I’m not gonna lie, I’m on a next hype about this interview.
When this guy created his label, I personally thought that it was the best thing to happen to DnB … Pretty much ever, if I’m honest.
Then, when the label ceased trading and he went off to make techno, I personally wanted to shout at him a little bit. I wanted to grab him by both shoulders shake him a bit, then try to make him see reason. I wanted to make him to realize that he was making a mistake.
However, following your dreams is never a mistake. Especially if it makes you happy. That said, over the last decade this guy has helped shape the dark side of DnB. He has dropped banger after banger on a wide variety of very respectable labels and then went onto pretty much redefine dark DnB when he started his own label.
Then after all that, he quit DnB, shut the label down and went off to follow his dream and became a well respected techno producer. DnB wise, apart from a couple of collabs and the odd gig here and there, no one has heard from him in years.
Now he’s back, he’s just dropped an absolute killer EP on brand new label Tech:nology Recordings and has plenty in reserve for new projects. So, without further ado, it give me great pleasure to introduce the man, the myth and the absolute legend that is … Raiden.
GCB … Firstly, thanks for taking the time to chat to me today. Secondly, welcome back fella. Pleasantries well and truly dealt with, lets get straight into it.
You’ve just dropped your “Experiments In White Noise” EP on the brand spanking new “Tech:nology Recordings”. I for one am chuffed to bits to see you releasing DnB again. My first question is … Are you back for good (DnB wise) or are you just visiting ?
RAIDEN … I tend to work towards things where there is an incentive. I don’t have to many of those in D&B at the moment and I’m not sure where I fit into the current scene. KSP has been keeping me very busy as of late, so for that reason its my current focus. I’ve always been extremely busy with Djing as Raiden and love every second of it.
I dont think its possible ‘leave’ a particular genre of music as such, not like a relationship or a job, it’s just musical demographics. I want to experience lots of different music as possible these days, sticking to one thing is like eating the same meal every night.
GCB … Some producers see it as a big risk to release on a brand new label, especially being the very first artist to release on said label. With that in mind, can you tell us a bit about why you decided to release the EP with Tech:nology Recordings ?
RAIDEN … Oscar from Tech:nology told me he was planning to launch a label and I really wanted to contribute as I always enjoyed working with the Tech:nology fellas. I set about making some tracks that captured the feel of the Tech:nology events and I really wanted their label to start with a bang so I put my all into it. One thing I’ve learnt over the years is the importance of working with good people.
GCB … With regards to your own label. Whats happening with Offkey and do you have any future plans for the imprint ?
RAIDEN … I don’t think it would be right to relaunch it, its very much tied to a particular era, time and space, it would tarnish its achievements. It’s more special that way. It would feel cheap to relaunch it. Comebacks never seem to live up to expectations.
GCB … Name your top 3 DnB tracks that you have produced and tell us why these particular tracks stand out for you personally ?
I visited south america on a number of occasions and I’m blown away by the traditional rhythms and rich musical culture, especially as dance music is also rhythm orientated. I bought a fair bit of percussion when I was over there and spent time learning to play it. Bogota for me has the most intricate drum work I’ve ever played and recorded. I’m very proud of that track and it’s aged very well. A real labour of love.
I made this track in the depths of an Estonian winter while it was dark in subzero temperatures,I felt I captured the way it made me feel perfectly in this track, cold ethereal and icey. It was the closest I got to making the sound that’s in my head and heart.
This was the first time I discovered that you can make sounds using feedback loops with a mixer. Out of any of my dance floor tracks this one sounds the most like what I hear in my head, hence I’ve played it in every set since 2008.
GCB … Name 3 DnB producers you would like to collab with in the future and tell us why you rate them ?
RAIDEN … Now a days I see little point in collabing for the sake of it, especially when the producers sound quite similar. Cross genre collabs are far more interesting. Recently I have been collaborating, with Addison Groove, Manni Dee, Wedge and soon Appleblim.
In terms of who I rate I’d say Digital, as he’s just an absolute don and made many of my favourite tunes. Universal Project, they are just so pure, raw and uncompromising, like the Detroit Techno of d&b. I really rate Alix Perez, even if what he does isnt exactly my thing I admire how he’s always thinking outside the box and never stuck in his ways.
GCB … A lot of people in DnB (myself included) we’re a tad peeved when Offkey went off the radar. I’m sure you had good reasons for doing what you did, can you tell us a bit about what was happening back then and let us know how you felt at the time ?
RAIDEN … The Offkey sound become horribly gentrified. The style that it established become a regime and I started to feel trapped, so the best thing to do is just walk away. I’d pretty much taken that sound as far as I could.
Offkey happened out of the desire to create something new and that took a huge risk. I couldn’t think of anything more boring than to keep doing the same thing for the sake of it just because its expected of you.
Some people said I was crazy to walk away from something that was doing so well, but that music came from what was influencing me at the time, and what influences you is always in flux.
I could of easily kept doing it and made a lot of money but it wouldn’t be honest. I always want to be pure in what I do.
I do have my regrets with letting slip Voodoo though. I’m still very much into that percussive vibe but it wasn’t something for a D&B Audience on the whole.
GCB … What are your thoughts on Crossbreed ?
RAIDEN … I don’t pay much attention to it as its just not something I am interested in, and rarely come into contact with it.
My main music interests generally aren’t in electronic music. I’m a biggest Queen and Who fan. Recently I’ve been getting really into 60’s US garage music such as the Easybeats for example. I’m a avid record collector music from all eras and styles.
GCB … At what point during your DnB career did you think “yes I’ve cracked it” and can you tell us a bit about how you felt at the time ?
RAIDEN … I’ve honestly never felt that, your ideas, abilities and tastes are always evolving. Music has endless possibilities. There’s always something new to learn or story to tell. If anything I feel like I’ve only just started.
GCB … Name you top 3 DnB tracks of all time and give us some info as to why these tracks are your favourites ?
Digital – Scam
I love Digital’s music and this combines to of my favourite things, hoovers and Knocks. His arrangements remind me of Techno a lot. What can I say, what an artist.
Kemal and Rob Data – Gene Sequence
Kemal and Rob Data quite literally still sound ahead of their time 12 years on, timeless boundry breaking music. Meticulous!
Universal project – Haunted Dreams
I love the B boy style of d&b more than any other, UP nailed that South London style street feel, tough and uncompromising.
GCB … Earlier on in you career, you released a fair amount of material with Renegade Hardware. Why did you decide to leave Hardware and start your own imprint ?
RAIDEN … I started OffKey about 5 years before I moved on from Hardware. I moved on from Hardware as I didnt feel as they were treating me very well and as a result I wasn’t particularly interested in D&B as a whole. I wanted to expand my palette so to speak, just felt like I was stagnating and at the same time UK Techno was coming into its own. Being a long time Techno fan, it felt like the right time to get back to my roots, I’m not getting any younger!
GCB … After a decade in DnB, you decided to follow your long term dream and make Techno. A dream that has been realized under your “KSP” moniker. How is that going ?
RAIDEN … KSP is going very well and creatively I’ve never been happier, I’ve carved out my own sound based on foley recording which is more like a documentary in sound. I sample real world objects and try and get as many sounds out of them as possible then processing them. KSP is all about texture in sound design. Im currently in the process of making tunes for Luke Slater’s Mote Evolver which a dream come true, hopefully he’ll like the tracks!
GCB … Its no secret that you experiment a lot with your music. What’s the weirdest place you’ve visited to record samples ?
RAIDEN … I got some funny looks recently while sampling the door on a single decker bus. Every time I heard the doors close the pneumatics it gave of a very particular tone and I just had to have it!
Right now I’m obsessed with feedback loops ran via outboard fx chains and underwater contact microphones.
GCB … You’ve recently returned to the UK after a few years living in Estonia. How is it being back in the UK and do you have any plans to move abroad again in the future ?
RAIDEN … Its great being back in the culture I grew up in and the opportunities it presents, socially and economically. The thing I loved about Estonia was the isolation and embracing another culture, I never thought I was going to come back. But, after 8 years I felt it was time for a change and another risk. I’ve moved to Bristol so I’m in a opposite situation. The thing I love about Bristol is the cross pollination of music and its very open source.
GCB … You’ve produced on a few different DAW’s. What DAW are you using now and why does it stand out from the rest ?
RAIDEN … I’m currently using Ableton but I wouldn’t say that dictates my process, its more just a tool to facilitate ideas and as I’ve used Ableton for almost 10 years, I find it very fast for doing that. My process is more about foley recording and pushing cheap analog gear to do things it wasn’t designed for.
GCB … Aside from Tech:nology (for obvious reasons). Whats your favourite event to perform at in the UK and why ?
RAIDEN … I love playing for Jungle Syndicate, they get everything right. They use a Thunder Ridge sound system which is the same model as the system from the End club (rip), amazing production and a very unique aesthetic.
I really enjoy playing in the UK above anywhere else. You can take big risks in the UK and people get it, I guess because we come from the same cultural reference point.
GCB … Tell us 3 things you hate about DnB and give us some insight as to why these issues strike a chord with you personally ?
RAIDEN … Hate is a strong word but I’ll have a go!
D&B is very conservative when it comes to creativity. This climate encourages producers to play it safe so a lot the music ends up sounding the same.
Politics. You don’t realise how political d&b is until you operate in other genres and how unnecessary it all is.
Too much subdividing of micro genres, all this does is bring a particular rule set to a sound that’s not got a particularly wide palette to begin with.
GCB … Its clear that you’re a man of many interests. DnB, techno, beer, fishing, Vespa’s, moustaches, guitar pedals, hats, Ben Sherman shirts, angry punk music etc. Give us some info on what else you’re into and why this shit makes you tick ?
RAIDEN … I’m obsessed with everything to do with Mod culture at the moment; the music, scooters and clothes. Its the idea of cleaning living in difficult circumstances, standing out from the crowd with a sense of style. I’ve just finished restoring a Vespa PX, its now covered in chrome, mirrors and spot lamps. I love the clothes, music and mentality that goes with this lifestyle. I’ve met so many new people via the scooter scene and been a real deal breaker coming back to the UK.
GCB … Who’s your favourite DnB MC and why do you rate them ?
RAIDEN … Hands down 2Shy MC, he’s very unique and has a massive amount of energy and presence when he performs. There’s something very honest about his style, there’s no front, very real.
GCB … With regards to DnB, how would you describe your new sound ?
RAIDEN … I’m not actually aware I have I new sound to be honest, you just gradually move forward. Maybe I’ve learnt some tricks from producing KSP material. I’m very influenced by arty abstract acts such as Emptyset and Roly Porter at the moment and I’m going to a lot of sonic art events, I guess that could be it. When I do make d&b I wanna capture the energy that first got me into it as I don’t really hear much of that at the moment. Focus on making the tune sound ‘BIG’ so to speak.
GCB … You’ve released on a fair few labels in your time. Which one has treated you the best, business wise ?
RAIDEN … Hospital records were an absolute pleasure, very encouraging and professional. Even criticism are delivered in the form of a compliment, it’s very empowering. WNCL and Deca Rhythm are an absolute pleasure to deal with. They even paid me which is a bonus ha!
GCB … Finally, what are you plans for 2014 and where do you see yourself in 2015 ?
RAIDEN … I want to have my fingers in many musical pies in 2015 with multiple projects spanning many styles, variety is the spice of life!
KSP is going through the roof atm with over 5 eps due for release by the end of the year.
I’ve just started a new project with my mate Wedge making abstract sound design music where there is literally no rules, we don’t even use bpm or the grid in the DAW. We go to great lengths to make new sounds in an almost BBC Radiophonic workshop fashion. I really think this project is going to take off.
I love the Bristol music community, there so much cross pollination which results in interesting collabs and projects. I plan to take full advantage of this unique situation and enjoy it.
GCB … Finally, thanks again for taking the time to chat to me today, Hopefully next time we can do this face to face over a few cold ones. I wish you all the best for the future mate.
Until next time … Peace.