Last time we covered Running in the Fog, the trance-inducing electronic R&B project of Amanda Harper, she had just released “$ign$.” As Harper moves forward, Moxipop caught up with her to fill in her history, reflect on her music and explore what’s in store for the future. She’ll be performing in Los Angeles twice this week: November 4 at Beat Cinema as part of an Unspeakable Records takeover and November 15 at the Bootleg Theatre playing with Seekae and starRo.
Moxipop: I was hoping you could start by telling us a little bit about your musical background. I know you’ve had some training.
Running In The Fog: Yeah! I guess the first instrument I learned to play was alto saxophone, so I played in jazz band all through middle school and high school. We did little school tours and competitions and stuff like that. So I really began getting into music with a jazz background. Through that, I did choir, I started singing, doing very basic piano. I went to college and studied music and theater in Philadelphia and, really, after college, I didn’t do too much with music. I guess I picked it up when I started messing around with a Korg Kaoss Pad.
I was listening to more electronic music around then, and I wanted to play around with it. I started using that and that’s kind of where it all started. Just writing songs and using very basic samples.
MXP: What year was that?
RITF: That was probably back in 2011.
MXP: Okay. So was that your first real stab at songwriting?
RITF: Actually, yeah. I was training for a marathon and listening to all kinds of music at the time, getting really inspired. I’ve always written – kept a journal – and had that interest in writing and of course I’ve always loved music. When I was training for that marathon, I was listening to hours and hours of stuff on these long runs and got more inspired. I started trying to produce it and write some of my own stuff.
MXP: That’s interesting. Is that what led you to teaching yourself Logic?
RITF: I had some friends who play in the rock bands in San Francisco. One of my really good friends has his own at-home recording studio and he used Logic. He gave me a very basic tutorial in using Logic to record live instruments, but in terms of producing in Logic, I had to teach myself how to do that. His background was more in recording rock bands and guitars. I really wanted to try and create beats. I actually really love Logic, but I’m pretty interested in getting to know Ableton, obviously.
MXP: It sounds like you were involved in the music scene in the Bay area, at least peripherally. What was their reaction when you started embarking on a career of your own?
RITF: Very supportive. I was definitely trying to do something different from the people that I knew that were in these bands. It was more like, “Huh, that’s cool, you’re doing this all by yourself.” There wasn’t really a crossover into that music world, I would always go their shows and they would come to mine. We always appreciated each other from afar being from very different genres.
MXP: When you released your last single, you had some support from Unspeakable Records. How did you get involved with them?
RITF: Jonathan introduced me to Dot. I’d actually heard about Unspeakable before. I had a friend I met from the Red Bull Music Academy Bass Camp in San Francisco. She had worked with Dot in Unspeakable back in the Spring. I was totally interested in the label because of the whole female producer movement is getting more powerful these days, and I think it’s great. Dot is amazing. When she initially asked me to put the track out on Unspeakable, I was super honored. Stoked to be a part of it, for sure.
MXP: How do you describe your music to people?
RITF: I try to steer away from just saying “electronic.” I like to say it’s singer-songwriter with a beat, because I do have a passion for writing songs and melodies and lyrics that are meaningful to me, but I also really like that heavy bass sound. That’s something that definitely speaks to me personally. I also say soul-infused electronic kind of pop music with vocals. Does that answer your question?
MXP: No, yeah, whatever you would actually say. I just want to see how an artist, you know, views themselves and interprets their own music.
RITF: I think I get really inspired by a lot of downtempo beats and R&B, and that definitely comes into play when I’m trying to write something.
“I like to say it’s singer-songwriter with a beat, because I do have a passion for writing songs and melodies and lyrics that are meaningful to me, but I also really like that heavy bass sound.”
MXP: What is it about that sound that you connect with?
RITF: It’s what I grew up listening to. I have a strongly rooted connection to Aaliyah and Brandy and Sade of course. There’s something about keeping a beat going but having this slow grind to it that I feel can be really powerful, as opposed to doing everything all at once. I like music that builds and can go somewhere.
MXP: So when you’re writing a song, what goals do you have in mind? A specific sound you’re reaching for, or certain moods or styles? Is it an emotion?
RITF: I don’t think I’m ever trying to go for anything, just something I’m feeling in the moment. I don’t have any particular goals in mind. I think I sit down and I’ll try to come up with something. If I’m inspired by something I’m creating, it can potentially turn into a full track, but it depends on what mood I’m in. I think it’s more about being inspired in the moment by different sounds. A lot of times I’ll play around with really weird sounds and it will just get me in a mood and I’ll start from there. As far as goals – no goals. I’m happy if a song comes out of it, but I’ll never try and force that.
MXP: What’s in the future for Running In The Fog? Immediate plans, things you’re looking forward to?
RITF: I’m really looking forward to the show this Tuesday. Unspeakable is taking over Beat Cinema with Dot, Sasha Marie and Shiva. There’s going to be some visuals along with the audio, and I’m super excited about that. Also on the 15th in LA, I’ll be opening up for Seekae and, also somebody that I met at the Red Bull Music Academy in San Francisco, starRo. He’s wonderful and I’m really excited to share the stage with him too.
MXP: Is this your first time playing in LA?
RITF: No, I’ve played in LA around this time last year. I played with the group Tiny Hearts and Skin Town –
MXP: Oh yeah.
RITF: They’re amazing. It was Friday night at the Bootleg. Those two acts, I feel like I’m definitely following up on. Skin Town blew my mind at that show for sure.
MXP: So what can audiences look forward to if they go to one of your shows?
RITF: Well, I’m playing all new music, pretty much. I released one new song, but everything else is new, none of it has been released yet. It’s fun for me, for sure. I hope people come and get in the vibe, hopefully dance a little bit and groove a little bit.
MXP: I’m sure it will be a good show. One of the things we’re starting to do is ask people some of the same questions. Or at least the last couple. The first one – what’s your go-to karaoke song?
RITF: Well, I guess I have a couple. The first one, Whitney Houston, “I Want To Dance With Somebody.”
MXP: Classic, okay.
RITF: That’s definitely one of my favorites. If I’m feeling really into it, I like to bust out “Africa” by Toto. Which is a terrible song, but it’s also got some awesome parts to it.
MXP: The last question is – what does Moxie mean to you? Or, what do you think of when you think of Moxie?
RITF: I definitely think of attitude, definitely confidence. Growing up, one of my mom’s best friends would say I was pretty moxie for going into the art’s world and attacking that with confidence and not being torn down by it.
MXP: Thanks for that. If we want to keep up with Running in the Fog, is there anything else we should know about?
RITF: I’m working on some new stuff that I’m not performing. I’m hoping to really crack down on that this winter and, possibly – I don’t want to say 100% — possibly have a full length. That would be my next goal.
Justin Pansacola is a writer living in Los Angeles. At the University of California, Riverside he received his degree in Creative Writing, not English, although he has resigned to the fact that no one cares about the difference. You can follow him on Twitter @wordcore. On some nights he looks up at the moon and wonders if you’re looking at the same moon, too.