Nader Rahy is an accomplished musician with a wealth of experience with his own bands, as German Pop singer Nena's guitarist as well as with winning the world-wide Emergenza contest with his band "Nada Brama" in 2000. Last year he competed in "The Voice of Germany," proving his abilities as a solo artist before releasing his first solo album, "Tokunbo" this summer.
Your biography is extremely personal, giving readers the feeling that music has been more of a calling than a job for you since you were very young. Is this true?
I've always loved music. When I was 15 I realised that it could also be a realistic career and after that there were no alternatives in my mind!
You had a lot of experiences with bands from a young age. Did anything happen that you regret now, or would have done differently? Which of your earlier bands would you like to have made more progress with?
Regret is a luxury, it’s not worth thinking about. I could have been a bit steadier, and not started a new band every six months. I could have also started making music under my own name a bit earlier. I wouldn’t want to make myself dependent upon other musicians any more. I don’t have a regular setup in my bands. Now I have three drummers for example, in case one of them can’t make a gig.
Your previous band "Nada Brama" won the worldwide emerging band contest in 2000. Was that a career booster or breaker?
That was probably the high point of the band’s career. Things got a bit stagnant afterwards, which meant that I didn’t have the energy to keep it moving forwards. After 6 years – which seemed like a very long time back then – I had to break away from it.
The success of "Nada Brama" gave you a glimpse of the major label lifestyle. How was that for you?
It was like a cocktail, made out of hope and the fear that necessarily accompanies it. My happiness depended too much upon the actions of others. In those days a major label deal still meant something. Of course it was great to get some press attention and to fly to Los Angeles to play a show. For a moment, we thought we’d made it.
Since 2002 you’ve been Nena’s guitarist, and you were the drummer for "Kingdom Come" on tour. You’re also working on your own projects. You know how to be the sidekick as well as the artist. What do you consider to be the advantages and disadvantages of this position? Is it possible to fulfil both roles?
I bring everything together under one roof. Of course, a sidekick’s duties sometimes limit you, as you put your own goals to one side because there are only so many hours in the day! My own projects are my real passion. In terms of content, nothing else compares for me. The advantages of the Nena job are the luxury of having a crew that sorts everything out, and a budget making things possible that I couldn’t yet do with my own projects, such as two week recording sessions in Iceland!
Now for the obligatory question about your participation in "The Voice of Germany"! In your bio, you wrote that your plan was to increase your public exposure. Did it work?
Definitely. After the show was broadcast I set off immediately on a 20 show tour across Germany and Switzerland. All the shows were well attended, which wouldn’t have been possible to imagine before!
You’re bringing out your new album "Tokunbo" independently. Was this a conscious decision?
Yes. Over the years I’ve written enough material for 10 albums! While I was on The Voice of Germany I planned to release this album immediately afterwards. I ordered 1000 CD copies to sell, and the album was released digitally on the 20th June.
We keep hearing a rumour that musicians can only earn good money from live shows these days. Selling music has just become another promotional tool. What’s your view on this?
Unlike the business giants like Metallica, I don’t blame customers if they download music for free somewhere. CD prices are too high. Record labels take too much profit for themselves, so they shouldn’t be surprised when people take any chance they can to "steal" music. I would, however, say that people like to have physical copies. I noticed that when my first pressing of CDs sold out really quickly! I personally packaged and sent off each CD. I don’t earn €20 for an album, just €15 including postage.
YouTube seems to be playing an increasingly important role in the music world, especially for younger fans. How do you feel about YouTube?
I think it’s great that everyone has the opportunity to publish the products of their own creativity, even if it’s really inflationary, and there’s a lot of baggage attached.
What can we expect from you next?
I’m going on tour this summer in Germany under my own name. I’m also playing a lot with Nena, among other things. Afterwards I’ll be releasing the second album from my band Les Blaque Pearlz, and going on tour again with them!
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