From Punk Rock to Techno, Raven is
Making Her Mark Wherever She Goes
From Punk Rock to Techno, Raven is
November 29, 2021
Making Her Mark Wherever She Goes
Though she’s something of a restless spirit, moving from city to city and scene to scene, Raven has made her mark wherever she lands. This is especially true of her latest musical venture: techno. The exciting Canada native has made such a splash with her DJing and productions that Rekids boss Matt Edwards (who we profiled in our recent Label of the Month feature) signed Raven’s first EP, Flames, to his esteemed imprint — it’s a five-track techno workout featuring her own original vocals.
That was followed by September 2021’s Mania EP, which showcased four tracks that cross between deep, rolling techno and sci-fi breaks. We caught up with Raven to learn more about her history, and what’s next.
Thanks for joining us, Raven! Now that the year is winding down, how was your 2021? Any highlights?
Glad to chat! 2021 was a huge year for me! Released my second EP on Rekids this past September. I released a track on Amelie Lens’ Exhale VA002 as well. I played two shows at ADE last month. I played at Cromie in Italy…These are gigs not many get the opportunity to play, so I’m super grateful. Above all though I’m just happy to be here and do what I do and people like it.
Growing up in Toronto, how did you first get into electronic music, and who are some artists who first inspired you to start DJing and producing?
I was throwing parties in Toronto and couldn’t find enough DJs to play the music I wanted, so then I just did it myself. I didn’t think much of it. I never really intended to be a DJ but I enjoyed it. Soon after I was getting a bunch of bookings and got a residency at a hotel rooftop. That was really cool because I could book my friends there as well as at my off-location events. But the more I was getting booked I had to learn how to actually DJ lol. I started off with like internet rap, but the more I played, the more I resonated with electronic music… And It was funny because the tap crowd carried over even when I was playing techno. When I started out, I just got really into Discogs. I was hooked on the history of the music and how the sound had evolved. I was really into learning how to classify this stuff and not just playing randomly. I would find out “What genre was that?” “What year was that?” “How can I find more?”
I’ve been playing electronic music since 2013. It was my friend Jordan Gardner who showed me how to play on CDJs and we would have sessions at his house and swap tracks. He was more on the soulful side of techno. So also my perception of electronic music was also that it was black music.
Over your artist career and various aliases, you’ve moved through quite a few different genres. Can you tell us more about these projects and how you eventually landed on techno?
I was recording music for a very long time. I used to sing and have some different projects. I’ve made indie tracks, post-punk stuff, R&B… It was when I started producing for myself six years ago that I started making techno because that’s what I was DJing, but I always wanted to make my own style of techno. I never wanted to make anything that sounded like anyone else. I think that’s why I still can’t put my finger on what I’m making right now either. It’s all just some twisted up formula of all the shit I love. I’m a fan of music above anything else, so it’s always been hard to define myself to one sound.
Over the years, you’ve genuinely immersed yourself in the underground cultures of cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, Berlin, and Mexico City, amongst others. From all of this global dance floor experience, what would you say is one of your biggest takeaways from raving all over the world?
There are definitely some places that stick out to me more than others, but I love to be where the party people are because at the end of the day we’re all there for the same reason, no matter of creed or preference. The desire for me to move to so many different places is because I’ve always been curious and a little chaotic. I’ve never been good at staying in one place or in one scene. I never really felt like I “fit” anywhere… I just want to understand people and making music for me is all about connection… But I don’t know, I’m trying to combat my restlessness. That’s why I think I’ll stay in Berlin this time for a while, despite how dreary it can be. Sometimes when I travel to other places I miss the open mindedness and ease of the people. Compared to other major cities, you can’t really match it.
In a recent post promoting your new Mania EP on Rekids, you said… “It’s funny to find myself here after losing everything I’ve ever made in 2019.” Can you elaborate on that for us? What happened?
A series of extremely unfortunate events… I have been producing since 2015 and stocking up tracks. I was too afraid to put anything out because it “wasn’t ready,” Typical perfectionist mentality hehe. Long story short I ended up reformatting my external HD instead of my USB right before a gig… So that was my entire DJ music library gone as well as my Ableton projects… Then my phone got water damage… And to top it off upon moving from Mexico City back to Europe, water went into the back of my computer and instantly corroded the HD. I couldn’t restore any of it and I never back anything up on The Cloud. I had music videos on that thing and entire projects and concepts…
So there I was in Athens, Greece with no way to make money and nothing to show for the “artist” I claimed to be. Safe to say I had a bit of an identity crisis. Since then I ended up with my first EP on Rekids. So maybe it was a blessing in disguise really.
How did you get linked up with Radio Slave and Rekids for your debut EP, Flames?
I’ve known Matt for a very long time actually. I met him first in Detroit and we met again, my first time around in Berlin. In April 2019 I went from Athens to stay with my sister in Barcelona. She helped me get a small studio back together and I sent Matt my demos. His response was that he’d like to release them. I was in kind of shock because as previously mentioned I had lost everything. And for someone like Radio Slave to say that he wanted to put my music out, it gave me my confidence back. Especially because my sound isn’t exactly conventional. I think Matt has always had an ear for music that pushes the boundaries and pushes the [Techno] “machine” forward. Rekids for me is a label that’s maintained its underground identity over all these years and never sold out. I’m always happy for the opportunity and support the Rekids fam has given me.
What are three Rekids tracks that hold a special significance in your heart?
Radio Slave – Don’t Stop
I know this wasn’t originally released on Rekids, but this still counts, no? I played this track in every set back in the day. Maybe will start playing it again actually…
Raven – Cold Sweat (Original Mix)
This is my track of course from my latest EP, Mania. I was excited to release this one. I think it’s definitive of my style. Something nu-skool for the girls…
Alan Fitzpatrick – The Underdog
This is a recent release from last year. It’s a reminder that because some of the Techno DJ’s from his generation could be considered commercial, but they know their stuff. This track for me is intelligent and emotive, just dirty! I love it.
Do you have any personal or artistic benchmarks you hope to hit in 2022?
I don’t really like to talk too specifically about my plans. I don’t want to jinx them hehe. But a lot more releases for sure!