It ain’t necessarily easy to be happy. Work days stack up almost as nonstop as bills, and before you know it, you’re not living, you’re getting by. If you’re sleepwalking through your days, get your ass to the Random Rab show at the Animas City Theatre on Wednesday, March 29. He’s an indie electronic musician who will fan a flame of joy bright enough to breach your ennui.
DGO caught up with Random Rab about his new album, “Formless Edge,” and his current tour.
What’s going on with “The Formless Edge,” your new album?I’m not 100 percent sure on the drop date. Every time I’ve set a date in the past, I’m always wrong. I’m gonna roughly guess it will be out in early June. I got Android Jones doing the artwork, again. I’m really excited to get this one out. It’s been an awesome process to make it. I have a bunch of analog gear I’m working with and some really great collaborations.
Who are you stoked to collaborate with?I have Pia Lucy, who was on my last album, Kyrston Pixton, and I have Lapa, who is also known as Ilya Goldberg. He’s the violin player for Emancipator. We’ve written tracks together for this album.
Your music gives off a chill sense of enchantment. It sounds like twilight music. Where’s that come from?I wish I knew exactly what it was. I’ll go into the study and try and make something, and this is what comes out naturally. I think it might have something to do with my past. I was in a heavy metal band for five years. Even when I first got into electronic music, I was making heavy music. I felt like I needed to prove something, that I was hardcore or something. But over time I realized what my real voice is. Some people call it chill. For me, it almost requires a more aggressive mindset to make chill music. It’s a little bit more vulnerable. I have to be more confident in myself to make it. It’s easy to make heavy music for me, emotionally.
Most writers think, “It’s harder to write a happy story.” Conflict can be easier to express in art than happiness.For me, it’s, “How do I make something that is uplifting without being cheesy?” That can be really hard. A lot of times I’ll spend time working on a track and I’ll be like, “It’s cheesy. It’s cheesy. It’s cheesy.” Then suddenly it hits this certain moment where it un-cheeses itself. It becomes more melancholy and expansive.
Do you have any work rituals to create your music? I have slowly gotten more and more rhythmic with how I work creatively. I usually work through the night until sunrise, when I am deep in the creative process. It’s usually this dinking around, making tons of horrible music and horrible sounds and horrible songs. You keep doing it and something magical will pop up. For me, it’s “I know it when I see it.” It could be one small sound and that’s it. That’s what I focus on and have to construct the song around. It can take days, hours, months to finally get to the place where you hear that special thing. Usually, there’s a moment of despair right before it happens. You think maybe you can’t make another song ever again. Right after I feel that despair, it’s usually when the song comes alive.
What’s a song that was a painful process to create, but – oh my gosh – you’re so glad you stuck with it because you love that song now?I have a lot of songs like that. There are definitely some songs that I’ve made 25 versions of and I end up using version one. That’s often times where I find myself. I’ll get excited about something and I’ll work and work and work on it until it turns into a different song and I’ve taken all of the feeling out of it. Then I go back to the original and think, “Oh, that was actually pretty great. Maybe I just need to fade it out and call it good.” I would say every song kind of has that process in it. I overwork it and then have to backtrack a little. I want to see how far I can go with it. Almost every song ends up being horrible and painful at some point in my process and then I pick the best version.
Where should someone start in your oeuvre if they’ve never heard of you?I would say, going to my SoundCloud page and picking a song. I’m all over the place right now, but I’m most focused on the new songs I’m working with. So I would start there.
Start with the freshies?Yeah. Go fresh.
What’s your show like in a concert hall versus on the outdoor festival circuit? Do you like playing one more than the other? I would say that they’re different settings and there are benefits to both. The festival scene, you get to jump on this momentum and energy that is already happening all around. It’s a little easier to access people’s excited state. People are pumped up. But the advantage of playing a hall is that you get to start from nothing and create a completely different vibe. I often find that playing in venues gives me more space to be creative about the journey aspect rather than trying to maintain the energy. It also gives me a chance to set up more gear because I’m touring in my vehicle and it’s easier. I have all afternoon to build my set-up.
This show in Durango, I’m working a lot with live analog hardware. That’s normally something I wouldn’t bring to a festival. I’m going to be doing a lot more improvisation and it will definitely be more experimental. I’m really excited about this show. I’ll be trying some stuff for the first time.
What do you want your audience to experience by the time you are done with them?It’s pretty mysterious to me what music is and how it interacts with our emotions and our brains. What I really want, is for people to walk away from the experience feeling good. Feeling better than when they came in. If someone can go home that night and say, “I feel great,” then wake up the next day and still feel great, that’s what I’m really trying to make happen for people. If I can inspire someone to be positive or do something positive for themselves or the people around them, then I’ve done my job.
What do you do to come down from a show?It’s really hard for me to come down. It used to be like have a bunch of drinks and go crazy till sunrise. Now that I’ve been doing this a while, I realize I can’t do that anymore. I’ve found that usually the best thing for me is to try and be outside. Just let the energy go off into the sky rather than closing myself off in a tiny space. It’s about getting outside and enjoying the night.
What’s something about the life of an indie electronic artist that people might not expect? For me, it can be quite isolating at times. I end up spending tons of time by myself. Even though I’m at a club where there’s hundreds or thousands of people or whatever, you end up spending the bulk of your time on the road by yourself or with your driver. I think that’s something I find I have to prepare myself for is that sense of isolation. There’s this tide every night of all these people all at once, then it’s over. It’s not a complaint, just the reality of what it is.
What’s your favorite part of being on tour? I spent all this time in the studio even more isolated and by myself imagining what’s going to happen. Then you get to watch it all come to life right in front of your eyes. All these songs you don’t know what’s going to happen when you play them. If it connects with people, that feeling – it makes me feel like everything is OK and good and I’m on the right path and we’re all in this together. It feels really good to share that.
This interview was edited and condensed for clarity. Patty TempletonDGO Staff Writer