Raven is one of the revelation-artist-of-the-year candidates in the techno and rave scenes. And it’ s not just us who say so, but also Matt Edwards aka Radio Slave’s bet on her, by releasing her new EP on the prestigious cult label Rekids. That’s where the meteoric careers of other great women in the industry took off. Artists who, like Raven, not only produce, but also compose, write, sing. One, Nina Kraviz, reigns over the most acid grounds within techno. The other, Peggy Gou, sets the pace in the realms of house music. With her Flames EP, Raven bursts into the rave scene with a breath of fresh air, a combination of industrial, acid, experimental, dark, but also urban, modern and carefree elements. Can pop-scented songs enter an industrial building in broad daylight and break a sweat? Raven holds the answer.
Who is the person behind Raven?
I was born in Vancouver, Canada. I lived a long time in Toronto, but also lived in Los Angeles, Chicago, Berlin, Mexico City and now my home is in Barcelona, Spain. I think I move so much because I’m a little restless and curious by nature. I just kind of jump into things and see how I float. I’m pretty into health and natural medicine. I’m vegan going on 9 years. Been vegetarian for a total of 16 years now… Love to cook something up in the studio but also in the kitchen. (laughs) That’s pretty much me in a nutshell.
Listening to your 5-track Flames EP, it seems clear that rave and techno flavours are the main protagonists, but we can also find some trance and even acid touches.
I would say each track is a concept. For example, I wanted “Insomnia” to feel like insomnia. Those fleeting thoughts that keep you awake at night, going around in circles in your head. I also try to fuse some of my favourite sub-genres and sounds together, such as trance, and experiment with them. Like in “In2U”, I wanted to kind of make something like a vocal house track – reminiscent of what you used to hear on the radio. Or in “Saint”, creating that hard-trance synth-line and ghetto-tech bass drum pattern – paying homage to tracks I live for. I wanted to make something that is emotional, dark and sexy with each.
You also sing in all of them and your voice sounds quite close to urban genres, or even some kind of pop. It is not a common thing in rave music.
I mean… I have been writing songs since I was a kid. I don’t think there are any rules for what’s allowed to be electronic music or not because it’s always evolving. I grew up with a ton of musical influences. It’s not just one type of music that I’m into. So yeah, just taking all of that and putting them together. If you think about it, nearly all music is electronic now.
The EP is not a very easy-to-find combination of styles, but maybe an equation that brings fresh air to the techno and rave scene in Europe. Which were the main inspirations?
My inspiration was just to make something that sounds like me. I’ve been making music and DJing for years. I’ve had so many different aliases. Raven is my real name, and this is the first time just kind of doing what I feel. Not fitting into any box.
As you said before, you are from Toronto, and you got also strong connections with some metropolis like Chicago, Berlin, Los Angeles and Mexico City, before getting based in Barcelona. What did you pick from each of these cities while creating your own musical personality?
I personally believe it’s not where you are physically, but where you are mentally. All these cities have been really cool to live in. I think I mostly benefited from recognizing that I need to leave space for other ways of thinking. With each move, it taught me tolerance and that things will never go to plan. At the end of the day, music is communication and I have a massive desire to connect with and understand people and to be understood myself. I think that’s where the whole music thing comes into play for me.
How did Rekids appear in the story?
It’s been a whirlwind of a year. Before settling in Barcelona, I moved from Mexico City and was staying in Athens, Greece. In an unfortunate string of events, I ended up losing my external hard drive, cell phone and finally my computer. I had to start everything again from scratch. When things went south in Athens my sister invited me to Barcelona. I’ve known Matt [Edwards] for years from living in Berlin. When I started making music again, Matt heard it and he said he wanted to release it. Matt and Leon [Oakey] know what they’re doing at Rekids and I’m super happy to have them behind me. I’m really stunned at all that’s transpired this past year.
Their label already launched careers like Nina Kraviz’s and Peggy Gou’s ones: also, two producers, composers, singers and, of course, DJs. I guess you won’t like comparisons, but these are serious words… Do you imagine yourself becoming as big as they are nowadays?
Peggy and Nina are amazing at what they do and they each have their own lane. I believe there’s a space for me in electronic music as well. I’m trying to go as far as I can with it.
Does this mean an extra pressure or responsibility?
Hmmm… I feel a responsibility to Rekids, who support me 110 per cent, but mostly to myself. This is my passion, you know.
Probably, 2020 was looking like one of the most intense and demanding years of your career so far, just before everything went down. How are you facing these lockdown times?
Yeah, it’s not how we planned this release to go. (laughs) The lockdown is strange. Trying to use this time to my advantage. I spend most of my time making music and laughing at memes. But yeah, it’s tough. The only good thing about this situation is that we’re all struggling together.
Any message you would like to send to our readers?
I would like to say that for artists and really everyone, this time is so unnerving. We have no idea what this next year will look like. All gigs have been cancelled. So many people have lost jobs. We’re all about to be broke! (laughs) Now is really the time to support your communities in whatever you do and however you can.