Random Rab


Random Rab takes Burning Man electronica sunrise ‘masses’ to the masses

:: Random Rab ::
:: Summit Music Hall :: February 18 ::

By Levi Macy

To go from childhood violinist, to the singer of a heavy metal band, to composing music for the Princess of Abu Dhabi’s bachelorette party may seem a very unlikely path for anyone, let alone someone from the heart of Midwest America.

But for Random Rab, that is a reality. Although composing music for the princess of a faraway place may not be what he is known for, or what he does regularly, it makes perfect sense that the princess would choose music such as Rab’s to be the background for her party.

Rab grew up singing in a metal band and then found a home in folk-based singer/songwriter music  before he made the move from Indiana to the West Coast. Once on the left coast, he and a friend had trouble finding a drummer for their band, which lead to the purchase of a drum machine. “After that was over I was stuck with all of this recording gear, so I started messing with that before I even had a computer. When computers came around I kind of jumped ship on all of the hardware and now work almost exclusively in Logic,” Rab said in a recent interview The Marquee. “Now, everything I do, I make myself. I’ll do my guitar, my voice and drums. Then I’ll get a guest artist in there sometimes. Now, my sound is pretty much a little bit of everything.” Which is a perfect fit for someone who dons the name Random Rab.

Rab has been on the electronic music scene in one capacity or another since about 1999, but it’s only been in recent years that he has been able to make the leap from underground sensation to a widely recognized producer. His sound is a one-of-a-kind journey through bass-heavy down-tempo drops and instrumental poetry.

The sound Rab produces today comes from countless years of honing his laptop craft — a lot of which he attributes to the sunrise Burning Man sets he has been playing since around 2003.

“It was 2003, maybe even as early as 2001. I had all of this music in my toolkit that I didn’t know what to do with. Breaks were really big and I played a lot of parties where everyone always wanted the ‘big beat.’ I had a bunch of other music I was working on and didn’t know what to do with it,” Rab said. “Then one year at Burning Man, sunrise came around and no one was slotted. At that time it seemed as if no one wanted to play sunrise — the party was pretty much over. I decided to play and it was just magical. I realized that sunrise was when I could play anything. When I played the first one, people were freaking out, I was freaking out. A whole new sound opened up for me, just an entirely new possibility. It’s kind of become my thing now.”

Since his first sunrise set both the electronic scene, as well as Rab’s sound, have evolved. What once was only suitable for first thing in the morning has slowly found its place in the mainstream. Rab explained: “Now, people in general as an audience have become more open to something different. They have heard a lot of banging beats. Now they are open to new forms of music in a way they haven’t been.”

That truth has become so apparent with the growth of so many sub-genres in the scene and the sprouting up of artists such as Random Rab himself, who don’t quite fit into any one style or definition. “When it first started it was a challenge just getting people into electronic music. At the time it wasn’t the big thing. Now, electronic music is actually becoming accepted,” he said.

But Rab prides himself on a unique sound that not only easily slips between the sub-genres, but also incorporates other musicians, bringing live music into the otherwise electronic mix, and Rab said that he likes the freedom that gives him, even though it can also come with some headaches.

“It’s a totally different experience. The band is a live fun show that really draws everyone in,” Rab said. “It’s got a certain power and I love doing it but it can be a logistical nightmare. Solo is cool because it gives me a chance to present my music and all of the things I have been working on in my studio. I can really focus more on the delicate sounds. Where, when I’m with my band, there is so much energy of this live music and the unexpected can happen. They are both equally amazing but have different draws. The electronic is more of the nuance and intricate sounds, where the live band is about power and energy.”

Regardless of whether he’s solo, with a  band, or on his latest album Visurreal (he also has another one in the works), Rab said that he looks at his work as more than just audible art, and he said that being open to how the piece turns out is part of the fun. “It’s almost like I’m a sculptor trying to carve away at a giant piece of marble to find a statue underneath,” he said. “I usually just try everything, then only use what sounds good by honing in on the sounds that can pass my test. I kind of do it in reverse, I have no idea what the song is going to sound like until it is done.”


:: Random Rab ::

:: Summit Music Hall :: February 18 ::


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