This week Mark the Winged Lion takes Raskal to task one more time. Heading from the studio to the club, Ronnie lets Mark into his past and his growing notoriety here in the Atlanta house scene.
Mark: How did you fall in love with house/techno music?
Raskal: I fell in love with the music in the late 90’s when I began to go out to clubs as a young adult. I hated the electronic music of the day, the stuff at regular clubs. I hated going out to those events. Then a friend introduced me to house & techno — specifically the progressive house of the 90’s. I spent many nights being amazed at this dark, yet funky, mysterious but sexy music. It always pushed me to think and imagine, to look beyond my limits and imagine the infinite. I also spent a lot of time in venues banging out hard techno and loved the beats and rhythms coming together to create amazing nuances and unexpected changes. I believe that’s where my sound stems from & is only now developing into.
Mark: Did you start out as a fan or did you just instantly decide that you wanted to be a DJ (or Producer)?
Raskal: I started as a fan, for about like two weeks. This was in the 90’s and I was going out to all the legends, John Digweed, Paul Van Dyk, Doc Martin, Carl Cox, Sasha. All were banging out amazing sets and most we’re involved in the production end as well. I had to be a part of it. Friends and I would get our few vinyl and go to Guitar Centers and take over the Turntable sections just to practice, till they kicked us out. It wasn’t long before I had my own turntables and wasn’t long after that before I was playing gigs and spending all my money on vinyl. I was instantly drawn to the music.
Mark: If you were a DJ first, what drew you into making your own music?
Raskal: I made my own music because I wanted to create experiences for other DJ’s to use and create amazing sets from. I definitely get more joy hearing another DJ drop one of my tracks vs dropping it myself. I can fully experience it. You can see how the DJ is using it to bring his journey for the night to life. You can’t beat that.
Mark: Who would you love to open for one day? Who was your favorite DJ to open for?
Raskal: I’d love to open for John Digweed. Although I’ve been able to hang with him a few times, I’ve never been scheduled to play with him.
Mark: Where do you see the scene going as a whole? What about the underground? Which do you feel like you really belong to?
I believe the scene is in a great place. Although it’s flooded with poppy EDM and trap, it’s brought money and fans into it that would never have been involved without that introduction step. Those fans are getting bored with the same thing over and over that comes from that style of music. They want more. That’s where we come in. As Carl Cox once said, “They like the commercial for a while and then the go to find the art department.” The underground isn’t even underground any more. It’s huge, it’s thriving and festivals are also recognizing this. But, I still would rather play for a small event in a packed club with the right people actually dancing to dance music, then 50,000 cell phone holders, taking selfies. Nothing wrong with either, but I look forward to events that showcase the music and not the DJ’s. I enjoy creating special experiences where the music brings to life the invisible things around us, great people come together, and dancing ensues. Memories made.
Mark: If you had to pick one DJ/producer and say “this guy is really making waves,” who would that be?
Would have to say Maceo Plex. He’s definitely my top 5 Dj’s and he’s a heck of a producer. He’s taking things into a level where you can connect and feel the music again — raw and deep.
Mark: How often do you play out and where can we find your schedule?
Raskal: I play out as much as possible. My wife “The DJ Bri” play out together. It takes a lot of scheduling, babysitters for our 5 Kids, travel, hotels sometimes, and yes we need a reality show. But we make it work and my time is always spent doing time with the kids, with Bri, Music, Skating, and hanging with my studio partner — my dog ‘Andrew Bernard’. We have like 5 gigs in April and things are already coming together for the rest of the year. As far as events, you can see all our gigs about a month in advanced at www.raskalandbri.com . Also most of our gigs our being featured on the MK site as well as the other MK artists.
Mark: What has been the strangest club/rave that you’ve played at?
Raskal: This one. My first gig is probably my strangest. It was an apartment I lived in. We painted the walls black, tagged “La Phat Pad” on em and hung a huge disco ball from the ceiling and charged admission. Great super weird place to play. Bad place to live. I moved out rather quickly.
Mark: When does DJing become “fake” rather than simply taking advantage of technology?
Raskal: Only thing I would say on this is to “know your roots.” I don’t care how DJ’s get started or how advanced the technology becomes, I still beat match and I also us the beat counter on the CDJ’s. From time to time run my loops through Ableton and mix through a third or forth channel. The fun of DJing is putting things together to become unique. I know when I was first learning some one being able to do something that I couldn’t drew me to figure out how to do that. If your going to use technology like sync use it as part of your arsenal not the only way you know how to DJ. If you can only do that your missing out. You’d be surprised what a little human in your set can add to the overall performance. Don’t let the computer do all of the work. Use the computer as a tool. Just that. If you can’t it’s your loss your missing some of the fun that comes with “real” Djing.
Mark: How is your local scene unique?
Raskal: Atlanta is the home of some amazing Artist and DJ’s. It always has been. We’ve been hit with the bigger promoters bringing in a lot of trap and EDM for the past few years, but the unique techno and house artists are starting to shine through. Great small events are springing up all over the city. I feel blessed to be a part of this revolution in techno & house here in Atlanta. I love that so many fans will come up and start a conversation with one of us by saying I’ve never heard music like this before. What is it? Reminds me of when I started. It’s picking up here and I can’t wait for what’s to come.
Don’t forget to check out Raskal’s latest single Harmonetrix on iTunes.