AOL: When did you start playing the bass?
Raphael: I think the first time I picked up the bass, I was maybe seven years old. I think the instrument finds you, and the bass sort of found me. Everybody in my neighborhood played the guitar, so the only way I could get into bands was playing the bass. You much get in bands a little faster if you play bass.
AOL: Growing up Oakland, what was the music scene like?
Raphael: The music scene in Oakland was very exciting. You couldn't walk for a block without seeing a band in a garage. There was maybe two bands on every block, trying to play the clubs, and work their way up to the hottest club in Oakland. It definitely was a huge scene for bands.
AOL: Was it really competitive?
Raphael: It was a very competitive scene. The likes of Sly and the Family Stone and Natalie Cole's band were in my neighborhood. It was very competitive -- a lot of musicians on every block, every church, every blues club. We had blues clubs all over. It was almost like being in Austin, Texas.
AOL: What were the records you obsessed over as a youth?
Raphael: I think really the records I listened to as a whole, weren't really Motown, or Stax. The group I listened to was Earth, Wind and Fire. Those are about the only records I listened to from beginning to end. I bought the live albums and held the album covers open, and looked at them while I was playing the actual music. But I think that I was able to take all the music that I've listened to -- all the Stax, the Motown, Carlos Santana, all the Bay Area sounds -- and put them together and sort of come up with my own type of feel.