In anticipation of his new MIND EP, Ravenscoon stopped by to talk about everything from sobriety and social media to his cat and more.
Few people embrace life quite like Ravenscoon. The San Francisco-based producer draws on all of his experiences, good and bad, to create his signature “beautiful chaos” sound that has bass music fans on notice in 2020. Despite the unprecedented change in the music industry over the past few months, he has enjoyed considerable success.
This year has seen the release of “Dirty South,” a wild bass-driven collaboration with Viskus, back in February and played multiple shows before the flurry of cancellations due to COVID-19. Aside from his music-making prowess, many have come to appreciate Ravenscoon’s openness on social media. He’s not afraid to speak his mind, becoming a beacon of authenticity in a largely superficial digital world.
So when the opportunity to chat with Ravenscoon presented itself, we couldn’t help but jump on the opportunity. Additionally, his guest mix is a perfect example of “beautiful chaos” as he explores different tempos, rhythms, and sound design in an hour of mind-bending, genre-defying music. Anyone who appreciates bass should listen to this mix, it truly has something for everyone!
Stream Ravenscoon’s guest mix below, pre-save the MIND EP, and read on to hear what he has to say about avoiding creative ruts, his signature sound, and much, much more!
Stream EDMID Guest Mix 213 || Ravenscoon on SoundCloud:
Hey Ravenscoon! Thanks for joining us, it’s awesome to have you here. Back in January, we named you one of our top bass artists to watch in 2020 and you’ve done some truly amazing things since. What are some personal highlights from these past few months?
Hi! Thank you so much for having me – and thanks again for considering me in your top bass acts to watch. The first would be wrapping up my MIND EP, set to release 4/20/20. This is a project that I’ve been working on since this time last year. I’ve added and cut multiple tracks, and revised others 70+ times. Finally calling it ready is huge for me.
I also had a fun run of shows, one with SFAM, Tripzy Leary, and Jon Casey in San Francisco. That was my first time playing a proper show here in SF. I followed that up with an almost-sold-out headline in Columbus with the Sidestage Collective crew and a sold-out show with Levitation Jones in Nashville with the Sacred Hive gang. I’m honestly so proud of everything I’ve been doing. I feel like I’m living the dream of being able to have this creative outlet and have so many people support and love what I’m creating.
You describe your music as “beautiful chaos.” How did you discover your signature sound?
I draw inspiration from my love of metal and rock music, as well as my love for trance. I have these two sides to me that clash and form to create the “Beautiful Chaos” theme. Not to mention the fact that all life is yin and yang. Without darkness, there can be no light. I firmly believe that we must embrace BOTH sides of the spectrum. “As above, so below,” if you will.
I’ve struggled with the darkness (major depression & addiction) my entire life. Seeing both sides of life from rock bottom to living the dream has really cemented my respect for the duality of human nature. At times I feel lost and chaotic, like destroying everything and burning it all down to the ground. Other times I feel like I am simply overwhelmed with the beauty of just existing at all.
We’re beyond stoked for your MIND EP, which used to be called NO SIGNAL! before you cut the title track. How does your process change when you find that a track isn’t up to your standards?
As I briefly touched on earlier, I ended up adding and subtracting several tracks from my EP. I have been working on these songs for the better part of a year, as well as making sure they all fit a cohesive theme and feel. I knew that I wanted to further explore the world of my dreams – a place that is magical and wonderful but also at many times intensely terrifying. I’ve had sleep disturbances since I was a kid – sleepwalking, night terrors, sleep paralysis, lucid dreaming, astral projection, the whole nine yards. So dreams have had a strong focus in my life- sometimes I can’t decide if what happened was a memory or a dream.
I ended up writing the lead single for the EP “No Signal!” as that is the message that my TV displays once the XBOX turns off from lack of activity. Sometimes this is the last thing I see before I fall asleep at night as our TV is in front of the bed. I worked with a long-time friend and neighbor from back in Atlanta, TOLA, who rapped over the whole thing.
Unfortunately, the project file was lost after a mishap at the Orlando Airport with TSA when my hard drive was stolen, so I lost the original file for the beat. I had my engineer try to master a version that was exported in WAV as best as possible, but it just didn’t meet the quality standard that the rest of the songs on the EP were at.
I ended up making the decision to remove the title song and re-name the EP MIND, after the collab with Masohn and Born I. It reduced the tracks from six to five, so the first half of the EP is chaotic, and the middle song “Dreaming” is an interlude into the beautiful second half. The last song on the EP is “MIND,” and the first song is “Control,” which I think is ultra-fitting given the theme.
When you find yourself in a creative rut, what do you do to get out of it? Any tricks others might benefit from?
I honestly listen to music at almost all hours of every single day. I am constantly exploring SoundCloud, Spotify, Apple Music, music blogs, Twitter, and getting sent music from friends and other producers. It’s hard to not be inspired by the insane amount of incredible electronic music being produced right now. I don’t think there is a better time in existence to be a fan of music, despite the fact that pop music continues its aggressive descent to extreme-mediocrity and cookie-cutter bullshit.
There truly is an ENDLESS amount of underground and under-appreciated electronic music being independently produced by the new wave of creative minds around the world. It feels like a renaissance.
I also find myself constantly inspired by the world around me. I feel so inspired to create right now that there are not enough hours in the day that I can dedicate to creating content. I feel overwhelmed with everything that I want to make – it feels like I’ve had a reawakening after a life spent suppressing myself. Many days I will be admiring how beautiful a tree or mountain is, I may be daydreaming at work, I may be riding the bus, I may be eating something delicious, and I get inspiration for music and write it down in the notes of my iPhone. It really feels like I’m being consumed.
Aside from the solid releases you’ve also become well known for your mixes too. When you’re putting one together, whether it be for Halloween or us here at EDM Identity, what’s your track selection process like?
There is certainly a method to my madness. I would say it starts with private playlists on SoundCloud. Several times I’ve been on a work trip, heard a great song in the lobby of a hotel, and frantically found the closest speaker to Shazam the song and add it to a private playlist. I have a 45-minute bus commute to and from work each day, so I spend that time finding new music and add it to a private playlist as well. I typically have a few different playlists with different themes so I know when I work on a new mix what the genre or feel a song has without having to go back and re-listen to 150 songs.
Then, I follow the below process:
- Go to my private playlists on SoundCloud and download as many of the songs as possible that fit the vibe of the mix that I’m trying to make
- Reach out to my friends, Facebook followers, and community for new music. I am a one-man shop, and can’t always find every single gem. I also love to incorporate things that people send me into mixes. Some people have given me shit for asking people to send me music, that it takes away from my job as a DJ, but I see it differently. To me it makes the whole process feel personal – like I’m crafting people a work of art that they have participated in. It makes me feel like I’m making a deeper connection.
- Download 200 or so of the songs that fit the vibe that I’m going for. I get songs from Bandcamp, iTunes, and many of the times they’re free to download.
- I put the 200 or so songs I’ve downloaded into a playlist in my DJ software, Traktor, which then analyzes them by BPM and key. I typically organize them by BPM. I try not to mix based on the key signature, and instead do it by ear. Most of the time I’m pretty damn good at doing it by ear and I like to think that it makes it challenging and pushes me to be creative when songs aren’t exactly in key. How am I going to transition those without sounding dissonant and like an amateur?
- I then find the LEAD song. This is the song or songs that I will start the mix with. Once I find the opening the rest of it flows like building a puzzle. The mix must have certain sections and flow, but I don’t want to divulge any more of my process here. 🙂
The past few years have seen a serious explosion in social media connecting artists and fans. What impact does this online community have on you as a musician?
We are all digital humans at this point. My day job is digital advertising. I spend hours on my phone a day, hours on the computer at work, and hours on the computer producing music and making mixes. Social media seems to be an extension of our lives in the digital world. It is honestly one of the most interesting inventions to ever exist – in my opinion. It gives people the ability to be and have alter-egos – both toxic and positive.
In the past, it was much harder to communicate with fans, and having a big record label backing was a big part of your marketing and success as an artist. Today you can directly connect with those fans via social media. You cut out the record labels and all of the bullshit that comes with signing with one of those. You can feed content directly to people who like your vision, and you can grow your fan base by having engaging or funny content.
This has led to the rise of the importance of social media with booking agents. People who create funny or good content and have created an engaged fan base off of social media are much more likely to get noticed by bigger booking agents – whether or not this is beneficial is a whole debate.
Music should be about music – not popularity. But at the same time music is a business, and having a following on social media is certainly extremely important. On one hand, you have DJs creating cringy tweets and stupid memes for more followers, and on the other hand, you have a tool that allows you to share your art with hundreds, thousands, and even millions of people who may have never found it in the first place.
I think it’s important to strike a balance between memes/cringe posting and genuine engagement. It’s important to be relatable, kind, and responsive – and mostly just have fun and be yourself on social media. If it’s part of the game then we must know how to play it. I also think social media has been incredibly helpful to artists (tattoo artists, painters, graphic designers, etc) on Instagram – and been a great place to grow fans and sell art.
It’s yin and yang – as all things are.
You’re also very vocal about your sobriety. What has that journey been like for you, and how do you support others following the same path? Do you find it difficult to be sober as a part of the dance music community?
I have been vocal about my sobriety. I think it’s important for someone who has a platform to speak up and let other people who may be struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues know that it is okay to admit you have a problem and that it is possible to get better. The journey has been long and hard, and it’s a journey that never ends – I will never have a day in my life where I’m not an addict. Where I am not actively fighting to be sober – as alcohol and triggers are just about on every single corner of the world. I find it difficult to be sober anywhere honestly.
Being a DJ is obviously something that complicates and makes being sober difficult, as dance music and being a musician, in general, come with drugs and alcohol. But I live between a bar and a liquor store – and the billboard on the side of my apartment building is currently a Heineken ad that says “A 12-hour workday is just 12 hours of counting down to a Heineken.”
I look at the consequences personally of breaking my sobriety and I just can’t see how it would be worth it. I also understand that I most likely will relapse at some point in my life, statistically, so I just take it day by day and make sure that I stay strong. March 3 was one whole year including nicotine and caffeine. I couldn’t have got to where I am without my girlfriend, my family, my friends, and fans who have supported me along the way.
I want anyone who is struggling to know they can always reach out to me about it. That their friends and family care. And that the pain or whatever they’re trying to kill with drugs and alcohol, or the mental illness they’re trying to treat – it won’t get better unless you get sober. I believe in you and I love you.
Since the coronavirus is a hot topic in the scene right now as shows around the world continue to cancel, can you share how this has affected you as an artist?
COVID-19 has been a real wake up call for a lot of people. My heart breaks for my friends who are currently on tour, my friends in the service industry, anyone who is hurting right now financially or otherwise. The main concern for me is the health of everyone, as well as the financial security of everyone who may be suffering because of the quarantine.
Personally, I have had several shows that were just going to be announced that were canceled. It sucks but it’s for the right reasons. Social distancing is effective in stopping the transmission of this disease. Luckily I have a 9-5 job that I’m able to work from home at and collect bi-weekly paychecks from. I really have it easier than a lot of my friends who quit their jobs to do music full time or friends/peers who have been touring as a job for years. It’s a scary time – and I hope it brings us all together.
At the same time, I think the quarantine has really laid bare the institutional shortcomings of America’s society – showing us the absolute need for job security, paid sick leave, and national socialized healthcare. Healthcare is a human right, and it’s about time America started caring about everyone and not just the wealthy people at the top.
If you get stuck on a desert island and only have three things with you, what are they and why?
- My girlfriend. I could be stuck anywhere in the world and as long as she was with me I feel like I could be happy. Plus if I starve I could always eat her as a last resort.
- Something to start a fire. Warning signals, staying warm, cooking girlfriend.
- A satellite phone. So when I get bored I can have the army come pick me up like in Jurassic Park.
Finally, for those who don’t know, your cat is named Satan. How did you pick that name?
Funny enough, he was originally named “Mr. Fluffypants” by his original owners when my girlfriend rescued him. When she first rescued him, he used to sit across her room from her and ominously stare without moving for hours at a time. That behavior, coupled with his ridiculous name, warranted something in the opposite direction. We settled on Satan.
He’s since warmed up to us and become one of the most friendly and loving cats I’ve ever met. He greets us at the door, cuddles us, he never ever scratches, he doesn’t have a bad attitude. He sleeps on our bed every night and wakes us up every morning with purrs and more cuddles. I love him very much. I think if we could name him a third time I would name him “Shadowfax” from Lord of the Rings – being a big white majestic floof and all. But he answers to Satan, and I like that.