Signal Path Podcast: Paul Ripke
Hear the stories behind the music with the Signal Path podcast. Tapping a global network of musicians, producers, engineers and other sonic innovators, Shure brings you exclusive interviews with the people shaping the world of audio.
Episode 23: Paul Ripke
For this episode of Signal Path, we spoke with photographer, filmmaker and podcaster Paul Ripke. Known for the innovative content he creates for rock stars, soccer clubs and the Mercedes Formula One team, we met him at this year's Montreux Jazz Festival to discuss his roots in the German hip-hop scene, his philosophy on music photography and what he considers makes a good podcast.
Signal Path: This is your first time here at Montreux. What are your first impressions?
Paul Ripke: It’s great, it’s impressive to be fair. I didn't expect it to be that young: yesterday's crowd was all 20-year-olds and it’s proper music, not as jazzy as I expected it to be. It's more a younger vibe. I would strongly recommend going there.
You’re known for doing so many different things. You were on the pitch when Germany last won the World Cup, you do a lot for the Mercedes Formula One team, have connections in the German rap scene and are shooting still photography and also videos. Are you always open to new things?
I get bored very fast and I don't like to do stuff more than 10 or 15 times. So, the more excitement there is, the better it is for me. My father was a doctor, but he had a photography hobby. I did photography trips with him together and we took pictures, so I was always aware of cameras. I grew up skating, so I did all the pictures, because I suck at skating.
The other thing is, I'm from Heidelberg, so hip-hop was a big thing and I sucked at hip-hop as well. So, I took the pictures as it was a very easy way to get in there. I did moving images, because I was interested in doing skate videos and editing. I like to create stuff by myself, like a bit of a one-man army.I'm not very talented in the stuff I do but, with a lot of things combined, at least I'm effective.
So you were always doing videos and were always interested in music?
Yeah, and whenever I got better at one thing, I got bored. I want to be fast and I want to create something there that I can show off. I'm a bragging guy, to be fair. There are tons of people who are way more talented, but the combination is effective.
Just last weekend I was the content producer for Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team. That's a space where you could double the quality if you have a proper concept and a great film crew. But, on the other side, you can also just bring me in filming on a phone and seven minutes later it's done, edited, cut down, the sound is right and we are good to go. With the video I created on Sunday we’d reached 850,000 people 24 hours later with the message that the team wants to tell.
You were talking about liking to brag a bit. Did that ingratiate you to the German rap scene or did you pick it up while you were involved in it? You’re good friends with one German rapper.
Yes, his name's Marteria, he did a solo show in his hometown in front of 40,000 people and we did a film about it. Sixteen red cameras with anamorphic lenses and like proper full-on production. He likes to do music and then he trusts me, just saying, “If you say we do that on Instagram, or we do these pictures, then I trust you and let’s do that.” And that's still continuing till today.
Music photography was that the first job I did, probably 15 years ago and I just got very lucky that they just liked the fact that I was into hip-hop.
Is there something that ties everything together or do you approach photography, music videos and live concerts differently?
I try to approach it differently, but in the end it's all the same. It's all storytelling and that's where it's all together. You need to tell a story with the brand, the actor, the musician, the team, the sports personality, you by yourself. You need to have a story that's interesting and there are a lot of people who are really boring.
Speaking of stories to tell, Marteria introduced you to Toten Hosen – a very veteran German punk rock band. Are they the German equivalent to the Rolling Stones?
Not really, they're not so punky anymore. They're pretty rocky. The lead singer Campino had a connection with Marteria and he introduced me to them. We first of all spent private time in Argentina. They're huge in Argentina because they supported I think the Clash or whoever back in the days and they constantly played there and it's insane. I've been on a private trip with them took some pictures. They liked it and then things got along and then added some video stuff for them to show them. They are real artists. For example, Marteria is a true artist, too. I don't consider myself as an artist, because I'm more like a service guy.
You mentioned Instagram earlier and I think maybe that's a good point because you did a video for the pop singer Lena Meyer-Landrut. What was the concept behind it?
Basically, it's a look on the phone, so it's a screen-capture video. It starts like a normal video and then it goes into messaging. My favorite part is a battery warning, so everybody who's consuming the video said, “Ah, I clicked the video for that,” so there is interaction when you kind of think your own battery dies when you're watching it on a mobile. It's called “Don't Lie to Me,” so it's a story of her lying to herself and social media and showing off and trying a different version of yourself. We tried to do it in a stripped-down technical way. So, I filmed the first part with DLR but then I switched to an iPhone. We created a lot of content that we could use afterwards in editing. I'm quite happy with the result. It was OK for social media.
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