Raging Embers is the professional name of composer/arranger, Steven Winiarz. He debuted the project in 2022, however it started two years earlier. Like the rest of the world, Winiarz found himself with an abundance of unexpected free time during the pandemic. To keep his sanity during lockdown, the lifelong musician used it as an opportunity to combine his dual passions for rock & roll and orchestral music.
The New York City native and resident worked with musicians around the world to bring his vision to life. However, his primary collaborator was much closer to home. Steven’s wife Dawn Winiarz, an exceptional vocalist and musician, produced the album. Together, the Winiarz couple set out to create orchestral versions of iconic alternative, metal and classic rock hits.
Dive into the Dark is the debut album from Raging Embers, available worldwide via all major streaming services. The 8-song collection looks at some universally familiar rock classics in a whole new light. From the timpani rumble and cinematic strings of Fleetwood Mac‘s “Big Love”, to the ethereal string arrangement of Smashing Pumpkins‘ “Soma”, the record offers fan favorites from a unique perspective.
Winiarz tastes are wide-ranging, and the album covers a lot of historical ground. Alex Chilton’s 1967 Box Tops classic “The Letter ” and Our Lady Peace‘s 1997 hit “Superman’s Dead” each get a string and piano treatment, while Bush‘s “Machine Head” finds a full orchestral arrangement. There is something for fans of every modern rock era.
Hearing well known songs in such a different light can be eye-opening. We will never listen to Green Day’s “Basket Case” the same way after hearing it performed as a beautifully melancholy solo for violin. Similarly, Raging Embers transforms Journey‘s “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” into a dramatic and epic instrumental theme.
Check out Dive into the Dark in its entirety below, or listen on your favorite streaming service. You can also hear “The Letter” on the Deep Indie Jazz playlist and “Soma” on the Deep Indie Chill. We had the chance to chat with Steven Winiarz about the album. Read his answers to our 8 questions below. And follow the links at the end of this article to connect with Raging Embers.
8 Questions With Steven Winiarz of Raging Embers
Where are you from?
I am a Brooklyn native currently living in Manhattan, New York
How long have you been making music?
I’ve been a guitarist and drummer for over 20 years and started getting more into orchestral composition while studying music in college.
Who are the musicians involved in your project?
I am the primary composer and arranger. My wife, Dawn Winiarz, is an incredibly talented musician and was the producer on the album. She has a great ability to make anything she hears sound better.
I hired a dozen individual musicians from around the world via musiversal.com. It was incredible to work with them over Zoom and get a real connection during many of the Covid lockdowns.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
The biggest influence for this album came from Metallica’s S&M album where they performed with the San Francisco Symphony. Seeing how beautifully rock and orchestral music could be blended so well was inspiring. Ramin Djawadi has also been a large influence. Hearing his music on Westworld built up a huge excitement.
What inspired you to create this project?
When Covid hit a lot of people searched for ways to stay sane. With no social life I finally had the large chunks of time I needed to really focus on music. It started when I was listening to Lyndsey Buckingham perform “Big Love” and decided to mess around with it. A cathartic time filler quickly became an obsession as all I wanted to do was expand my favorite rock songs into full orchestral experiences.
What are your plans for the future (musically)?
I’m currently working on my next album which will add vocalists to the mix. I’m continuing orchestration courses to ensure the next album sounds even more exciting and expressive.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
I released Dive into the Dark as a way of having something tangible to show for all of my years of being a musician. I expected 10 people to listen to it but the reception has been better and larger than I could have dreamed.
I spent much of 2022 learning about branding and promotion. It was a significantly larger and more complex beast than I thought. You put out some music and hope people enjoy it but the reality is there is just so much music being made that it is difficult to even get it in front of people.