Posted in Interviews
"Once I discovered Madlib, everything changed."
Late last October--if you can remember that far back--we debuted an LFTF mix from a 19-year-old upstate New Yorker named RAJA, who at the time, we really knew nothing about. In fact, the only prior knowledge we had of the dude was that he once performed at the infamous Boiler Room (watch his set here) under a previous moniker of his, InfinitiRock. The name RAJA, he told us, was a new musical brainchild, and he was coming to us to help get the word out. Flattered at the opportunity to work with someone who has even stepped foot inside the Boiler Room let alone played there, we jumped at the chance and summoned RAJA for an official LFTF mix, not knowing one bit what the outcome would be. A couple days later, our inbox bestowed a 32-minute set of entirely original material, strung together by way of one single take on a pair of turntables. Needless to say, and I promise we're not just saying this because it's LFTF affiliated, the mix proved to be one of the best mixes we had the pleasure of hearing all year.
Fast forward to today--we loved RAJA's LFTF mix so damn much that we decided to catch back up with the dude and see how things have been. We also wanted to get a better understanding of who RAJA is, and find out what the influences are that go into the wonderfully unconventional soundscapes his music is soaked in.
Where are you talking to us from right now?
SUNY Purchase College. I'm from a small town in upstate NY. NOT BROOKLYN.
Initially, what got you into making music?
My brother definitely started me off. He taught me how to mess around with loops when I was only six. He got me into Aphex Twin when I was really young. I just kept expanding from there, really.
So yeah, who and what kind of music were you listening to growing up?
Damn. Growing up, I loved Wu Tang, and Biggie. That east coast sound. I would get stuck on a single producer for a while. Just Blaze was the first producer I was ever obsessed with, but once I discovered Madlib, everything changed.
Not only do you make music, but you do all of your graphic design and music videos yourself as well. You even started your own artist imprint Guns Of Kingston. What is it that drives you to be creative?
Nightmares and sleep paralysis. When I don't create a little demon sits on my chest, and the only way I can get him off is to create.
While we're on the topic, how did you get into shooting music videos?
I don't know man. I bought the camera because I wanted to be completely DIY. I started my own imprint (Guns Of Kingston) and then I started producing for the artists and then I decided I should shoot official videos too. Learned how to edit and all that. I love that shit. I miss music videos that take risks.
We absolutely adore your track "Now". Talk to us about how that one came together.
It's pretty much an instrumental. Something emotional intended for an MC. I keep tweeting Lil B to get on it. IF YOU ARE READING THIS TWEET LIL B TO GET ON IT! I made the track and the video in one night and posted it. Just something for the fans, I wanted to give them something new (If 78 Songs weren't enough). Definitely a song for all of the people who have been supporting me.
Five albums you couldn't live without:
1 GZA - Liquid Swordz
2. Young Marble Giants – Colossal Youth
3. Prince - Sign O' The Times
4. Thom Yorke - Eraser
5. Miles Davis - Bitches Brew
Song to live by?
"Computer Love" By Zapp & Roger. We are entering an age of technology and it's important to know how to do it correctly...make that Computer Love. I'm actually working with an artist in my collective, Starchild, He is phenomenal, and we are going to make a bunch of songs like this.
Favorite song to get crunk to at the moment?
What's next for RAJA?
Man. Honestly i'm going to take a small break from these trap beats and work on some Beach Boys inspired shit. Also i'm working on a sideproject called Slowlight, which is me and my best friend Bean. And I'm working with Starchild on a mixtape and an LP called "Crucial" which is going to be on some old Prince shit. And i've also been talking with an amazing MC. I don't wanna drop any names but it's pretty exciting. Him and I are going to put out something similar to Madvillainy.