently knocked the entire container with our pasta dinner in it on the floor. Ralph was so pissed off and stormed out of the venue. Most of us had got our food. We went to a bar and had a beer and then went looking for Ralph. He was sitting in McDonalds not looking happy and we were all looking in through the side window at him and he did not see us. Later he came back did the great sound and saw an amazing Gas Giant show with some killer long jams and later a jam with Colour Haze as well. These were fantastic concerts and great times with both bands just really having a great time and jamming a lot. It showed another side of Ralph but he was truly dedicated to the tour, despite coming home with little money.
Ralph eventually left 3rd Tsumani and for a while was an independent booker before joining Anders and Gearbox Agency the last many years. He also was part of the Route66 vinyl-only store in Copenhagen after the original owner sold the place. For many years he was the only person bringing stoner and psychedelic rock to Copenhagen from the late ‘90s up until the present. He was truly dedicated and really got so many cool bands here that would probably never have played in Denmark. He managed to get Nebula, Atomic Bitchwax, and all of these bands on their first tours of Europe. When he was on tour with On Trial or Baby Woodrose, he would always try to record the shows and give me the mini-discs so that I could do the transfers of the shows to CD. I was able to archive a lot of great shows this way.
Later, Ralph would begin working a lot more in the studio and less on the live sound scene and he did live sound for nearly every On Trial, Baby Woodrose, Dragontears, Aron and related band concert up until the last few years when he became ill. In the last six months I had four or five 45 min or longer talks with Ralph about what he was going through and he was always so positive even though it was a difficult struggle and he really suffered during these chemotherapy sessions. Ralph, earlier this year he told me that if this last one did not work, he would not do anymore but try to enjoy the rest of his time with his family.
Ralph was a dedicated person and someone I really respected. Please put on one of the many records that he mixed, engineered and worked on. This list at Discogs is nowhere near complete though as Ralph worked with many artists in Denmark, Sweden and the USA. Please celebrate what he gave us all… Peace Ralph… you were a good friend.
Tags: Baby Woodrose, Denmark, Dr. Space, Dragontears, Gas Giant, Oresund Space Collective, Ralph A. Rjeily, Sad shit, Scott Heller