In Conversation With Infinity Knives, The Musician Behind Invisibilia's New Music : NPR Extra A Q&A with Tariq Ravelomanana.
NPR logo In Conversation With Infinity Knives, The Musician Behind Invisibilia's New Music

In Conversation With Infinity Knives, The Musician Behind Invisibilia's New Music

Tariq Ravelomanana, the musician behind Infinity Knives. Amanda Lee Letts hide caption

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Amanda Lee Letts

Tariq Ravelomanana, the musician behind Infinity Knives.

Amanda Lee Letts

When Invisibilia returned last month, it was with a new sound and feel: Yowei Shaw and Kia Miakka Natisse behind the host mics, telling new stories that challenge the forces and powers of the status-quo. They've also got backup from Tariq Ravelomanana, the musician behind Infinity Knives, who scored brand new music for the podcast. We chatted with Tariq about his music and contributing to Invisibilia's new sound.

How do you describe your music?
Great question! Although I'm never really sure how to answer it. My albums are compared to all sorts artists — ranging from the man himself Erik Satie to early Ice Cube... so a pretty tough role to sort of uphold. Personally, I just kinda mess around with different sounds and styles, I get bored of playing the same things over and over.

You've lived in Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Madagascar, and have been in Baltimore since you were a teenager. How have those environments and their musical histories shaped your music?
And a few more! I think it indirectly shaped me more than anything else. I was always moving and it was somewhat difficult for me to connect culturally, children could be so cruel haha. I turned to music because it was easy to understand when I couldn't understand things in my environment — it sorta gave what I was feeling (alienation, isolation, fears, etc.) context.

Amanda Lee Letts
Tariq Ravelomanana, the musician behind Infinity Knives.
Amanda Lee Letts

How did you prepare to make a theme song for a podcast?
So, I believe I recorded about 30 hours of loops and noises and stitched them all together over time into what you hear in the podcast. It was intense! Luckily the folks over at Invisibilia were kind enough to write down really specific things about what they wanted.

Tell me about Invisibilia's sonic ID, and what sounds you used to create it.
It actually uses four different recordings sent in by Invisibilia listeners: frogs, a train station, something from a music teacher, and people playing frisbee.

Honestly, one of my biggest inspiration for the past 15 years has been Sparklehorse — particularly his "It's A Wonderful Life" album. I tried my best to emulate something out of that record, sort of a small snapshot into his world, and the sonic ID came out! Rest In Peace Mark :( I put tons of Sparklehorse references all over my work all the time, but no one's really caught on yet.

What do you think music or a score contributes to the experience of listening to a podcast?
Soundtracks and scores are often times under-appreciated vehicles for narrative work. If done correctly you don't so much 'notice' it but feel it with the story.
It can really make a story much more compelling than without one.

What else are you listening to lately? Music or podcasts!
Max Richter, baby!! Mid-spring to early summer is always time for old Max, especially with some Kurt Vonnegut :). They're linked in my head, I don't know why, but Infra and Slaughterhouse 5 have such a special place in my heart.

Where can Invisibilia listeners find you and more of your work?
All the social media stuff, @infinityknives on Instagram and @infinitykniives on Twitter. As far as my music, I'm on all the major streaming platforms as Infinity Knives! And if you feel inspired enough you can get one of my vinyls.

PS: If anyone needs their video game, film or podcast scored, I'm pretty open! Especially if your name is Jordan Peele.