Many miles removed from his home and old bandmates, former Dutch grunge junkie Raven Artson sets out to prove he can still keep the quality hits coming in California, starting with ‘notice me.’
Stream: ‘Notice Me’ – Raven Artson
From the City of Tulips to the City of Angels, Raven Artson of the label Rosed Out Records has been making innovative music wherever he goes. He got started in his native Netherlands as a member of Mozes and the Firstborn, a garage pop band from Eindhoven that put out its first record in 2014 and shifted up to Amsterdam, the country’s political and musical capital, as its catalogue and reputation bulked up.
Since moving to Los Angeles, Raven has been able to spread his wings as a solo artist. He called in several of his former colleagues for his debut EP, notice me, including Mozes mixer Chris Coady. He also supported the release with a lead single he describes as “a not-so-classic love song about the duality in holding on to inner feelings.“
Atwood speaks to Raven Artson about his musical fortunes on both ends of the globe and how he managed to pour his vibrant personality into notice me.
Stream: ‘Notice Me’ – Raven Artson
A CONVERSATION WITH RAVEN ARTSON
Atwood Magazine: What's it been like to operate as a Netherlands-born producer in Los Angeles? How do you incorporate the sounds of both regions into your music?
It’s been super interesting. Los Angeles is so big that there’s a lot of room for niche scenes to bloom, motivating artists to dive deeper into specific styles. Amsterdam, on the contrary, is so compact that crossover between genres happen all the time. Having experienced these two opposite cities taught me to comfortably trespass genres and work together with artists from all over the spectrum while utilizing their specific knowledge.
You were in a band, Mozes and the Firstborn, for many years. What did you learn as a member of that group that now influences you in your solo career?
Mozes was the first group that completely trusted me as a producer. Their confidence allowed me to experiment with sounds, structures, studios and mixers. This freedom trained me to embrace failure, as it leads to new insights and connections. Some of those connections proved to be really successful: I still work with Chris Coady, who mixed both Mozes’ last record and my solo work.
You brand yourself as a ''multi-instrumentalist'' and this label is manifested in a number of your songs (the piano on ''notice me,'' the saxophone on ''Crowded in my Heart,'' etc.) Why is it important to you to learn to play such a range of instruments and then incorporate them within your music?
As a producer, I hear sounds in my head. Because I have access to a lot of instruments, I’ll grab whatever I can to replicate these sounds, rather than sampling them. Once recorded, I’ll mess around with it in my computer until it sounds right. By no means am I technically gifted at any instrument, but I’ve gotten comfortable translating my ideas into something tangible. Apart from the saxophone you mention and certain synths, I played all the instruments on my EP.
In addition to music, you are active as an artist in numerous mediums. How do you balance these passions? Any new projects in the oven?
As an artist, I’m telling stories through whatever medium I can reach. Right now I’m focusing on music, video, photography and my social media to communicate. I’m striving for these different mediums to enhance each other through constant dialogue with my collaborators and anyone that supports my work. They’re the ones that keep me sane and make ideas work. Without them, I’d be nowhere. I’m currently finishing a visual project that will be released in June. [That project, a live film called Never Lonely, has since been released and is now available for viewing].
What was it like recording your new song ''notice me'' (which apparently has been in the works since 2016)? What gave you the urge to create what you describe as ''a not-so-classic'' love song about the duality in holding on to inner feelings?
It was a really challenging process where the project changed a lot over time. The first version of the song was heavily rock-oriented and featured me screaming as a necessary evil to process frustration. With time passing, I took more distance from the situation and my feelings eased up. As my personal life and my songwriting are intertwined, it felt natural to finish the song in LA with a new state of mind.
What memorable tales emerged from the production of your new EP? In what ways do you hope listeners will connect with your latest music?
The step to start taking my own music seriously came with the move from my parent’s house to Amsterdam. This was the start of an intense period where I explored identity, sexuality and party culture. Only after bundling my songs did I notice that all these newfound experiences found their way into my music. I unknowingly documented my personal coming of age in a very sincere way. I hope that my ventures are recognizable and gives listeners strength and joy.
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? © Rick Erfmann
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