1. The spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal.
2. Emotional or intellectual energy or intensity, especially as revealed in a work of art or an artistic performance.
3. This part of a human when disembodied after death.
Walking On Fire
This is a special story…
I live in Amsterdam, and the first time I heard Rilan Ramhane’s voice was while visiting my son in San Francisco during the 2017 Christmas season. We had been invited to a concert at a San Francisco music venue called The Chapel. During the intermission, a song came through the club sound system, and my son and I simultaneously pulled out our iPhones while bobbing our heads to the beat.
We Shazammed the beat, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that, in returning to the Netherlands, I was going to be closer to the dopeness that was, as my son said, "this Dutch band called Rilan and the Bombardiers… looks like the song is called, '"Walking On Fire.'"
The Chapel: Burying The Dead
Bear with me on the back story… there will be a payoff.
Previously home to the Gantner-Maison-Domergue Funeral Home, the former funeral parlor has been transformed into a vibrant music venue called The Chapel. The building itself is a 1914 Tudor-style structure with a forty-foot vaulted ceiling. The Chapel is located at 777 Valencias Street, and is situated in San Francisco’s Mission district. It is important to know that the Mission District was once home to most of San Francisco’s mortuaries. Gantner-Maison-Domergue Funeral Home was one such mortuary, and local lore suggests the souls of the dead still roam the halls of the building. According to some, these ghosts have even been caught on camera. (See 7x7.com link below)
“[At The Chapel], employees have reported numerous paranormal activities over the years—bottles exploding, footsteps echoing through the empty building, faucets that turn on and off, votive candles that fly off the mantel—and several musical guests have reported strange experiences in the green room while waiting to perform. Creepiest of all is the ghostly figure of a little girl who is said to be seen haunting the venue at night.”
(Source 7x7 Link). I am pleased to report we did not see any spirits the night we were at The Chapel. However, our spirits were moved by the music of Rilan and the Bombardiers.
The Cosmic Relaxation Center: 138 years of soul
Once back in Amsterdam, I emailed Rilan's management team to tell them the story of the night my son and I “discovered” the song ‘Walking On Fire’ at The Chapel in San Francisco. I told them my Shazam story and asked if Rilan would do us the honor of appearing on the MAKER platform. Rilan’s song, “Walking On Fire came on my Spotify playlist as I was emailing his management team; this made me feel blessed. Five days later, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an enthusiastic and supportive response from Rilan’s agent - they were excited to have him featured in MAKER!
As it turned out, Rilan and the Bombardiers were scheduled to perform at Paradiso in Amsterdam on March 23rd which happened to be the same day my husband and I were celebrating our 29th wedding anniversary. Paradiso is a Neo-Roman-style church built in 1880, which, on March 30, 1968, was converted into the Cosmic Relaxation Center, a space for hippy counter-culture gatherings and love-ins. Paradiso has since evolved into “a professional concert venue with multiple programs per day at various locations in Amsterdam.” ** With its 1500-capacity main hall and the 250-capacity small hall, Paradiso has soaring stained-glass windows and possesses a soulful roster of pedigreed performers spanning 50 years of music. Over the past five decades, the temple of live music has hosted:
Sun Ra Arkestra
New York Dolls
Eminem feat Dr. Dre
Amy Winehouse and many more. Rilan and the Bombadiers continue this soulful tradition.
So, the second time I heard Rilan sing 'Walking On Fire' was also in a church. This time, he was live on a small stage with his musicians and a packed audience. Rilan took the stage at exactly 8:00 PM, wearing sunglasses, a retro sixties shirt and his signature afro, and joyfully performed with rare well-grounded strength and authenticity.
Haarlem On My Mind
Rilan Ramhane is a Moroccan-Dutch musician who was born and raised in Haarlem, the Netherlands. In March 2018, Rilan met the MAKER crew at the Haarlem Central Train station and took us on a tour of Haarlem, the beautiful, historic capital city of the province of North Holland.
Sporting a large afro, stylish sunglasses and colored garb reminiscent of a mashup of the 1960’s hippie culture and treasures found in a fabric stall in a Casablancan souk, Rilan bounced over to the MAKER crew and opened his heart, studio and city to us.
Housed in a disused 19th-century factory in Haarlem, Rilan’s studio is literally a music factory. The studio consists of various rooms which range in density from cave-like to light-filled. What the rooms have in common is that they are all inspirational and infused with creativity. We were honored to have the opportunity to see Rilan’s creative nucleus, as he has never shared this intimate space with journalists.
After our private studio tour, Rilan graciously shared the location of his first music school, his favorite childhood walking alley and the history of the majestic medieval (circa 1370) Grote Kerk aka St. Bavokerk (Great Church aka Saint Bavo Church).
With a rich, melodious storytelling voice, he shared his contagious love and admiration for his beloved Haarlem. He spun tales of knights jousting in the market square and later being interred in the Great Church subfloor and of Dutch heroes from the 1700’s.
There is a new wave of old-school-infused goodness on the rise, and one of the leaders of this new music revolution is Rilan Rahmane and the Bombardiers.
Otis Redding and Etta James had a son... his name is Rilan.
'Walking On Fire' is the title of the 2016 debut album of Rilan and the Bombadiers, as well as the title of their runaway hit single. However, the first time I heard Rilan’s voice was back in San Francisco in 2017. That night at the Chapel, I heard soul music royalty being channeled through a new filter. There was an essence of Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Etta James and a Marleyesque raspiness
The song, 'Get Your Mind Right' is an aural manifesto for the times in which we live. This song is 1/3 psychedelic, 1/3 tribal and 1/3 Bob Marley. Listen to it. Because, here's the thing, the voice quality and message are evocative of Bob Marley, and the beat simply makes you want to dance because it makes you happy. Still, the message is there: get your mind right.
But, make no mistake, the Bombardiers (Rilan’s musicians) are seasoned, tuned in and attentive to every single beat they are laying down. If you take the time to listen to each instrument separately, you hear the passion and craftsmanship of each individual musician.
So, here's the deal, the next time someone tells you, “they don't make music like they used to,” you say this: “That's probably true, but there is a new wave of old-school-infused goodness on the rise, and one of the leaders of this new music revolution is Rilan Rahmane and the Bombardiers.”
The song ‘Trippin’ is redolent of Otis Redding's Tramp and on ‘Fire Dance’, the listener is treated to a visit from the Beatles.The tracks ‘Trippin’ and ‘Walking On Fire’ were featured in the American NetFlix, HULU/FOX series: Shooter, Shut Eye and Rosewood.
If you are having a rough day and/or are lacking energy, I strongly advise you to check out Rilan’s version of 'I'm Alive' on the Dutch radio show, MetMichiel - Serious Talent Live on 3FM.
The song was originally released in 1968 by Tommy James and the Shondells. Rilan stations himself behind the microphone, iPhone in hand to check lyrics then goes in like a man possessed. I’m Alive by Rilan and the Bombardiers here.
Check out Rilan and the Bombardiers' new album "Afro Dite".
Rilan’s family name means “two spears”… check out the podcast for the story of Rilan’s family name.
MAKER would like to thank the following people for their contribution to this article:
Rilan Ramhane for sharing your time and energy with the MAKER crew by showing us around your beloved Haarlem and offering us exclusive access to your recording studio. Learn more about Rilan and the Bombadiers here.
MAKER would like to offer a special thank you to Paul Heijink, Tanja van der Sar, and Jacco Toma of Haarlem-based artist management professionals, Kaiser Management. The Kaiser Management team provided Rilan with dedicated and responsive artist management and generously provided MAKER the rights to use the song, Walking On Fire. Thank you for your patience.
Richard Terborg for sharing your spontaneity and sense of humor while creating beautiful photographs. It is always super fun and a pleasure working with you: Link
Anissa "Eva" Jousset of INBORN for your excellent photography, sound production, project management and general get-shit-done-skills.
Nick Khoury of Air FM for letting us borrow your your equipment to record our stories and for your excellent post production skills. Link
Q-Factory Amsterdam for providing an excellent, well-equipped studio space in which to record this podcast. Link
Haarlem City Hall: Link
Definition of soul: Link
Harlem on My Mind article from the February 5, 1969 article in The Harvard Crimson: Link
I amsterdam: Link
Resident Advisor: Link
TimeOut San Francisco: Link