[EXCLUSIVE] Random Rab Talks Playing Sunrise Sets, The Pyramid Of Giza & New Album In iEDM Interview
Known for his sunrise sets at Burning Man, Random Rab has been an OG in the festival scene for many years, enlightening listeners with his downtempo, psychedelic electronic music. His performances and music have positive messages with harmonic, uplifting vibes.
But his musical style was not always the melodic soundscapes we love today. We got to chat with Random Rab before his set at Electric Forest about the progression of his sound and playing at magical places across the world.
iEDM: So, I recently saw you at Red Rocks with your live band. Tell me about your experience.
Random Rab: Oh, it was incredible. It was my first time performing there, and it was so awesome to play with such talented musicians, and just to the beautiful landscape. But yeah, it was quite an honor.
iEDM: That's awesome. So when you do like a live band performance like that, what is the process that goes in? Or is it a lot of improv?
Random Rab: Very little. Well, I mean, we create a big structure because there's so many moving parts. We have to kind of create a pretty strong structure. But within that there's a lot of freedom to explore. But, when you're doing a live band I think a lot of times it's really about just nailing certain key points, like transitions and things within that framework, then you can explore. So, it's a combination of all those things, but it's definitely a lot of work to prepare and make sure everybody's on the same page.
iEDM: Cool. Awesome. So, this is not your first time at Electric Forests. How's your 2019 experience been so far?
Random Rab: This is my second time here. love this festival. It's actually one of my favorite festivals. They take care of everybody, not... Like yes, they take care of the artists and that feels awesome. But I noticed that they also take care of everyone else, just so nice. So yeah, it's just really well done festival. I'm super impressed.
iEDM: Yeah. I loved your... I think it was the observatory that you played last time that DJ started late at night, it was awesome. Yeah. So, do you have anything special for your set tomorrow?
Random Rab: Well, I do because I've been locked away for the last month recording music in the Rocky Mountain National Forest. We were basically in isolation up there for a month for the most part, and wrote seven or eight new tracks that I get to perform at a festival or anything. So, I'm pretty excited to share all the new music that I have
iEDM: Yeah, that's awesome. So you were in a cabin in the woods?
Random Rab: Yeah.
iEDM: It's still pretty snowy there right now?
Random Rab: It was snowing the first week we were out there it snowed. And that was a little bizarre. We were up at 10,000 feet.
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So unbelievably grateful to these amazing humans. Derek and Eric are pretty much the best. Derek has let me use his incredible home next to the Rocky Mountain National Park for the month to make music. Michele and I got an awesome tour of the property and we all got weird working on tunes until wee hours of the morning. I can’t wait to share all the goodness. Big love Colorado. ❤️
iEDM: Your sunrise and then sunsets have become kind of a statement in festival culture. Did you intend for that to happen?
Random Rab: No. In fact, the one thing I always wanted, I remember when I was younger I was like, I don't want to have the job or I have to wake up early. And then somehow I ended up staying up later, and later, and later. And next thing you know, I like flipped the switch and now I'm getting up early again. Like, "How did I get here?
iEDM: So when you are doing sunrise sets - are you sleeping and then waking up for it?
Random Rab: I didn't used to- I mean, it's about half and half. I used to always stay up the whole time but I realized It's like I can play my set after I staying up all night, no problem. But at around 10:00 AM after hanging out, if I haven't slept all night, I'm a total Zombie. So, I want to like anticipate those moments because that's where the magic happens. Those post set moments.
iEDM: Yeah. And people are like super excited for afterwards. So, when you first began producing electronic music, was your intention to kind of create beautiful downtempo? Because I read that you were kind of in some other projects that were kind of opposite of that.
Random Rab: Yeah. I used to play metal and things like that. And, no, I had no intentions to make downtempo. In fact, yeah, I was always anticipating I was going to make really hardcore music. But as I got in the studio, I realized that like that's what my body and soul wanted to make. And I just sort of following that, instead of trying to be ahead of myself, I really just let whatever come through me come through me. And I guess I'm a downtempo artist. Who knew?
iEDM: Yeah. So, who have been some of your musical influences on your sound?
Random Rab: Well, when I was younger it was all this, Grunge and Tool, Rage Against the Machine and all that kind of stuff was like really what I was into. And now I've really just gotten into my friend's music. All the people that I've met in the scene, in the community. And I mean, just last night we were up like free styling until sunrise with Links and that kind of... I just dig what all the people in this community are doing, and it's great.
iEDM: Yeah, it's awesome. So I read that you've played Three Solar Eclipses and the Pyramids of Giza. Tell me about that experience.
Random Rab: Well, the eclipses have been so... I mean, I can't even really... It's so profound really. So beautiful. And to be able to perform during the act as the moon moves in front of the sun. I'm super honored that both Scape and Symbiosis events, The Three Eclipses gave me that opportunity - and I take it really seriously. And it's been absolutely incredible. And yes, of course, playing in the Pyramids of Giza was just like... I mean, so bizarre and interesting. And like to look out and to see these pyramids right there. And I mean, there was something to that. And we actually went up the night before, and recorded a 10 minute Ohm with 30 people inside the Pyramid in the King's Chamber on December 21st, 2012. And was able to perform, use that in my set on next night.
iEDM: That's awesome.
Random Rab: This echoey thing of all these chanting thing for 10 minutes, that was cool.
iEDM: That's beautiful. Simply spiritual. That's awesome. So, you played events across the world, Burning Man, Symbiosis... What are some of your favorite experiences?
Random Rab: Well, we just named some of them. The eclipses and the pyramids were up there. I loved Symbiosis events anywhere they happen. The one eclipse that just happened and being able to play things like Boom or Rainbow Serpent in Europe and Hungary, it seemed like a Psytrance scene and what's that's all about. So, and of course Costa Rica at Envision Festival, I love those ones that are just like fun, way the fuck out there, totally different than what I'm used to.
iEDM: Right. When you an event that's a Psytrance set, do you still play your usual set?
Random Rab: I do. Well, there is no usual set. But it's a little strange mostly because the Psytrance Festivals, the sound systems are on a level that we don't really... the ones I've been to like in Europe or... right now our teeth would be rattling. Right?
Because they are so huge. And it can be a little bit overwhelming. So you have to really be able to focus your energy and just kind tune out all that chaos out. And there's the people, I played the sunrise set of Boom, and there were 200 people in sleeping bags sleeping. They came to my set to sleep. We're just like, "Really?" I was like, "Oh, okay." I guess that's what they do here.
iEDM: That's funny. How do you play for sleeping people?
Random Rab: Yeah. I kind of felt bad, but they were like, "No, we're here to sleep." I mean, please.
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Thank you everyone for making this Fall Tour the best one yet! It’s been so fun getting back to my roots and increasing my focus to vocals and guitar. It was awesome to tour with all my synths last season, but something feels so real and intimate to keep the focus on truly performing live. Big thanks to @sunsetlabs for capturing this shot from my sold out show in Victoria. Only one weekend left of this tour!! See you out there.
iEDM: That's funny. So I read, your album Formless and you said was the responses to political climate. I like that. Tell me about your 2019 release - Anew.
Random Rab: It's hard to avoid all the climate crisis and the political crisis that's happening right now. And that was sort of my way of translating all that tension and energy into something to be born a new and to still see beauty, and realize that humanity is still a force in nature and not to be super... I mean cause so easy to get so pessimistic and bummed out that everything is to see beauty in everything and to see beauty even in this crazy moment that we're living in. So that was my goal with that record.
iEDM: I love that. So my personal favorite track is Abiogenesis.
Random Rab: Yeah. Awesome.
iEDM: Yeah. Tell me about that track specifically.
Random Rab: Well, yeah. Abiogenesis, the word means... it's kind of a theoretical thing about life being born out of nothing. So at some... Why did life even originally begin? And that's what Abiogenesis is. And so, that song to me is kind of like imagining... I just imagine like I'm on other planets or other things, like where does life really, really start? And I'm sure however it did start or whatever starts it, that that chain reaction of life is probably fucking beautiful. And just trying to take that energy of that feeling of like, what is that magical force that no one has any idea? People think that they do, and they don't. And so that was kind of my concept with that track
iEDM: I love it. Do you have a favorite track on the album?
Random Rab: On my last album - Probably, it's called Mishi. Yeah. Which I named after my lady here. That's her nickname. So, that's probably my favorite track on the album.
iEDM: So, one thing that I love about your music is it can translate well to anyone. It could be study music, would be yoga teens, it could be just... Anyone would enjoy it. When you're creating, are you considering the listener?
Random Rab: Yes and no. I guess it's just like I learned for myself that, if I really like the track, there's probably someone else out there that will too. And that's really what I've... I've stopped sort of trying to make it for an audience intentionally, but at the end of the day that's really what happens. You put it on an album, you release it. There's a lot of... there is some thought, especially when you're making an album. The songs themselves are more like for me, but as I start to get into the construction of the album, I really I'm thinking a lot. Because there's my presenting, here's an offering, here's the artwork.
iEDM: Yeah. You've got a lot of other releases and definitely evolution in your music. What have been some of the changes that you've made a new musical process over the years?
Random Rab: Changes I've made in my music. I guess it's really trying to get into the right headspace and that's been something that I put way more effort into, and realizing that I make the best music and I'm in a good place, and physically like this cabin that were in and that king of thing. As opposed to like sitting, I don't write good music in the van with my headphones.
Because it's just too much movement. So that's what I've really been realizing. It's maybe I'm spending... I'm just trying to create more opportunities where I can go and have space to make music and I've learned how important that is.
iEDM: Is there anything you're looking forward to that you want to shout out?
Random Rab: I mean, it's my 21st Burning Man in a row this year, so I'm pretty excited about that.
iEDM: Happy Birthday.
Random Rab: Yeah, totally. So I officially drink there!
Thank you Random Rab for taking the time to chat with us!
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